She’s been tapping her toes on stage since she was three years old and since then Miss Mandy Swings has enjoyed an international career.
We sat down for a chat with the local lass about her colourful history as a Gold Coast performer and her thoughts on the future of our city’s music scene.
What was like growing up on the Gold Coast as a performer?
Similar to today, there were dance studios leading to eisteddfods and talent quests. Tropicarnival was a big highlight, performing on stage in Cavill Avenue. There was no Arts Centre early on, so the opportunity to perform in a theatre, with wings, backstage areas and state of the art sound and lighting wasn’t available. It’s a great addition to the Gold Coast for the young talent of today to perform in a professional venue with the opportunity to audition for musicals, The Junior Green Room project and school holiday workshops with industry artists.
What unique opportunities were you given as a local artist here?
I was lucky enough to audition for the Casino when I finished school and performed in two productions – Starz and Galaxies as an acrobat and singer/dancer, the greatest first professional contracts ever! I learned so much from the Directors, Choreographers, guest acts and the cast and crew. We had a live orchestra, galloping horses and a Cadillac driven onto the stage. There was a rotating floor and world-class sets and costumes, it was mind blowing. After the show we’d head to Surfers and perform in the nightclubs doing dance shows at Twains, The Penthouse and Cocktails and Dreams. After a stint in Japan I came home to sing jazz in the piano bar at The Sheraton Mirage. In the corporate market my 9-piece band Oz Hornz have played all the big ballrooms and functions around town. We’ve had the pleasure of playing support for a lot of celebrities – Harry Connick Jnr. and Chris Isaaks being a highlight at the Indy Ball.
You’re performing at Sunday Sounds this weekend, what can we expect from your set?
I’m performing with my quartet to kick off the afternoon of Swing. You can look forward to Natalie Cole and the big band singers of years gone by – Doris Day, Bette Midler, Ella Fitzgerald. I’m a singer and dancer so you won’t see me keep still. The bouncy swing of songs like Stuff Like That There and Get Happy is infectious.
What do you love most about swing music?
Definitely the vibe, it makes you feel good. The lyrics and story telling of the old tunes give you a sense of how much times have changed. The rhythm is so relaxed and cruisey. I love watching the swing dancers kicking their legs and throwing their partners around. The greatest part of swing music is a live band and the horns! You go along for the ride and never know where they will take you.
How have you seen the Gold Coast’s music scene grow in your time as a performer?
I have seen the music scene grow in certain areas. The introduction of Surfers Paradise Festival, Blues on Broadbeach and the Country Music Festival have been great. Miami Marketta and The NightQuarter have also provided locals with options to see live acts. Sunday Sounds at Sanctuary Cove is giving locals a great variety of music and entertainment for families to enjoy. The Broadwater Parklands is a great venue for Christmas Carols and some duos on the weekend. I do like the idea of entertainment in our parks; we have the best climate for outdoor events. Twin Towns have been great supporters of live music and continue to do so. Our local RSL and Sports Clubs are providing a great opportunity for our musicians and entertainers to get some experience too.
Back in the day live rock venues and Sunday sessions were big on the Coast. Live rock, pop and horn bands were something you could go out and enjoy. Kids who are learning instruments actually got to see musicians performing their craft because it gave them something to aspire to.
What do you think is the future of music here?
I think there is a very positive vibe around the GC. There are a lot of people in the industry pushing to keep music alive and live. We have some of the best players/tutors on the Coast teaching our younger generation their instruments. I hope that we can get more live music back in to venues with more players on stage. I’ve seen it at functions; some young people are in awe and have never seen a live band. The young musos need to know they are mastering their talent and have somewhere they can play a live show.
How did your career kick off?
I started singing and dancing at three years old. After performing on a talent show with Paul Sharratt at 10 years old, another producer was looking for young singers and dancers for his program. I made it on to Channel 7’s Super Saturday as a regular junior performing weekly through to high school until I graduated and left for the Casino.
