Strings on Fire to Entertain at Beer Festival

Strings on Fire. Photo credit: Gary Moloney

Next month’s Great Australian Beer Festival is loaded with entertainment, including a spectacular duo that travels the world, performing stunts while playing the violin.

Border Cafe caught up with Strings on Fire duo, Michael ‘Nellie” Collins and Rachele ‘Mare” Wildmare ahead of their performance on December 2.

Where does the idea of performing stunts as part of a violin show come from?

It comes from our meeting 11 years ago of a circus stunt man and a professional violinist. And discovering we both had a crazy idea of performing fire stunts with violin. Nellie wanted to play with his arm on fire and I (Mare) had already played with my hair on fire! (by accident, ha ha!)

Why do you think your performances are so popular with audiences?

Perhaps because our performances are completely unpredictable, a bit crazy and we don’t take ourselves too seriously!

Nellie and Mare. Photo credit: Mehmet Ozan

Nellie – you’re also in demand as a stunt actor, what can you tell us about that?

I taught Lucy Lawless to breathe fire on Zena Warrior Princess.

My particular skills have been used on TV, commercials, films such as Wolverine, rock video clips and live events such as the ARIAS, where I appeared with the Hilltop Hoods.

Strings on Fire is sometimes involved in things like this too. We performed on the Great Australian Spelling Bee last year, and worked as specialist featured performers on the upcoming Jackie Chan film, Bleeding Steel.

Where do your ‘dare devil’ natures come from?

Nellie: my dad was a sapper in the war, and being an adventurous type, was a stock car & stunt car driver in Rhodesia. He used to jump from the roof of one racing car to another. Also he frequently performed The Wall of Death on a motorcycle. I think some of this has rubbed off on me!

Mare: I grew up in a household where everyone played music. We all did that to a professional level but I was somewhat of a black sheep. I was never into the idea of sitting in orchestra for a job and spent most of my early years careering around on horses.

What are your thoughts on being invited to perform at the Great Australian Beer Festival in Albury?

It’s just great to be involved in a festival promoting good times and the finer things in life.

Of course a show like Strings on Fire demands zero alcohol, but afterwards we will certainly be sampling the tasty beverages!

A lot of the festivals we have performed at in Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and the Netherlands had a notably high incidence of boutique beer action!

One Belgium festival gave us, as performers, 24 beer tickets, for a two-day festival where we were doing three shows a day! That one was a merry festival!

For more information about the Great Australian Beer Festival on December 2, and to purchase tickets visit:

For more on Strings on Fire visit: