Category Archives: Music

Afro Dance (aka how to shake those knots out)

I just wanted to share with you this YouTube channel, which I “discovered” the other day and look forward to seeing grow. Titled ‘Afro Dance’, it aims to bring subscribers the highest quality dance videos within the afrobeats scene. I’m using dance as pain relief these days – a way to loosen and work out the knots and tightness in my upper body that inevitably accrues with wheelchair use. So these kinds of clips are my aerobics videos.

Here are two of my favourite routines so far – published in the last few months:

Love seeing a Black Woman and Black Man working together flawlessly…

…and a dark-skinned Black Woman slaying so hard.

“Meri Tolai… yu stap lo we?”

“I’m right here, baby!” – me.

Still in holiday mode, stuck in Melbourne but listening to island music to transport me away. I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge and appreciate PNG/Melanesian Men Musicians for the number of love songs about Tolai* Women that exist. REPRESENTATION! Black Love is still strong in the Pacific. And of course ALL Melanesian Women are worthy of a million songs dedicated to their magic.

I am curious as to whether other regions in the world manifest this phenomena; the practice of lyrically identifying the ethnic group of the woman being sung too? It only just occurred to me that this might seem odd or inappropriate to outsiders.

That said, I love this track 🙂 ‘Ayo Meri Tolai’ by Dezine. I’m windin’ to it to wake up my body this morning…

*I am a Tolai Woman.

 

The year I become my own Hero.

Mood going into 2017 🙂 Listen to the words:

Some more words from the great one Herself:

Its been proved time and time again that a hero was always reluctant of their gift within.
The only difference with myself as an artist now and my audience is I’ve tapped into my strength.

In a year I went from audience to artist.
Solely because of embracing what makes me…. me.
HERoes is about finding the hero within.
The true gift and talents of oneself and nurturing the hero that is already there.

Wear your cape.

SYNERGY.

Listening to this young, brilliant, autodidact musician Tash Sultana transports me (I really want to continue enjoying her art, so I hope she either never makes a political statement or if she does, she’s on the right side of history). Here’s her live bedroom recording of ‘Synergy’:

And her live bedroom recording of ‘Notions’:

Here is her interview with Marc Fennell for SBS’ The Feed. This interview resonated with me on so many levels; particular her words on the mental space she goes into when she’s performing:

And one more thing…

Paul Kelly, and A.B Original doing a cover of Paul’s legendary anthem “Dumb Things”. listen to A.B. Original’s lyrics…

Two Coins.

I am still terribly obsessed with this song. So much love for the lyrics, & the melody.

It’s always the simple ones, eh:

North west is where I’m heading
Underneath the golden sky
I’m searching for wisdom
That every man seeks to find

I’ve got wicked thoughts brewing
Many evil deeds I’ve done
I’m looking for a reason
For a reason not to run

Cuz I’ve always been dark
With light somewhere in the distance
I’ve always been dark
With light somewhere in the distance

I’ve got no destination
No place to call my own
I’ll explore the constellations
Til I find the cause I’m mean to hold

But come fever or come famine
Come the biting winter cold
Just put two coins upon my eyelids
So I can pay the boatman’s toll

Cuz I’ve always been dark
With light somewhere in the distance
I’ve always been dark
With light somewhere in the distance

I’ve been so unforgiving
Stranded in old traditions

Cuz I’ve always been dark
With light somewhere in the distance
I’ve always been dark
With light somewhere in the distance

I’ve always been dark
With light somewhere in the distance
I’ve always been dark
With light somewhere in the distance

(dedicated to my fellow screw-ups oxo)

Making GREEN music festivals.

I’ve attended a lot of art events, and seen a lot of plays, this year, for educational purposes. Everything from Aidan Fennessy’s The National Interest to Stephen Adly Guirgis’ Motherfucker with the Hat. Not so much live music, though. But the weekend before last, I attended The Harvest Music Festival, in the manicured grounds of the Werribee Mansion. And for the second year of the festival’s existence, it was a very enjoyable day – minus all the teething problems of last year.

Back in 2011 when I blogged about Harvest [in this post HERE] I said I would write about environmentally friendly music festivals “some time in 2012”. So here it is: a post about a few things I have learned about making music festivals green.

Energy explosions: Glastonbury, Bonnaroo, Coachella, et cetera.

There is no doubt – music festivals expend a lot of energy, and produce a lot of waste. Many festivals, however, have been trying to reduce the environmental impact of us indulgent, spoilt music fans in the West, in various ways. The location and season inevitably dictate the nature of the measures. I’ll discuss one festival that has introduced fairly obvious ones. Despite being massive and well established, I think it’s still interesting to compare these measures to ones you have possibly witnessed and encountered at Australian festivals. Or, perhaps, to think about their absence.

