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Dave Arden talks about his Great Great Grandfather, James Arden

David Arden is a Kokatha, Gunditjmara singer and songman. He has performed for 37 years in the Australian music industry with the likes of the late Uncle Archie Roach, the late Ruby Hunter, Paul Kelly, Kutcha Edwards, Bart Willoughby, Shane Howard, Altogether Band, Koori Youth Band and Hard Times. He also performed in, was a co-musical director and co-founder of The Black Arm Band, which toured Australia and internationally. Dave is my guest today around 8.30am.

MEERTA– Rise Up! The Ballad of James Arden, powerful storytelling led by acclaimed singer-songwriter David Arden (Kokatha/Gunditjmara).

MEERTA tells the story of Arden’s Great Grandfather James Arden, and the Gunditjmara People– a story of identity, urban and tribal life, friendship, repatriation, racism, freedom and fighting for your rights.

In 1916, his Great Grandfather James Arden, an activist, made a stand for Gunditjmara people, to fight for their rights, against the missionaries and the station manager who controlled the movement of the Gunditjmara people. He was a tribal man born on the lands of Gariwerd, where his lore, his dreaming, and his cultural ways and traditional country were important to his identity. He was taken from his country to Lake Condah and Framlingham missions.

Arden brings together a deadly team of musicians alongside young and upcoming orchestral players from the Victorian College of the Arts. They feature David Arden, Director, Co-Musical Director, singer, songwriter, guitar; Daniel Jauregui, Co-Musical Director, guitar; Brad Brown (Gunai/Kurnai, Gunditjmara, Bidwell), bass guitar; Ann Metry, bass guitar; Chris Cameron, drums; Jake Amy, keyboard; Deniece Hudson (Gunditjmara/Yorta Yorta), singer; Jordan Murray and VCA music students, horns and strings.

Dixon Patten (Gunnai, Yorta Yorta, Gunditjmara, Dhudhuroa) has created stunning visual projections and art work that amplify the poignancy of Arden’s original compositions.

MEERTA is inspired by all those who have gone before on this ancestral land, along with David’s own life experiences, to help audiences understand past injustices & promote cultural understanding.

As a talented songman David Arden is continuing his cultural responsibility, healing community and sharing culture through music. MEERTA has been commissioned by the Yirramboi Festival.

MEERTA – Rise Up! The Ballad of James Arden, 11 and 12 May, 6.30pm, The Pavilion, Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Road Melbourne. Tickets:


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