When Dean Jackson starts performing, the other challenges in his life briefly fade away.
As a single parent of four children, the youngest with Down syndrome, the Maidstone dad has made busking one way of helping to make ends meet.
It’s also the time he feels most alive.
“When I was about 11, I got a crappy old acoustic guitar and learnt a few chords,” he said.
Mr Jackson began writing his own songs and later joined a band, but becoming a parent and other changes in his life circumstances forced music to the backburner.
He recently returned to performing via busking and quickly became a familiar face on the footbridge at Footscray railway station.
“Everyone seemed cool about it, people seemed to enjoy it – I was feeling part of the community again,” he said. “I was probably the happiest I had been in my whole life.”
But a complaint to station authorities earlier this year prompted Metro Trains to give
Mr Jackson his marching orders.
“That was a bit upsetting,” he said. “I think it’s sad that someone would take something like that away from someone else.”
A Metro Trains spokesman said nobody is permitted to play a musical instrument on rail premises without written authorisation.
“It is illegal to solicit money on Metro property without permission,” he said.
“Footscray station staff reserve the right to ask anyone who busks on the footbridge without permission to leave the premises.”
When Footscray resident Julian Welgus-Dillon heard of Mr Jackson’s ban, he decided to act.
As someone who had enjoyed hearing the busker’s music whenever he passed by the station, he wanted to help.
The RMIT music industry student reached out to some contacts and was soon helping Mr Jackson record a six-track EP at the RMIT studios.
“He’s just such a really friendly guy and I thought I could help him out – he was keen for the idea so we went from there,” Mr Welgus-Dillon said.
Dean Jackson will launch his new EP at the Footscray Community Arts Centre from 6pm on Friday, September 13.