The Glastonbury Festival in the UK, one of the largest music festivals in the world, has long championed environmental issues. Today all festival programmes come in 100% organic unbleached cotton bags, printed with vegetable dyes, and official tees are printed using water-based (non-pvc) inks. Only compostable or re-useable plates and cutlery are permitted. Cleaners use eco-friendly cleaning products (i.e. non-petroleum based) for toilets, and all traders are encouraged to use eco-friendly cleaning products in their kitchens.

A lot of the waste generated by the festival is recycled: cans, glass, paper, electrical and electronic equipment, wood and organic waste are separated and recycled “as locally as possible” (the Fuji Rock Festival outdoes all in the recycling department, though). 1,300 recycling volunteers make Glastonbury’s initiative viable – 1,200 of them work for a ticket, and the others for a nominated charity like WaterAid, Kiota, or Bhopal Medical Appeal.

And the festival is turning to the sun to meet energy needs (as we all should). So far solar power and green technology is being used for three stage areas, and all cafes, stages and stalls above the old railway line in the Green Fields are run on wind or solar power, as are the showers. They have expanded their solar capacity, too – Michael Eavis, Glastonbury Festival organiser, installed 200 new solar photovoltaic panels on the roof of a shed at his Worthy Farm this year (a smaller installation than the 1,100 panels that were installed in autumn 2010).

Other initiatives have included the introduction of biodegradable tent pegs to offer festival campers, as an alternative to metal pegs many festival goers had been using that endangered local cows. Only Fairtrade tea, coffee, sugar and hot chocolate are on sale (expect a future post on what Fairtrade means, in practice). In an effort to reduce road deliveries, reservoirs have been built to store water and food (all of the festival water will apparently come from the mains in future, and the water is heavily monitored and quality tested twice a day).

Being enormously successful, Glastonbury have been able to invest money into local sewage plants, so that Festival sewage waste can now be processed within a 12.8km radius of the site, and gives to green organisations – Glastonbury claim to be the world’s biggest single regular donor to Greenpeace. Finally for this post, they PLANT TREES – over 10,000 native trees and hedge plants in the local environment, with other initiatives to maintain a high level of bio-diversity in the area. Overachiever.

There you have it – just some initiatives to think about. I’m certainly going to make myself more aware now about the festivals I attend, and the measures they are taking to lighten the environmental impact of our emptying of wallets and fleeting enjoyment. Certainly there are things we can all do as individuals to not leave behind a bloody mess. My disability may be fuel inefficient (taxi rides, yo) but I can at the very least car-pool, re-use bottles, and put waste products in their appropriate place.

That is, if I can access the festivals in the first place – expect another post comparing festivals on that issue.

Back to Harvest.

This year Harvest featured U.S. acts like Mike Patton, Beck, Santigold and the U.K’s Crazy P  – I was mostly excited about Beck, having never seen him live before (last year it was the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Mercury Rev and Portishead who drew me in/sent me away satisfied). Unlike last year, where I was awkwardly “danced with” by a lady in a kaftan and asked if I had drugs by some fellow who had clearly already taken some, I had a heart-to-heart with a lady in a kaftan who was high. It’s like the two previous “WTF” moments morphed into one this year. Something new though – a “What the HEY! Is that okay?” moment – I spotted a young man proudly carrying a Papua New Guinean bilum. I thought that was cool, though. Not so cool… man wearing Native American headgear. Reminded me of THIS & THIS.

GREEN-wise, there is room for improvement – although carpooling was advocated, standard recycling bins available, and free water stations (patrons were encouraged to bring an empty reusable bottle). Harvest will likely turn into an annual tradition for me – such an easy weekend of tunes, art performances, and (so far) “civilised” crowds, in one of the most elegant places in Melbourne.  The second last act I caught for the night was Icelandic band Sigur Rós – I had never seen them live before, but they left many as moved as Portishead had the year prior. I was also impressed by their fans, who parted like the Red Sea to let me roll right up in front of the stage, centre (wheelchair perks!)

The ‘Great Lawn’ stage where they (and Beck) performed was enormous, situated in front of the Werribee Mansion. It was used cinematically by the Icelanders – massive, filmic projections cued to the music, with complementary lighting effects, and a mini-orchestra. The experience was… moving, ethereal, and majestic, of course (it’s Sigur Rós). I’ll put it this way – the guy next to me said “…I’m gonna cry”. I think that pretty much sums up the experience ;P

Finished off the night with Santigold. Special thanks to the security staff, who were angels to me, and to Mzrizk for pushing my tired ass across the Big Lawn so I could see Beck, then went away, and came back, squeezing through the tight crowd to deliver to me a spiced rum and some swag. TOP lady.

