NOTE TO READERS:
Due to demand, the Unusual Commoners show has been moved to a larger venue. It will take place at the Rock House on George Street on Tuesday, Sept. 25, starting at 9:45. Doors open at 8pm. There are no advance tickets and the show is restricted to those 19 and older.
They perform more than 200 shows a year for the preschool crowd, but members of The Wiggles are now ready to folk-rock out for a more mature audience, starting in St. John’s.
When the Australian children’s supergroup comes to town next week, they’ll pack up from their six sold-out shows at Holy Heart Theatre and head downtown to The Ship, where they’ll debut their side project, just for fun: a folk band they call The Unusual Commoners.
The band will feature blue Wiggle Anthony Field, purple Wiggle Lachy Gillespie and two of their Wiggles band members — Oliver Brian and David O’Reilly — with others making appearances on stage as needed.
It won’t be the first time The Wiggles have performed a bar show. In early 2016 the group’s original lineup did a pub show in Sydney, Australia, for charity, knocking out classic Wiggles tunes to an enthusiastic and nostalgic audience.
Get your wiggle on
The show at The Ship will be the international debut for The Unusual Commoners, however, and the set list isn’t quite the same. There’ll be jigs and reels, folk songs from Australia, Ireland and Scotland, and plenty of tunes to sing along with. There’ll likely be no “Rock-a-bye Your Bear,” but word is that longtime Wiggles sidekick Captain Feathersword (a.k.a. Paul Paddick) does a mean version of “Whiskey in the Jar.”
“We play these (folk songs) all the time at sound checks and we just love them. Taking coals to Newcastle — that’s what we’re doing playing Irish and Scottish music in St. John’s,” says Field, using a British saying meant to describe doing something unnecessary, or bringing something to a place where it already exists. “There’s music everywhere there. There’s something in the water. We can’t wait.”
Newfoundland’s musical culture isn’t a new discovery for The Wiggles. A number of years ago they recorded a version of “Squid Jiggin’ Ground” and the last time they came to town, in the fall of 2016, they spent some extra time in Quidi Vidi recording music video scenes for a new version of the song with P.E.I. singer/songwriter Tim Chaisson.
In the 27 years since Field co-founded the band with friends Jeff Fatt, Greg Page and Murray Cook, The Wiggles have become the world’s top children’s entertainers. They have a hit TV show and regular world tours, and have sold more than 30 million DVDs and CDs to date. The band’s current lineup — Field, Gillespie, Simon Pryce and Emma Watkins, the first female Wiggle (and according to Field, the most popular) — has been together since 2012.
Watkins says she’ll be on hand at The Ship to make some impromptu Irish step dancing cameos onstage if asked.
“We’ve been listening to the boys rehearse,” she says. “They’ve been collecting songs over (the course of touring) and some of the songs have been rearranged for our shows. Now they’ll be playing the real stuff. You can see they just get so much joy out of it. It’s going to be lots of fun.”
There are no advance tickets for The Unusual Commoners’ show at The Ship, which will happen Tuesday, Sept 25 starting at 9:45 p.m. The show is restricted to ages 19 and older.