• Shwe Win (screenshot from SBS video)Source: screenshot from SBS video
Music With Mates is a new initiative that hopes to help new migrants settle in Australia with the support of Melbourne's music scene.
Sam Carroll

7 Jun 2017 - 2:17 PM  UPDATED 8 Jun 2017 - 11:16 AM

The idea behind the new Music With Mates project in Melbourne is simple: every young person aged between 18 and 30 who loves music should be able to access it, live, no matter where you were born.

It's a social collaboration - founded by Kevin Mitchell, Jebediah's frontman (AKA 'Bob Evans') and Christine Leahy -that hooks up musicians who have donated free tickets to their concerts with young, newly arrived migrants wanting to see a concert.

The project came into existence in the hope that migrants develop lasting relationships while experiencing a positive aspect of Australian culture and community. To-date, Brisbane/Rockhampton duo Busby Marou and Something for Kate frontman Paul Dempsey are among the artists who have offered up free passes to migrants to attend their gigs.

The initiative, which started in late May, was officially kicked off over the weekend at co-founder Bob Evans’ concert at The Croxton Bandroom in Thornbury with Shwe Win, a newly arrived migrant from Myanmar in attendance.

Emigrating to Australia three years ago, Win, the gospel singer, songwriter and all-round music lover was bought along to the initial Music with Mates event as the first participant offered free tickets.

While Evans' music acoustic folk might differ from Christian hymns, the smile on his face prior to the gig showed how happy he was to be exposed to a diverse style of music he might not otherwise have heard in his former home.

When SBS asked him why he loves music, his answer - produced with a grin - lit up the room.

"I love music because music makes me enjoy [a way to]...express my feelings," Win tells SBS.

"When I can say I'm happy - I can sing my feelings."

Co-founder Leahy, who was also in attendance at the party this month, told SBS she believes the project has had great success in such a short time period because of everyone's shared love of music.

She says Melbourne's established music culture presented as an ideal opportunity to show how open Australians are to migrants, while offering them a medium to both enjoy themselves and the potential to build relationships with those who have undergone similar experiences. 

"I love music, it just makes me so happy, when I go to a gig with friends I have the best time and so I thought if that’s something I could share with other people... then that's what I wanted to be able to do," Leahy says. 

Program coordinator Madeline Leman, who fronts retro-Americana band the Desert Swells, highlighted the encouraging nature that exists for musicians in the Victorian capital – something that can only benefit any migrants who want to get involved.

“I think the Melbourne music community is incredibly supportive – everyone is trying to help each other as opposed to compete against each other,” Leman said to SBS.

“A lot of my friends are musicians who’ve moved to Melbourne and I think that’s how they connect with a lot of people - through the connections that music brings. So if migrants can get involved in the music scene then they’re instantly part of a community that’s really supportive and I think that’s really special." 

The next concert Music with Mates is scheduled to be involved with is Busby Marou's at the Corner Hotel on June 16. Anyone wishing to get involved can get in touch via their website or Facebook.

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