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Kee'ahn talks about the Far East Music Festival and working with amazing First Nation's Artists.

Effortlessly blending soul, R&B and pop, Kee'ahn weaves sumptuous melodies with words reminiscent of heartbreak and healing. Kee'ahn is a proud Kuku Yalanji, Jirrbal, Zenadth Kes song woman, whose rich vocals and hopeful lyrics champion the idea of finding strength in our struggles. The emerging artist’s debut single Better Things became an anthem for many struggling through the challenges of lockdown and a changed world when it was released in 2020. She has since been awarded the 2020 Archie Roach Award at the National Indigenous Music Awards and was the 2020 winner of the Music Vic Award for Best Emerging Artist. Kee”ahn is my guest this morning around 8.30am to yarn about the Far East Music Festival.

Far East Music Festival announces the much-anticipated return of Things of Stone and Wood (Duo) and the legendary street percussion parade.

Featuring Things of Stone & Wood (Duo), Delsinki & Sing a Song of Sixpence, MpathSoul, Black Satin, Ketzia Wood & Band, White Chocolate Diva Divine & Da Funk, FarOut, Nikea Brooks-Hayes & Dre Wicks, Sean McGuinness, Olivia Lay, Dallas Gray, Sue Ray, Tomassi + Old Mate Media Release: THURSDAY 9TH MARCH 2023 9AM who join already announced artists The Grogans, Kee’ahn, Kutcha Edwards, Charlie Needs Braces, Blue Moon Marquee (Canada), Bones & Jones, The Figmentz, A Country Practice,The Chordroys, Uleni, Kristin Rule, Ryley Gray, Isy Warren + Airly Embleton-Mew.

As a Kuku Yalanji, Jirrbal and Zenadth Kes woman growing up in a community heavily indebted to culture and dance, Kee’ahn’s creativeness strived from the beginning. She was quiet and timid but wouldn’t be afraid to jump on the closest stage, recalling her earliest musical memory as a time she sang in front of her Grandma, the first person to really understand the depths of Kee’ahn’s vocal and the talent she had. She started singing more often, doing choir practice - “I didn’t love it,” she laughs - and busking throughout her teens.

Unsure whether her musical passion was realistic as a full-time career, she eventually started university to study physiotherapy, which she eventually quit to continue playing shows at open mic nights in regional centres such as Townsville. “[Having a career in music] was something that I just always had in the back of my head,” she says. She recalls always jumping at the opportunity to perform at school, including NAIDOC Week assemblies in which Kee’ahn was always a key star. “Eventually, I figured out that studying wasn’t the best thing for me to do, and that I instead wanted to focus on working, writing music and busking.”

At one point, she decided to explore a world away from her long-time home; her and her boyfriend taking a van around Australia for a two-month-long trip that eventually, saw them end up in Melbourne. “I just wanted to stay,’ she says. “I know I didn’t want to live in Townsville forever. I love the place and the community, but I really wanted to travel and figure things out.”

You’ve heard it on the radio, you’ve seen the posters, now we’re inviting you to get amongst the first Easter festival held in Far East Gippsland in a long, long while. The Far East Music Festival will take place on the wilderness coast in Mallacoota on the Easter weekend, April 7 - 9 2023.

Hosted by the Far East Music Recovery Project and Music Victoria, the all-ages festival calls forth the spirit of healing through the transformative power of live music. As well as the performances, there will be community markets, food vans, creative workshops, and nature-based activities, brought to you by local community groups. The long-awaited return of Things of Stone and Wood to the far east, will come in the form of a duo, featuring Mallacoota based multi-instrumentalist Justin Brady and lead singer Greg Arnold, who has recently returned from eight years living in Geneva, Switzerland where his wife Helen (yes, that Helen) was working for the Red Cross.

A spontaneous duo show in Sydney back in 2018, re found that folk-rock energy which was always at the heart of the 90’s chart topping acoustic outfit, and they felt right at home in the stripped back set up. Far East Music Festival audiences will have a chance to hear these wonderful songs right up close, remember how good they are as well as be reminded of what an electrifying instrumentalist Justin Brady is.

Also making a grand return is the legendary street percussion parade, introduced back in the early 80’s to get everyone dressed up, drumming and dancing together. Led by Mark Grunden, the parade will arrive in the Mallacoota township and travel on to the Mallacoota Oval for the festival opening on Friday 7 April 2023.

Melbourne based drummer Mark Grunden grew up in Mallacoota and cut his teeth in the mid 80’s playing drums in street parades and on festival stages under the tutelage of Sapphire Coast NSW based drummer Ken Vatcher, who will also be appearing in the festival line up with his band The Figmentz, along with the Chordroys, Nikea Brooks-Hayes & Dre Wicks from the NSW far south coast.

Fast forward 40 years and Mark Grunden is doing it all again! This time, supported by RecLink East Gippsland and the Far East Music Recovery Project, Mark will offer a series of percussion workshops in Orbost, Cann River, Genoa and Mallacoota in the lead up to the Festival weekend. Far East Gippsland residents and visitors alike are encouraged to hear the calling of the drums and head east to join the street parade and enjoy all that the festival and Far East Gippsland has to offer.

Mark Grunden said: "Percussion workshop participants will learn the mesmerising 'Samba Reggae' rhythm from Brazil and the walking-dance steps that will enable them to participate in the parade. We will also learn the famous 'Los Percasos' rhythm, in readiness for the festivities. All instruments are provided and the workshops cater to all age groups and skill levels. I'm super excited to see the return of the famous parade and to be bringing new rhythms and musical ideas to the Far East Music Festival." To find out more about the workshops, street parade, and other activities, keep an eye on the website

1 Comment

Through her participation in the festival and collaborations with fellow artists, Kee'ahn aims to contribute to the preservation and promotion of Indigenous cultures and traditions through the power of music. Her experiences at the Far East Music Festival have undoubtedly played a pivotal role in shaping her artistic identity and fostering connections within the Indigenous music community. Music blog submissions have also played a significant role in her music career, more information here:

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