SYDNEY: A series of nights at the Oxford Hotel is set to showcase the diversity and talents of the bear community. Kicking things off is a singer-songwriter night featuring veteran musician Steve Charles.
“The term ‘bear’ stands for guys like me: big, beautiful (well I’ll leave that for you to judge) and furry. A bear can be gay or straight, masculine and worldly. Most bears I know are hard-working, reliable types, but still have compassion and a willingness to be there for you when you need them. It’s more than appearance as far as I’m concerned – it’s how a man acts, perceives the world around him, treats his friends and family, and lives life.”
So says musician Steve Charles, who is set to perform at the first of a series of nights called ‘The Bear Sessions’, presented by the Harbour City Bears, which is designed to showcase the talents and diversity of the bear community. Charles is a veteran of the Australian music scene, having worked with many local luminaries including Marcia Hines, Ross Wilson and Deborah Conway. He will join fellow musician Luciano Mesiti at the Oxford Hotel for an evening dedicated to singer-songwriters within the community.
“I have only recently been made aware of the bear community across the world,” Charles tells SX. “I know, you must be thinking, ‘where have you been?’ But as I spend most of my time touring or writing, I have had little time for anything else. Since being introduced to this community, I have had the opportunity to meet a group of men that I comfortably relate to and in many cases admire. To be able to bring my stores and songs to this group is an exciting proposition.”
Over his long career, Charles has released several albums including Old Dog New Trick, Metal Man and Ten Years in Tamworth. Indeed he has been shaking up the Tamworth music scene in recent years, tapping into genres from country, folk and roots, to swing, alternative and jazz. He also tours constantly, either with his band the Champagne Charlies or solo. But his set at Bear Sessions is going to be a very different beast, so to speak.
“The organisers are going all-out to create a warm and fuzzy, intimate candle-lit environment,” Charles says. “A lot of my songs deal with gay love, relationships – all those personal things – in an honest and open way. I want to delve deeper into the heart of the gay man from gay man’s point of view, and I am hoping that there will be a lot of couples as well who want to come out and enjoy an intimate and bro-mantic evening.”
Charles will be fresh from performing at the Tamworth Country Music Festival when he arrives at the Oxford Hotel. “For the first time I will be able to perform material from my gay heart that I have not had the opportunity to express before,” Charles muses about the Bear Sessions. “For the first time it will feel like the real me on stage bearing my soul. It’s a little daunting but an opportunity I couldn’t miss.
“I hope the community at large supports The Bear Sessions, and that it inspires more like-minded artists to come out and showcase their talents.”
[Pictured] Steve Charles to perform at Bear Sessions.
Bear Sessions, Supper Club at the Oxford Hotel on Wednesday, January 25. $20 on the door, $15 for Harbour City Bears members. More info on Steve Charles at www.stevecharles.webs.com.