EARTHBeat is a concert presented by Common Ground Exhibitions & Research, featuring Ecopella acapella choir, and Shortis and Simpson, celebrating our amazing country as it calls us to care for its future.

Established by Miguel Heatwole in Sydney in 1988, the environmental choir Ecopella sings about the beauty of our world and the struggle to protect it from exploitation and destruction, all with a sense of fun and an abundance of positive and satirical messages.

In their 17 years of living in the region, Shortis and Simpson have built an extensive repertoire of original compositions honouring the power of nature and celebrating places in the land, from songs with local references to more global environmental issues, and with plenty of satire.

And the two acts will combine in a moving finale.

Saturday October, 8:00pm, $30/$25 concession, tickets available at

More Information:

Doors Open: 7.30pm

Delicious snacks available from our environmentally friendly caterer: 7.30-8pm and interval




Worldy Goods goes to court

As part of Canberra’s Centenary, a Musical Offering presents music every day of 2013 in venues beyond traditional theatres and concert halls. Worldly Goods choir will present its musical offering assisted by the amazing acoustics of the High Court foyer. Songs from around the world, some with links to the goings on within the building over the years, will reverberate.

Sunday November 10, 2.30pm, High Court foyer, free. No bookings required

A Suppository of Wisdom

 Suffering from post-election blues? Then get rid of the crap with a dose of witty, irreverent, up-to-date musical satire from Shortis and Simpson

For some time now the politicians, with their gaffes and follies, have been writing Shortis and Simpson’s material for them. Now they’re giving them the titles. Thanks to a beautiful slip of the tongue by Mr Malaprop himself, Tony Abbott, their next satire show is a way to clear the crap after the post-election blues. Watch and listen as they turn the dullest election campaign of our times into fun and laughter, with some very new songs to be written once the results are known. The usual witty irreverence will prevail, and all in the intimate confines of a newish cabaret venue, right in the heart of the city. Don’t miss Shortis and Simpson in their first satire show since March.   Smith’s Alternative Bookshop,76 Alinga St Canberra, Thurs/Fri Sept 12/13, 8pm, Sat Sept 14, 5pm. $30/$25 concession. Bookings 6247 4459, or drop in any day from 10am.


Come out of the shower and sing!

As part of the BLOOM FESTIVAL, Moya Simpson will be running a VOICE WORKSHOP for singers and non-singers alike. If you’ve always wanted to sing, come along and explore your voice, improvise, harmonise in the safety of a large group. All welcome. The Ralph Wilson Theatre, Gorman House, Saturday 21st. September, 10am to 4pm. Cost $45 or $40 concession.

MICHAEL FRANCIS WILLOUGHBY IN ELOHGULP                                  Jigsaw Theatre presents a show for 8-12 year olds about a little boy who won’t get out of the bath and goes down the plughole to Elohgulp. It’s a world full of all the ugly stuff that gets washed down the drain. Here you will meet the Drits, made up of murky, mucky bits and bobs and blobs, the Assupods, all froth and suds, and the Gludse, the most terrifying of creatures… made all the more frightening because you created it. Michael Francis Willoughby in Elohgulp will take you into a world made from puppetry and music, light and sound. Original music by John Shortis. Canberra Theatre Centre, 28 Sept- 12 Oct. $25adults/$20concession/$15 children/$75 family. Bookings and info 

One River On Air

The Murray Darling Basin hits the sound waves 

What does an endangered frog have in common with a fly fisherman, a carillonist, a post-war migrant, and a monster that inhabits a fake lake? They’ve all got stories to tell about our local waterways, and they all appear in One River On Air, a community radio show to be broadcast on ArtSound FM on Sunday August 25 at 4pm.

Shortis and Simpson have been digging out yarns about local connections to the Murray-Darling Basin, writing songs in community songwriting workshops, and collecting already existing songs, to present this funny, moving and entertaining radio show. And, being radio, there are sound effects, a quiz, a news flash, a weather report, an ad, and a talkback segment, all featuring a range of community voices.

In One River on Air you’ll also hear Worldly Goods Choir, the Cyrenes women’s choir, the students from St John the Apostle Primary School, The Ukulele Republic of Canberra, the National Carillon, and many local voices.

One River On Air is the ACT contribution to a Centenary of Canberra project, One River, in which 10 communities from Qld, NSW, ACT, Vic and SA participate in arts projects that tell of their connections to the Murray Darling Basin.

