Louise Blackwell is a celebrated French chanteuse and her band ‘Lou Blackwell and the French Set’ is the premier French musical act of Adelaide’s live music scene.
Louise started out as an actor in Geoffrey Rush’s MAGPIE THEATRE many years ago, performing in CAROLS BY LAZERLIGHT at Belvoir Street Theatre and the original production of THE SMALL POPPIES for the 1986 Adelaide Festival and Essington Lewis: I am Work for the State Theatre Company of South Australia. She continued her acting pursuits in Sydney, appearing in PEARLS BEFORE SWINE at Q Theatre, the telefilm HARP IN THE SOUTH and sang in the bush band in the film DAD AND DAVE: On our Selection. She moved to Melbourne to join Friends and Relations, a vocal group that gained notoriety performing rich harmonies of Irish and Greek songs. She completed a bachelor’s degree in French and cinema and her academic studies took her on an exchange to Lyon Lumière II University, which then led to ten glorious years in France. She moved to Paris and continued her studies in cinema at Paris VIII university.
Living in Paris, she really wanted to pursue her singing, so she started singing her Irish repertoire in the Irish pubs of Paris, then went on to study jazz vocal technique with two major Paris jazz singers, the Americans Sara Lazarus and Michèle Hendricks.
One night, singing Irish songs in the Quiet Man pub in the 3rd arrondissement, a young business man riding on the crest of the Irish tiger economy told her “I haven’t a clue about the music scene, but I think you’re grand and I’d like to give you some money to help you in your career.” With this, she recorded a demo CD and set up her first jazz gig in a marionette theatre in the 20th arrondissement L’Ogresse, featuring a great jazz pianist back in town from New York, Vincent Bourgeyx, with whom she enjoyed a long collaboration. Louise went on to sing spent in the Paris jazz scene, working with Vincent and other great musicians such as pianist Pierre Christophe, bassists Gildas Boclé, Chris Jennings and drummers Karl Jannuska and Mourad Bennhamou.
In Paris she recorded three CDS :
- THE BLUE LOU QUARTET (2001) with Vincent Bourgeux on piano, Gildas Boclé on double bass and Karl Jannuska on drums.
- SEA IS TURNING (2007), original songs written by Lisa Blackwell and Christopher Barnett, featuring Vincent Bourgeyx on piano, Karl Jannuska on drums and Chris Jennings on double bass.
- PARIS HOP (2014) with Vincent Bourgeyx on piano, Gildas Boclé on double bass and Karl Jannuska on drums.
Louise eventually landed back in her hometown of Adelaide, singing in jazz gigs with the Bruce Hancock trio. Bringing her love of French culture to Adelaide audiences, she invited some of Adelaide’s finest jazz players to form a first-rate French musical act, performing a finely chosen repertoire from the great French chanson tradition. Songs written or sung by artists such as Edith Piaf, Georges Brassens, Léo Ferré, Jacques Brel, Barbara, Serge Gainsbourg, Yves Montand, Lucienne Boyer, Charles Trenet, Charles Aznavour…the list goes on…. ‘Lou Blackwell and the French Set’ features Mark Simeon Ferguson on piano, Julian Ferraretto on violin, John Aué on double bass and Josh Baldwin on drums. They have played in all the major French events in Adelaide such as The Alliance Française French market, Bastille celebrations for the French Consulate, the Rupert Bunny exhibition at the Art Gallery of South Australia, the Adelaide Festival Centre’s French Festival, the French Festival at Seppeltsfield, the Auburn French Festival, Bastille celebrations at La Bohème, the Wheatsheaf Hotel and The Governor Hindmarsh Hotel. They have been on several tours to Melbourne, playing at the Paris Cat Jazz Club, The Alliance Française St. Kilda and other venues.
They have also performed at the Adelaide Fringe for many years in venues such as the Queen’s Theatre, Gluttony, St. John’s Church and Marion Cultural Centre, in shows such as Take me back to Paris, A Night in Paris and To Paris with Love. They recoreded a CD entitled A Night in Paris, including Gary Isaacs on guitar. They released it at the 2019 Adelaide Fringe, and won a Fringe Weekly Music Award.
In 2020, Louise created a cabaret show Love on the Left Bank, about the life of legendary French singer and muse of Saint Germain des Prés. With the support of an arts grant from Arts SA, she worked with director Simon Phillips on research and initial writing stage, then brought the show to completion with Adelaide director Catherine Fitzgerald and musical director Mark Simeon Ferguson. They added two musicians to the band to complete the cast: Cuban trumpet sensation Lazaro Numa as Miles Davis, Juliette’s young love, and Tom Pulford on saxophone and clarinet. The musicians play cameo roles and sing backing vocals which adds to the show’s charm. They opened to great acclaim and a standing ovation at the Dunstan Playhouse for the 2022 Adelaide Cabaret Festival. They played further shows at the 2023 Adelaide Fringe, winning a weekly award for cabaret. Louise hopes to take the show to other places around Australia.
