Published in Inpress street magazine in November 2010.
Well-known Australian musicians banded together with Refugees and migrants, from as far and wide as Greece and Ethiopia, to launch The Key Of Sea album.
Kicking off the night is Greek outfit Mortika Rembetika. The trio treat the audience to the sweet sounds of Rembetika – the blues music of the Greek underground – featuring the smallest mandolin known to mankind. Following on are the rap stylings of African-born, Australian-raised hip Hop duo Diafrix. Rockers The Vasco Era’s performance with Iraq’s Yousif Aziz is mesmerising. The slow-tempo love story Habibi Ba’ada Zelan starts out with the unique vocals of Vasco Era singer Sid O’Neil, before O’Neil takes a back seat to allow Aziz’s soothing voice to shine through. Ten-piece reggae outfit Blue King Brown team up with Diafrix for part rap/part R&B track Streets Are Getting Hot.
The standout performance of the nigh is from The Cat Empire, with their Key Of Sea love song Zero. Performed with Ethiopian musician and composer Anbessa Gebrehiwot and drummer Jason Heerah, the punters at the gig are privileged to hear the song live, as its history is a bleak one. Whilst living in his home country of Ethiopia, Gebrehiwot donated the song to singer Abraham Gebre-Medhin, who was arrested and jailed. Gebrehiwot, who now resides in Melbourne, says this happened because the song believed to emanate anti-government messages. The super-extended version of the seven-minute track features Gebrehiwot on the lyre-like krar and vocals. The upbeat melody of the Empire’s horn section, mixed with the backing vocals of Harry Angus and Felix Riebl, have the punters dancing like there is no tomorrow.
Overall, the night is a success for its organisers, as each and every one of the punters at the gig sing and dance along happily (others drunkenly) to the eclectic mix of unique music from around the world. This shows that Australians don’t just see refugees as aliens invading our country, but as part of the language of the world – music. All proceeds from album sales go to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, The Human Rights Arts And Film Festival and Refugees, Survivors And Ex-Detainees (RISE).
In the words of The Cat Empire, “music is the language of us all.”