One River On Air will be broadcast on Sun Aug 25 at 4pm on ArtSound FM, 92.7 (90.3 in the Tuggeranong Valley).


At Belconnen Arts Centre on Sat Aug 24, all 10 communities of the One River project come together. Immerse yourself in the lived experience of the Murray-Darling Basin, told through story, song, dance, film, sound and artefact. Touch it. Hear it. Breathe it. Audio-visual installations including performance events. Open from 10am. Event time 4-8pm. Free no booking required.

Then on Sun Aug 25 at the National Museum of Australia- Critical Undercurrents. Symposium and artists’ talks. Visions Theatre 10am-4pm, lunch included. Bookings essential.

One River is a Centenary of Canberra project, proudly supported by the ACT Government and the Australian Government.



Commissioned by the Centenary of Canberra, award-winning theatre company Urban Theatre Projects has collaborated with local Canberra artists to create this bold and compelling new work. And Moya Simpson is one of those local artists, along with Jeremy Broom, Casey Keed and Benjamin Slabb, being led out of their comfort zones by co-directors Rosie Dennis and Alicia Talbot.

Catalogue of Dreams tells a multi-faceted story of the lives of young people at risk in the ACT.

The Sydney Morning Herald has called Urban Theatre Projects ‘…refreshingly honest, unpatronising and bullshit free…’

It’s on at The Courtyard Studio, Canberra Theatre Centre London Circuit, Canberra, from Wed 17 July to Sat 27 July. Bookings 6275 2700, or at Canberra Theatre box office, or


..and also…. ONE RIVER

One River is a Centenary of Canberra project in which 10 artists in communities within the Murray Darling Basin facilitate community engagement and story sharing towards creating exceptional works of art around the river theme.

Shortis and Simpson are leading the Canberra component of the project, involving a massed choir (based around the Worldly Goods Choir), massed ukuleles (the Ukulele Republic of Canberra), a community songwriting group, and the National Carillon.

The result will be a broadcast to be aired on ArtSound FM and other community stations after August 2013.

You can witness the recording of the One River theme song written by John Shortis for choir and carillon on Sun Aug 18 at Aspen Island (recording at 10am, world premiere performance as part of the regular carillon recital between 12.30 and 1.20pm.)

Then on Sat Aug 24, representatives from all 10 communities will be converging on Canberra for a gala event at Belconnen Arts Centre. More details soon.


Bob Hawke meets Cyndi Lauper

Our annual performance at the National Archives, to accompany the release of 1984-5 Cabinet papers.  Historian Dr Jim Stokes presents a wry look at the records themselves, while we set the social, political and musical scene. And what years they were- elections in Australia and US, Howard replaces Peacock as Opposition Leader, Keating flexes his muscle. It’s the era of Live Aid, We Are the World, Girls Just Want To Have Fun, Halleluiah, Like a Virgin, and much more. National Archives of Australia, Queen Victoria Terrace, Parkes, Sat/Sun Feb 2/3, 11am/2pm, free. Bookings More information 6212 3956


PRIME TIME- the songs

John Shortis has written 52 songs about all 27 of our PMs (it is election year, so that number is up for review). We are currently recording them all, and creating weekly segments to be played on national community radio throughout 2013. In Canberra you can catch them on Artsound FM 92.7, each Monday, just after the 6 o’clock news


PRIME TIME- the show

27 PMs at their best and worst

With John Shortis as researcher/songwriter and John Romeril as writer/ dramaturg, Catherine Langman as director, Prime Time is an original musical/ theatrical production, part of the Centenary of Canberra, performed by a cast of thousands, including Shortis and Simpson, two other actor/singers, and Worldly Goods Choir. Cabaret, comedy, drama, community involvement, archival sound and images collide in this epic tale of public and private lives, of a populous responding to dramatic and fast-changing events, and of an evolving capital city. Funny, moving, informative, entertaining. Bookings open now. The Q Theatre, Queanbeyan, May 23-June 1. $39/$34 concession and groups, $29 matinees., 6285 6290


Out of the Cabinet Room

Coming up February 2nd and 3rd to accompany the release of 1984-85 Cabinet documents at the National Archives.

Details Soon.

