As part of the 10th anniversary of the ‘Emerge Festival’ , which kicked off last Saturday, Multicultural Arts Victoria (MAV) and the Maribyrnong City Council threw a street party called ‘Emerge in the West’ – a celebration of the contributions African communities have made/are making culturally, socially, musically, economically and gastronomically to Melbourne’s West.
Despite a few showers in the afternoon, people were out in Nicholson St, Footscray, dancing to the sounds of Sudanese pop, Ethiopian jazz, Azmari banter, Somali pop, traditional Burundian drumming, West African dance and Cape Verdean reggae. The best part? All the performers now call Melbourne home.
There were performances from Ajak Kwai, a Sudanese singer from the Malakal Region of the Upper Nile. She sings in her native Dinka language as well as Arabic and English – songs of freedom, love, peace, death, marriage and cows.
One of the highlights of the afternoon, technical difficulties aside, was the pop stylings of Somali group, Aussom Band, led by Abdi Mohamed Abdi, aka ‘The Man with Ten Hands’. Abdi is is originally from the southern Somali port of Kismayo. Since the civil war in Somalia, which saw the banning of music (among other things), many well known musicians have been persecuted by fundamentalist insurgents, including Abdi. He lived in exile in Kenya for 18 years before settling in Australia in 2008. It was amazing to hear the Somali group here in Footscray, reconnecting with their country’s music after such a long and dislocated experience.
Other highlights included Ethio-Jazz ensemble, Jazmaris, led by Ethiopian pianist Danny Seifu, with powerful vocals by the ever-exceptional Seble Girma. This band just finished supporting the legendary Ethiopian singer Mahmoud Ahmed on his recent Australian tour in January 2013. The band was sounding tight, well rehearsed and very comfortable with their arrangements.
Bitat Seyoum, accompanied by Anbessa Gebrihiwot, played a wonderful set in her native Amharic language, even as the rain fell and audience members sought cover underneath the roofs of shops in Nicholson St.
The Burundian Drummers provided a trance-inducing set of traditional Burundian rhythms with 7 big drums or ingomas, knocking out ever evolving polyrhythms. In Burundi the use of the ingoma was historically a symbol of power, used to commentate on the daily life of the king. The drums were believed to bring peace and unity throughout the kingdom, a belief that continues to present today – 12 years of civil war notwithstanding.
The afternoon came to a close with roots reggae outfit Ras Jahknow Band, fronted by Cape Verdean born Jorge Abreu (aka Ras Jahknow) They sing songs in English, Portugese, and Creole. The band never strays far from the deep and slow rhythms of roots reggae and created a good vibe to end proceedings on.
‘Emerge in the West’ was a fantastic opportunity for many of the people and communities who make Melbourne’s West what it is – to show their talents, share culture and partake in some good ol’ fashioned dancing in the street.
As a final thought, I was struck by the Burundian drums – upon which they have painted the Australian flag, alongside the Burundian flag. Hitting the sides of the drums with their sticks, the Union Jack on the Australian flag looked as though it were being beat in to submission. I, for one, am very excited about the impact these cultures, musical traditions and musicians themselves are going to have upon the future of Australian music.
The Show goes on!
The Emerge Festival continues until July, with ‘a colourful series of performances and unique cultural experiences encompassing music, dance, visual arts, exotic foods, ancient crafts and ceremonies.’ These include:
– ‘Main Event’ at Fitzroy Town Hall on Sunday June 16th (12-5pm, FREE)
– World Refugee Day Rally 2013 at Melbourne Museum forecourt, Sunday June 16th (rally will march to Fitzroy Town Hall)
– Remastered Myths, Sunday 2nd June at the Toff in Town (3-5pm, $10)
– Restoring Hope – A Creative Refugee Week Performance, on Saturday 22nd June at Fortfivedownstairs, Melbourne (3-5pm, FREE,)
– Emerge @ Drum Theatre, Dandenong, Saturday 20th July (2-4:30pm, FREE)
– Don’t Be Left Out in the CALD – a series of Music Business Skills Workshops for musicians from CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) backgrounds. Topics include: Getting Gigs, DIY Releasing, APRA & Licensing, Music Law, Grant Writing, amongst others. Saturday 8th June – Monday 10th June. Places are limited and acceptance is by application only. You can send expressions of interest to: firstname.lastname@example.org or call (03) 9188 3681 for more details.
Currently working on their debut album, WiLSON blends irregular measurements of pop, surreal funk, dub, dance and fun with absurdist, psychedelic, neologic vocal stylings.
Tuesday April 30th, 2013 6pm-9pm at House of Bricks, Collingwood.
I am lacking in the words department for this tribute and just the whole bigger picture in general. Cliche is employed to many odd effects in post-humous matters, so the main thing I got to say is..
Ingram was a beautiful soul who gave massive love and loyal friendship to many.
