When Aboriginal elder Jeffrey Smith passed away unexpectedly last month, he was in the process of creating an inclusive, not for profit music and arts cooperative in the Tweed Region. He was a passionate community activist and founding member of local band Fat Albert. Now, a group of Tweed music lovers is working to honour his life and continue with the project.
Soul Sessions Entertainment is one of the businesses throwing their weight behind the concept, with a focus on giving local bands a platform to showcase their talent in a positive and nurturing environment.
“His enthusiasm was contagious,” said Benji Guerrero, speaking about Jeff Smith, “and other members of the Co-op have vowed to continue in his honour.”
Their aim is to create something sustainable for the community and mak sure that the collection of quality musical instruments and production equipment Jeff Smith had gathered over the years are put to good use.
“The intention is that the Co-op will offer workshops, mentoring and align itself with accredited programs and will be completely community focused, the purpose being to train and support those with a passion for music who may otherwise have never had the means to pursue this interest,” Benji said.
“The aim is to embed the culture of music back into the Tweed Valley community as a community function.”
And it seems that the Co-op is hitting the ground running with its first event taking place on Saturday 28 March as a showcase of local music. The all-ages event will showcase the talent of Ivey, a teenage indie pop four-piece and The High Grade (pictured), an energetic eight-piece reggae hip-hop fusion band.
Ivey will be releasing their debut EP Cascade on the night.
“There will be a dedication to Jeff on the night, and names will be gathered of those interested in participating in the co-op or interested in seeing how they can contribute their skills,” Benji said.
Already, interest in the concept is extremely high, with both Indigenous and non-Indigenous musicians, dancers, teachers, trainers, youth workers, producers and artists expressing eagerness to offer their time and skills to help those who struggle to fit into the mainstream education system.”
“With support from NGOs and potential grants, the possibilities are endless,” said Benji. He also said the next step was to find a permanent venue.
“Jeff’s friends and family hope to share his vision with the local community to create positive social change in an area that has somewhat become associated with social issues such as youth gangs, violence and lower socio-economic status,” Benji said.
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The High Grade + Ivey at Sunhouse Coolangatta | Saturday 28 March
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