By Cam Lucadou-Wells
Live entertainment is still finding a way – even if it’s streamed from a makeshift lounge-room stage.
From their home, Noble Park father and son duo Rick Charles and Adrian Jamale have been enthralling a growing legion of rock-and-roll Facebook fans.
Every Sunday afternoon 3pm, they create a whole new concept show with lights, backdrops and smoke machines.
They prepare up to 40 hours a week, don costumes, assume the roles of legends such as Elvis and Freddie Mercury and belt out classics across the eras.
Their most recent show on 23 August was ‘Back to the Eighties’ with Bryan Adams, Boy George, The Police, Wham, Billy Idol, A-Ha and Bruce Springsteen.
It’s all to share “a bit of joy”, Mr Charles says.
Decades ago, Mr Charles started with Dandenong band The Night Owls before forging a formidable solo act that’s graced clubs and venues such as Crown Casino, Reef Casino and Jupiter’s Casino.
But Covid-19 pulled Mr Charles’s hectic schedule to a sudden halt. Normally booked up to two years in advance, Mr Charles felt a panic as the work just vanished.
“Generally if your industry is the first to go down, you’re going to be one of the last to get up.
“That first week I went into an inner depression. It’s hard to hold back your inner feelings when there’s nothing you can do about it.”
He then took a deep breath, and turned to his “unshakeable” belief in God, he says.
In the first Facebook concert, he and Mr Jamale performed a few gospels – hoping to inspire people in the same situation. They drew 50 viewers.
Then they tried rock-and-roll. And it went off, Mr Charles said.
Since then their concerts have drawn up to 1600 viewers around the world. Their TV moved to the other side of the lounge room, in came backdrops, smoke machines and lighting.
Recently, Mr Charles saved the day for a couple who had planned to renew their wedding vows in Graceland. He stepped in, performing a series of songs for the grateful couple.
“What started out as nothing has become crazy.
“The comments we get from people are that they’re looking forward to these concerts. It brings them positivity during this hard time.”
Mr Jamale, who’s studying music composition at Box Hill Institute, says the show gives an “escape” to their “virtual family” each week.
“It’s nearly like creating a community in itself.”
He says the pandemic has made him appreciate human connection.
“I’m never again going to take for granted the power of a handshake or a hug.
“As difficult as it is right now, it’s going to make us a lot more stronger and more grateful for each other.”
Post-Covid, the online shows could very well continue, the pair say.
“We’ve built up something with so many people – even people I’d never met before in my life,” Mr Charles said.
“I can’t see us saying goodbye, I’m just going back to clubs.”
The concerts are streamed live 3pm Sundays on the Facebook page ‘Rick Charles Hogg’.