Thursday, 3 January 2013
A short excerpt of footage from the "Get Up Stand Up" panel/concert at the Woodford Folk Festival, with Shenton Gregory on bass. We had the amazing honour of sharing the stage with John Butler, Shane Howard, Juice Media Rap News and Penelope Swales. This footage is courtesy of the lovely Lucy Cahill from the Juice Media crew who squeezed us onto the end of her camera's memory card. Thank you Lucy!
Monday, 31 December 2012
A very happy new year to you all. As 2012 drew to a close I had the great fortune to present our preview songs for the Hidden History Album Project at the Woodford Folk Festival in QLD. Along with our band performances featuring Shenton Gregory, Kylie Southwell and Danny Doyle, I also helped host a discussion on Australia's hidden histroy with Sam Watson and Michael Williams. The highlight of the week was performing alongside John Butler, Shane Howard, Penelope Swales and Juice Media Rap News at the Get Up Stand Up concert, the latter of which I collabortaed with for a spur of the moment Julia Gillard impersonation which made an article in The Daily Telegraph.
Unfortunately our concert was cut short with the sudden arrival of the real Prime Minister Julia Gillard who was waiting backstage with Bob Hawke to make a Woodford appearance of her own. As the Juice Media Rap news crew were mid performance to our audience of a few thousand, Julia's entourage forced the festival crew to cut the PA during the political songwriting concert. Not the most popular of moves with the crowd! But even after being thrown off stage and bossed around backstage by Australia's answer to the gestapo, we all came away having had a wonderful musical journey, in particular listening to the very beautiful song written by John Butler called Kimberly. Below are some photographs from our concerts and also our collaborations with the very fantastic Juice Media Rap News gentlemen. If you have not already seen there video about Australia Day, visit their website http://thejuicemedia.com/
Picture: With Hugo Farrant from Juice Media Rap News and if you look closely at the group photo you may see Danny Doyle and myself in our cameo role as bogan extras for the Australia Day Rap News segment.
Tuesday, 20 November 2012
As part of the HHAP I recently I travelled to Dieri Country (Marree SA) to deliver some guitars and guitar/songwriting workshops to a group of very talented and passionate young Dieri students. They are the custodians of some of the most beautiful desert country in Australia and to be able to help them find their own voice on an instrument that I am so passionate about was a great honour. I lived in residence with my host family for a month and shared many wonderful talks and laughs around the fire, including some important music industry stuff like how to protect your music within the European legal framework, and how to join APRA ect. Together with Ngandri Raelene, me and the young ones wrote a song in Dieri language. We used this as an example of how to set up the ownership of a song, and of course I gave my input in kind, so they have all the ownership rights over the music we created together. There is still much more for them to learn about how the music industry works (I don't even know half of it yet myself!), and about their instruments, but we made a great start and look forward to continuing lessons again next year. Until then we will have to keep up the work via facebook and skype.
Aside from now being somewhat addicted to watching ALF/X-factor/Home & Away, I also came away with some really beautifull friendships and happy memories that will always live on in my heart. One of my favourite recollections is of lying down in my little car-cubby for the night, the fire burning low, and listening to the sounds of the young ones all jamming together on their new guitars. So watch out! The next generation of Archies, Gurrumuls and Jessica Mauboys are on their way! I'll be very proud watching them all rake up Deadly Awards in a few years time :)
Many thanks to all the people who made this trip possible, including the amazing hospitality of Raelene Warren, Cynthia Hannes, Greg Warren, Greg Snowdon, Deb Bohenhuber, the very diligent and enthusiastic students, all those who contributed to my petrol fund to help me get out there, and of course our amazing philanthropists who donated the guitars and tuners. They wished to remain anonymous, but their contribution really made a big difference in all our lives, so a really big thank you. Below is some footage of the young ones opening up their guitars when they arrived.
If you would like to come and hear all the new songs about unpopular shared Australian history, myself and the band will be performing at the Woodford Folk Festival. The band will feature Kyie Southwell, Shenton Gregory and Danny Doyle. I will also be appearing on a couple of discussion panels during the festival alongside Sam Watson, Shane Howard (of Solid Rock fame), John Butler and Penelope Swales. Hopefully see some of you there!
Tuesday, 4 September 2012
Just a brief message to let you all know that the next big adventure for my Hidden History work is about to begin. My gypsy caravan (aka subaru forester) is all packed again! I am driving from Brisbane to Marree South Australia to give guitar and songwriting workshops to people from the Dieri community. So many wonderful things happened for this to be possible. Firstly, there was a strong interest from young musicians in the community to develop their musicianship on guitar, and secondly a very special benefactor donated 6 brand new guitars for me to take out with me so that we can gift some up and coming talent with some really nice instruments to work on. Our guitar benefactor asked to remain anonymous, but I will give a big shout out to Craig Claxton from the Guitar Brothers and their distributors for giving us an absolutely unbelievable deal, and then an unbelievable upgrade, on some solid spruce top instruments. These are instruments that I can be really proud to give, because they are so great! So thank you so much! Music is such a special universal language and to be able to help young musicians in the desert develop their skills on guitar so that they can try new ways to sing their own history is something that I feel really honoured to be a part of. I am very grateful to have been given this opportunity by the Dieri people to share.
I have donated all my teaching time and living expenses for the 1 month residency. I am not being funded to do this work, nor am I receiving any kind of payment from the Dieri people. This is something I have always felt a calling to do and as soon as my friends in the area expressed an interest in learning what I had to offer, I knew this was what I had to do.
