Every year, the Adelaide Cabaret Festival brings a sensational lineup of shows. For the past eight years, Trevor Jones has been bringing his unique flair to the piano bar every night of the festival. The concept is simple: have a drink and join Trevor at his piano for an informal night of piano bar classics. He even takes requests! It’s a great way to end a night of cabaret viewing, and you never know who Trevor will be calling upon to join him on stage. The best part of it all, it’s free.
Trevor is one of Australia’s most diverse and in-demand musical personalities, with a repertoire that spans just about every genre and style of music imaginable. I was lucky enough to catch up with Trevor this week to chat about the piano bar, the Adelaide Cabaret Festival and where it all began for him.
“I grew up in Perth originally, but we lived in Melbourne for three years when I was young. I was in the school choir, and got spotted singing at the headmaster’s wedding and my Mum was approached and it was suggested I audition to be in the Australian Boy’s Choir. So, I did a late audition, I was ten at the time. Normally the Australian Boy’s Choir auditions boys between seven and eight, but they gave me late admission, as I like to call it. That is where I got a lot of my foundation in music education. It was a really strong solfege-based program which gave me great musicianship. So that’s where I got my choral singing training. I had also had a great love of musical theatre, thanks to Mum’s record collection. Mum was in amateur productions of Gilbert & Sullivan shows when she was young. I have very distinct memories of Mum taking me to see productions of South Pacific and Jon English’s very original production of The Pirates Of Penzance. So, I’ve always had this weird mish-mash of styles and genres, and I’m an avid listener of pop music too, so I think that’s what has led me to being such a collector of music and able to do this wacky piano bar thing in a range of different styles. I still occasionally step in and conduct an opera from time to time, but I try to keep things as diverse as I can.”
As an accomplished musical director, conductor, and accompanist, who has worked on many productions and concerts, Trevor explained to me that there isn’t one performance avenue he prefers over the other, though he is naturally drawn to the cabaret performing lifestyle.
“I love all areas of performing. They all have their charms. I don’t think I have the sort of music director brain that can be locked into long contracts. I love the creative side of producing a musical, so I’m often drawn to shorter runs. I just don’t think my brain is geared up to 12-month contracts and eight shows a week. Having said that, if anyone is reading this and wants to chat about a long term contact, hit me up! Hire me!”
Trevor, who is a crowd favourite at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, has been appearing for the past eight years. I was keen to find out what it is about the festival that keeps him coming back year after year.
“For me it’s the community of artists that the festival gathers. The festival draws the best of the best internationally and we get to hang out. I love to have breakfast with everyone each morning where we are staying. It can be very tough doing the work I do as it’s so individual. I’m on my own most of the time. It’s very easy to be stuck in the grind of it all and to get lost in the isolation. So, to be at a festival like this, and to be around other artists, it helps me remember I am also an international level artist.
“My first experience with the Adelaide Cabaret Festival was the year Bernadette Peters was performing. I flew over to see her perform, because I’m obsessed with her. I started crying five songs in and turned to my friend and asked if we could see her again the following night. We also attended a lot of the late night entertainment and it was that moment I told myself I wanted to be a part of this world. Sure enough, I got invited to come and play for the festival at the piano bar.”
The piano bar has been an iconic part of the Cabaret Festival for many, many years. If you haven’t spent a night with Trevor before, it certainly is one of those ‘must do’ experiences.
“The biggest thing with the piano bar is it becomes a sing-a-long. It’s not really a sit and listen performance for the three hours it runs each night. It’s very interactive, it’s very engaging. I play everything by request, so you can get anything from What A Wonderful World to Bohemian Rhapsody to WAP by Cardi B – but I don’t do the dirty version! I do a Celine Dion version that’s very comedic. I like to change lyrics to throw in some jokes and I love to have a chat as well. I also bring in guests from the festival, as well as Adelaide. I’ve built some wonderful relationships with sensational Adelaide performers over the last eight years I’ve been doing the piano bar, and I love inviting them back to come and have a sing. I also love to highlight the up-and-coming artists of Adelaide. It’s a really great, fun way of experiencing the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, and best of all is it’s free.”
Trevor Jones will be appearing at the Quartet Bar in the foyer of the Adelaide Festival Centre over the Cabaret Festival. For full details and session times, visit https://www.adelaidecabaretfestival.com.au/events/trevor-jones-piano-man/ .
Interview by Ben Stefanoff
Photo Credit: Claudio Raschella