Ball Games

18 July 2012 | 6:15 am | Tony McMahon

“The feeling in the room over the last three years has been beautiful. That’s what makes me want to do it again... The winter elves do their work and transform the corner into something special."

This year's fourth annual Winter Ball fundraiser at the Corner Hotel looks set to be the best yet. It takes more than a little these days to get this world-weary scribe excited, but the imagery of punters in their finest, gliding as if on ice through a specially dressed Corner, with music from the dreamy Orbweavers and Blackeyed Susan Rob Snarski, to mention only a fraction of what this evening offers, does the job decidedly well. Inpress spoke to organiser and frontman of The Zhivagos, Charles Jenkins, and we begin with a history of the event.

“The concept came from wanting to promote a record I had out four years ago, Blue Atlas. As egotistical as I am, it does get a little bit weird throwing these soirees to highlight one's own record all this time later. So it was quickly decided there would be a charity and we'd put together some musical parameters around it. It's a fairly loose concept, but I like to include people who have recently released a record or are about to, and they need to be great songs sung really well.”

Talking of singing well, Winter Ball 4 features the return of arguably Australia's greatest singer, Rob Snarski but, as Jenkins rightly points out, he won't be Robinson Crusoe.

“I saw Rob Snarski with The Blackeyed Susans a couple of years ago at another fundraiser at the Corner. Watching from the side of the stage it was just a masterclass in how to perform a song. It was just very fucking impressive, so Rob was obviously on my wish list. He's going to sing a Paul Kelly song called Wintercoat. But Rob's not alone. I think Anna Burley from The Killjoys has developed into an incredible singer. I don't know if people give her the credit she deserves. Suzannah Espie has an incredible voice. And Cash Savage and Linda Dacio are there to just be fine examples of Melbourne singers. I'm pretty pleased with that side of the ledger. Mikelangelo and Quincy Jones are going to be doing a duet together, which is going to be… I'm not quite sure what the right word would be… stunning, I think.”

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This writer would have perhaps gone with something along the lines of 'man crush-inducing', but anyway. As mentioned earlier, Winter Ball 4 is a charity event, as well as a not to be missed musical extravaganza, and Jenkins explains the thinking behind his charity-of-choice of Support Act, who provide medical and financial aid to musicians in times of hardship.

“I've been aware of Support Act for a while now, and when we decided to do this event, we thought of them. It just makes sense, really, for musicians to be raising money for other musicians, I think. It wasn't a very hard decision to make. Support act is one of those ideas, because you wonder why no one had thought of it earlier. I hope everyone realises that we're all giving out time here in the hope of raising money for charity. I'm appealing for people to, you know, come out. There's worse ways to spend a Saturday night.”

Which brings us to possibly the best aspect of an event like this: namely that punters attending get the not-inconsiderable benefit of enjoying both a terrific line-up as well as putting something back into the community. Guilt-free punting. Kind of like having one's musical cake and eating it too.

“The feeling in the room over the last three years has been beautiful. That's what makes me want to do it again. I'm not a fan of weeks of organisational duties, but I just get sucked back into doing it again, so yes, it is a win-win situation for everybody involved. The winter elves do their work and transform the corner into something special. So musically speaking it will be stupendous and visually jaw-dropping.”