I would to say a big thank you to those lovely people who took pity on my dwindling fuel funds, particularly my beautiful mum :) I have been saving up to do this trip for some time, and although I have accomplished some really great things in my career so far, life as a musician is very hard sometimes and some of my work would not be possible but for the kindness of people helping out in various ways. So I would like to thank those that have added a bit of fuel money to the Fuel Fund for this trip, which to be honest is a big relief! If anyone would still like to make a donation to the Fuel costs for this trip it would still be hugely appreciated, so if that is something you are up for please email me and I can send through the donation info. Unfortunately we don't have the 'tax deductible donation' carrot yet, but who knows! Maybe one day :) Even if you are not in a position to help out in this way, I am still grateful for all of you following along.
I hope I have inspired more people (like me!) that are new (somewhere in the last 200 years) to this country to learn about the last 200 years of history, and also to do some 'assimilation in the opposite direction'. I know that in my own life, there are not many people who make an effort to truly connect with this land's first custodians. It is not always easy because as the new kids on the block, we make many mistakes and can often commit cultural offences without even realising. I know for me I have found this journey quite scary and full of extreme opinions and experiences, all of which I have respectfully considered very carefully. I have been challenged about my intentions for doing this work many times, and simultaneously encouraged for it many other times. But the important thing is the intention behind our actions and if we can address those as being pure, and then be humble enough to learn from our mistakes (because inevitably humans will always make mistakes), then we can move into the future with love and acceptance, learning so many beautiful things from each other. Although we come from many different nations, the language of love and compassion is what unites us. And that is why I adventure on in this amazing journey called life :)
Thank you again and I look forward to sharing some photos from my desert adventure soon.
Thursday, 19 July 2012
Greetings friends of the Hidden History Album Project,
Since our preview concert at the Brisbane Powerhouse in May we have moved towards some very exciting opportunities. There are quite a few great things to share so forgive this newsletter for being a bit long!
In early July I travelled to Sydney and joined a very special supporter of the project, a Mr. Ivan Clarke, on a road trip. From Sydney we travelled to his home, the enchanting river country of the Barkindji people, to visit Lake Mungo National Park and meet his lovely family, many of whom I had already met last year at the Waking Up the Spirit Festival. We will be posting some more footage taken in this area later, but as with all my research, I edit things and then need to run the finished posts by the right people to make sure I have not included anything that is culturally inappropriate for me to share on the website.
Lake Mungo National Park, Barkindji Country.
When I returned to Sydney I had a great meeting with APRA, the organisation in Australia that collects and distributes royalties to the writers of music. One of the important goals for us is to streamline the process of joining APRA for people I am collaborating with, particularly those that are living in remote areas. The music from this project is very special and it is very important to me that the people I am writing songs with understand exactly what it means to own a song together (European Way), and the responsibilities and rewards this can incur. I also had a great meeting with the new head of ABC Classics in their very swish looking Ultimo building. As some of you may know I released an album with them in 2008 called Celtic Gypsy. We have certainly sparked some great interest from their office with the work that we are doing and, fingers crossed (!!), there are some strong opportunities developing for their future involvement. Please send us your positive vibrations to help this along. It would be so wonderful to have this level of publicity :)
Yesteday we said goodbye to our old Alesa Lajana website. After a decade without a facelift the old girl has done us proud. The end of an era! The new one is now up at the same URL, www.alesalajana.com.au, so we invite you to have a sticky beak around the new online facilities.
And in closing, we are particularly excited to announce that in September I will be returning to Dieri country, Marree in remote South Australia, to collaborate with a very special woman to write a song in Dieri language about their post contact history, give guitar/songwriting lessons to a group of 6 musicians as chosen by the Elders of the community, and also help put together a Dieri language course. I will be in residence for a month. But what is particularly exciting about this is that a very special benefactor of the HHA Project (who depsite me wanting to sing his praises to the world wishes to remain anonymous) has just donated 6 BRAND NEW guitars for me to give to my new Marree guitar students. There are not many guitars out there so this was pretty high on the list of priorities. He is also sponsoring the cost of posting the guitars out there. This amazing deal was also made possible because of the wonderful people at the Guitar Brothers guitar shop up in Brisbane who gave us an unbelievably good deal on some great instruments, and also roped in a freight favour from one of their distributors. The family I will be staying with and who are helping me organise this were overjoyed upon hearing this news. I certainly became a little teary when delivering it :) The structure of this residency is looking more and more like something we can tour to other remote communities. I am donating all my time and guitar teaching skills for free, as well as providing my own accommodation and food for the month. We are still looking for some help to fundraise the petrol costs to get me to and from, as well as 6 guitar tuners so things stay in tune between my visits. If you would like to assist us in any way please email firstname.lastname@example.org
This project is made for the people, by the people. It would not be possible without the support of our private sponsors. The word of mouth, the time, the skills and donations you have made so far are what make this work possible. From all of us here at our humble base camp, we thank you.
Alesa Lajana and the Hidden History Team
Helping Australia assimilate in the opposite direction :)
Wednesday, 13 June 2012
We invite you to share my recent journey to Marree in South Australia to perform at the Dieri Land Handback Ceremony held in early May 2012. We are also very happy to announce that as part of our songwriting journey we will be collaborating with a senior law woman of the Dieri people later this year to explore the impact of the Dingo Fence and the Ghan railway line on the Marree community. A truly humbling opportunity for our two worlds to join as one voice. We shall post more information about this collaboration in the coming weeks. In the meantime we hope you enjoy the footage that we have been allowed to share with you.
Monday, 21 May 2012
Thank you so much to BEMAC, the Brisbane Powerhouse and our wonderful audience for helping to make the very first official preview of the Hidden History songs such a great experience. We really appreciate your support and it is so great to see there is an interest from the wider community ro explore a balanced view of early Australian history. Our producer was very pleased with how it went and I feel we have opened the door to many more opportunities to perform this music. Here is a picture from the show.