What does the future hold for you?
My business Oz Hornz Entertainment keeps me very busy with all our different acts. I’m performing with my rock/pop band Funky Monkeys at Steampunk Surfers on July 8th, which I am very excited about. I’m pushing to get live bands back into some local venues before the world gets here next April for the Commonwealth Games. I have many dreams to fulfill in this crazy life; cruise ships are on the hit list with my Beehives Tribute Show.
Your favourite piece of life advice…
I live by a few rules:
Beach: The Broadwater and South Currigee. I’m a boaty so our family jump off the grid a couple of times a year and chill out tubing and camping on the Island. If I had to choose a beach it would be The Spit.
Café: Meraki Wholefood Kitchen in Chirn Park
Restaurant: Thai Magik Chirn Park
Music venue: Steampunk Surfers Paradise
uxtaposed against the sparkling Coolangatta sea is the dark and grungy good-time den that is Eddie’s Grub House.
It’s a New Orleans-style dive bar and rock n roll personified with a dartboard in the corner and chalkboard pillars sporting cheeky messages and tiny works of art. Framed photos of Elvis and the like adorn the back wall while another is stacked high with a collection of spirits the King himself would be proud of.
Put simply Eddie’s Grub House is all the good things you won’t find anywhere else on the Gold Coast and if that’s not enough to persuade you, their new menu definitely will.
Eddie’s war cry reads “Whiskey, beer and fried chicken. All Marinated in Blues and Rock ‘n’ Roll” and while this is true, burgers and hot dogs are the stars of the latest show.
The Menage Abbatoir consists of an all beef patty, two southern fried chicken tenders, bacon, cheese, an onion ring filled with red cheddar, Coopers Ale BBQ sauce and special sauce – it’s a doozey, good luck. Not quite that brave? The Philly Cheeseburger also packs an all beef patty simply plus cheese, sautéed mushrooms, onions and peppers. The Sloppy Joe Cocker is a beef party, chilli con carne, sour cream and shallots. Prepare to get saucy.
Onto to the hot dogs. They’re all made with Eddie’s signature jalapeno, course ground dogs rammed into a milk bun and served with fries of course. The O.G is literally that – a timeless hot dog classic filled with ketchup, mustard and red cheddar cheese. The Philly Cheese Dog boasts matching ingredients to the burger of the same name but dog-style.
If all that’s not enough to render you useless for the rest of the day add on some Texas Chilli Cheese Fries – they’re coated with Eddie’s fire dust, bacon and scallions and smothered in hot cheese sauce.
Forgive us for we have sinned.
HOURS: Tuesday to Thursday 12pm to 10.30pm, Friday and Saturday 12pm to 12am and Sunday 12pm to 10pm.
LOCATION: 171 Griffith Street, Coolangatta.
Words and photos by Kirra Smith.
There’s never been a more important time to support our local hospitality business’ and musicians for a dose of live music in South East Queensland. Whether you’re the mid-week beer sipping and knee-slapping type or the seltzer slurping weekend warrior: live music is here for us all. Across the Gold Coast, there are abundant options for you to get involved in live music, with a breadth of venues all with their unique personalities and offerings.
So tell mum not to wait up, and head out to these live music venues across our lively city (listed north to south)!
The largest AFL club in Queensland, Southport Sharks has been up and running since 1961. Every weekend they showcase local musical talent, including tribute bands and good old rock and roll (or maybe a spot of karaoke is more up your alley?). There are endless food options, but we suggest starting your night at one of the Gold Coast’s most northern rooftop bars Aviary and fuel up to power through those dance sessions.
Where: Cnr Musgrave and Olsen Avenues, Southport
Not ones to hang around, this Southport rockin’ bar has hosted over 700 live music events in their short lifespan, and on any given night of the week, there is always something going down. Vinnies is in every inch of the word a dive bar, and inside you’ll find walls decked out with album covers, and an overall moody, low-lit vibe where revellers dance up a storm.
