entertaining, inspiring & organising to change the world!
The Conch is a band that aims to use our music to inspire struggles
and the thousands of individual activists who everyday do something to
improve the world. Our music comes from anger and from love and we use
it to educate, agitate and help organise.
Join the movement alongside The Conch!
This is the beautiful story Scotty Lew wrote about how The Conch came to be…
2004. Can’t friggin believe it! Howard and Bush get re-elected with
increased majorities. It seems that their strategy of scaring the
bejeesus out of everybody after S11 is working a treat. Even after
taking all of Pauline Hanson’s policies, which they poo pooed as
extremism, and shaming Australia in front of the world (we’re now
considered to be the Apartheid of Australasia by a great number of
people of this region), fear and xenophobia, especially against Arab
Muslims and Aborigines, has raised its ugly head – again!
Just scratch under the surface in this country and there’s a festering racism problem just eager to pop its head out!
What do we do? Do we just get depressed and lament the state of the
world – everything is fucked and there’s nothing we can do about it? Do
we now just get on stage and sing insipid, superficial love songs and
hope against hope that we get a melody that’s going to be signed by Sony
or Warner and just become like Kylie Minogue? Sounds like a one-way
ticket to substance abuse or worse!
Bugger it! We gotta write some music which is going to help bring
down this rotten system and restore sanity to this world. Michael Franti
is, Manu Chao is, Ozomatli is, John Butler is. Why can’t we?
So Simon Price, Maree Symons, Sean Nihill and myself got together and
ideas started flowing. Let’s let it be known to some others that we
have started this project. Let’s invite others to take part. Mihirangi,
Neda Rahmani and Paolo Olivero came to a meeting with us in a park in
Fitzroy and we resolved to get something happening.
We were so incensed by the right wing trajectory that our government was taking us on, ideas literally poured out.
Unfortunately I had to go away to Africa for 3 months and there was a
break in the flow. One of the main creative drivers, Simon, got a job
working on a film in New Zealand and he and Maree left and didn’t come
back! Neda and Mihirangi did their thing and we had to get others
Paolo, Sean and I weren’t daunted! Even without Simon we still were
able to create stuff. Sean put it to his fellow horn players and they
jumped at the idea! Jim Glasson, Ralph Whiteoak and Neil Gracie. Wicked
players, great! He also asked his colleague, Nick Dean on kit, rock
solid! I asked Jo Williams whom I had known for about 10 years. I loved
her voice and energy. Add Mel Gibson on keys, the funky Sashi Dharann on
bass and Karen Berger on percussion. Eleven piece! It’s not a band
anymore, it’s a movement! Obviously Howard and Bush were affecting a lot
Rehearsals are a challenge, but everybody is committed. Not only
that, they’re really nice people, phew! The dream I’ve had of getting a
band together that has something to say has finally come to fruition.
Viva The Conch!
Scotty Lew, percussion, vocals
Scott has been playing percussion for 20 years. He studied Cuban
percussion from 1989 until 1995. he has played with Musiki Manjaro,
Kenny Lopez Sex Mambo and Skin 2 Skin. In 1996 he went to Senegal’s
famous E’cole des Arts for two and a half years and studied with Ballet
Jamm Africa where he learnt Mandinkan drumming under Abdou Diouf. He
also studied the kora (Mandinkan harp) under the tutelage of Kaw
Cissoko, Lamin Cissoko, Lamin Kouyate and Djali Bouba Kouyate. He
founded Melbourne based percussion ensemble “Safara” and became a well
known West African percussion teacher. He toured with Djali Bouba
Kouyate in 2005, and now plays freelance percussion in Melbourne.
Scotty is a founding member of The Conch and a major creative contributor.
Sean is a versatile trumpet player and composer based in Melbourne.
He has performed on television backing Kate Ceberano and Marcia Hines
and has toured and recorded with ‘The Funken Wagnells’.
