Our Shire of East Pilbara contact, Pip, had suggested that we let the schools know we were coming to Newman. Maybe they’d be interested in some music/language/culture workshops during NAIDOC week, he said. He’s organised us to be here in Newman for NAIDOC week, culminating in a community concert on 15th July starring Wild Dingo Band and Central Desert Band.

So, I handballed that job to Angus, who is thinking about studying teaching, and who’s been organising our schools/school holidays/kids workshops.

Aaaaaannd he’s organised us to do FIVE (5, cinque, cinq, 4<n<6) school classroom workshops each day this week, between 10:45am and 2:30pm. THEN we’re scheduled in from 3pm – 6pm at the Youth Centre. Whoa Nelly.

Fortunately – we have a crack team.

I’m trying to get out of Tours and organising projects, so I can focus more on the responsibilities of the role of Chair of our Association. So to have such a great team is so excellent – these guys rock.

Angus

Angus is now a Tour Veteran, loves working with kids and is really good at it. He is also a really organised guy whilst staying relaxed and easygoing. GREAT attributes for this line of work, let me tell you. So he’s had us organised the night before each full-on day. We make our lunch in the morning, ready to smash into our faces in between classes to keep the fires burning. Each lesson he had created has a plan of action, a list of outcomes we are working towards, and an equipment list. Let me tell you – this is such a tremendous thing.

Angus teaching the drums to some super-keen young crew. They met us in school, then came to the Youth Centre after school for more music-ing.

Keeley

Keeley is a Tour newbie, acquaintance of Angus from Perth Town, musician, music teacher and little did we know (we knew little) – is also studying a Bachelor of Audio at SAE College in Perth. WOW! Such a great mix of skills! And passionate about teaching others those skills. She stayed up late last night editing the recording of a tune we’d facilitated and recorded yesterday – and it sounds excellent (stay tuned for the finished product!). The young fellas who recorded it were stoked to hear it – you can tell that they are really inspired to stick at it now that they’ve heard themselves sounding so good! At the risk of sounding sexist – one of her greatest attributes to Desert Feet is that she is female! Thus making her a terrific role model for the young girls who so often don’t feel comfortable around male-dominated workshop environments…and we’ve seen it in action with the girls making a beeline to sit with her and learn how to play or sing along.

Keeley shows the girls how to rock.

Richard

And of course, Richo. Richard Watson is a total enigma. Always creative, energetic, helpful, compassionate, wise, smart, skilled. He’s been touring longer than me (by one Tour!) and is responsible for pretty much all of the visual media you will see on our YouTube or website. And if you’ve seen that, you’ll have noticed how skilled he is with the lens and editing tools. But he’s also an extremely talented pianist, can play guitar excellently and has organised this Tour. Alas he’s had to cut his Tour short to get back to Perth this week – we’ll miss him! Richard is always behind the lens…I haven’t got a pic of him in action on this Tour!

Duke

We’re working with this super-cool fellow named Duke. Well, Garry actually but it is a Nyaparu name here – another Garry has passed away, so out of respect for the families, that name is no longer used, instead it is Duke. He works for Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa (KJ) in their Puntura-ya Ninti Languages program. His job is to learn Martu Wangka languages (there are several) and assist with their documentation and keeping them alive. This is where we come in, because music has a big role to play in this. He has joined us to help teach school kids Martu language, and to help us learn too!

Everyone we meet speaks about Duke’s uncanny ability to learn and speak languages, especially Martu Wangka. Here, he’s workshopping through the best ways to phrase Jaris’ song. Duke on the left, Jaris on the right.

Clifton

Can’t say enough about this bloke – really. He’s a gem of a man. Deeply proud and strong with his Martu culture and language, passionate about teaching it and helping us foreigners to learn about it, funny, smart and a great musician – he sees it as a tool to protect his culture and join people together. He’s helping us by teaching us his and Wild Dingo Band songs, showing us their meaning to pass on to school kids. He’s also helping with the school performances and workshops.

Clifton and Ewan getting ready to rock the socks off South Newman Primary School!

I’m not sure how many Tours I’ve been on about 15 I guess. I’ve now got a young family and to be frank I don’t like to be away from them. But I do love Touring, I love the people we meet, and the old friends who live out here. And the only way to get to hang out with them and their country is to go on Desert Feet Tour! I love the challenges it throws up. Mechanical, health and wellbeing, making connections with folks who need our services, making connections with the folks who have the $ to pay for those services, the challenge of keeping Desert Feet alive against the odds. The reason no one else does this is because it is bloody hard!

It’s hard, but rewarding

The schedule has been tough, but thanks to Angus’ organising, it’s gone really smoothly, and the outcomes have been…well…the pics below should speak for themselves πŸ˜‰ More coming. We’ve got a couple of music videos and songs in production…