Inspirational thoughts Uncategorized

Zimbabwe’s Song… it needs your voice.

Aah… why not? I’ve already turned this blog into a charity plea by this post earlier today, highlighting the Love Light & Melody Organisation. So, I thought… why the hell not? Let’s make today a humanitarian day here on Burgo’s Blog, and highlight some other causes that I try to support in my own little way. Granted, this usually only amounts to buying merchandise that they have on offer… but still, I like to think every little bit helps. And maybe… just maybe… this blog might be able to play its own part in that “little bit”.
Unsurprisingly, some other organisations that I support were both set up by the boys from Dispatch: namely, the Elias Fund and the Dispatch Foundation.

The Elias Fund – a grassroots-oriented nonprofit organization that provides educational scholarships to the youth of Zimbabwe – came about as a result of Chad Urmston’s time in Zimbabwe in 1994. While there, he befriended a gardener named Elias (who would one day be the inspiration for one of Dispatch’s most successful songs, titled – appropriately – “Elias”). Elias had a dream: that one day, his sons Manuel and Honest would be able to a higher education than that that had been afforded to him. And, from this dream – and Chad’s friendship with the family – the Elias Fund was born.

About the Elias Fund:

The Elias Fund is a 501 c(3) non-profit organization that provides hope and opportunity to Zimbabwean youth through education and community development. We believe there is great strength in active community and education and the combination of the two creates positive effects in people’s lives. Through community centers in Zimbabwe consisting of school tutoring, medical aid, sports activities, general life skills, and nutritional aspects we work with primary through secondary level students and identify potential university level scholarship recipients through our programs.

There is a dualistic approach to our work though. We interact with middle school through college age people from across the United States and several other areas of the world to raise awareness and support. Through volunteering, college internships, individual fundraisers, and our high school and college Elias Clubs, our Elias “reps” as we call them work within their local communities to raise support and awareness about our work in Zimbabwe. By empowering the youth of the world who have many opportunities and resources to walk along side those who do not have the same opportunities and resources we not only enable those in need but also give ownership to the “reps” doing the work.

Ostensibly an extension of the Elias Fund, the boys also then formed the Dispatch Foundation. The Dispatch Foundation is, ultimately, about improving life in Zimbabwe.

Their vision:

We envision a vibrant Zimbabwe built on strong, sustainable communities. We support organizations that work to improve health and education. We want to empower people.

Communities build leaders. Strong communities teach lessons, alleviate poverty, stop hunger and eradicate disease. We are idealists. We are entrepreneurs, musicians, students and moms.

We can’t all be rock stars. But, we can all help. Go get involved locally. Find a soup kitchen. Tutor on the weekend.

Everyone should have a song in their lives.

Please… watch this video, which was filmed prior to Zimbabwe’s runoff election, and features the members of Dispatch:

Join Zimbabwe’s Song from Dispatch Foundation on Vimeo.

As someone who was born and raised in South Africa (Zim’s southern neighbour), I had many friends and family in Zimbabwe. These days, I have less.
Although the two political parties have entered into talks recently, trust me when I tell you that all is not yet right in Zimbabwe. Violence is still prevalent, with opposition supporters being threatened with violence, and, occasionally, silenced. Indefinitely.

From the Dispatch Foundation’s last newsletter (which you can sign up for here):

The Latest News From Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwean government has lifted a ban on International Aid Agencies. The Red Cross estimates that there will be 5 million people requiring food aid by January 2009.

The medical system is in disarray. There are no protective gloves, X-Ray materials, antibiotics or plaster for casts. Here is a recent article detailing the crisis

Talks continue on power sharing between the opposition and ruling parties. The opposition has refused to sign a deal that would leave power with the ruling party. Most recent reports say that the talks are breaking down again and that there is a growing lack of cooperation between the two parties

Parliament has opened. The President was heckled during his speech and the opposition won both the Speaker and Deputy positions. The defeat was the first in 28 years; the ruling party has promised “vengeance”

And, from one of the many first hand accounts online: “Food supplies are lower than they’ve ever been. One morning this week in my hometown, four of the five main supermarkets were simply shut – doors closed, bars up, gates padlocked: no notice, no apology, nothing. One supermarket was open. A 250-gram bag of salt cost 150 dollars; a small tin of jam was priced at 250 dollars. A junior school teacher I met this week told me she currently earns 200 dollars a month”

Zimbabwe’s Song is still needed. They need more voices. I don’t often turn this blog to personal/political/humanitarian messages.

