oxjam up close

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Post by Gareth Hart.

What happens when you place event organisers, a venue, musicians and social conscience in the same space? OXJAM at the Skylark Room. that’s what.

According to the OXJAM website, the program “is a month-long party against poverty where hundreds of music lovers from all over the country create and throw their own gigs and parties, all in aid of Oxfam’s vision of a just world without poverty. OXJAM is one unforgettable month of DIY gigs and parties across Australia, all in support of Oxfam’s life-changing work around the world”

It is a nation-wide demonstration of how two things I believe deeply in, can blend into one: live performance and humanitarian values.

OXJAM is an exciting project that showcases how a venue-based model of artistic support can have a social conscience and contribute in a very real way, to an enriched, more connected and integrated future. From the Skylark table, 20% of ticket sales are being donated to OXJAM, with the added bonus of happy hour drink specials to support the cause between 7pm-8pm.

So why are the event organisers running this? According to the Skylark room, “We are so pumped for this gig on Friday night! It feels amazing to be doing something to actively help kids have access to the basic rights and services that we take for granted everyday”. The enthusiasm with which this new venue is supporting and advocating social justice through creative endeavours is amazing.

Spare Tyre politics

Spare Tyre Politics

On the night, Spare Tyre Politics, Khristian Mizzi & Pia Nesvara share their musical love for a great room & a great cause. 3 great acts for only $10! $2 from every ticket sale will go to Oxfam. So, this Friday, get along to the Skylark Room, 351 Glenfern Road, Upwey, and enjoy an incredible night of music, great local beverages and receive a huge amount of good creative karma by supporting a worthwhile cause.

The team are attempting to raise $500 through the night, which would be an exciting achievement. If you can’t make it to the gig, you can support the cause by giving online at: www.oxjam.org.au/theskylarkroom

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From Milingimbi to the Dandenongs: introducing Stanley Gawurra

Gawurra-Bushlands

Post by Gareth Hart.

This Friday at the Skylark room in Upwey, you are in for a real treat. A rare treat. The kind of treat that in a years from now you will either:
a) be ranting to your friends how you were there when it all began; or
b) be kicking yourself for not being a part of something so special from the start.

I am referring to the incredible voice, musicality and performance of Stanley Gawurra. A gifted musician with a talent for storytelling, Gawurra performs deeply felt and intimately connected songs.

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Gawurra is an indigenous musician from Milingimbi, in North East Arnhem Land. In 2015 Gawurra won the ‘Pop’ award in the Northern Territory Music Awards, and this accolade has skyrocketed his career. His debut album, Ratja Yaliyali followed this success and was launched earlier this year. Releasing an album in this overly competitive creative landscape is difficult enough, so it must be remarked upon when this is met with critical acclaim, the 4.5 star review kind of acclaim, from none other than Rolling Stone. According to Rolling Stone ‘like fellow Yonglu artist Gurrumul, Gawurra commands attention regardless of backdrop.’

According to Gawurra, “Ratja Yaliyali translates to ‘Vine of Love’, meaning a thread of love that keeps everything connected. When Yolngu people hear it they feel the spirit in their hearts. If they have a problem or feel gloomy, they listen to Ratja Yaliyali as it touches them and builds their spirit making them stronger and brighter.”

Gawurra_Album_Cover

Earlier this year, Gawurra moved from Milingimbi to the Dandenong Ranges, where he continues to hone his craft and focus on his career as a musician. What a gift we have with a talent such as this on our back doorstep.

Gawurra recently joined Clare Bowditch on 774 ABC Melbourne, and this is a great introduction to Gawurra’s story and his music. Have a listen here:

https://soundcloud.com/774-abc-melbourne/gawurra-joined-clare-bowditch-for-a-couple-of-songs

Gawurra will be supported by Alice Skye, another gifted indigenous songwriter making waves on the emerging music scene. This will, quite honestly, be an incredibly special night.

Be there, this is the early stages of a big career for this man.
You have been warned.

For more info on Gawurra, see: www.gawurra.com
Tickets for Friday’s gig can be arranged via: (03) 8288 2204

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White Ribbo

White Ribbon Concert: Hills Against Family Violence

Carolyn Oates

Carolyn Oates

Post by Yvonne Joyce.

“This town won’t be silenced, this town won’t turn a blind eye”.

The words of Carolyn Oates’s song ‘This Town’ moved local songstress Jessica Nabb to organise a unique concert at the Selby Community House later this month. Hills Against Family Violence will be a fun-filled night of music and entertainment, but it also carries a serious message about family violence and the need to take a stand against it.