I’m sure I will be going again next year – how could I not when it’s so near my ‘hood? Even though I am utterly broke now, and life is a glorious mess. At this point in the journey I don’t care 🙂 I feel so present. Am enormously proud of myself for coming so far in one year, in terms of stopping all the negative mind-chatter – that voice in my head sounds mostly like a really great, supportive friend these days, and my understanding of (and faith in) life, in the universe, is stronger than ever. Focusing now on the work I have to do and enjoying Victoria on a budget with my whole family, and friends, these holidays. Next festival to attend will be in January, interstate… more on that when the time comes.

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Just managed to have the first genuinely relaxing & angst-free weekend in a long time (I needed it). Got some Christmas shopping done, caught up with family, chilled with my Sistas, Mama and Sister-in-law at the once-a-month Weaving Circle, & visited a new artist run space I will write about very soon. Also leisurely attended to some household/life to-do items I’ve tenaciously ignored for months. I can see my desk now!!!

Finding You.

Woke up to The Go-Betweens this morning. Hence feeling warm and hopeful.

This is actually my favourite song… and mission statement. The “you” here being a metaphor for everything (places, experiences, people) that are Dharma (for me. All songs mean something different, to different people… I think interpretations are merely projections and reflections of our own Selves, anyway).

Enjoy, and more posts, when Spring has sprung:

What would you do if you turned around

And saw me beside you

Not in a dream but in a song?

Would you float like a phantom

Or would you sing along?

 

Don’t know where I’m going

Don’t know where it’s flowing

But I know it’s finding you

 

What would you do

If you saw me driving by in a car

The quickest you’ve ever seen me spin?

Would you smile and wave

Or would you bow and get in?

 

Don’t know where I’m going

Don’t know where it’s flowing

But I know it’s finding you

 

And then the lightning finds us

Burns away our kindness

We can’t find a place to hide

Come the rainy season

Surrender to our treasons

Can we even find our tears?

 

Don’t know where I’m going

Don’t know where it’s flowing

But I know it’s finding you

Gathering for music.

As a birthday present, I picked up some (discounted) tickets for my brother and I to attend Harvest PresentsThe Gathering’ Music Festival, held this year on the lawns of the elegant Werribee Mansion. It was very hot, sunny, fedora-required weather for late night music. The event had an almost carnival feel to it, with various arts performers marching around the grounds and in one of the venue stages – a vaudeville tent. I was unimpressed with the signage on the surrounding roads, the coupon system for drinks was apparently disastrous (I opted for a dry day), and punters were pissed about pre-festival timetable delays. The only thing I really care about these days, though, is ACCESSIBILITY. The fact is that the lawns of the mansion are beautiful. And flat – being in a wheelchair, this is something I always need to consider, when going anywhere.

When I saw the line-up, it was like a trip back to high school & 2005 for me: Mercury Rev, TV on the Radio, Bright Eyes, Flaming Lips, and Portishead(!) all headlining acts. Not exactly times I want to go back to – I’m one of those weirdos who finds it difficult to separate music from people, events, and places in memory. Listening to a song can unleash a flood of memories I have great difficulty controlling. So, I thought that seeing these bands now, I’d be able to create some new pleasant memories for songs I used to love. Not far from my house. And I did.

Younger acts I was keen to see included Hypnotic Brass Ensemble and Seekae. Thanks to annoying set clashes, brother went off and enjoyed Seekae whilst I was busy overwriting my memory with Mercury Rev (Seekae are local, I’ll see them again). Also caught The National ( some interesting interpretive dances going on during that) and some of  Clap Your Hands Say Yeah‘s set. A woman in a kaftan decided to dance with me during. Always fun/awkward. Strangest part of the day though came courtesy of this clearly high fellow:

Him: Hey. Do you have any drugs?

Me: Sorry, no.

Him: Oh. Who’s on next?

Me: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.

Him: Ahhh… NOW it all makes sense….

He then wandered over to a speaker and stared at it for 5 minutes, until a friend of his pulled him away. Drugs are bad for you, kids.

Anyway. The ever energetic Hypnotic Brass Ensemble had brother and I bouncing with JOY to a performance of this song, ‘War’ (love this track in the morning!):

Mercury Rev soothed my soul with their performance of this song, ‘Holes’ (my former lullaby):

PORTISHEAD, though, took the main prize for both my brother and I.