Where: Shops A & B, 44A Nerang Street, Southport
When it comes to finding live acts and having yourself a good time in the central Gold Coast, you’ll be hard pushed to look past The Avenue in Surfers Paradise. If you don’t believe us, check it out for yourself; there is literally something on every night of the week. Feeling the work week getting the better of you? Then we suggest you hit up their Tunes Tuesdays or House Music Thursdays, but if you can survive till the weekend, you’ll be spoilt with a variety of live music and the best partygoing atmosphere.
Where: 3-15 Orchid Avenue, Surfers Paradise
Should you arrive by jet ski or by Uber, it doesn’t matter. Surfers Pavilion is your one-stop venue in the heart of Surfers Paradise for drinks, eats and catching a live DJ set or two. And not just any disc jockeys either; The Stafford Brothers and Peking Duk have both played to jubilant crowds here in recent times. Currently, the wheels of steel are spinning Thursday and Friday evenings and all through the weekend: perfect long weekend territory.
Where: 30/34 Ferny Avenue, Surfers Paradise
Hard Rock Café
Climb the stairway to heaven and enjoy handcrafted cocktails, impossible to ignore thick shakes, and a freshly prepared Americana menu over an impressive local rock music guest list. Since the first live music performance (Sir Paul McCartney no less) in 1973, the Hard Rock Cafe chains have been the home of live music and this Surfers Paradise institution is no different. Not just a great way to start off your weekend, there’s also mid-week events like musical bingo to cure any hump day melancholy.
Where: Corner Cavill Avenue and Surfers Paradise Boulevard, Surfers Paradise
The Home of the Arts is certainly doing the heavy lifting to finally elevate the arts and culture scene here in our section of Queensland. From headline acts performing on one of Australia’s best outdoor stage to intimate gigs indoors, variety is certainly what comes to mind when visiting a HOTA show. They’ve now decided your afternoons deserve an injection of outdoor live music too, now presenting Fridays on the Lawn. With a host of local talent scheduled to celebrate the end of the working week, we suggest you grab a blanket, acquire a drink from their lawn bar, and relax in their sophisticated sun-kissed setting as you plot your moves for the weekend.
Where: HOTA, 135 Bundall Road, Surfers Paradise
Open Tuesday to Sunday for your listening pleasure, Den Devine feature jazz and blues artists from a talent pool right here in our city. This intimate hidden venue is well-known amongst live muisc fans, so we definitely recommend booking in advance to nab a seat. Grab a bev from their serious selection of whisky (the perfect accompaniment to some moody blues), a Mediterranean dish from their menu (it might sound like an odd fit, but trust us, the food is delish!) and make yourself comfortable as you’re treated to a fine selection of the best performers on the Gold Coast.
Where: 15 Victoria Avenue, Broadbeach
Garden Kitchen & Bar at The Star Gold Coast
When it comes to star-studded acts and internationally recognised music performances, The Star Gold Coast is the place to grab a seat in a full-blown theatre and experience music as it was intended. On the regular, though, you will find Garden Kitchen & Bar’s Live on the Lawn sessions a worthy alternative between headline acts. Each week they kick things off on a Friday evening and don’t let up until late Sunday night, with different music for every taste. Local band, McKenzie invite you to bop along to their Sunday residency with their energetic mix of feel-good pop-rock — a classic way to see the week out. Once you settle in, you’ll also be looked after with their dedicated lawn bar, and container kitchen, meaning leaving is one of the hardest things to do.
Where: 1 Casino Drive, Broadbeach
Having duly stamped its authority on the Nobby Beach bar scene as the place to go for frolic fuelled nights, these guys will have you rocking out until the wee hours with a live band or DJ every night of the week. The venue also offers new bands the chance to get themselves out there, so keep an eye out for fresh talent!
