Spring is a season of change on the Granite Belt. Apple and stonefruit trees burst into explosions of flowers while grapevines and exotic deciduous trees flaunt delightful new leaves.

This spring, the Granite Belt Art and Craft Trail is also embracing change, as COVID-19 restrictions are preventing showstopper entertainer Matthew Manahan from making it to the opening event on Friday, October 29. But where one door closes, another opens, and the Granite Belt’s sultry songbird Teri Welles will instead bring her own brand of musical magic as she fronts the popular Jazzify band at GBART’s special dinner, Fresh Canvas.

With diverse musical and life experience, the combo puts its own special spin on a range of jazz, blues, popular, classic, swing and rock songs with tunes drawn from musical greats such as Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Frank Sinatra, Michael Buble, Louis Armstrong, Natalie Cole, the Beatles, Van Morrison, Paul Simon and Elvis, plus a few originals.

In various combinations since 2010, Jazzify’s band members have played at festivals, agricultural shows, parties, weddings and other special events. Transforming the music into heart-warming song with her golden tones, Teri Welles is originally from the USA but has called Australia home for more than half her life. Singing solos, duos, in bands and on albums, Teri has shared her dulcet tones across jazz, soft rock, country rock and folk. She is well known on the Granite Belt and much further afield as a visual artist as well as a singer.

Graham Muller trained in classical piano from a young age and ‘found jazz’ when he was playing in the Royal Australian Navy Band. He spent years honing his jazz skills on piano and keyboard and is a highly respected and sought after musician around southeast Queensland. He does arrangements and charts for the band.

Drummer Neville Jess, originally from New Zealand, has a progressive rock background and his creative percussion skills have settled perfectly into jazz. He has played with well known artists including James Blundell and as a session musician on various albums. Darling Downs bass player Nick Williams will also be with the group for Fresh Canvas, playing his handmade electric double bass.

So Fresh Canvas is in good hands musically. For the rest, local chef Jason Costanzo will provide his beloved brand of cuisine for the event, the venue at the showgrounds will be draped and dandified as befits a special opening and guests will have a chance to break out their semi-formal wear to add to the atmosphere and colour on October 29. Tickets are only available pre-sold, through www.gbart.org.au.

While you’re at the website to secure your spot in for the opening event (you can book a table of 10 or as an individual), remember that you need to book for everything that will be happening across the weekend … even the free stuff. It’s a very immersive weekend, giving you opportunities to meet the makers and also to have a go yourself. Try cheesemaking, resin art alpaca felting, acrylic glass, cardmaking, poured glass art or candlemaking. Maybe make a pinch pot or get creative with some precious metal clay.

Less hands-on activities are also available—a photographic exhibition, demonstrations ranging from wheel-throwing and raku to watercolour pencil and the art of oil painting, a talk on taking art supplies into the field, candlemaking demos, a public art walking tour and more. The website gives you an introduction to the artisans to give you a feel for people you’d like to meet and activities you’d like to do. Plus, you can order a picnic hamper to pick up for any day of the event. That way you can stop and have lunch at a time and place that suits you.

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