All Our Worldly Goods

CD launch
It’s taken a while, but Worldly Goods Choir has made its first CD, Sombamba.
It’s a community choir CD with a difference! There are special guests, all of whom have some connection to our choir, and each has recorded a track with the choir. Margret RoadKnight, Frankie Armstrong, Valanga and Andrea Khoza, (who took many choir members to South Africa) Su Hart and Ian Moss (yes – the Cold Chisel guitarist) have all generously helped to make the CD a very special one.
The launch of Sombamba will be in the form of an amazing concert featuring the choir, with Shortis and Simpson and special guests from Melbourne, Valanga and Andrea Khoza, who specialise in the music of South Africa.
And for secret shower singers, or confident warblers, Valanga and Andrea are running a workshop open to anyone the day before the launch. All welcome.
CD LAUNCH- Sun Nov 25, 5.30pm, $30/$25 conc./$15 children
WORKSHOP- Sat Nov 24, 2pm to 5pm, $45/$35 conc.
Bookings 6173 3300. More info

The act you’ve known for all these years – 50 years with the Beatles

Teatro Vivaldi and Shortis and Simpson present

Fri Nov 2/Sat Nov 3
7pm (show starts 8.30pm)
Dinner and show $65/$75/$85
Show only $30/$40/$50

Sun Nov 4, 5.30pm
Canapés, glass of champagne
Bookings 6257 2718
For more information
or 6230 4868


Can you believe it is 50 years since The Beatles signed with Parlophone Records and released their first single, Love Me Do?

To celebrate this important anniversary, avid researcher John Shortis and extraordinary singer Moya Simpson will once again combine to give their quirky and personal take on this amazing group, its impact on the world, and on them. Your favourite Beatles songs will all be there (Please Please Me, I Want To Hold Your Hand, All My Loving, If I Fell, And I love Her, Eight Days a Week, Yesterday, Help, Nowhere Man, Eleanor Rigby, A Day in the Life, Blackbird, Let It Be, Something, and many, many more), as well as surprising rarities, and stories that are both familiar and little-known. From Liverpool to Hamburg, London to the world, with a special segment on The Beatles in Australia (did you know that Molly Meldrum was removed from a Beatles concert in Melbourne for screaming too enthusiastically?) Be touched, have a laugh, relive memories, discover something new. Start growing your hair, and book now!




Woody – One night only!


This year there are many celebrations around the world to mark the centenary of American folk songwriter Woody Guthrie (born July 14 1912).

To celebrate this landmark anniversary here in Canberra, Shortis and Simpson present Woody– the songs, the life and the influence of this legendary minstrel.

In his imitable fashion, John Shortis has researched Woody’s life story, found the quotes, the quirky anecdotes, the surprising tidbits, and the grand moments that define his life and work.

The stars of the show, though, are Woody’s extraordinary songs- dust bowl ballads, work songs, union songs, hobo songs, talking blues, children’s songs, love songs, songs that mark milestones in the story of America in the early and mid twentieth century, songs that have influenced generations of singer/songwriters.

In Woody, Shortis tells the stories, plays keyboard and guitar. Moya Simpson breathes new life into the Guthrie songbook with her amazing range, vocal versatility, and comic flair. And Dave O’Neill, steeped in the folk tradition, brings an incredible authenticity to the show with his virtuosic fiddle/guitar/mandolin playing, not to mention a good dose of singing.

The well-known Woody songs will be there- This Land Is Your Land, So Long It’s Been Good To Know You, Deportee, Do-Re-Mi, Pretty Boy Floyd, Union Maid, Pastures of Plenty, Riding in My Car etc, as well as lesser known gems from his prolific typewriter, the songs that influenced him.

For a moving, musical, informative, and quite often humorous tribute to the great Woody Guthrie, don’t miss Woody.

Quenbeyan Artists Shed, 14 Foster Street Quenbeyan. Ph. 0412 463388


Celebrating the 70th anniversary of an important year in our history

It was the year that war came to our doorstep, the year our alliance switched to the USA, the year that American military bands visited our shores. Inside these
bands were hot jazz players who influenced our local musicians and changed the nature of jazz in Australia. In 1942, Shortis and Simpson take you through the stories, the songs, the characters of that year, with their usual mix of humour and poignancy, and with their own hot band made up of Ian Blake, Dave O’Neill, Jon Jones and Peter J Casey. As jazz meets hillbilly and vaudeville, be transported to the days of the Tivoli, smoky nightclubs, dance halls, radio studios and much more.

Canberra Southern Cross Club, Woden, Friday, 12 October, 2012,
8.30pm, show only $28. Dinner and show $62.
Bookings 6283 7288

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