Down in the bedrock of the CBD, office workers on lunch break are letting go of their city cool to listen to the passion of indigenous singers.
“My mum was taken from her mum when she was eight and grew up in Port Augusta,” says Elaine Crombie of the Pitjanjtajtarra people. “She ended up in a foster home in Port Pirie.”
Ms Crombie riffed on her background for a while and wrote a song about learning the culture backwards. She called it her mother’s sacred ground.
From there she was politicised and wrote a song about Elija, an indigenous boy killed in Western Australia.
“That’s a reality now,” she says. “The kid was run off his scooter.”
From there she travelled to Redfern, site of another indigenous death where a boy called TJ was impaled on a fence.
“The police took him off and searched him. What the f…! Police went around and told kids that they had turned off the machine in intensive care.”
“I stood there at Redfern. Kids were angry. They blocked off the street. His mum swore at police.”
The raw anger and passion of these words have been turned into a song called Justice for Elija that can move all but the coldest heart.
“Inside it feels so violent. Your life is so new. You are forced to contain your rage.”
Bunna Lawrie is a Miranagu man who comes from the land of the bright stars on the Great Australian Bight where the humpback whale and the keepers of the whale dreaming come together.
He breaks into a high-pitched whistle, imitating those warm-blooded creatures of the deep. Mr Lawrie once played a didgeridoo to a dolphin that came into the shallows.
“He loved the sound,” he says.
Basement Discs hosted five free lunchtime concerts during the First Nation festival in May.