Creator hopes reconciliation concert will get people talking

Creator hopes reconciliation concert will get people talking

Fraser Coast singer-songwriter Jon Vea Vea hopes his reconciliation concert Rekindle the Campfires, which shares an Aboriginal perspective of Australian history, will spark a conversation.

“What we want out of it is that people can talk about it, they can raise questions, it can start something,” he said.

“Let’s sit down and have a yarn, and let’s talk the truth.

“Everybody’s got a history and it needs to be told.”

The concert, performed by the 66-year-old songman and his CobbleStone family band, will debut at Urangan’s Treehouse Community Centre at the start of National Reconciliation Week on Saturday, May 27.

Mr Vea Vea said the musical and spoken word show captured the sadness of times in Australia’s past but was ultimately joyful and uplifting.

“The whole thing is we’re moving forward together,” he said.

“We’re looking back so we can move forward without guilt or blame, that’s what it’s all about.”

Mr Vea Vea said he aimed to record the show and put it online so that schools could use it as a teaching aid.

Erica Neate, Mr Vea Vea’s partner, was the co-creator of the concert and contributed research to the production.

The show would include a mix of originals, by Mr Vea Vea and Ms Neate, and covers of songs by Joyce Bonner (Butchulla), Steve Hart (Kullilli-Wakka) and Canada’s Paul Irvine (Ojibwa).

Mr Vea Vea said the song by the Canadian singer-songwriter was included because there were similarities in the stolen generations of first nations people around the world.

He said words from Butchulla, Kullilli, Eora and Burunggam languages would also feature in the show.

Mr Vea Vea will be joined on stage by his son Clinton Vea Vea on bass and rhythm guitar; cousin Scott Angeles on drums, didgeridoo and vocals; family friend John Murphy on percussion and vocals; and sister Lesa Stagg along with cousin Tolita Dolzan performing spoken word pieces.

“I’m excited because the musicality came from all members of the band,” Mr Vea Vea said.

“It’s the way they felt and their slant on things.

“That’s telling a story.

“The main thing was the story.”

He said it didn’t really matter who was sending the message, the important point was: “Did you get the message?”.

Born and bred on the Fraser Coast, Mr Vea Vea said he always wanted to tell stories through his music and he has been performing for about 40 years.

“Still haven’t got it right, still practicing,” he joked.

Tickets for the Urangan show are available via Eventbrite:

The concert will also be performed at the Brolga Theatre on June 4 and the Brisbane Multicultural Centre on July 21.

This project has been supported by the Regional Arts Development Fund, a partnership between the Queensland Government and Fraser Coast Regional Council. 

Photo caption: Jon Vea Vea, Scott Angeles, John Murphy and Clinton Vea Vea will perform Rekindle the Campfires in Urangan at the start of National Reconciliation Week on May 27.

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