Friday, 29 February 2008 8:28 AM

RAMSI Community Concert in Auki a Huge Success

Local artists joined Australian singing legend John Williamson and his daughter Ami in Auki on Wednesday to entertain a crowd of more than 700 people.

Accompanying the Australians were local country singers Denmark and James, who played guitar and sang songs by Don Williams and Waylan Jennings, and the popular Moses Aru Graziano, who sang his own songs to great applause.

Mr Williamson said that while it was a real pleasure to perform for Australians working with the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands, the most rewarding part of his visit was playing to local audiences.

"It's a privilege to have the opportunity to see people enjoy themselves and help lift community spirit," he said. "As I was playing on stage, I saw RAMSI police and military from across the Pacific region mixing with the people of Malaita in the crowd. That's what this whole thing is about - harmony and community spirit."

John Williamson played popular Australian hits such as Crocodile Roll and Old Man Emu before his daughter joined him on stage to perform Papa Whiskey November from the musical Quambatook. The concert concluded with all the performers including Australian country singer Nicki Gillis and rocker Jed Zarb returning to the stage to sing Mr Williamson's Australian smash hit 'True Blue'.

Children rushed to have their photo taken with the entertainers and members of the RAMSI Participating Police Force (PPF) and military at the end of the concert.
The performance was arranged through RAMSI for the people of Malaita by Forces Entertainment, a partnership between the Australian Defence Force and the Australian Federal Police.

PPF Advisor Jonathon Ersch, who works at the police post in Auki with the Solomon Islands Police Force, said that it was exciting to see such popular Australian performers in the Solomon Islands. "To actually meet these performers and hear them sing is a real honour," he said. "And the fact that they made the effort to come out to the islands from Honiara is a real bonus.

Not just for the Australians who were at the concert, but for the people of Malaita who got to see a great show." Earlier this week performers, including Australian television compare and funnyman Mike Goldman, entertained a crowd of 1500 people at the Cultural Village in Honiara.

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