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Townsville Festival & Manus, Music Talk’s

Townsville Festival

I’ve just finished my last gig at the Albany Boatshed Markets before I head off over east for 4 weeks. I haven’t done a 3 hr gig for a while so it was quite an achievement to get through so early on a Sunday morning … lol.

It’s that time of year again and I am very excited to have been invited to the 25th Townsville Cultural Fest which starts on Friday 16th August.

I will be playing on three different occasions on the “Music Stage” and not only that but Xavier Rudd is going to be there and Baker Boy! and many other great artists which is very exciting!!!. This is an all inclusive festival and gender equity is a priority for Farvardin Daliri the Director and founder of the event 25 years ago.

The other very exciting news is that I will be releasing my new EP “Can’t Let Go” at the festival. I will have the hard copies in my hands very soon. They can also be ordered from Bandcamp as a digital download or a hard copy.

Manus, Music Talk’s Tour

The people who know me would be very aware of my activism with regards to the refugees being held in offshore detention.  My song writing has merged more and more with my connection with the refugees and their plight. The recent election brought a considerable amount of despair to the refugees on Manus and Nauru because if Labor won there was hope.  I am not really politically aligned but I do care about people and the planet. Labor was going to accept the New Zealand deal and Labor supported the Medivac Bill. 

So after a week on floor crying I felt the need to get back on the road to do what I love that is playing music and touring from Cairns down to Sydney. I will do “Music talks” at as many towns as possible, so far I have 8 bookings. I will be playing songs that I have written, and dedicated to the refugees for the past 2 years and also a song that I wrote with one of the musicians on Manus. Please check out “”Doco Screenings & Music Talks” link on my main page.

I have found music to be a great platform to engage with people and it feels soooooo good to have a purpose for my art.  I guess throughout history it’s been the artists that have forced change and I really do believe we are at a point in history where logic, reason and policies will not cut it anymore. I want to weave the story of offshore detention and onshore detention with my songs and offer a QandA at the end. The idea is to encourage people to find creative ways to force change and who knows what could happen.

 

Studio Recording and Airpla

Thanks to Rob Castiglioni and Tony King I now have a new studio recording of one of my new tracks “In My Name”. We did it in my music room right here in Denmark WA and it was a lot of fun.

I’ve also had the surprise of receiving my AMRAP Airit report only to find out that I have been getting a fair bit of airplay on community radio across Australia. So I want thank all those radio presenters who have ordered my tracks and given them a spin on air. They include Libby Carmody from Tjuma Pulka Media Aboriginal Corp , Peter from The Cleaner show at Seymour FM, Alan Edwards from the Musical Australiania show at  OKR FM, Junita from Outback Junita’s Aussie Playlist at ROX FM and Wendy from Noosa FM Wendy’s Words at Play show, The Dylersloop show at Nambucca Valley Radio, Disc Drive show at Artsound FM , Sally’s Environmix at Alex FM, then Carmen Moran at Highland FM Sunday Breakfast show, The Folk Show with Julie and David at Radio Adelaide and I’m sure I’ve missed a few out but I will add them next time.

 

Keeping it cosy this winter

So it’s almost winter and I can’t believe that 2 months have just passed me! However, I certainly have enjoyed the break and I’ve actually had time to relax and do nothing somedays….which is always something or course.

I have still done a few of my usual gigs and my next performance is at the Denmark Festival then I will be playing at the Albany Boatshed Markets on Sunday July 7th and then it’s Townsville Festival again but I will talk more about that in my next update.

Denmark Festival is coming soon 31st May – 3 June 2019. This is when the whole of Denmark comes alive with music from all it’s venues.

It’s a great honour to be selected for the Denmark Festival of Voice and I always look forward to this weekend because I can throw my guitar over my shoulder and walk down the road to the venue.

There will be people from all across the world and Australia and the past few years have cemented this festival on the map of Australia. I will be playing on Saturday at 2pm and Sunday at 12 noon at Freehand Natural Wine. I will be facilitating a skype talk with refugee and award winning journalist and writer Behrouz Boochani at 12 noon too. Behrouz is still being detained on Manus Island with approx 500 other men in the most in humane conditions under the Australian government. It’s disgusting and I can’t believe they have been there almost 6 years.

