A night with Archie Roach

On Friday eve I attended Into the Bloodstream, an evening with Archie Roach hosted by Melbourne Festival. Surrounded by his friends on stage and listening to Archie let loose his particular brand of raw, gospel tones, I felt as though the soundtrack of my adult life was being laid out before me.

I first met Archie Roach and his late wife, musician and activist Ruby Hunter, when I worked for the Women’s Hospital in the very early 90s. They sang together at a Young Women’s Conference and afterwards, Archie told me that without Ruby, he’d still be on the streets. Over the years, Readings had been lucky to enjoy their support and performances - once interviewing Ruby for the hospital newsletter under the title ‘An Inspirational Woman’. We continue to remember her and her music with great love.

I cried a little in the concert on Friday night when Archie talked about her. For me, it seemed that the night was really an ode to her. Here was a man making sense of his grief and loss through his music, and celebrating Ruby’s memory through their friends. Lou Bennett was on stage and watching her, I remembered Tiddas singing as we tried to save the Fairlea Women’s Prison in Fairfield from moving. Vika and Linda Bull also joined Archie during the concert and I thought of those early days with Vince Jones in Fitzroy, and taking my kids along to see them play at the Melbourne Zoo.

Here on stage was the Melbourne I know. It was as if Archie was able to magically reproduce all that makes our city so wonderful: the friends, the humour, the grief, the loneliness and the power of celebration. It was a wonderful evening.

I’m very excited that Archie will also be performing at Readings in a few short weeks. Come along to our Hawthorn shop on Sunday 10 November at 3pm to hear him talk about his latest album (Into the Bloodstream) and sing a few tunes.

If you haven’t heard his music before, this is an excellent chance to hear his hauntingly beautiful voice as it lifts up over the bookshelves and into Melbourne streets. The afternoon will be intimate, the kind where you can chat with Archie in person, where you can bring your children or grandchildren along - I’m definitely bringing my own family. I want my kids to meet Archie and I want them to understand that his music is personal and political - and that this is our home.

The event is free but bookings are essential. For more information click here.


Chris Gordon is the Events Manager for Readings and is a committee member of The Stella Prize.

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Into The Bloodstream

Into The Bloodstream

Archie Roach

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