Family violence continues to be a problem—indeed, the reported incidences of family violence is on the rise. While men are more likely to experience violence by a stranger, women are more likely to experience violence perpetrated by a male in their own home. On average one woman a week, in Australia, dies at the hands of a former or current partner, and the measure of harm multiples when we consider the effect on children who live in homes characterised by violence. That domestic violence continues to be wide spread throughout today’s society may seem hard to believe but our idealisation of the family means that the sort of violence that gets meted out in people’s homes is often dealt with by ignoring it. Shame and silence, both at a societal level and at an individual level mean that little gets done about it and the violence becomes implicitly socially accepted.

But taking a stand and speaking out is what the White Ribbon campaign is all about. It’s a male-led campaign aimed at breaking the culture of silence through education and raising awareness. There’s no doubt that when a community comes together as one voice, marvellous things can happen –including putting an end to the tolerance of family violence. Jessica Nabb knows the power of the voice and especially the community connection and empowerment that singing in a group can engender. So while the concert Jess is organising addresses a grim topic, taking a stand against violence will be achieved on the night through lifting the spirits and creating joy through song.

Hills Against Family Violence is a truly community event. Selby Folk Club is sponsoring the concert and the oh-so Sweet Sassafras community choir will be performing. The wonderful Carolyn Oates will be there to sing ‘Our Town’ among other tunes, supported by Sophie Louise and the White Ribbon Singers. People interested in being a part of the concert are very welcome and are invited to attend an open rehearsal on Monday 16th November at 7.30pm at Sassafras Primary School.

Jessica Nabb with Sweet Sass at Belgrave’s End of the Line Festival

Jessica Nabb with Sweet Sass at Belgrave’s End of the Line Festival

Sophie Louise

Sophie Louise

There will also be a big raffle on the night with prizes donated by local businesses, musicians and artists, who have been incredibly generous. All proceeds of the night will be donated to a local women’s refuge. Material donations, such as bedding and supermarket vouches, can also be made at a collection point at the door.

Friday 20th September, 7.30pm
Selby Community House – Tix $10

Community + music + cause = change
You can’t get a better formula than that.

For more information about Hills Against Family Violence – singing with heart
White Ribbon –
www.whiteribbon.org.au
This Town by Carolyn Oats can be heard at – soundcloud.com
Or find out more about Carolyn at www.carolynoates.com

For more information about family violence:
Domestic Violence Resource Centre – www.dvrcv.org.au
Royal Commission into Family Violence – www.rcfv.com.au
Department of Human Services – www.humanservices.gov.au/customer

If you are experiencing domestic violence and need immediate assistance call 000.
If you need to talk to someone, whether a victim or perpetrator, call Lifeline on 131114.

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Kirtan in the hills

Kirtan in the Hills

Kirtan in the hillsKirtan in the hills

Kirtan is a form of yoga, only musical – it’s basically chanting, call and response of ancient Sanskrit with live musicians playing traditional and western instruments, and is becoming very popular in various communities throughout Melbourne/Australia. Paul Watt a local tabla player and musician has been playing with different Kirtan groups around town for the past couple of years, and due to popular demand has decided to set up a regular Kirtan event in the Hills.

Paul Watt at Kirtan in the hills

A few months ago Paul wanted to see if the people of the Dandenongs might be interested in a local Kirtan Event. So the “Dandenong Ranges Kirtan Needs Assessment” was drafted and sent out via survey monkey. Paul had about 160 replies with the results being positive. 60% of respondents said “Yes, absolutely they have been waiting for this to come to the Hills” and the majority of the remainder said they were curious to find out more. Paul then decided to move their monthly Kirtan from Warburton to Kallista and is now presently hosting the sessions at Evolve Fair Food Store in Belgrave.

He has called in some talented ‘Kirtaneers’ from all over Melbourne who assemble just once a month to present Kirtan to the Dandenong Ranges.

The chants are easy to join in, as they are a line-by-line call and response format. Beautiful tones and music fuse together using a combination of instruments, both traditional Indian and Western. This together with voices chanting through singing produces a beautiful resonance that brings an uplifting peaceful feeling, a connection to the heart space.

Kirtan in the hillsKirtan in the hills Kirtan in the hills

The November Kirtan Band will feature – Harmonium, Tabla, Flute, Electric Bass and steel string guitar with special guest Michael (Arvo) Arvanatakis on cello and sitar. It will include six chants and six singers with opening and closing by ‘The Sivamantra’. Chant, sing and move with pleasantly grounded yoga traditions to evoke and imbibe your inner Shiva, divine masculine and divine feminine.

