Kulcha turns 30

• The early days of Kulcha in North Perth.

• The early days of Kulcha in North Perth.

While most of us look at a carrot and think salad, multi-instrumentalist Linsey Pollak sees a clarinet.

For more than 30 years Pollak has garnished a reputation for creating and playing instruments made from household objects, including watering cans, chairs, bins, brooms, rubber gloves and vegetables.

He is also regarded as a pioneer of Australia’s multicultural music scene, having set up the North Perth Ethnic Music Centre—now Freo-based Kulcha—back in 1983.

“At the time I was living in Sydney and was thinking of setting up a multicultural centre there, but on a trip to Perth I saw a concert that had some amazing musicians, so I thought I’d do it Perth,” he told the Herald. “We created the centre at North Perth because there was a lot of ethnic communities around there. It really was the right place at the right time. But there was also the diversity and vibrancy.

“There were some very good musicians. The quality was incredible.”

The Brisbane-based muso is heading back to Fremantle in early November as part of Kulcha’s 30th anniversary shindig.

He says when he started up the famous Cafe Folkorico nights at the North Perth Town Hall three decades ago locals raised on a diet of Skyhooks and LRB were rarely exposed to ethnic musicians.

“At the time there was very little recognition of musicians from non-English backgrounds,” he says.

“It gave the musicians from these backgrounds a chance to play at a venue other than a festival.”

As part of Kulcha’s birthday soiree Pollak is reviving Cafe Folkorico for two nights on November 1 and 2.

He says he’s stoked his idea to host a few ethnic musicians in a town hall all those years ago has grown into one of Australia’s most enduring multicultural arts organisations.

“It was something I wanted to do for one year, because first and foremost I am an musician,” he says.

“We started something that was not only crucial for Perth and WA, but a flagship project for Australia, because there was no other centre of its type. I had no idea it would last 30 years.”

by BRENDAN FOSTER

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