My girl crush on vocalist Beth Gibbons has been rekindled:*

And the band pounded my head into a blissful trance with ‘Machine Gun’. One of the great things about having a wheelchair is that the bass reverbs in my metal, under me. Especially when I am close to the stage. Talk about feeling the music (not the best sound quality in this clip, but you get the idea):*

*not my videos

In a nutshell, the weather was perfect, the venue was great, the bands on their game and the crowd appropriately civilised (if you don’t count the usual peeing in bushes). My brother enjoyed his birthday present, and I can listen to my old CDs in peace, now. If they go for festival #2, I hope they hold it at The Werribee Mansion again – perfect flat (and local!) ground for this Westie. Thanks to AJ Maddah for bringing together a great line-up. To hades with the haters. As a cripple, I was satisfied.

Green Music Festivals?

I couldn’t help but think, in the midst of all the music, about ways a music festival could be made more environmentally friendly, or energy efficient. As with everything else we do (including use this computer) there is always an environmental cost with a music event: bands have to be flown in (air travel is awful for the environment, in terms of carbon emissions – frequent flyers be aware), and sound and lighting are an energy drain. But there are ways that both individual music fans and festival organisers can minimise the harm.

Have added this to my ridiculously long list of things to research. Expect a post on this topic some time in 2012.

In the meantime, music wise, The  Australasian World Music Expo (AWME) is kicking off this week. It is both a trade fair, providing a platform to foster stronger relationships with music industry associates both nationally and from around the globe specifically interested in product from this region, and a music showcase for the public. I know peeps performing as part of this. Check the website for details. Bands/groups performing include:

Grrilla Step

Aaron Choulai & We Don’t Dance For No Reason 

Lotek

Khalil Gudaz

Emily Ulman

Kylie Auldist

King Kadu

Richard Mogu

Graveyard Train

Katchafire

The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra

Stiff Gins

Mulatu Astatke (Ethiopia) and Black Jesus Experience

I’m probably going to the opening and will hopefully catch a couple of shows.

Speaking of ‘world’ music (a term too insultingly generic and vague for the quality and diversity of the artistry that is lumped together in this genre), my friend Inderdeep, who wrote the Big Issue article that inspired this response piece, has invited me to an Indian Spiritual gathering (she’s a Sufi) featuring the music of Dya Singh (Melbourne based interpreter of the traditional Sikh hymns, shabad, with diverse influences from around the globe). I’m unable to attend, having plans already for that date, but Dya Singh’s music is wonderful. I first listened to his music back in early 2010, oddly around the same time I met Inderdeep. Love this quote I saw on his Myspace page once: “If you don’t see God in all, you don’t see God at all.” I have serious issues with religion and ‘God’ and whatnot, but the universal message behind that is awesome.

I’ll leave you with this track, ‘Void’, from Seekae. Recently, when I can’t sleep (like now) I put the headphones on and listen to this while I write:

Random Clips time!

As the title suggests, a selection of random clips.

Posting just because. Is there any better reason?

My brothers and father appeared in this episode of Frontline (02:40 my big bro firing a gun, hehe). It’s a brilliant series from the Working Dog team – a fantastic piece of satire. Particularly loved the storyline in this episode, ‘Playing the Ego Card’:

This is in my ears right now: Thievery Corporation’s “Shadow of Ourselves”. Reminds me of a gorgeous friend I knew briefly……. 🙂 back when SBS was still screening Eat Carpet:

These guys, Bombay Royale, rocked my world recently:

Ordering laksa at a takeaway recently, I was recognised by a happy fella who shouted me a beer once ages ago while watching the XX perform this. Reminded me how conspicuous a girl with a fro in a wheelchair is!:

My boys The Roots on Yo Gabba Gabba!!! Performing “Lovely, Love My Family”:

This is still heaven to ears…. By The Middle East:

This is the trailer for the film Beginners, which I annoyingly missed out on a MIFF ticket to (left it too late! Damn my depressed winter hibernation):

And I’m not afraid to say I’m really looking forward to seeing this feel-goody escapist South African/UK production, Africa United, this week. Go kids! I sincerely hope they showed you the money:

 

 

 

What to do with editing software!

How I love this – song Paranoid Android as performed by 36 YouTube uploaders and edited together by some clever bastard:

The album this song is featured on got me through some very tough, disturbed times. I will therefore love it forever. I wonder if everyone has a song/album like this?

Follow up post on Go Back To Where You Came From/Refugee Week tomorrow. Despite sleeping earlier than usual, I feel absolutely knackered. I am therefore going back to bed for a few more hours. This is the luxury of being on holidays 🙂

A lovely day to one and all.

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