‘Stillness and calm’ amid pandemic

Joseph Stanaway will live-stream the sounds of the handpan into loungerooms next Friday.

By Luke Voogt

Joseph Stanaway is used to living “off the grid” but his upcoming gig is quite the opposite.

After playing percussion for gallery openings, circuses and local films, he will live-stream the dulcet tones of the handpan into lounge rooms next Friday.

“Because of my age I find the digital world a bit of a challenge,” admitted the Highton local, who describes himself as on the “wrong side of 60”.

“I just try to focus 100 per cent on the music. My music is 50 per cent structured and the rest is improvised – I’ve worked like that for many years.”

His journey into meditative music began when a truck hit his first wife’s car in Sydney as she was learning to drive.

Stanaway was working as broadcast consultant co-ordinating Australia’s then limited video links for events such as the 1982 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane.

But after the crash the couple “had to get out of Sydney”, so he bought land in Tasmania where he “built some shacks”, he said.

Then a marriage breakup sent Stanaway into “crisis mode” and he began researching the “healing power” of music.

“The person I was on the inside wasn’t the person people saw on the outside,” he said.

“Music provided me with a pathway that kept me alive.”

He joined a local band that played gigs for local Wilderness Societies and Triple J’s launch in Tasmania, he said.

He then moved back to Sydney and founded percussion group Primal Pulse.

“Later in the ’90s I started developing my voice stuff and using my music as a healing tool.”

He travelled to Germany in 1999 with his second wife after she landed a job as a contemporary dancer.

They explored “quirkier places like Prague and Dubrovnik” plus Italy, Morocco and Switzerland before returning to New South Wales in 2004, he said.

After moving to Geelong a few years ago he began working as a cleaner and gardener at the Potato Shed.

Next Friday he hopes to help locals find peace amid the stress of COVID-19 and experience stillness through meditative music in the Shed’s Bird Bath Cam Sessions.

“If people can just slow down, take a few deep breaths and breath the sound in – it just helps them to balance out a bit,” he said.

“It’s just all about coming back to yourself.”

More information: www.geelongaustralia.com.au/potatoshed