Menu Sian Prior

Writer, Broadcaster, Singer, MC & Teacher

Tropical Talents and Marvellous Mentors [September 13]

Just back from the Northern Territory where i caught several gigs on the last weekend of the Darwin
Festival
. Being able to boogie in the humid night air at the Darwin Botanic Gardens sure beats scurrying around chilly, wet Melbourne in October to attend the Melbourne Festival. (How about moving it to March, gals?)

One of the highlights was a concert called ‘Drums and Lions’, a collaboration between Maltese-Australian guitarist/percussionist Nicky Bomba and Ethiopian musician Dereb Desalegn. Bomba explained that it all started as a quest to find the roots of reggae in Ethiopia (he never did), but it ended with a firm musical friendship which had the crowd jigging and sweating and calling out for more at the Star Shell. Desalegn sings in his native Amharic language and plays a traditional one-stringed instrument called the masenko, but this is no world-musicky folk outfit. They rock!
They’ve recorded an album via Transmitter Records, also called ‘Drums and Lions’, and i highly recommend it as a cure for the post-winter blues.

The other gig to rave about was a double bill with charismatic East Timorese singer/songwriter Ego Lemos (lead singer of Cinco do Oriente) and Yolngu singer/songwriter Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu. Gurrumul’s self-titled solo album has been garnering music industry nominations and winning awards left, right and centre (keep an eye out for him at the Aria awards in October, if he doesn’t take home a major prize i’ll eat my sombrero). The sell-out crowd had the religious fervour of a bunch of Elvis fans, so passionate were they about this blind musician and his songs in language. He’s a former member of Yothu Yindi, a current member of the Saltwater Band, and he’s going to be the next big indigenous musical star in this country (or i’ll eat another sombrero).

Gurrumul will be performing with the Black Armband at the forthcoming Melbourne Festival, and also doing a couple of solo gigs – book now or you’ll be sorry. (And keep an eye out for my profile of Gurrumul in a forthcoming edition of The Age ‘EG’.) Ego Lemos is rumoured to be performing in Melbourne on September 25th – more info anon.

Last week i hosted another business forum for the City of Stonnington, this time on the topic of mentoring. The three guest speakers (David Southwick, Fay Jamieson and Shane Hills) spoke persuasively about how asking for help – and/or offering it – can make the difference between a successful small business and a failure. Click to hear a podcast of our conversation.