The beat of the drums echoed and the sound of guitars rocked as singer, guitarist and didgeridoo player, Scott Darlow and his band jammed out to Solid Rock at Bathurst Correctional Complex.
Nearly 100 inmates gathered to watch the performance in wake of NAIDOC week celebrations earlier this year, but the Yorta Yorta man says during those moments, they ‘weren’t inmates, they were free’.
“For five minutes, these boys were not locked up 14 hours a day,” he said.
“For five minutes they were dancing, practicing culture just as their ancestors did before them. For five minutes they were connected to country and outside the bluestone wall and razor wire fence.
For five minutes they were free.”
"Where you are now isn’t your story, its just a page in your chapter."
The video, which was only just released, has already clocked up more than two thousand views online from people across the country.
This isn’t the first time Scott has played inside of jail but the father of three said it’s the most moving show he’s ever been part of.
“When we were setting up I went and said 'g’day' to as many boys as I could. I love performing but getting to have that interaction is always the best bit, that’s the stuff that sticks with ya,” he explained.
“Before playing we told the boys, ‘we drove up here, we spent our own money coming because we thought it was an important to tell you guys where you are now isn’t your story, its just a page in your chapter. You guys are loved and not forgotten'.”
The performance was part of their latest project, Live from inside, which is a live album containing five acoustic tracks and five electric tracks. The songs cover themes from land rights, colonisation, refugees, teen pregnancy and survival.
Mark Kennedy, Governor at Bathurst Correctional Complex said events like these are important to showcase, celebrate and embrace the culture of First Nation Australians.
“We have a high population of Indigenous inmates within the correctional environment, which is quite sad but that’s beyond my control as Governor; however what I can do - is make sure our community has an opportunity to celebrate their culture and reconnect from the inside.”
"You could feel this current of electricity that connected their spirit to the earth and it was a very powerful moment."
Governor Kennedy was proud to see the inmates get involved in NAIDOC week and nominate themselves to portray their culture and explain the stories from their ancestors through traditional dance.
“It was an emotional performance, to see such a positive interaction from someone outside of their community that they didn’t know but someone who represented their culture,” he said.
According to Scott, the highlight of the show was the five Indigenous inmates dressed in traditional costume and ochre came to the stage to story tell through dance.
“I start using the didge and all of a sudden the contrast of the men in jail, but dancing, hit me. You could feel this current of electricity that connected their spirit to the earth and it was a very powerful moment,” he described.
“It was almost like you step out of your body and watch it as a spectator. These boys are locked up for most of the day but right now they are just performing like our ancestors thousands of years ago.”
“I admire these boys are locked up and still connected to culture and that life hasn’t beaten them.”
The group of experienced and established musicians have had a lot of experience playing internationally and nationally in front of huge crowds, but Scott says despite their glamorous performances, the prison performance was the most powerful.
“We’ve all had a lot of experience playing music, but when we left in our van all the boys turn and said to me: ‘that was the most powerful experience’,” he said.
“I watched it back yesterday and started crying.”
Scott hopes people see the video and think twice about the brothers, fathers, uncles, and friends - the people locked up in these jails.
“We look at people in jail and jump to conclusions but really they’re just dudes that have had a poor opportunity and stuffed up in life. At the end of the day they’re human and their lives are valuable,” he explained.
“I admire that these boys are locked up and still connected to culture and that life hasn’t beaten them.”