|30 Apr 2021|
|Class of 1983|
James Dods (1971) once scored 96 not out - carried bat - opening in seconds at Grammar, denied his ton by a big swinging bunny at the other end. Mark Swivel (1983) got 27 not out at Joey’s to help the Second XI win the GPS comp in 1981 before getting dropped for the last game. No doubt these formative experiences allow James and Mark to relate to the famous suffering of the Russian people inspiring their work with Dustyesky, the leading genuine fake Russian choir in the Southern Hemisphere.
For the last 7 years James and Mark have been 2 of the 28 men in Dustyesky - who sing only in Russian - Red Army songs, folk songs and orthodox hymns - even though no one speaks the language. Dustyesky has built a following around Australia and among Russians all over the world. They’ve performed at Womad and appeared twice on ABC’s Australian Story in 2020. On May 21 and 22 Dustyesky do their debut shows at the iconic Joan Sutherland Theatre at the Sydney Opera House. It’s a bloody long way from Mullum Music Festival where the men did their first gig in 2014!
James - who founded footwear label Lois Lane and now owns the odd pub - and Mark - who runs a unique community project called Barefoot Law - both went to High 12 years apart but only met at an early Dustyesky rehearsal at the Mullumbimby Ex-Services Club. James, often found on his board at the Pass in Byron Bay, features as one of the ‘three tenors’ in Dustyesky’s killer rendition of the well known ditty ‘The Cossacks Coming Across the Danube’. He is notorious for wearing outlandish faux Russian attire at the shows. Mark, known as Swiv, is the MC of the Dustyesky show, donning trademark red glasses and a black fisherman’s cap, while revving up the crowd. Swiv channels the energy of the 28 Dustyeskies into ‘Boris and Natasha’ infused banter between the powerful ‘songs of suffering and despair’, adding a touch of absurdity and mayhem to the act.
James says ‘The years at the Bear Pit, and its Marlboro and Winnie Blues carpet, provided the perfect male bonding platform for Dustyesky’. While Mark reckons ‘it’s like being in a men’s shed without the tools’.
Tickets are selling fast. You can catch Dustyesky on Friday 21 and Saturday 22 March at the Opera House. Book here: https://www.sydneyoperahouse.com/events/whats-on/classical-music/2021/dustyesky.html.
Nicholas Whitlam ('62) is a well known businessman, formerly Managing Director, State Bank of NSW, President of the NRMA… More...