Floriade NightFest


-a musical journey through Canberra’s cultural institutions, with S&S and Worldly Goods choir

Shortis & Simpson and Worldly Goods Choir take you on a musical journey through the rich vein of Canberra’s cultural institutions. Join them as they uncover precious singable gems from the National Library and Film and Sound Archives, vocalise moving tales from the War Memorial and National Archives, and sing of Prime Ministers who once led our country from what is now the Museum of Australian Democracy. What better way to experience these important stories than through the sound of a large and joyous community choir, and the originality and wit of Shortis and Simpson.

Sat Sept 26, 7.30pm/8.30pm, free after entry



-cabaret meets the rich collections of the National Archives, S&S alone

Shortis and Simpson raid the National Archives and their own vast catalogue of songs to explore some of the major landmarks of the last 100 years- Anzacs, conscription, immigration, Prime Ministers, the Constitution and much more. The Archives rich resource will provide personal stories and interesting gems of information that will perfectly complement the wit and poignancy of Shortis and Simpson’s original and collected songs.

Sun Sept 27, 7.30/8.30pm, free after entry

Coming up…Shortis and Simpson’s only satire show of the year- Not Quite Christmas- Bungendore Woodworks Café, Sat Nov 14, Teatro Vivaldi Dec 4 and 5. More details soon.

Jelly Beans, a pop-up choir

On Thursday 6 August at 7pm, I Fagiolini, the exciting English a capella vocal ensemble, will be performing in Llewellyn Hall as part of Musica Viva’s International Concert Season­­ __ and Shortis and Simpson are presenting a pre-show show that gives a quirky take on I Fagiolini, their repertoire, and a capella singing in general. The group’s name translates as ‘Little Beans’, so Shortis and Simpson are forming a pop-up choir called ‘Jelly Beans’, who will join S&S in their performance, Hear 1-minute potted biographies of the likes of Monteverdi, Poulenc and Moliere, and take a quick trip through a capella in the chapel and on the streets, from the Bible to South Africa, to work songs and doo wop.

And the Jelly Beans pop-up choir is open to all singers, so if you’d like to join, a workshop will be held at Belconnen Arts Centre on Sunday August 2, from 2-5pm.

But note- participation in the choir and attendance at the performance is only available to people with tickets to the I Fagiolini concert. For more info on the concert and how to book, go to…. http://www.musicaviva.com.au/whatson/international-concert-season-2015/musicians/IFagiolini

To join the choir register at canberra@musicaviva.com.au.


A Strong Constitution

Proving that the Australian Constitution can be fun

What do the Australian Communist Party, the film The Castle, and 97 undersized crayfish have in common?

Answer – the Australian Constitution.

The Australian Constitution defines the way our country is governed. Voters gave it the nod in referendums well over a century ago. But how much do we understand this important document?

It all comes clear in Shortis & Simpson’s A Strong Constitution, which explores the language, the stories, the cases, the implications of the work of our founding fathers. Sections of the constitution are sung in all sorts of styles- reggae, rock ‘n’ roll, torch song, samba, and more. The show tells the tales of conflicts and solutions from our past, and of potential changes in the future.

In true Shortis & Simpson style A Strong Constitution is informative, entertaining, surprising, funny and poignant. All in less than an hour!

And what’s more, it will be performed metres away from where the very document sits, at the National Archives. Don’t miss A Strong Constitution.   National Archives of Australia, Fri 10 July 6.30 & 8.30pm, Sat 11 July 2.30 & 4.30pm. $15/$12. Bookings essential

Bookings- https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/cabaret-show-a-strong-constitution-with-shortis-and-simpson-tickets-17314948477

Or ring 6212 3600 – 9am-5pm, 7 days a week

Music in the Key of Shortis

A unique take on the world of music

 After a very well-attended series of courses in Canberra, John Shortis now brings his personal quirky take on the topic to the Southern Highlands, exploring its patterns and mysteries- chords, keys, time signatures, modes, harmony, melody, and music notation, explained like never before.

John Shortis is a musician, a songwriter, an arranger, who has made a living from music for over 40 years. He’s written countless songs for kids and adults, orchestrated for full symphony orchestra, written the music for an opera, had 3 composer-in-residences, and much more.

His formal music education is short- a year of piano with the nuns, a year or two of euphonium and trombone in the school brass band- yet his musical knowledge is wide, his passion for music theory palpable, and he is puzzled by the fact that, to many, this gripping area of music is seen as something dull and boring. To him it’s endlessly engrossing, a source of permanent fascination and discovery, a page-turner.

They never knew it, but The Beatles were his surrogate music teachers. Back in the ‘60s, as new songs of theirs came out he would play them by ear, and was intrigued by their chords, their melodies and harmonies, their key changes, time signature shifts, use of modes, and all in a vast range of styles.

His unorthodox learning methods have led him to develop his idiosyncratic slant on the world of music, which will form the basis of a 4 week course, called Music in the Key of Shortis. Full of stories, humour, context, chord wheels and patterns, watch as the mysteries of music unfold from Shortis’s quirky viewpoint.

And what better way to learn about music theory than from a man who’s never had a theory lesson in his life! THIS WILL NOT BE DULL!

