Cabaret Festival Review: T.R.A.I.L (Tonight’s Regional Aboriginal Islander Live)


Presented by Nikki Ashby

Reviewed 19th June 2022

I would like to start by acknowledging that the land this show was preformed on always has and always will be Kaurna Country. I pay my respects to the Kaurna people and the many Nations that were represented in this wonderful showcase of First Nations talent. With a room full of people, the energy and vibe were great from the start with Nikki welcoming everyone to the show, with sheer joy and pride.

First on stage was the beautiful Katie Aspel who transported us to a world of young romance with her self-written songs all about navigating love. Keeping in mind that some of these songs were written when Katie was just sixteen years of age really puts into perspective her incredible talent for song writing. Katie’s voice is gorgeous and is probably best described as something you could listen to all day and still want to hear more. It was like a wave of happiness making you feel as Katy would put it “be all up in your feels”. The last song of Katie’s set was a song she had asked her grandparents to help write and it included a message that everyone should consider and reflect upon.

Next up was Kuko (Ngarrindjeri word meaning two) with Sonya Rankine and Phil Noel on guitar.  Sonya started their set with an acknowledgement to Country in Narungga language and adorned with a stunning emu feather necklace from her own jewelry line, it was certainly a powerful moment in what we were all here to celebrate. Phil also made an impact with his stunning guitar that bought all of Sonya’s songs to life, as well as providing vocals on a few.  Kuko’s songs were upbeat and soulful and as I looked around the room to people bopping in their seats it made you wish that there was a dancefloor so that you could really get up and enjoy the music.

Last but not least was Rob Edwards who brought the crowd to tears on his first song and had us riding a wave of emotion the whole way through. What brought Rob’s set alive was his storytelling and the rawness that comes from sharing his family’s journey with the Stolen Generation. Rob’s songs hold a power that hits you in your soul and is somewhat indescribable in terms of absolutely loving his music but realizing that the reason he has these songs is because an atrocity happened to his family and the hurt that it has bought. Having just been to Hermannsburg myself Rob’s story of the green budgies flying up brought back happy memories of being on Country and further spoke to his ability to capture the audience through storytelling.

All in all, my only negative was that the show was too short, I could have listened to these four wonderful humans for hours. The audience also seemed to agree with a couple at my table commenting that two other cabaret shows they had been to have been quite disappointing, so they were glad they had come to this one as it was splendid. Mr. 15 also gave it a rave review saying this is who we talk about when we acknowledge emerging leaders isn’t it. Special mention to Nikki Ashby for putting the show together.

Reviewed by Tara Forbes-Godfrey

Season Ended – One Night Only

Rating out of 5: 5

Photo Credit: Claudio Raschella

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