‘Are we making ourselves ready for anything that comes our way?’: Lonnie Holley & Moor Mother bring their message to Melbourne

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‘Are we making ourselves ready for anything that comes our way?’: Lonnie Holley & Moor Mother bring their message to Melbourne

Words by Luke Carlino

Get ready for the ultimate cosmic Afrofuturist jazz collaboration, bringing anthems of resistance to Melbourne Recital Centre this month.

Lonnie Holley’s creativity is like a wild river, flowing through the landscapes of the apocalypse and finding beauty in the chaos. His latest album, Oh Me Oh My, is a crazy ride through the dimensions of his mind with production from Jacknife Lee (U2, Modest Mouse, Taylor Swift) and features from Michael Stipe from R.E.M., Justin Vernon, and the wordsmith Moor Mother, who will be accompanying Lonnie on his upcoming Australian tour run.

Lonnie Holley, Moor Mother and Irreversible Entanglements

  • Date: Wednesday 28 February 2024 7.30pm
  • Venue: Elisabeth Murdoch Hall, Melbourne Recital Centre
  • Tickets available here

Keep up with the latest music news, features, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

Chatting with Lonnie is an experience within itself. Let it be known that maybe three questions were asked in our twenty-minute chat. Holley, unprompted, begins with an explanation of his upcoming visit:

“Returning. Not only am I returning, but I’m returning with Moor Mother and her band, and I think it’s going to be one powerful get together, the way that she characterises her information in spoken word, connecting with people and sending them home to connect even more with the children, I know that’s part of my plan, to spread this information like church people spread the gospel. It’s very necessary now, at a time when our planet is going through a lot of different changes.”

Holley will be performing at the Melbourne Recital Centre this month collaboratively with poet, musician and activist Moor Mother and jazz collective Irreversible Entanglements.

“All around the globe, because of our global warming, the climate is fluctuating, and these are things I have to talk about as an artist, with my visual art and as a musician with my lyrics.”

Lonnie Holley is an artist in every sense of the word. Known for his sculptures as much as his music, Holley’s work has been featured in galleries around the world, as well as the White House. “Sometimes we have to prepare for what’s coming, like the stories we were told about the three little pigs. When you look at the stone our sculptures are created with now, it’s so much weaker than what was used 100 years ago or at the White House. My music now is about strength and what we can do to give ourselves a better sense of strength. Not physically strong, but morally strong.”

When asked why Holley has chosen Moor Mother and Irreversible Entanglements to collaborate with, he is quick to make an adjustment. “I think you need to ask why they chose to work with me. I’m 74, I have always been considered as an outsider. I’m one of the artists who likes getting his hands dirty to get the information that is necessary so it can be brought to the front. I stole this knowledge; I snuck in the sewer pipes to get knowledge and wisdom instead of paying college tuition.”

Holley’s answers are like wild tangents that may or may not cover the question, but certainly exciting trips into the varied terrain that is his beautiful mind. In keeping with that, he dispenses some more knowledge to close our chat, reflecting on the art that consumes his being.

“Music is another sort of learning. The first thing that we do when we get together is call each other up on our intelligence; we start controlling our sound. We’re being baptised into the information that we will recite to you so that you can learn the conditions you have to deal with. Once you put all of those conditions into your brain, you can bring them out when you need them.

“The key message we will be bringing, a male and a female using our talents and our skill, we’re trying to show that we might have come in on different ships, our DNA might have come in from a different slave shit, but we’re still on this mothership together, and anything we can do to keep her circulating, or to make it better, well, we are historical servants, so it’s all about hope.”

Strap in for a true journey with Lonnie Holley, Moor Mother and Irreversible Entanglements on Wednesday 28 February at Elisabeth Murdoch Hall. Tickets available now from here.

This article was made in partnership with Melbourne Recital Centre.