‘…..Thank you very much.  I found your explanation memorable, what a privilege to be taught by someone who lives and breathes music and communicates like a poet….Thank you so much John – this is fabulous. As a young kid who found theory overwhelming and just didn’t get it, and gave up, I might just have passed those exams if I’d had your explanations! What I do remember is now falling into place…’

Saturdays May 23/30, June 13/27, 2-4pm                                   

$80/$70 concession                                                                        

Robertson Community Technology Centre                                            58-60 Hoddle Street Robertson (opposite Robertson Farm Machinery)                                                                                           

Bookings essential 6238 1827, or moyajohn@shortisandsimpson.com


Good Evening Europe- the untold story of Eurovision

To mark the 60th Eurovision Song Contest, and Australia’s new role as competitor in the event, Shortis and Simpson take you on a roller coaster ride through six decades of European history, complete with glitter, over-enthusiastic dance moves, and corny songs (there is the odd good one too). Founded in the mid fifties to bring Western Europe together through television, the Eurovision Song Contest is more than singers and songs. It mirrors the extraordinary changes that have occurred in that continent from post-war Iron Curtain to Middle East conflicts, the fall of the Berlin Wall to wars in the Balkans, Polish Popes to Russian grannies, French ballads to pappy pop and world music- it’s all there, and more in Good Evening Europe. Not to mention Abba, Cliff Richard, Sandie Shaw, Buck’s Fizz, Dana, Dana International, the bearded Conchita, and Riverdance. It’s fun, surprising, daggy and moving. So get yourself to Vivaldi’s the week before the 60th show hits the airwaves, and boom-bang-a-bang, ring-ding-a-ding, and ding-ding-a-dong. Four shows only.

Teatro Vivaldi, ANU campus

Thurs/Fri/Sat May 14/15/16, 7pm (3 course dinner and show) $70/$80/$90(depending on seating)

Show only $30/$40/$50, 8.30pm

Sun May 17, 5.30pm (canapés and show) $40/$50/$60(no show only)

Bookings 6257 2718




John Shortis has been working with the community in the Dandenongs area east of Melbourne, to create a show for the Anzac centenary, based on local stories. It has a cast of 300 kids and adults, a 50-piece band, and Shortis and Simpson.

Mt Evelyn Discovery Church, Sat Apr 18, 2pm

Belgrave Heights Convention Centre, Mon Apr 20, 7pm

To book……http://www.trybooking.com/HCEL

OUT OF THE CABINET 1988 and 1989

OUT OF THE CABINET 1988 and 1989

Cabinet documents meet the Enlighten Festival

Another lot of cabinet documents have been released at the National Archives, and as usual Shortis and Simpson will present a musical and satirical look at the relevant years (1988 and 1989), accompanied by an overview from Archives historian, Dr Nicholas Brown.

’88 and ’89 gave us the Bicentennial, new Parliament House was opened, the Fitzgerald Inquiry was in full swing, George Bush senior became US President, the events at Tiananmen Square unfolded and the Berlin Wall fell. Bob Hawke cried on national television, Andrew Peacock replaced John Howard as Opposition leader, and it was the time when the first ACT elections were held.

Our music charts were jumping with the hits of Crowded House, Madonna, Tracy Chapman, The Bangles, U2, Bobby McFerrin, INXS, Ian Moss and much more.

Out of the Cabinet is part of the Enlighten Festival, so make it a night out- see our public buildings illuminated, and enjoy Shortis & Simpson’s humorous musical journey through 1988 and 1989. These shows always book out, so book now.

National Archives of Australia. Fri March 6, Sat March 7, 6.30pam and 8.30pm each night. $16/$13 concession. Event lasts 1 hour. To book go to http://premier.ticketek.com.au/shows/Show.aspx?sh=OUTOFTHE15




Songs of migration to accompany A Ticket to Paradise?

A Ticket to Paradise? is an exhibition that delves into the rich diversity of the nation’s migrants and their experiences, and looks at promotional campaigns which presented a Utopian view of Australia as a welcoming country full of opportunity. The exhibition features archival film footage, audio recordings, and many images of migrants taken between the 1940s and 1990s, and a special interactive globe featuring personal stories of migration.

Join Shortis and Simpson and their Worldly Goods choir as they perform songs related to this theme, then have a wander through the exhibition.

National Archives of Australia, Queen Victoria Terrace, Fri/Sat Feb 27/28, 7pm, free. No bookings required. Performance lasts 20 minutes.


We,ve Got Our Standards

Shortis and Simpson present a Christmas show with hardly a Shortis original song in sight. It’s because their new show, We’ve Got Our Standards, is made up of well-known songs, but given the Shortis and Simpson treatment.

Their definition of standards includes the American songbook, but goes way beyond into the worlds of classical, folk, world music, country, TV themes, and of course Christmas songs. And they’ll sing about some of the hot topics, political and otherwise of recent times in parodies of well-known songs.

Hear You Are My Sunshine in a Turkish scale, Blue Moon given a Japanese flavour, Puppet on a String gone bluesy, Abba as Berlin cabaret. Then there’s Dylan, Cohen, The Beatles, Johnny Mercer, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Slim Dusty, Roy Orbison, and much more.