Sean currently performs with the The Cairo Club Orchestra and
regularly fronts his own ensembles that feature his original
compositions and arrangements. Sean is a dedicated and passionate
secondary school music teacher in the state system. He is thoroughly
enjoying ‘The Conch’ as a way of connecting people, contributing to a
better society and fighting back against increasing world wide injustice
Jo was singing along to Carole King’s Tapestry when she was 2 years
old. She studied to be a music teacher back in the 90s, majoring on the
clarinet, and performing with a range of orchestras and ensembles. She
taught music and drama in secondary schools in the late 90’s and now
works in teacher education. For the past few years she’s combined her
love of music with a passion
for social justice, performing at a range of political and cultural
events around the country, in particular bringing some of the great
struggle songs of Latin America to Australia. The Conch, with its
awesome music and damn timely message keeps Jo awake at night with
Nick studied drums and percussion throughout his secondary school
life and completed Year 12 music solo performance on tuned percussion.
During this time he played with the Preston Brass Band and toured New
Zealand and the UK before specialising in drum kit and playing in
various original and cover bands around Melbourne, including “The
Committed” a Commitments cover band and his original band “Mint”. He has
been teaching drums and percussion in secondary schools for nearly
twenty years and currently runs a rock programme at Doncaster
Secondary College as well as coordinating the music programme at
Thornbury High School.
He is very excited to be playing the variety of rhythmic feels in “The
Conch” from Latin, Reggae, Ska, Hip Hop, Funk and Rock. “I’m having a
Mel has been involved in a diverse range of music and theatre
projects for the past 12 years, as a performer, keyboardist, violinist,
composer and director. Her passion for avant garde theatre has lead to
her collaborating as a writer/director on such shows as There’s a naked
man in my lounge room, The great chocolate advertisement and currently,
as part of the Melbourne Comedy
Festival, Goddess Wanted: Must provide own pedestal. Reflecting Mel’s
strong feminist outlook, these works have explored issues of domestic
violence and the family, mental illness and women’s empowerment. Mel’s
also studied jazz and contemporary music at The Gordon Institute, and
has just bought a gorgeous new Roland keyboard upon which she hammers
out the funky keyboard lines of the Conch.
Ralph started playing the saxophone at the age of eight in the
Healesville Concert Band, then later took up a music scholarship at
University High School. Working professionally as a musician whilst
still at school lead to poor academic grades and he decided to skip the
HSC and enrol at the Victorian College of the Arts where he graduated
with a Bachelor of Music performance. Since then he has performed,
arranged and composed in many of the varied ensembles in Melbourne and
has toured extensively throughout Australia plus recent tours to South
Korea and Tonga. Ralph completed a Masters degree in Music in 2005, and
also wrote a thesis entitled A SEARING SOUND A Preliminary Investigation
into the Legend of Australian Saxophonist Frank Smith. Having a strong
social ethic and a healthy disdain for all forms of authority,
Ralph feels that playing in The Conch in today’s political environment
is as important as any endeavour he has undertaken to date.
Since graduating from VCA in 1993, Neil has performed extensively in
and around Melbourne. With experience ranging from orchestral/chamber
groups & musicals through to numerous big bands, latin, funk, rock
and jazz combos, Neil brings a wealth of musical experience to ‘The
Conch’. He is also one hell of a nice bloke, and we love him.
Jim has played clarinet, flute and sax with the British Rock Symphony
alongside Eric Burdon, Thelma Houston, Glenn Shorrock, and CDB among
others. In 1998 he toured with Demis Roussos (yes THE Demis Roussos) and
has played with Vince Jones, Mike Nock among others. In 1995 he played
for 3 months with the house band at the Hard Rock Café in Kuala Lumpur
in Malaysia. Jim was a founding member of the government funded,
avant-garde jazz orchestra The Australian Art Orchestra, and has
performed in front of audiences of over 10,000 people with the Legends
of Motown Australian Tour, alongside The Four Tops and The Temptations.
Since Stue hasn’t supplied me with a bio i will just say that he is
an all round lovely bloke. when i first met him i swore i knew him,
turns out i remembered him from his days on A Country Practice. He’s by
far the most famous Conchie…
the awesome jo-jo has also not supplied a bio but that’s probably
because she’s been too busy travelling the world, winning soccer matches
and generally living the good life
Our own personal rockstar, Shane is one of Melbourne’s living legends and a damn good bloke.