Cooleing it with the Finns

Reuben (piano) and Jon Cope (mandolin) and Emma Birkett (ukelele) from Martin and Coole.

IT’S amazing how often I get asked “what’s Jon Cope up to?” when someone starts to chat about music in Freo – particularly if it’s something with a multicultural beat to it.

Having been such an integral and well-loved part of the local music scene while heading up Kulcha, he was sorely missed when the organisation spectacularly crashed in 2014.

Cope took some time down south to get his bearings, before popping up as the arts and culture officer at Armadale council, where he transformed his department to the point the metropolitan area’s bogan capital was being touted as a benchmark for its creative output.

Recently he’s been back in Fremantle working with Multicultural Futures (the old Fremantle Multicultural Centre) building up a world music cafe program – but that’s a Kulcha-ish story for a little further down the track.

For the big Cope news this month is that his son Reuben has inherited the family’s musical gene and will be joining his parents’ folk/swing/blues outfit Martin and Coole at Kidogo Arthouse’s winter soirees for the first time.

Reuben is one of the success stories of Fremantle College’s music program, which has been so successful in itself that teacher Mike Gowland was one of four finalists in last year’s Premier’s secondary teacher of the year awards.

Reuben’s recently returned from playing at the Kuhmo Winter Festival in Finland with his father, who reckons the partying certainly didn’t match the Finns’ reputation as a reserved nation of shoe-starers.

The pair will be joined by mum Emma Birkett, who’s also debuting some new songs.

“One’s about making do and recycling, and those sort of things, and most of them have a philosophical bent,” Birkett said.

Cope elder says the band’s original songs are predominantly about life around Freo and WA stories.

“The Ghosts of Goongarrie is the final track on the album [The Roaring Gimlet],” he says.

“Goongarrie is a ghost town out near Ballardong where the statues are and it’s where the family camped one night.

“Hope in Our Hearts is another about people coming as migrants to the city.”

Martin and Coole are playing two sittings at the Kidogo Soirees on Saturday August 22 at 5.30-7pm and 7.30-9.30pm, but there’s been a great and varied line-up stretching throughout winter and a bit more to come.

Tomorrow (Sunday August 16) and Saturday August 29 Helen Shanahan is also working the folk theme, but on Tuesday August 25 Robert Hofmann breaks out the opera with pianist Tommaso Pollio.


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