By Adam Hanieh
ADELAIDE — One of the most exciting musical projects to be launched here in recent times is Live on the Dial. It aims to recreate the traditional atmosphere of live-to-air radio and takes the form of a cabaret that combines live music, spoken word and a guest floor spot. Jenny Clark, one of Live on the Dial's organisers, grew up in the late '60s and '70s in Aberdeen where she was introduced to music and politics. She speaks passionately of her heritage and the injustices suffered by the Scottish people at the hands of British colonialism.
"Many people aren't aware of the cultural genocide suffered by the Celts", Clark told Green Left Weekly. " Following the 1745 rebellion it was made a punishable offence to speak Gaelic and express our own culture.
"In the Victorian era, Celtic culture was 'rediscovered' and turned into a tourist attraction. Consequently Celtic music has a strong sense of social justice. Even in more recent years Scotland has continued to suffer under British rule. It was the first place in which the poll tax was introduced and it is still used by Britain for its nuclear processing plants."
Clark's introduction to politics came when she joined the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) at 16. She participated in marches for Scottish independence, anti-apartheid rallies and World Peace Day events. "My protests were directed, not against the English people, but at a parliamentary system. At that time the socialist agenda was quite natural", she said.
Growing up in Aberdeen she frequented local folk and jazz clubs which presented a strong sense of social justice through live music. She was also inspired by Woodie Guthrie and the Weavers, who were banned by the BBC for their strong social criticism.
Clark has strongly-held views about the way music and culture are affected by an economy driven by the need to maximise profits.
"Music is a natural commodity. We walk, we breathe and we tap our feet to a beat. Song and music are very natural expressions for everyone, and from the earliest times they have been participatory. In a capitalist society however, music has become an industry rather than something we all do. Commercialised music creates a star system, sold and packaged as a marketable commodity.
"We are told that only some of us are good enough to be musicians. People feel inhibited to take part while highly-produced music makes them feel inferior. The music industry is highly competitive and, by and large, it is the record companies which make the money."
However, Clark sees music as an excellent medium for social politics.
"Music and song are natural ways to get messages across — and it doesn't have to be preachy. The mainstream commercial media will try and tell you that social political songs are dull and boring, but that just isn't true."
Clark sees Live on the Dial as a way of recognising, developing, recording and promoting local talent. "It is cross cultural and cross disciplinary. Here arts organisations are all competing against each other for a 'slice of the pie'. Live on the Dial is not funded. It is a joint collaboration between Arts Radio 5UV, Adelaide Community Music and Nexus Multicultural Arts Centre. We are working together and pooling our resources."
The next Live on the Dial will take place on October 6, at 7.30pm at the Nexus Cabaret Lion Arts Centre, North Terrace. Performers include solo guitarist and vocalist Mary Heath, spoken word by Nan Witcomb and the multi-award winning band The Borderers. The show will go to air from 8.30-10pm on Radio 5UV and tickets are $8/6 concession.
Green Left has two complimentary tickets for the first two people who ring (08) 231 6982 after 10am on October 6.
Live on the dial!
By Adam Hanieh
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