Leon's Gift

By The Ageing Revolution Pty Ltd

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When musician Luke Escombe stopped to pick up a hitchhiker just outside Bridgetown, WA in November 2016, he could never have dreamed that it would be the start of a life-changing friendship.

The stranger who climbed into his car was wearing motorcycle leathers and sporting a wispy, tobacco-stained beard. He introduced himself as Leon. They talked about music for twenty minutes on the way into town. As Luke was dropping him off, Leon reached into his black leather jacket and gave him a CD.

Three days later, on the drive home from Sydney Airport, Luke listened to Leon's music for the first time. Within seconds, he knew he'd been given something special.

Luke and Leon started a friendship via mobile phone and Leon sent him several more of his albums. Luke uploaded them to his Bandcamp page, where they soon became more popular than his own music, with renowned American bluesman Charlie Parr numbering among Leon's fans.

Leon was delighted that people were listening to his songs at last. He told Luke he'd been giving away his CDs to truck drivers for years and had never heard a word. Any money Luke got from downloads he sent to Leon. They talked long into the night about life and friendship - two men from different worlds, at opposite ends of the country - united by their love of music.

Then, in March this year, Leon called to tell Luke the devastating news that he was dying of cirrhosis of the liver, and the doctors had given him only a matter of weeks to live. Luke asked The Ageing Revolution (The Ageing Revolution is a profit-for-purpose that aims to shift perceptions of ageing - their event at Vivid in 2017; "Ageism - The Next Frontier' featured Luke as a performer) for support to get Leon a new Zoom Recorder to replace the faulty machine he'd been using to that point. This meant Leon could start writing and recording music again.

Then something quite amazing happened.

Leon gave up drinking, and his body recovered enough that he now qualified for a new medication.

A local photographer named George Stewart took some stunning photos of Leon. Luke's sister Melanie turned them into some cool album artwork. Leon has been inspired by the artwork and the interest in him to record two EPs worth of new material in the last three months. The latest is called "Love is Gonna Come". It's a song dedicated to Luke and all the other people whose kindness has empowered him to keep living. He calls them his "Enigma Family".

It's been six months since Leon was told he had three weeks to live, and he says he's never felt better. He's creating new music, that he knows will be listened to, and feels that his once-lonely life is now full of love, purpose and inspiration.

But here's the thing

Leon's still got cirrhosis and still has a limited time left, so we (Luke and The Ageing Revolution) want to capture footage of him playing his music and sharing his thoughts on life while he still has the energy to give you his best.

Luke is going to head over to WA and reunite with Leon for an interview. The two have not met in person since that 20-minute car ride two years ago. It will be emotional.

We want to film the interview and turn it into a mini-documentary. It is our hope that Leon's story will inspire others to believe in the value of creativity as a way of bringing hope, joy and meaning to the later stages of life. There is a matter of urgency to this part, so we need your help to make it happen right away.

Leon has also entrusted Luke with the honour of picking his ten favourite songs for a compilation album. We're going to get it mastered by Grammy Award-winning engineer Willy Bowden and combine it with lyrics, George's photos, and Melanie Escombe's artwork to make a beautiful album package.

If you can help us raise enough money in time, then we will be able to release this as a physical CD, and make a dream come true for Leon. With a little more money, we can afford a publicist to help us get this inspiring story into the national media.

Our hope, if we get this right, is that we won't just be helping Leon, but others like him who have a talent and a story that deserves to be heard by the wider world. Imagine how many more people might benefit from using the Zoom recorder, or a similar piece of technology, to reach out and connect with the rest of Australia.

You can help

With your help, we can turn this into a great 'pay it forward' project that shows that:

  • Creativity doesn't die because you're older. In fact, it may be the thing that keeps you young.
  • Small acts of kindness can make a huge difference
  • Music makes the world go round

It will cost The Ageing Revolution about $6000 to get the doco and album done. This includes the cost of travel, accommodation, filming, artwork, cd production, promotion and mastering.

Anything left over at the end will go to support Leon and help to continue the project.

All profits from CD sales post-crowdfunding will go to Leon.

And here’s some amazing perks for supporting us that you can’t live without

We've got CDs, we got downloads, but really this is all about supporting us to make this happen. We'll be forever grateful for whatever you can do to help us get this done.

The Ageing Revolution wants to irreversibly change perceptions about what it is to age by working with businesses, community organisations, researchers and community groups to create transformative change, develop better services and products and realise the opportunities that ageing brings.

We want everyone to be inspired by older people, and to embrace ageing as one of the best times in life.

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Team Members

Leonie Sanderson

Luke Escombe

Simon Lowe