The Thin Green Line Foundation is an amazing organisation that protects nature's protectors: the park rangers who are on the front line in the battle to protect animals from poachers. Founded by Sean Willmore, the foundation provides rangers with essential anti-poaching equipment and training, as well as financial support to the widows and orphans of park rangers killed in the line of duty. I would never have been able to see the number of animals I did on my African safari trip in Kenya and Tanzania last year if it were not for the conservation efforts of the rangers in the national parks.
Greenline Grooves has become a bit of an annual event to benefit the foundation and celebrate World Ranger Day. All of the artists on the bill at the Melbourne Town Hall last night donated their time to perform. First up was singer-songwriter Damian Howard on acoustic guitar, who's set was filled with country-tinged songs. Next was Makana, a Hawaiian slack key guitarist who was amazing to watch play. He joked that he was enjoying the cold Melbourne weather because it allowed him to wear layers. He sang "The Ranger Song" which he wrote a day or two beforehand after hearing Sean speak about the foundation, as well as a cover of James Taylor's "Fire and Rain." The last of the warm up acts was Melbourne roots/folk band Tinpan Orange, who played a lovely set of music.
Sean Willmore then came out onto the stage to speak about why we were there, inviting all the artists on the bill to stand behind him. Tex Perkins told a story about how his mum had watched the Australian Story episode about Sean a couple weeks ago and was so impressed that she wrote a $200 check to the foundation, which Tex then presented to Sean. Sean also spoke about the number of park rangers who have lost their lives this year and requested a moment of silence before a bagpiper came out to play.
Gotye, Tex Perkins, and Nicky Boomba (along with members of the Melbourne Ska Orchestra). Each of them took turns singing songs from their own catalogues as the others joined in. Mary and I were really there to see Gotye and Wally did not disappoint as he sang the beautiful "Hearts A Mess," "Learnalilgivinanlovin," which featured the Melbourne Ska Orchestra horn section and a dual drum solo by Nicky and Wally, and of course his worldwide smash hit "Somebody That I Used To Know" where he turned the mic toward the audience to sing Kimbra's verse of the song.
The set also contained some great covers. Tex sang lead vocals on The Specials' "Ghost Town" and Blondie's "The Tide Is High," complete with an audience sing along. Wally absolutely slayed it vocally with his versions of Paul McCartney's "Maybe I'm Amazed" while playing piano and The Beatles "Oh! Darling" while on drums (I think he may have been inspired by his recent recording session at Abbey Road with The Basics). For the encore all the band members returned to the stage in animal onesies and they closed the night with Nicky singing lead vocals on Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds." It was a pretty amazing evening and a very entertaining concert for such an excellent cause.
Here's the World Ranger Day message from HRH the Duke of Cambridge: