Ben Francis is a South Australian performer, producer, and director of The 60 Four, an all-male vocal group aged between 21 and 24 years. Over 40 songs will be performed by Francis and his band mates in a show designed to delight audiences who grew up with music from the sixties. Since 2015 Francis and his musicians have intrigued music lovers with their nostalgic powerhouse performances, but preparing for their 2022 has presented an extraordinary set of challenges.
Following the border re-opening in late November of 2021, trepidation and hesitancy grew among festival goers. Then came the restrictions which prompted Francis to pen an open letter to the Premier Steven Marshall urging him to introduce a support package similar to that of the Western Australian Government’s ‘Get Back on the Road Scheme’.
“At a time like this, the world needs art. But for artists to make art – and put food on the table – they need insurance.”– Ben francis
In his letter, Francis expressed his sadness and frustration in seeing fellow producers cancel their shows as the risks associated with presenting large-scale shows increased. He described the stress of having to financially plan for back-up musicians and crew should a member of his touring party either contract the virus or be considered a close contact, subsequently needing to self-isolate.
Francis further lamented the lack of financial compensation available to arts industry workers in his correspondence to Premier Marshall, “I have lost $7400 since borders opened on the 23rd of November, yet because I am a self-employed freelancer, I do not qualify for any of your financial schemes. There are many people that are far worse off than me.”
Despite the imminent challenges of self-producing in the 2022 Adelaide Fringe, Francis and his company will proceed with their Fringe show The 60 Four: In Concert driven by a commitment to accessibility.
“We want to bring a slice of the ‘60s to as many South Australians as we can. We appeal to a demographic that can’t always make the trip to Adelaide, so we try and bring the shows to them. We also want to provide a psychosocial and economic boost to the communities we visit.”
Francis and his team are excited to be hitting the road and touring regional South Australia alongside their metropolitan season. The 60 Four – featuring Ben Francis, Lachlan Williams, Finnegan Green and Kyle Hall – will take their award-winning, critically acclaimed act to Renmark, Kangaroo Island, Whyalla, Mount Gambier, Victor Harbor, Port Pirie, Noarlunga, Elizabeth, and Adelaide.
For those who fancy a live music performance, consider one that will transport you back to the good old times, a somewhat poetic sentiment given how much has changed for live music in the past couple of years. Francis summed up his upcoming Fringe show with these words, “The 60 Four dazzle audiences by performing classic hits of the sixties era with exciting, modern production values including original, intricate vocal harmonies and contemporary big brass riffs. Backed by a spectacular 9-piece band, they perform The Beatles, The Bee Gees, Johnny O’Keefe and everything in between.”
The 60 Four: In Concert will be performed from 19 February to 9 April at various venues. Visit Fringetix to book here. Visit the60four.com to learn more about the band. Follow @benfrancis_au on Instagram to read his open letter to Premier Steve Marshall.