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New Joe Geia show - From Rations to Wages to Treaty

[by Lyn and Joe Geia]


Image: supplied

To kick off BEMAC’s 2023 program, the Queensland Multicultural Centre will be presenting renowned singer/songwriter, guitarist, didgeridoo player Joe Geia and his latest show: From Rations to Wages to Treaty.


With a career spanning 40 years and songwriting credits for one of Australia’s most iconic songs ‘Yil Lull’, Geia has embodied the powerful role of music to drive and spark activism, resistance and transformation, and skilfully uses the stage to share knowledge, culture and music with a heartfelt commitment to making a difference and creating understanding.

Combining music with storytelling, archival footage and his own visual artwork in this new show, Geia tells the stories of strong Elders and leaders who fought to ensure justice for Indigenous peoples. Music and video work together to tell us of Pastor Don Brady, Uncle Willie Thaiday and of his own father, Albie Geia, one of the leaders of the historic 1957 Palm Island strike and the fight for fair wages and conditions. Interwoven stories of resistance and transformation recount the harshness of living under “The Act”, the origins of the Brisbane Blaks movement, and the beginning of Murri Radio.

“I want to promote change and understanding, melodically and harmoniously,” says Geia, “while still sharing the little-known aspects of Aboriginal history.” At a time where the Uluru Statement of the Heart is forefront in Australian minds, Joe Geia and his band tell of the fight for justice and sing to a much-needed transformational change.

Geia came to prominence with legendary band No Fixed Address and was a founding member of The Black Arm Band, featuring in the documentary Murundak: Songs of Freedom first aired on SBS in 2011 to much acclaim. He has shared Indigenous culture with jazz luminaries such as Branford Marsalis, Australia’s Bob Sedergreen (Art Attack). Played support for Ray Charles, BB King and Jimi Cliff. A personal highlight was performing (and welcoming) Nelson Mandela on his visit to Melbourne in 1990 at the Melbourne Entertainment Centre. Many renowned musicians including Archie Roach, Paul Kelly, Shane Howard, Kutcha Edwards and Ross Hannaford have performed his songs.

For this show, Geia will be backed by a 5-piece band made up of Graham Moes, Ruth Ross-Pe'er, Phill McKenna, Michael Sunjay Jude and Avau Fanene, who will accompany him as he performs songs written in Aboriginal languages and English that range from simple Pacific songs to reggae, jazz and funk.

This show will make the rekindling of BEMAC’s artistic program after three rocky years for the arts. With renewed energies, BEMAC recently reached out to the creative community for proposals and received a bountiful response. As a result, BEMAC has developed a vibrant program that comprises several different programming streams, community-building activities, and a professional development series for artists.


The complete details of the new program will also be revealed on February 25th, through a brief announcement before opening the doors for Joe Geia’s inaugural performance.


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