For a great night’s entertainment, with unpredictable and quirky musical moments, plenty of humour and Christmas spirit, don’t miss We’ve Got Our Standards.

Teatro Vivaldi, ANU campus, Sat Nov 29, 7pm (3 course dinner and show) $70/$80/$90.Show only $30/$40/$50, 8.30pm. Sun Nov 30, 5.30pm (canapés and show) $35/$45/$55. Bookings 6257 2718 or vivaldirestaurant.com.au


For a joyous blend of world music, and songs related to the venue, spend a pleasant half hour with Worldly Goods community choir.

High Court, Sunday Dec 7, 1pm, free


Coming up….


Australian music before rock ‘n’ roll

Direct from Canberra, Australia, John Shortis and Moya Simpson present, in Lanark, Scotland, their unique style of documentary cabaret in Tin Pan Aussie, the story of an emerging Australia, as seen through its popular music.

Shortis is a musician, songwriter and music historian, Simpson a singer and comedienne. Together they combine surprising research with musical versatility, humour and poignancy to take you back to the first half of the twentieth century, to a remote nation that enthusiastically embraced whatever was on offer from Britain and the USA, and added its own perspective to create a popular music industry that was unknown to the rest of the world.

Tin Pan Aussie traces the journey from ragtime to rock ‘n’ roll, Antipodean style- from the ubiquitous piano carried by bullock cart to every corner of the outback, to the portable ukulele that came with the Hawaiian music craze, from the yodels of hillbilly music to the razzamatazz of vaudeville and dance bands, and much more.

Lurking throughout the show is a tale of a young nation forging a new federal political system, finding its identity in a world coping with the pressures of the Depression and two world wars, and grappling with its acceptance of its indigenous people.

Tin Pan Aussie is rich with well-known (in Australia) ditties like I Like Aeroplane Jelly, Along the Road to Gundagai, Our Don Bradman, and rediscovered gems such as Sheep Dip Blues, Bridge of Our Dreams Come True, and Memories of a Lovely Lei. For laughter, tears, musical heights and depths, and a new slant on Australian culture and history, don’t miss Tin Pan Aussie.

St Mary’s Club Rooms, Lanark, Scotland, Wed Sept 3, 7.45 pm. Bookings www.musicatlanark.co.uk

Then on Oct 23, Shortis and Simspon perform Prime Time, a cabret show based on John Shortis’s songs about all of our Prime mInisters. At the State Library in Perth. Details available soon.

And on Sat Nov 29/Sun Nov 30, Shortis and Simpson will perform We’ve Got Our Standards, a personal and quirky take on their choices of well-known songs. Hardly a Shortis original in sight. Details available soon.



A Liberal Dose of Shortis and Simpson

Has the new Senate raised your temperature, given you a headache, caused nausea? Is your mind being twisted from left to right as Titanic Clive espouses an ETS, and Green Christine pushes for no tax rises on petrol? Or do you simply have a bad case of Abbottosis, or Shortenitis? Whatever it is that has you as sick as a PUP, A Liberal Dose of Shortis and Simpson may be just the tonic you need. With an epidemic of afflictions and disorders the order of the day on Capital Hill, Doctors Shortis and Simpson have a remedy based on a mix of wit, irreverence, and the odd guffaw. To kick the Abbott habit, lose the Bill chill, wean yourself off Christine, and survive Clive, take A Liberal Dose of Shortis and Simpson, administered twice only at Smith’s Alternative Bookshop, in the Melbourne Building, on Sunday August 10. If pain continues, consult your doctor. (But be warned, expect a co-payment of $7).

Smith’s Alternative Bookshop, 76 Alinga St, Civic. Sun Aug 10, 3pm/7pm.

$30/$25 concession. Bookings www.trybooking.com/94348


a musical sunset

 Voices meet strings as the sun goes down over Lake Ginninderra, when Worldly Goods Choir and Canberra Mandolin Orchestra lift the ceiling off the Belconnen Arts Centre with their tunes and croons, their humming and strumming.

Linked by the comic cabaret of Shortis and Simpson, these two community groups celebrate the nationalities and cultural backgrounds represented by their participants. Traditional music from Greece, Italy, Finland, Germany, Russia, and France meets Henry Lawson, Freddie Mercury, Aeroplane Jelly and more.

StringSing brings the choir and orchestra together for the first time, sharing repertoire and stories, within the extraordinary acoustics of the Belconnen foyer. Rich textures and joyous sounds, humour and heartbreak, singing and stringing- all will be present at this not-to-be missed musical sunset.

As John Shortis writes in his theme song-

When it comes to a beautiful fake lake,

It’s you that takes the cake,

Lake Ginninderra,

When it comes to a home a duck and drake make,

It’s you that takes the cake,

Lake Ginninderra,

Dive in and swim,

And string and sing,


Sunday July 6, Belconnen Arts Centre, 5pm.                                  $25/$22concession/$15 students (plus small booking fee)                  To book, go to-https://belconnenarts.iwannaticket.com.au/event/stringsing-NzM5MA


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