“It is yoga for the heart, soup for the soul through the heart with the chanting of mantra. There is an energetic factor that we are connecting into, giving ourselves space in creating balance, harmony, ease, openness, joy, love whatever it may be. It’s about letting go of the mind space and stepping into the space of the heart, like a child. In the practise of Kirtan we touch into this through the energy of sound also called naga, with voice and music which you also will be connecting with.”  Sivamantra

Sivamantra at Kirtan in the hills Sivamantra at Kirtan in the hillsKirtan-in-the-hills6

For more info and event details go to the Kirtan monthly events on facebook.
Evolve Cafe 64-68 Monbulk Rd, Belgrave.
7:30 -10:00 pm Friday 6 Nov and Friday 4 Dec (first Friday of the month).
Entrance fee $15

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Rob Snarski

A Coffee with Rob Snarski

Rob Snarski

Words and photographs by Matthew Thomson.

Matthew is a Melbourne based writer and photographer. His passion for photography sparked early on, when his father introduced him to an old Minolta X700 SLR. After buying his first DSLR at 15, Matthew was able to develop further in his later years of high school. Since graduating Matthew has spent time travelling, where his blog ‘Following My Feet’ highlighted his emerging talent as a young writer. Matthew now focuses in street, editorial and fashion, with his writing complementing each field. For further information about Matthew go to: www.matthewthomson.com.au

Sitting on the front verandah of his beautiful Mt Dandenong home, in the brisk morning air, listening to the whispers of the trees and the songs of the birds, I got a chance to talk with Rob Snarski about his recently debut solo album ‘Wounded Bird’, and the progression from his early Perth days.

“You can imagine in 1983 it was a very different scene in Australia… we didn’t have the internet… If you were going to sign to a label, you couldn’t really be based in Perth.”

Snarski’s music career started in WA with his brother Mark, in Chad’s Tree, however they soon moved across to Sydney to sign with label Hot Records, joining with the likes of The Triffids, The Laughing Clowns and The Benders.

“That was fantastic for us as kids…I was only 19”.

By 1989, he had moved back to Perth to start up the holiday band the Blackeyed Susans, a culmination of Chad’s Tree, The Triffids and Martha’s Vineyard.

“The idea was to play about 6 or 7 shows, record an LP…That was 1989…It’s now 2015 and I still play in a band called the Blackeyed Susans”. Over the years the Blackeyed Susans have toured globally, playing with the likes of Leonard Cohen, Johnny Cash, and Marianne Faithful.

Rob Snarski - 1

Snarski’s latest album was intended to be a follow up duo to his and Dan Luscombe’s 2004 works ‘There Is Nothing Here That Belongs To You’, however whilst driving home from a recording session Luscombe sprung on him that “this should be a solo record”.

“Initially I felt like punching him in the head, but in the end it was like a gift to me”.

Collaboration still remained important for Snarski and ‘Wounded Bird’, with Luscombe co-writing many of the songs, Shane O’Mara producing and Bruce Haymes, amongst others, adding his own touch. Even the financing was a holistic experience, with Snarski conducting Acoustic House Concerts as a way of crowdfunding the album.

“You have to be fairly open…You can’t walk into someone’s house and put on some sort of music persona… [however] it’s been a real joy”.

Rob Snarski - 2

However, ‘Wounded Bird’s’ production wasn’t completely smooth sailing, as a stolen computer and corrupt hard drives forced him to essentially start again on several songs.

“We had gotten about half way through, and things started to unravel.”

The album cover of ‘Wounded Bird’, a “bigified sparrow…resilient… [with] an arrow sticking through its heart” as Rob describes, was created by Melbourne artist Sandra Eterovic, and reflects the difficulties around the album and how they have been encompassed into the final product.

Fortunately, the end result is a poetic adventure through tumultuous landscapes.

Snarski himself, has been a resident of Mt Dandenong for several years, with it becoming a retreat; a reminder of his childhood neighbouring town of Araluen. However, he admits that the serenity of being enclosed by trees is unnerving in fire season.

Snarski plans to release another Blackeyed Susans album sometime in 2015/2016, with one more solo album, ‘a record of requests’, coming out around June.

Snarski has had a brilliant 10 months or so since the release of his debut solo album Wounded Bird. The record has been showered with accolades. He will be Live and local at Burrinja this Saturday, 2 May. For more info head to what’s on at burrinja.

For more information about Rob Snarski go to: www.robsnarski.com

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Justine Walsh – a musical journey

Post by Zoe Amber.

Earlier this week Zoe Amber spent a few hours hanging out with Justine Walsh in Sherbrooke Forest. Armed with her camera, Zoe was able to capture a beautiful series of photographs that equally tributes the beauty of the fern laden environment, and the infectious free spirit of local musician Justine Walsh.

Zoe: How does where you grew up and where you live now affect your music?

Justine: Well I grew up in the hills just east of Perth, constantly having nature around me and being able to get out into it whenever I liked was wonderful. Especially as a teenager living in a full house, it was necessary for me to get my space and time to myself. There were quite a few creative types up in the hills, so the friends I made helped inspire my art and music making.

Zoe: What kinds of ideas and things are you working on (musically speaking) at the moment?

