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Tram jam surprises

30 Aug 2011

Tram jam surprises Image

By Bethany Williams

Some lucky commuters were surprised with a live set from Melbourne-based band Little John on the City Circle Tram in Docklands last month.

The folk-rock band provided the impromptu Thursday evening performance as part of Tram Sessions.

Tram Sessions is a non-profit organisation, which arranges Melbourne artists and bands to perform on city trams. The sessions are recorded and uploaded to the organisation’s website.

The aim of the project is to bring art into public spaces, encourage use of sustainable transport and make the music of new and established artists available to a wider audience.

The concept is the brainchild of Nick Wallberg and Carl Malmsten.  The Swedish friends studied in Perth. After moving to Melbourne they wanted to combine these skills with their love of music and create something unique to the city.

What better place to start than with one of Melbourne’s most recognised icons?

The sessions are approved by Yarra Trams and aren’t announced beforehand to ensure safety and to maintain surprise.

Nick said that the Docklands session was one of his favourites from the project so far.

Tram Sessions began in late 2009 and last month was the first time it ventured onto a Docklands-bound tram route.

“Travelling through Docklands, the old-school, City Circle Tram clashes with the modern architecture, just like this modern band playing an old-school music,” he said.

Performing on a tram can be problematic, not only in terms of keeping your balance.

“We hadn’t realised that because we were travelling on a tourist tram there would be constant announcements. In a quiet part of a song all of a sudden we’d hear ‘and to your right you’ll see Etihad Stadium’. Which was a bit distracting. Luckily the tram driver was helpful and turned the announcements off eventually,” band member Bill Deeble said.

Commuters got on and off the tram throughout the set, some clearly disappointed they were missing out. At most there were 30 people on the tram, including a group of country schoolgirls who could barely contain their excitement at finding a band on a tram.

According to Nick, this is exactly what Tram Sessions is all about. “The whole concept is based on trying to spread the joy of music,” he said.

Tram Sessions take place about once a month in off-peak times.

So next time you take the tram keep your eyes and ears open. For all you know your favourite band might jump on at the next stop.

Check out Little John playing on the city loop tram in Docklands at http://www.tramsessions.com

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