Welcome to VOW
- The Desert Feet Tour – Musical workshops and community concerts servicing remote areas of WA. You can find out more, including on-the-road blogs and our tweets at our DFT page.
- Back to School: Bali – It may be an appealing holiday destination, but Bali is also home to approximately 2000 disadvantaged orphaned kids. VOW is proud to be coordinating the sponsorship for 26 Balinese children working with YKIP as the beneficiary agency in Bali.
- Bio-latrines - We are particularly enthusiastic of utilising the Bio-latrine to improve school or doctor facilities. As the waste decomposes it creates methane gas which can be piped up to a 200 meter radius under its own pressure. This can be used for heating, cooking or used to run generators that function on gas.
- Artists for Education – This volunteer-run event is a fundraiser for the Desert Feet Tour. A broad spectrum of Perth's music scene donate their time to perform amoung multiple stages, performance artists, and socially involved patrons. This multi-media fest is run once a year.
- Donation and CDs – All donations are recognised as being a gesture on your part, and we say thanks to all by giving you complimentary music downloads! Visit our donations and music shop page, where you can see Music is Our Method! Physical CDs also available.
Day 15 - Homeward Bound
Ryder is sleeping in the seat next to me. His new career as a student at Abmusic will begin in the next few days. Ewan is stretched out in the back cuddling my dog. We are about 600 km south of Newman, it is about 11:30 pm. The night is dark, cold with a steady drizzle falling since we left Port Hedland, almost as if the Pilbara weeps at our departure.
This night fell on us while we were passing through the astounding Legoland mountains of the Munjina Ranges. The sections of the hills looked like they had been pulled apart by a baby God who put them back together in the wrong order. A line of giant ridges stacked incorrectly like an ill-fitting lego set. Sections of the ridges seemed to hang out over lower parts, other sections look like they were from a different ridge. In places the open cliff faces looks like bricks without mortar, stacked precariously high, as if the whole range might just collapse any second. The landscape here is almost alien; powerful and vast. It is a forgotten part of the world on a forgotten road with Red rocks and immeasurable green plains hidden behind ranges, spotted with caves and valleys. The beauty is mesmerising.
Reflection is my only companion now as I try to understand what has happened, what really transpired. How has my life come to look like this: driving a dirty, red-mud caked truck down an endless open road, ambitiously determined for a result I cannot even visualise. All I know is it is not a material result.
The white line of the highway is flashing below me like a story-less movie screen, my headlights show the road and its verge which form a tunnel in the night, describing the extent of my visual world. The darkness ahead is a void, drawing me in like a black hole. The purring diesel motor of the vibrating steel chariot has put me into a trance leading me to a moment of clarity. It’s not what I thought it was going to be, the Desert Feet Tour. It has turned a corner and, from this day, it will never look the same again. The real outcome was so near I had missed seeing it. It was not the music or the recordings, or the concerts, or even the workshops. It has not been the lessons or the experience. Most importantly, it was the friendships.
Now I realise I have started something I could never walk away from. I have started friendships that are mine for life, if I choose to grow them.
I guess I have fallen in love with this land and with the salt of its earth, its people. I have fallen because that is my purpose, the purpose of my life. I used to believe life was for living, to live life to the max! Now I doubt that.
Living is the state that occurs, like a present. Life is for loving. Love is our choice; to give it or not to give, to know it or not to allow it, to own it or fear it. To be without love is worse than to be without life, for life will end but love never will.
The measure of your life will be the quantity of your gift.
We had more workshops to do this morning, so I woke the crew up early again. We drove back to Port Hedland last night so it was late by the time we got in. Emily and I had forgotten to include today’s workshops in the itinerary so the crew had all thought they would get a good sleep in before the big show. Rob was anxious to rehearse with Mary G, while Ewan was very distracted, worrying about getting the set up under way as early as possible to out any hitches and do sound checks for all six of the performers. However, today’s workshops are the most important of all as the BHP sponsors will there. Today will be run beside a basketball carnival held at the youth centre in South Hedland. We are expected to run some of the workshops there for kids as an adjunct, over in the hall.
With everybody’s combined effort we had the whole show set up, completed and packed away by 11:30 am. I took everyone down to the hotel restaurant for lunch before the final set-up. It was the first time we have eaten a nice sit down meal together the whole trip, and it was a real panacea to ease the stress that has built up over days of not stopping. Both Em and I ate a huge T-bone so Bella got two huge bones to chew on in the back of the truck. The whole lot came to $450.00! That’s an expensive treat and I was glad we didn’t have to do that too often, but it was well worth it. These guys have been super and I could not have done it without their enthusiasm and extra work that they have all have contributed.
With a belly full of good tucker, we all felt better.
This year we outsourced the publicity and promotion of our major concert to another company. Amber from White Room is a force to be reckoned with. A small petite blond haired, blue eyed bombshell, she has had to excel above the norm to overcome the stereotype of the beauty that might misrepresent her. A lawyer by trade, she drove the Haulpacks for BHP for years before setting up her own business, which has now accommodated some world class acts. The association came about by chance. We saw the promotional work they had done for a previous concert as we left Newman last Tour and we were impressed. The relationship is a blessing and the effort tripled our attendance.