This night is for anyone whose life was touched by Ingram, will be soundtracked by Ingram’s music with mix/live stuff from his musical community. If you wanna hit the mic to share what Ingram meant to you, funny stories and the like this night is for that also.
I really hope all those who would like to be there can make it, so please share this event round to all relevant corners of the interweb.
2nd March – House concert
120 Stewart St, Brunswick – use side gate
4-4:30 Aviva Endean (contrabass clarinet) and Benjamin Kolatis (bass dulcimer)
5-5:45 Great Waitress – Laura Altman (clarinet), Monica Brooks (accordion), Magda Mayas (piano)
BYO drinks. $10 donation welcome : )
3rd March, Sydney Rd Festival – Brunswick Music Festival
Town Hall Plinth, outside Brunswick Town Hall, 233 Sydney Road
1.45pm & 3pm
The best dressed and grooviest street band in town and principle advocates of the S T Y L E F R E E movement!
It’s been nice knowing you!
More music to make you smile!
[⊙_⊙] – Ah!Puch! xoxo
On August 25th, 2012 ( ( ( Out Hear ) ) ) Ah!Puch! & The West Head Project organised a soundwalk in the Royal National Park, NSW featuring Tota, a travelling Japanese shamisen player, Jim Denley an influential figure on the Australian post-jazz music scence, Peter Farrar, Dale Gorfinkel, Moniker Gronks & Lochie Bradfield. Here are some pics & a video from that day. Be sure to check ( ( ( Out Hear ) ) ) for more soundwalks happening around Melbourne & Sydney over summer. Enjoy!
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Out Hear, Ah!Puch! & The West Head Project Co-present:
A Soundwalk and Performance in the Royal National Park, NSW
Saturday August 25th
Featuring Tota (Japan) on shamisen, Jim Denley on saxophone and Peter Farrar (sleeping)
10.22 train from central station arrives cronulla 11.12
Ferry from Cronulla Ferry Wharf at 11.30am to Bundeena
Meet for the train to Cronulla from Sydney Central Train Station at 10.22am (arrives Cronulla 11.22)
45min walk to The Cobblers
Last ferry back is 6pm.
Belize is a diverse, mixed up little country on the coast of mainland America – wedged between Mexico to the North, Guatemala to the South and West, and the Caribbean Sea to the East. Indigenous Mayans, British colonialists, shipwrecked Garifuna fisherman, Mulatos, Creoles, Mestizos, Chinese and even the Amish and the Mennonites, can all be seen riding around the country in retired US school buses. Reggae jams pumping, hurtling down roads lined by jaguar filled jungles, with fleeting glimpses and panoramic vistas of the Caribbean Sea, complete with palm trees, fishing boats and cabanas.
Gaining independence from Britain in 1981 (it was previously British Honduras) the mainland country sways to a distinctly Caribbean vibe, with English as its official language. Many people there profess music to be the main cultural asset, though it is often hard to find live music, beyond the locals’ penchant for karaoke in beachside bars, where the rum costs less than water back home in Australia. Everyone agrees though – the music of Belize is to be found in the South of the country, where many of the Garifuna people live.
The Garifuna people are now found all along the Caribbean coast of Central America – in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. In 1635 a ship carrying African slaves, predominantly from Nigeria, capsized in the Caribbean Sea. Some of the slaves were able to make it ashore to St. Vincents Island where they began relations with the native Indians, the Arawak and Red Carib people, who had migrated from Guyana and Venezuala respectively. After a century of integration, and impressive reproduction rates, the Garifuna became the dominant group in St. Vincents’ society, causing social ruptures and rifts. Soon the French were involved, and then the British. Decades of war ensued and the Garifuna were deported to the Honduran island of Roatán, where they continued to flourish and procreate. Forced to flee yet again after the republican revolt in Honduras, they continued their exodus, in ever increasing numbers to the southern Belizean coastline in 1832. Today the 20,000 or so Garifuna people make up 6% of the Belizean population.
We found some live music in Hopkins, a small Garifuna fishing village just south of Dangriga – a larger Garifuna fishing village with a Rastafari culture – think tropical heat, fresh fish, weed, reggae and t i m e . We had to hitchhike with some Mennonites from Dangriga because the bus wasn’t coming that day, or maybe it was, or was it yesterday? Or maybe it wasn’t on Thursdays, but Fridays? No one could be sure, yet everyone had an opinion about when the bus was or wasn’t coming. All agreed though, we could catch it from where the main street and the river intersect…That’s if it showed up – which it didn’t. All I can say is thank the lord for the Mennonites.+
Once in Hopkins we found the Lebeha Drumming Centre, at the Northern end of town. The centre was started 10 years ago by Jabbar Lambey, a Garifuna drummer and Dorothy Pettersen, an ex-pat from Canada. We entered in to the neatly kept grounds and met Jabbar. I asked if there would be any performances coming up, as I was interested in making some recordings. He explained that he could get some people together and we could make some recordings that evening.