Where: 2245 Gold Coast Highway, Nobbys Beach
The Cambus Wallace
Jump aboard and set sail to a nautical-infused destination full of food, rum, and live music. The Cambus Wallace awaits you for a night filled with charismatic blues, raw acoustic sets, and finger flicking vinyl delights. Depending on your taste, take your pick and be sure you try at least one of their cocktails!
Where: 2237 Gold Coast Highway, Nobbys Beach
Open from 5pm every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday nights, Miami comes alive with foods from all around the world mixed with local blues, jazz and independent artists. And this isn’t all — the venue is one of the prime places to catch amazing national and international acts as they tour the country and drop by. Be sure to keep an eye on their gig calendar; tickets always sell out fast!
Where: 23 Hillcrest Parade, Miami
Burleigh’s original back alley after-hours haunt is always an epic time. Nightjar is known for late-night revelry and an often stellar line-up of weekly live music. With drink specials aplenty, come and enjoy local acts as they take to the floor and keep the swinging yet sultry atmosphere going long into the night.
Where: Justin Lane, Burleigh Heads
Mo’s Desert Clubhouse
Combining events, gigs, workshops, yoga classes, and collaborative office spaces, Mo’s Desert Clubhouse is a melting pot of goings-on and a principal meeting place for the Gold Coast’s coolest movers and shakers. The industrial-style venue is outfitted with a bar and has a plethora of gigs lined up for the rest of the year. Make sure you pencil in a date with Mo’s Desert Clubhouse ASAP.
Where: 6/36 Central Drive, Burleigh Heads
Burleigh Brewing Co.
Beer and music is an ensemble that will never die. Burleigh Brewery approaches their live music offering just the same way as they make their beer: balance, character and soul. Local acts are regularly paired with food trucks and your favourite brews from Friday through to Sunday. There’s also the occasional art show, movies under the stars and theatre performance for good measure. Oh and did we mention exceptional beer?
Where: 2 Ern Harley Drive, Burleigh Heads
It’s one of the Gold Coast’s favourite live music venues, having hosted local, national and international acts — but also remains one of our best-kept secrets. Find your way down to Currumbin RSL, where Soundlounge hosts acts from folk soloists and DJs to rock and roll bands. Listening to fantastic live music can be a hungry business, but this venue has you covered with food options, including pizza, an a la carte restaurant and bar snacks.
Where: 165 Duringan Street, Currumbin
The Coolangatta Hotel
Whether you’ve been catching world-class waves or lounging in the afternoon sun, Coolangatta — and specifically the Coolangatta Hotel — is the place to round out a perfect afternoon with live music. Being one of the Gold Coast’s largest live music venues, this venue features both national and international touring bands and DJs on any given weekend. The vast space has long been famous for all types of weekend warriors to dance the night away — just don’t forget that Monday morning meeting.
Where: Cnr Warner Street and Marine Parade, Coolangatta
Words by Alex Mitcheson.
A world of fantasy is set to grace the Gold Coast with the premiere of BLANC de BLANC, a sizzling circus show direct from London’s West End.
From the creative minds behind Madonna’s recent Rebel Heart Tour, this brand new production will have audiences immersed in a world of overflowing champagne bottles, sparkles and glimmer, the perfect treat for those who love a little glitz and glam.
Selling-out its critically acclaimed seasons at the Sydney Opera House, Brisbane Festival and London’s West End, BLANC de BLANC will serve up titillating acts to both excite and delight.
The show brings the finest cabaret and acrobatic talent from around the world into a wild, shimmering night – expect big moves, great tunes, lots of skin, and more than a few surprises!
Director Scott Maidment says, “I wanted to create a new circus show, which I like to call ‘champagne cabaret’ that transports the audience into a heady, bubble filled overflowing, crazy party. Every act in the show is inspired by champagne, with giant bubbles, foam, a human champagne fountain and lots more surprises!”
It’s a beautifully unique addition to 2017’s Bleach Festival and a definite must-see.