Lousie recently featured in a SA Life article click here to read
Violinist Julian Ferraretto has been in demand as a soloist and ensemble player both in and out of the UK Jazz scene and in Australia.
UK collaborations include arranging and performing with Neil Cowley, Eska Mtungwazi and Carleen Anderson, as well as performances with Natacha Atlas, The Urban Soul Orchestra, Stuart Townend and Wigmore Hall’s creative ensemble Ignite.
- Wigmore Hall
- Queen Elizabeth Hall
- Royal Festival Hall
- North Sea Jazz Festival
- London Jazz Festival
- Edinburgh Fringe Festival
- Barbados Jazz Festival
- Copenhagen Jazz Festival
Julian has performed constantly since coming back to Australia, as a member of THE BAKER SUITE and countless ensembles around Adelaide. He recently played with Johanna Allen for her show EUROMASH at the Melbourne Recital Centre. His own compositions performed with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra for the GRAINGER SERIES: HAVE VIOLIN WILL TRAVEL. He is a major collaborator on the upcoming musical event LOST AND FOUND ORCHESTRA at Elder Park for the 2018 Adelaide Festival of Arts. A regular WOMAD artist, concerts with his wife Liz McCall….the list goes on
Composer/arranger/pianist Mark Simeon Ferguson was born in Whyalla into a musical family and raised in the lower North. As a pianist he has performed with artists including Rufus Wainwright, Lady Rizo, Mark Murphy, Ray Vega, Beccy Cole and Peter Combe. He has been Musical Director for Johanna Allen, Camille O’Sullivan, Rhonda Burchmore, Rachael Beck and the Closing Gala of the 2017 Adelaide Cabaret Festival and the 2018 Adelaide Festival Centre’s Walk of Fame Gala.
Mark’s commissions for the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra include the Bush Concert (which was performed by the SSO in the Sydney Opera House in 2017), Herman and Rosie and Gospel Messiah. He has composed two song cycles for the SA Public Primary Schools Music Festival and is currently composing music for an opera for Singular Productions. In 1999 he completed a Master of Music at the University of Adelaide (where he now lectures) and he was also a semi-finalist in the National Jazz Awards. Mark also leads Marmalade Five (an original children’s group with his wife and three children), Marmalade Trio, Marmalade Circus (which performed at the Sydney Festival in 2002) and Marmalade Jam (with annual Australian tours for 13 years with Musica Viva in Schools).
Coming from a musical family, Josh was drawn to the drums at a young age. He was involved with numerous ensembles throughout primary and high school, including performances with James Morrison, Don Burrows and Grace Knight.
In 2005, Josh completed his Bachelor of Music (Jazz Performance) at the Elder Conservatorium of Music, Adelaide. Whilst undertaking his Bachelor, he was awarded the Elder/Helpmann Award for most outstanding drummer, and was a member of the University of Adelaide Big Band 1. In 2006, Josh completed his Honours in Music (Jazz Performance), for which he received First Class Honours and was awarded the Elder/Helpmann Award for most outstanding Honours graduate. He also received a Helpmann Award nomination for his outstanding results.
Since then, Josh has established himself as one of Adelaide’s leading drummers. He has performed in concert with leading national and international jazz artists, including George Garzone, Jamie Oehlers and Paul Grabowksy (with whom he performed at the Adelaide Festival Centre for the launch of the Adelaide Festival of the Arts) and at a masterclass assisting Joel Frahm. Josh performed as part of the support act for the Brad Mehldau Trio at the 2009 Adelaide East End Jazz Festival, and works regularly with Adelaide’s leading musicians.
In 2012, Josh was awarded a JUMP scholarship and undertook a mentorship in New York with jazz drumming legend, John Riley.
John Aué is a fulltime bass teacher and lecturer in Jazz Studies at the Elder Conservatorium (since 2000). He began his career in Adelaide as a guitarist, bass player, arranger and vocal group singer and moved to London in 1976, where he regularly performed with the Ronnie Scott Quintet, Ray Ellington Quartet, the Ballet Rambert and many others. Apart fromlive performances, work also included BBC Radio broadcasts, ITV shows and commercial studio work. He returned to Australia and made Sydney his home in 1983. He has played with many of the jazz luminaries such as Don Burrows, James Morrison, George Golla, Judy Bailey and many more. Also became involved with musical theatre, TV (The Midday Show) and education (Sydney Grammar School, Australian Institute of Music).
Since 1999, he has been active in Adelaide’s jazz, theatre, recording and cabaret scene. He completed a Master of Music degree in composition at the University of Adelaide in 2010.