The Kiwirrkurra boys had done their bit to promote the concert too so we had a massive following arrive before sundown. The audience was a cultural fusion and from that point on I was happy. Only one moment during the night did I worry when some people arrived with a few cartons of beer to drink in the park, and I could not get hold of the police. However it turns out that the captain of the Hedland Police was sitting in our audience, so once I pointed out the situation to him it was resolved instantly. Ideally it would be better if it had been prevented rather than stopped, however no further issue resulted. The dancing was orchestrated by Countrymen and Englishmen combined. It was the cherry on the pie for me.
Ewan also had a teary moment when his beloved Kiwirrkurra Band opened the night with their Desert Reggae. The transformation was complete. They got up in their new outfit; white shirts. They played their songs like seasoned professionals, their set list now developed and tweaked under the guiding eye of Ewan, with instructions from Simon and Rob. They had turned up this morning and practiced all day! I cannot describe how proud we were to perform with them. Bobby was at the mixing desk every ten minutes asking Ewan for another CD to hand out to another relative. His pleasure at having his son and the boys up there was obvious, and quite cute.
Bryte MC impressed all with his set sounding full and dramatic, the sound Ewan pulled from the system was perfect. Candice with her huge soul voice and a band behind her is an act worth paying to see, but tonight was free! My band pulled a pretty tight sound too if I do say so myself! In fact, I think we had the most people dancing to our songs ever.
The headline was Mary G and as always she was hilarious. She made me get up and do a duet which was comical, but the real treat was when at the end of the night we asked Mary G to introduce Ryder Loxton onto the stage to play his song ‘Lonely Boy’. The Kiwirrkurra boys got up as his band and the crowd really went wild. In the end these guys had the biggest crowd dancing out of all of the acts and they played the final 3 songs of the night with relaxed ease and grace. I think I was more nervous than them.
Just two weeks ago these guys got up on stage in Kiwirrkurra and played a mostly broken and disjointed set. Tonight they got up and delivered a professional ordered set to an adoring audience. Moreover, the real irony of it is the majority of the crowd were here as a result of their promotion at South Hedland that night. They delivered their set with the same stoic and unaffected impressiveness, in front of the masses, as they did around a campfire. Then all the sudden it hit me! I realised why I love these guys so much. They are just so honest!
They never try to be anything other than what they are. They are incapable of anything else and they are always just that. Just here, as they always have been. Waiting and watching through the eons, through the ages. Like a mountain, like a spirit.
It was a big day for us today; as I wrote this entry i found myself nodding off. The torchlight over my shoulder in the back of the truck lights my mobile desk. Twice I woke with 20 lines if ddddddddddddddddddddddd…. Once I began to drool onto the keypad I called it quits.
The day was a success by all accounts but by no means a normal one. Although my worst fear was realised, its outcome was nothing like I expected. In fact, I would even say it has been positive.
It started at 5am. I woke the crew early to begin the 5 hr drive to the next community via Port Hedland. As we rolled out Bobby stopped the convoy. He told us they would meet us in Warralong so we left without them.
At Warralong we set up on the open basketball court as we had done last time we were here, and once again not having anywhere to stay caused issues for us. We had nowhere to rest in between the workshops and the concert. Tony had to make lunch at the back of the truck, which was not ideal as it meant all 50 of the kids running around wanting to eat too. In the end, after much pleading, the Principal offered us one of the school rooms to make a cup of tea. When asked if they needed help with the BBQ that night we meet with some strange resistance. It seemed there was an issue over who was supplying the food, utensils and so on.
By the time we had started to play we were all pretty stuffed. Soon after Bobby showed up in his Troopy with Eric, Morris and Adam, but the 60 Series with the other boys was nowhere to be seen. Bobby had no idea where they were either and thought they were here already.
It was just as we finished our set when the 60 Series rolled into the community with a few hitch hikers on board that I did not recognise. One of to the boys was asleep in the back, out cold; the others where pickled like an owl. The elder for the community, Clarry, was not impressed, as this was a dry community with kids here for the workshops. He told me categorically they would not be allowed to play. Eric, the lead guitarist and senior man in the group said something to the whole band, then there was a silence until Adam asked me if they could still play.
Bobby spoke to them then, as they all fell silent again. I don’t know what he said but he sounded angry. He turned to me, “Drink grog, no play. No grog tomorrow, then play.” That was the final word, The Law, and nothing more was said about it.
Since I have known Eric I have never seen a single emotion pass his face. He rarely smiles or joins in any conversations, with his impressive countenance; immobile and expressionless. His little wiry goatee is like a traditional sign post pointing to a heart of red sand. He never makes eye contact with me, but tonight I was sure I saw a look of disappointment. Maybe it was me, or maybe I just imagined it. In two weeks we have shared not more than 3 words, but I feel like I would trust him with my life.
He is the most powerfully charismatic person I have ever not spoken with.