A Boy Named Cash brings country songbook to regional WA

A Boy Named Cash brings country songbook to regional WA

Matthew Tomich

When A Boy Named Cash came to town, regional WA showed up in droves.

Monty Cotton performs A Boy Named Cash in Cue. Photo: Janie Davidson.

A Boy Named Cash is a part of Shows on the Go, a performing arts touring program for community presenters in regional WA, presented by Country Arts WA and Act-Belong-Commit. The demand for the one-man show featuring former The Voice contestant Monty Cotton was unprecedented in regional WA, kicking off with a sold-out, 400-strong crowd at the Broome Civic Centre.

Broome also played host to the first of several mentees on the tour as a part of a new initiative that paired Monty Cotton with local performers in multiple communities on the A Boy Named Cash itinerary.

For the first time ever, the Country Arts WA partnered with local presenters to coordinate a Local Talent Mentorship initiative, pairing regional musicians and song-writers with Monty for a personal mentor session focusing on their professional development. Each mentee received one-on-one coaching with Monty, with many of the mentees taking to the stage to open the show and join Monty in covering a classic Cash song.

Monty leads a workshop with a young songwriter and local mentee Sabita (left) before beginning the evening’s performance at the Broome Civic Centre. Photo: Janie Davidson.

“Even though opening the show on the night was nerve wracking, it was both a privilege and an honour to be able to share some of my own compositions with the audience and put into place some of the performance advice from Monty.

It was awesome to then see Monty performing. It seemed as though his personality transformed on stage and I felt more confident that I can one day aspire to this level of interaction and engagement with the audience.” – Sabita, Broome mentee

The Pilbara played host to five performances of a A Boy Named Cash, from the coastal town of Exmouth all the way east to Newman in the heart of WA. In Paraburdoo, Monty mentored local country musician Jemma Beech, who opened proceedings with her own original music before joining Monty on-stage for a series of Cash covers.

Local Paraburdoo country musician Jemma Beech with Monty before opening proceedings at the Ashburton Hall. Photo: Janie Davidson.

The country music spirit resonated with presenters all over the state, inspiring many to theme their venue in classic western style.

Audiences in Newman form a conga line around Monty. Photo: Janie Davidson.

As a part of the Shows on the Go program, Monty met with aspiring musicians all over the state to hold workshops in songwriting, guitar technique and performance. For many workshop participants, particularly in more remote parts of the WA, it’s one of the few opportunities they’ll get to develop their songwriting and performance techniques alongside an established touring musician

The participants ranged from primary school-age children and high schoolers all the way through to ukulele players with decades of experience.

Monty runs a singing workshop for school students in Cue. Photo: Janie Davidson.

Monty leads a performance workshop in York for high school students and the local ukulele group. Photo: Janie Davidson.

The performances inspired widespread collaboration between community groups. In Tom Price, local women’s AFL club in Tom Price sold food to raise funds for the upcoming season, the Ukes of York opened proceedings at the York Racecourse and boot scooters kept audiences entertained between sets. Meanwhile, multiple organisations Ravensthorpe came together to raise money for a local community member battling cancer.

York bootscooters keep audiences entertained before Monty Cotton’s set. Photo: Janie Davidson.

“Johnny Cash is not dead. He was alive tonight and brought many other souls to life as well.” – Gary, Mukinbudin audience member

Mukinbudin mentee Erin Pope joins Monty onstage for a duet. Photo: Janie Davidson.

The Shows on the Go program is presented by Country Arts WA and Healthway, promoting the mentally healthy campaign message, Act-Belong-Commit. Audiences at each stop on the A Boy Named Cash tour were encouraged to make pledge towards a creative activity.

An audience member in Pannawonica makes a creative pledge. Photo: Janie Davidson.

A Lake Grace community member makes a creative pledge at the Lake Grace Shire Hall. Photo: Janie Davidson.

The pledges ranged from the simple, like learning to play the guitar or joining a local choir group, to the ambitious, like writing a novel or compiling a family history. No matter what your skill level or passion may be, being creative is a great way to keep active, inspired and mentally healthy – and a pledge is a great way to start.

Shows on the Go continues this year with Great Danes, a comedy-variety show featuring fast-rising Indigenous comedian Dane Simpson alongside musician Rob Edwards, touring regional WA this October and November.

If you’re looking for tips on how to stay mentally healthy and active in your local community, visit the Act-Belong-Commit website.

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