We returned that evening to find Jabbar, Warren and John ready with their drums, which are made in nearby Dangriga by Austin Rodriguez. The drums are made from mahogany and mayflower woods with animal hide skins, including the Primero (first drum) the Segunda (the bass drum), shakers which contain seeds from a fruit tree inside a calabash gourd, and turtle shells – quite literally a turtle shell strapped around the percussionists neck and struck with soft mallets.Garifuna music is quite different from the music of the rest of Central America. The most famous form is Punta, while other forms of Garifuna music and dance include the hungu-hungu, wanaragua, matamuerte, sambai, paranda, berusu, and punta rock; some of which can be heard in these recordings.
In 2001, Garifuna music was proclaimed one of the ‘Masterpieces of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity’ by UNESCO, along with Garifuna language and dance, though as the Lebeha Drumming Center says on its website ‘this does little to help the hand to mouth daily existence of the people. Tourism and escape to the U.S. offer some consolation and money but there are few opportunities for the practicing masters of the tradition; some of the finest elder musicians are now more conversant with a bottle of rum than with a drum. Fortunately the musicians at the Lebeha Drumming Centre are keeping the tradition alive and kicking.
To learn more about the Lebeha Drumming Centre or about Garifuna culture in general, check out these links –
There’s a big weekend of music coming up in Melbourne, for those of you not heading out of town to Golden Plains! Including 6 performances by everyone’s favourite originators of the stylefree movement PROPHETS! Featuring Birdbrain, Ctrl-Alt Man, Groovy G, Finntaz, and your humble narrator, Ah!Puch!
You can catch the PROPHETS performing here:
Saturday 10th March
Thanks to everyone who came down to support Thunderrclapp last night! We had a ball with Matthew Brown, the Nuba Mountains Cultural Society of Victoria Inc. and Ms Butt. Keep your eyes on the Thunderrclapp! blog for photos, videos, live sets & DJ mixes coming up soon!
Please note that DJ/Rupture has pulled out of his Australian dates, including Thunderrclapp!
Fear not though – the show will go on!
We’ve still got the Nuba Mountain Cultural Society of Victoria Inc, Matthew Brown, and the Thunderrclapp!DJs!, it will still be a Full Moon, and the first 25 people through the door will still receive a free copy of ‘Backbone’!
And on the plus side? Tickets are now cheaper! $10 at the door!
DJ Rupture’s loss I say! You can’t stop the Thunder!
See you there!
Ah!Puch! is proud to be involved in organising this very special event – featuring international DJ Rupture, local DJ Butt, the traditional singing and dancing of the Nuba Mountain Cultural Society of Victoria Inc, and experimental Melbourne musician Matthew Brown!
And in true Ah!Puch! style, it’s going to be a FULL MOON!
When? Thursday 8th March
Where? The Mercat
Happy Year of the Dragon, 2012! Please excuse my extended absence!
As I said in my last post – I’ve been travelling through the USA, Mexico, Belize and Guatemala – and managed to make a few field recordings along the way for you to enjoy – including some Garifuna drummers from Belize, buskers from Mexico and perhaps a few sound walks from the USA.
You can expect more music releases, video clips, live performances and parties from Ah!Puch! in 2012.
Here’s hoping 2012 brings us all some joy, peace, music, balance & love!
In the meantime, here is a video from a trio of buskers in a market in Merida, in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico.
[⊙_⊙] – Ah!Puch! xoxo
Live visuals by Joel Zika
♫ Footy (7pm)
♫ Anbessa + Hakim (8pm)
♫ Client Liaison (9pm)
♫ Press Club (Rhys & Sashi from ‘World’s End Press’)
Live visuals by Joel Zika!
A limited edition ‘Backbone’ single will be on sale for $5 each, and if you’re lucky you might be able to get the kids to sign it for you!
My friend Ingram died yesterday. He was the beatmaking genius behind The Slum Boys. We were planning on making music when he got back from his trip overseas, but he hasn’t made it.
I’ll try to get hold of some more of your music & get it up here so people can hear how talented you were.
Peace, Ingram – to you, your family & all your loved ones xoxo
here’s one track in the meantime – It Hurts So Bad
Ah! Hello all. Thank you to all of you who came down to the Ah!Puch! Compilation Launch No. 1 Party last week. It was an amazing night, with brilliant sets from Varuni, Bangs & Ez, The Slum Boys, Monte Morgan & TGV. So amazing that I recorded the entire evening and have created a special live mix for everybody. So for all of those of you who were there you can experience some flashbacks, and for those who weren’t you can hear what you missed out on! I’ve also put some videos up of Bangs & Ez + Monte Morgan. Enjoy!