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Solidarity Choir and Ecopella - Paul Spencer benefit for East Timor
7.30pm Sat 8th July 2006

By Miguel Heatwole
Posted Thursday, June 1, 2006

One of the most conspicuous contributors of original material to the Solidarity Choir and to Ecopella during the last decade has been a young activist named Paul Spencer. His witty and satirical songs give an optimistic and often humorous lift to the repertoires of both groups, which otherwise might easily have become weighed down by the horror of the injustice and destruction our music seeks to address.

Solidarity Choir

The Solidarity Choir may have been careless in leaving him behind at the end of our 2001 tour of England, Ireland and Wales, but we have taken considerable pains to learn his compositions in the hope that by singing them we might bring down the detestable regime that defrauds our country and entice him to come home. While our strategy may not have brought us the change of government we needed, Paul is back now anyway.


Never one to be comfortable contributing to the greenhouse gases produced by air travel, Paul took six months to make the journey overland across Europe and Asia. His last stop before arriving home was in troubled East Timor, where he met a doctor of medicine who runs a free [and chronically under-resourced] clinic in Dili. So, since we're very keen to welcome him home and to do something for the long suffering folks in East Timor we have organised the following gig:

Saturday 8th July
doors open at 7:30pm.
Cafe Church
37- 47 St John's Road, Glebe

$20 / $12 concession - all proceeds go to East Timor

The choirs will present massed renditions of our favourite Spencer songs, and naturally Paul himself with show us some of his newer stuff. Choir director Miguel Heatwole [that's me!] will perform a mixture of his own and his friends' original songs, and there will be guest performances from Tony Eardley and from Mary Jane Field.

Tony Eardley met Paul in the Solidarity Choir and like him became a founding member of Ecopella. The bulk of Tony's songwriting skills have been poured into his solo career, and his long awaited and meticulously crafted album may well appear this year. Whenever it happens I'll be in a front row seat at the launch!

Mary Jane Field heads a dynasty of female musicians and songwriters. She prepares material for her choir the Bright Star Singers and she organises frequent benefit gigs for human rights in Bolivia. I wish I'd known that she had written a beautiful song called 'Behind The Wire' before I produced a refugee benefit album of the same name! [coincidentally, that album has Mary Jane's teenage granddaughters singing a beautiful piece in three part harmony that was written by her daughter].

I myself will also be one of the support acts. I'll sing one of Paul's songs, one of my own [twice mistaken for his], one by John Dengate [an early role model of Paul's] and a couple more that I hope will whet your appetites for a promotional concert I'm planning for my two-disk folk compilation The People Have Songs.

Ecopella and the Solidarity Choir will both be performing songs by Paul, Tony and Mary Jane .

And of course Paul will treat us to some golden oldies from his self made album 'The Early Works' as well as an Australian premiere for the many gems he penned in England. I can't wait to hear 'Be A Crap Vegan' again!

There will be liquid refreshments available, so you needn't bring anything of that sort.


Message from Paul Spencer: In all, including two individual donations of $100 each, the night of the 8th of July raised nearly $1,600. I'm enjoying Bali very much, thankyou. Er, I mean, I rounded it up to exactly $1,600 and sent the money on Monday morning to the Bairo Pite clinic, care of the Australian Foundation for Peoples of Asia and the Pacific. I included a letter explaining who had been involved in making the night a success and saying how happy we were to be donating the money.

Many thanks to everyone who came to our gig last Saturday night...
Related info:

Solidarity Choir
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Venues/Clubs Colbourne Avenue

The Cafechurch Space
Cnr St Johns Rd & Colbourne Ave, Glebe

Short walk from Glebe Pt Rd
(bus 370, 431-433)