Justine: At the moment I am exploring how to flesh out the bones of many years’ worth of songs I’ve written. It has taken me a long time to put energy into my own songs and not just let them sit in a book anymore, and I have some very talented and special friends who are helping me on that journey. I’ve also been collaborating with some producer friends, and am very excited by the outcome… 2014 is going to be a big one! I am also looking forward to the Belgrave Buskers Festival that is only a few weeks away.

Zoe: For those readers who haven’t been to the Belgrave Buskers Festival before, what is it all about?

Justine: The festival has been running since 2012. It is a melting pot of local music that happens throughout various venues in Belgrave.  The best way to find out more is to come along on February 22nd from about 11am. The festival is a great celebration of live music and strengthens the network among emerging and established artists and industry professionals.

Zoe: What other budding artists do you love?

Justine: To be honest I am really bad at looking for new music, so most of the time I rely on what my friends provide me… And often it is their own music! So I guess Mulder, Owen Rabbit (who is one half of Mulder), Nia Black, Harmony Byrne, Ella Ruby… also some bands & artists I have met through tiffany bishop COLLECTIVE such as Disasterama and Connor Blake.

Zoe: What are your plans for the Belgrave Buskers Festival this year?

Justine: I am applying to perform and also to busk on the main street. I put on a poetry night at last year’s event and it went great but I think it has all happened so fast this year that there’s no time to promote or organize. Just going to take it easy and enjoy the day.

Zoe: Are you a full time musician or do you have a 9 to 5 job as well?

Justine: I am a full time artist. I play at least 1 gig every week and have various other artistic pursuits… it can be hard at times but it is a labour of love.

Zoe: What has been your best performance experience so far?

Justine: Oh, I don’t know… performing at Sooki has been quite incredible! I have played a few gigs there and they’ve all been awesome – there’s something magic about that place. Also performing at End of the Line festival last year was phenomenal. I got up on stage with Mulder during their set too which made me really happy!

Justine will be playing at Sooki Lounge on the night of the Buskers Festival Saturday 22nd February supporting Matt Dwyer’s Little Big Band. To find out more about Justine Walsh click here or listen to her music here.

Kathleen Snowball – start of the line

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Post by Adriana Alvarez.

Kathleen Snowball is a very busy lady. Along with Josh Collings she was the Music Co-ordinator for the ‘End of the Line’ festival last year and with 200 plus musicians on board, it was a mammoth task. But co-ordinating large music events is just another day at the office for this seasoned professional.

Music has always been her passion. She is a singer, both as a solo artist and, until recently, with her band ‘The Snowball Effect’ that played a lot of jazz, blues and soul locally.

She works exclusively locally at the moment. She grew up in the hills and studied at the local high school, where she gained a Certificate in ‘Music Industry Skills’ as part of her year 12 studies. The industry course gave her insight into many different aspects of the music industry. Not only covering performance but also the practical aspects of how to manage the business, how to promote yourself and negotiating with APRA (The Australasian Performing Right Association), the less glamorous but important behind the scenes work.

After finishing high school Kathleen wanted to get some industry experience and was lucky enough to land a job at Ruby’s lounge. “It was a great experience,” says Kathleen. “In the seven and a half years that I worked there I gained first hand music experience working with some great bands and learning on the job.” Organising a lot of openings allowed Kathleen to negotiate contracts and see how writers and musicians work. She expanded on that knowledge and applied it to help artists move forward.

On top of this experience Kathleen also has a background in security, having worked as a National Operations Manager for a large security company, Executive Security Solutions. With 250 staff across the whole of Victoria and Sydney, they managed a lot of major events. This gave her an understanding of how the back end of events management works. The control tent, logistics, rostering and occupational health and safety, which are very important considerations at events.

Because of her extensive knowledge Kathleen has decided to start her own fledgling company, Snowball Productions. With a vast range of connections within the music industry her aim is to work on events big or small from private parties to corporate and community events. Snowball Productions could facilitate a band at your party or give advice on how to co-ordinate an event.

Her service also includes managing bands and visual artists. Having worked in the industry Kathleen says, “I know that people get burnt a lot. It’s really important for visual and performing artists to be represented properly so they’re pricing themselves accordingly and getting a fair deal.” Having a middle man is a good way to go about that. It’s all about making sure artists are being paid what they deserve.

This year she’s been involved in a number of local events. She assisted in co-ordinating the music for the Belgrave Lantern Parade, has been involved with the Tiffaney Bishop Collective, was a judge at the Belgrave Buskers Festival, plus she ran Reverberation Hills Culture Festival at Ruby’s last year. All of which have kept her very busy. With so much experience under her belt she’s sure to get Snowball Productions flowing in no time.

To get in touch with Kathleen email her at kathleensnowball@live.com