Old scholars’ band Vaudeville Smash performs at Adelaide Fringe

A Melbourne-based band that counts three Blackfriars old scholars among its members is returning to South Australia for this year’s Adelaide Fringe.

Back in 2019, Anastasia Lambis, from Blackfriars’ Development Office, caught up with Marc Lucchesi (BPS’95) – who, with brothers and old scholars Dan and Luca, are members of Vaudeville Smash – and asked him how his school years at Blackfriars influenced his career. Here is an extract from that interview.

Who were your musical influences at Blackfriars?

For us, or for me in particular, the guy that probably influenced my music more than anyone was the old music teacher there, John Kelley. He used to run the Big Band and music program and he was a saxophone player. So, when I went to school I said, “I’m playing the saxophone”, and he tried to make me play clarinet and I said, “Nup, no. I’m playing the sax and that’s it!”. And he gave in. He really took me under his wing. I was a bit of a cheeky kid, but in a good way, and I was good at school. He gave me some great tips when it came to the saxophone.

In Year 10, we ended up going to Hong Kong. He promoted me to the Big Band. He just saw something in this young kid and, because of that, it made me go on to do music in Year 11 and 12, which made me go on to university and study saxophone there. Of course, my little brother Dan, who is the drummer (in Vaudeville Smash), I pulled him along with me. He is a couple of years below me and he wanted to do what I was doing.

Charli Holoubek (Blackfriars’ former head of music), he helped, especially introducing us to music we never heard, like the cool stuff The Beatles did and a lot of soul and funk stuff that I would have never heard of. Back then, it was very hard to get your hands on music. Not like now, you go to Spotify and everything is there. Back then, you could only get it if someone had it, so, yeah, they were a big influence. The school was a big influence.

Blackfriars’ 1995 Concert Band, featuring Marc Lucchesi (saxophone), front row, third from right.

What bands or artists have been an influence on Vaudeville Smash’s sound?

I would say James Brown is a big one. I really got into James Brown in high school and then Charli introduced us to a bunch of different soul stuff, like Wilson Pickett and Ray Charles. Not that we sound like those guys, but that’s led on to other things and we are fans of all music. We got deep into the whole funk thing, like the black soul and funk, which was largely through Charli Holoubek, whereas John Kelley was more of the jazz guy.

Charli was playing in a pretty cool band (Gumbo Ya Ya) and then he introduced us to the movie The Blues Brothers. We watched that for the first time properly at school. We used to wag all the other classes and just go up to the music room and watch this sort of stuff. I mean that was pretty fun. We would say, “Oh, no, we’ve got music work to do!” and all the teachers would go, “Oh, ok! Ok!” and we just go watch these old movies and listen to stuff. It was cool!

You filmed the video to your song Cucinated in Adelaide. What was that fun?

Yeah, it was great! I picked some iconic spots that we thought everyone would recognise and then some spots that only a few people would recognise, like people that went to Blackfriars and Rosary School.

Read the full interview at Hi-Fi Way.

Vaudeville Smash, Adelaide Fringe, Wonderland Spiegeltent, Saturday 25 February. Tickets here.


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