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Rai Thistlethwayte & Ben Vanderwal


Price $45 AUD + BF Get tickets

Event description

Following a successful tour in Japan, a festival appearance in Bangkok, and sold out shows at Sydney Fringe Festival and the Perth Int’l Jazz Festival (before covid), Rai and drum-gun Ben Vanderwal are coming to Avoca Beach Theatre!

Expect some serious musical telepathy, within the oh-so-groovy framework of Rai’s jazz infused vocals and Ben’s intricate beats, and not to mention, some gratuitous left hand synth bass action.

Rai is a one of Australia’s most respected musical talents: a highly accomplished pianist, guitarist, vocalist and songwriter. As a songwriter, he has been nominated for APRA Song of The Year. His band, Thirsty Merc, has sold over 250,000 albums in Australia, and has been nominated for 5 ARIA awards (Australian Grammys). Since 2002, Thirsty Merc has released 4 studio albums and a string of hits in the Australian Music Charts. 

Rai was taught to play the piano by his mother from the age of 4. He started writing songs around the age of 15. After finishing high school he was awarded a full scholarship to study at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music where he commenced a Bachelor of Music in jazz piano. Enjoying heavy airplay and touring extensively, Thirsty Merc have become a household name in Australia and still work regularly to this day. Rai’s composition ‘In The Summertime’ has been featured as the theme song to internationally acclaimed Aussie TV series ‘Bondi Rescue’ for 17 consecutive seasons since 2004. Rai’s composition ‘San Francisco Street’ has clocked up over 92 million views on YouTube. 

Aside from his work in Rock and Pop, Rai performs as a solo artist, based around his love of Jazz, Soul, and Groove music, sometimes under the artist name ‘Sun Rai.’ He has released 1 full length album entitled ‘Go Nuts’, 4 Solo EPs and has toured Australia and the U.S. since 2012. Some of his notable collaborations have been with ARIA award- winning guitarist James Muller, Trumpeter James Morrison, and Grammy Nominated U.S. jazz bassist Christian McBride (Sting, Wynton Marsalis band). Currently based between Sydney and Los Angeles, Rai records and tours globally with U.S. Funk/Jazz/Electronic band KNOWER (Louis Cole/Genevieve Artardi) and New York based guitarist Oz Noy.
In 2020 Rai joined guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani’s touring band as keyboardist, played on 13 tracks on Joe’s new album ‘The Elephants Of Mars,’ and has played over 120 shows with Joe in the USA and Europe between 2022 and early 2024. All set for a busy rest of 2024, Rai is scheduled to perform a headline show at the Java Jazz Festival in Indonesia, and later in July 2024 he will join a supergroup consisting of Sammy Hagar (Van Halen/Montrose) Michael Anthony (Van Halen), Joe Satriani, and Jason Bonham on drums, (son of the late great Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham), where Rai will play keyboards, backing vocals, and rhythm guitar for their USA ‘Best Of All Worlds’ Tour. Watch this space for future releases and live show updates!

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