Danica Voll | 26 November 2018

Walking into the Woolly Mammoth on Friday night, we were greeted by the powerhouse vocals of Australian singer-songwriter Tullara. Standing solo on stage with nothing but her guitar, her acoustic folk/roots sound engulfed the room as she performed Better Hold On. Captivating audiences with her energetic presence, she ended the song to a roar of applause before asking the crowd ‘who in here are John Butler Trio fans?’. It’s safe to say we don’t think anyone was quite expecting what came next.

Starting softly, Tullara slowly brought the intricate opening of John Butler Trio’s Ocean to life. The following 10 minutes saw the crowd watch in awe as she masterfully performed this instrumental piece transporting us to the ocean reminding us that with each rise and fall of tension like waves crashing, that lyrics are not necessary to create an emotional movement within the audience.

Credit: Will Steele Photography

Finishing up her set with Jailbreak was the perfect demonstration to showcase her amazing versatility as an artist from impressive guitar work and sweet harmonies to husky riffs and epic headbanging. Unfiltered and raw, Tullara’s eclectic mix of folk, word, and rock made for the perfect opening act for what was to come.

During the half an hour interval, we suddenly became aware that the Woolly Mammoth had gotten very full. Managing to wriggle our way to the front of the stage, we were ready for the arrival of the Southern Californian-native surfer and musician on stage.

Welcomed by a roar of applause of cheers, Donavon Frankenreiter casually strolled on stage decked out in blue with an outfit complete with his signature fedora and chunky blue necklace that can only be described as the epitome of cool. Followed by bandmates Matt Grundy, strapped with a guitar/bass combo and drummer Jara Harris, they wasted no time getting started with a signature groovy funk track Move By Yourself. His honey-thick vocals instantly had the venue moving their feet with everyone digging his soul surfer/vintage vibes.

Credit: Will Steele Photography

Looking around, there was a fine mix of old and young fans, all smiling with a drink in hand – a strong indication of the vibe for the night. Between Donavon’s epic guitar solo within the first few minutes and drummer Jara Harris’ contagious smile, it was clear we were in for a good night.

Slowing the tempo down with the second song Your Heart, the crowd moved closer to the stage rocking rhythmically as one to the beat. As his rich voice reached every corner of the venue, it was like an ocean wave picked up the audience and carried us to the shores of California. Kicking it back up a notch with the well-known What’cha Know About and an amazing (literally amazing) harmonica solo by Matt Grundy, the crowd followed along with the lyrics turning to each other, dancing and singing to its upbeat groove.

Credit: Will Steele Photography

As Donavon switched out to an acoustic guitar, Matt Grundy took control of the vocals launching into Heading Home before Donavon’s smoky voice took over singing the chorus. Leading into an extensive jam session, it was hard to not smile watching the band obviously enjoying themselves as they took turns playing impressive solos.

Under the ‘Donavon spell’, the rest of the show kept the crowd dancing through and through. Playing songs from his new album The Heart and old-time favourites like Free, everyone in the room was happy to sing along with the band until the very last moment. Ending the show with nothing but positive vibes, his admirers slowly trickled out, still under the daze of his laid-back, mellow sounds.

Check out the full gallery of Donavon Frankenreiter performing at the Woolly Mammoth here.

About the author


Harbouring an unhealthy addiction of stopping strangers on the street to pet their doggos, Danica is a lover of the great outdoors.  While her greatest skill may be the ability to rap ‘Fergalicious’ perfectly, her inability to remember her left and rights has proven to be her greatest downfall in life. When she’s not on the beach or hiking up another mountain, you can expect to find her watching Unlikely Animal Friends for the 100th time while trying to satisfy her Tim-Tam addiction with surprise, suprise… another packet of Tim-Tams. It seems like no-one told her they aren’t a suitable daily breakfast.


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