But, I hope that you’ll listen to this one. I want to help, and I hope that you do to. So, what can you do? Speak up. Tell one friend. It’s a start.

2008 releases artists artists to watch for in 2008 digital downloads guitar music Uncategorized

New Tallest Man On Earth – A Field Of Birds (Yellow Bird Project theme song)

This is just a short note to let you all know that there’s a new Tallest Man On Earth song out – see my last post on this dude heretitled “A Field of Birds”… and it’s a killer tune.

Yellow Bird Project

The song’s been released as a theme song for the site, Yellow Bird Project; a non-profit initiative that teams up with indie bands to raise money for various charities. According to their site:

We collaborate with musicians in designing a T-shirt, we print and sell them on our website, and all of the money we make goes to charity. Which charity? Each of the artists gets to choose their own. We have three fundamental aims:

1) To make money for charities directly through T-shirt sales.
2) To raise awareness for charity organizations through artists’ endorsement.
3) To raise the profile of the artists we like.

… and seriously, that’s a noble aim. So, if you think a shirt designed by such groups as The National, Hayden, Wolf
Parade, Rilo Kiley and many, many more might be your cup of tea, I urge you to stop by their site.

Back to The Tallest Man on Earth’s new tune… it’s a trademark Matsson song. It may be a bit too “duelling banjos, Deliverance style” for some people, but it’s fun nonetheless. A rollicking, bouncing tune with some intricate picking and killer banjo accompaniment… it’s good times.

Listen: Tallest Man On Earth – Field Of Birds (Yellow Bird Project theme song)


Monkey Swallows The Universe – Sheffield Shanty and Bloodline

Monkey Swallows the Universe
Monkey Swallows The Universe

This will be a micro-blog today, but I just wanted to drop a quick line regarding a band that was just recently brought to my attention (full props for that go to the Makak Man – that’s his stumbleupon page… thanks mate), Monkey Swallows The Universe.

Monkey Swallows The Universe
(henceforth known on this blog as MSTU), are an intriguing five piece acoustic outfit from – where else? – Sheffield. Singer and songwriter for MSTU, Nat Johnson, has this ability to write fantastical, catchy tunes that – more often than not – are slightly disturbing if you pay attention to the lyrics. Take for instance their song, “Jimmy In The Well”; a tune about saving someone’s life and then demanding their eternal allegiance in repayment. In one word, I find her… fascinating.

The two tunes I’ve decided to include below are “Sheffield Shanty“, and “Bloodline“. “Sheffield Shanty” is a jaunty pirate dittyI know, I never thought I would be writing those words here either – that quite apart from it’s haunting beauty, also manages to pilfer (in true pirate fashion) from the Paul Simon song, “You Can Call Me Al”, and gets away with it. It’s a swoonsome lullaby that you’ll need to listen to over and over again.
The second, “Bloodline”, is a beefier, more mainstream tune from them… but nonetheless is a cracking tune, with haunting imagery:

These years of mine run red like a bloodline if I was the last son
Prostrate, I wait, but silence is not for me – I shout til they come

Oh stop leaving my heart on the ground
Oh stop needing my eyes to follow you around
Oh stop leaving me behind
– Monkey Swallows the Universe, “Bloodline”

Listen. Love. Support.

Listen: Monkey Swallows The Universe – Sheffield Shanty
Listen: Monkey Swallows The Universe – Bloodline

(Aside question: which font do you readers prefer? I’ve used arial in this post, whereas the others posts in this theme are Georgia font… which would you prefer that I use? Drop a comment below if you can!)