It’s been quite a gruelling couple of months after my trip to Manus Island and getting deported didn’t help. I am still embroiled in this story as it continues to unfold and it will be a big part of my life until all of the refugees are free. You may ask me why get so involved and why put this pressure on yourself? For that I have no answer except for, ‘it is just something I have to do’ just like when I was extremely concerned about the environment and destruction of our planet for so many years in my teenage years and on through my 20s, 30s and 40s.

Although back then my work in activism was separate and on it’s own whereas now my music overlaps with my concerns for human rights, social justice and the planet we are all destroying at a rapid pace. So in effect the work is never done but I get a huge amount of satisfaction knowing that my art can participate in the solution to all these problems.

I do have a few other things happening behind the scenes and one of those is a small documentary in collaboration with 3 other artists; a poet (Renee Schipp), a textile artist (Ruth Halbert) and a film maker. Rob Castiglioni is the film maker and he has asked the three of us if he could make a short documentary about each of us and show how our lives and our art practice have been impacted by our work in the area of offshore detention.

Of course I jumped at the chance, any opportunity to be in front of a camera or microphone …… lol …..We have done a lot of filming and in the process we also made a music video for one of the songs that I wrote on Manus. I collaborated with one of the refugees there Kazem Kazemi who is a heavy metal fan and an amazing guitarist and musician for that matter. He wrote the melody and I wrote the words so we put the two together and came up with the song below. It’s called “We live and we die”. I wrote these words at 3am in the morning while on Manus. I had been visiting some very sick men at the local hospital in Lorengau which barely has the facilities to take care of the local population let alone an extra 600 refugees. The two men I saw were very sick and were both on hunger strike and had lost the will to live. I sang a few songs to them and one of the guys actually spoke on the 2nd and 3rd visit (he was probably sick of the singing lol) but he did sit up and we had lovely chat. His name is Qassim and he is still there now in the camp languishing and has no idea how much longer it will go on for.

Taking music to the refugees on Manus

I really am not sure how to start this post because the past month and a half has been totally out of the box as far as my usual daily life goes. If you have read my previous posts you will see how I began to engage in the issue of offshore detention and the plight of the refugees being held indefinitely by the Australian government. How did it all begin? and why am I still engaged?

Well it began when I started to notice my good friend textile artist Ruth Halbert started to write letters to the Prime Minster (Malcolm Turnbull at that time) about the refugees on Manus on Nauru. She wrote a letter everyday for 2 years…..yep over 600 letters in all. I also saw her posts on social media condemning the government and it’s behaviour towards the refugees being detained. I found it hard to believe, but, I have a huge amount of respect for Ruth and she is an intelligent woman so I couldn’t ignore it. She was stepping out of her comfort zone and that is what stood out for me the most…I had to investigate further.

I then had a friend request from one of the refugees on Manus who was in a terrible situation. They were being forcibly moved to the new camps and they were having the power cut off and water tanks were being smashed by guards in 4WDs, it was terrible and he was in panic. I felt helpless and I needed to do something. I started protesting with Ruth and I wrote letters to the Members of Parliament but I needed to do more….I needed to dig deeper I needed to find something within myself that would rise and take action. So I had to go to Manus to meet these men and to engage with them and learn more.

I took a film maker and we went in March of 2018 and I took my guitar with the intention to play music and we were going to produce a documentary. I wanted to find a way to show the people in my town that these men were real people just like us. I wanted to show people that what we were doing to them as a nation was wrong very wrong. We came back with a documentary and I took it to many towns and communities in WA and NSW and it made an incredible impact. Everyone I met was horrified at what was happening and people would ask what can we do? How can we end this?

Music from Manus – 5 Days not 5 Years, March 2018 (Dawn Barrington and Tim Maisey)

I really wasn’t sure how people could help but my mission as a singer songwriter was to suggest to others to use their art like Ruth had and like I was doing to bring attention to the situation. This had been going on for over 4 years and 1000s of people across Australia had written letters to MPs and protested and yet the refugees were still there in terrible conditions.

By the end of last year I felt I needed to go again just to offer some more support through music and I also assisted Anne Moon with the work that she does to support the men. Anne has been working tirelessly for the past 5 years for these guys and she wasn’t getting any younger and I was able to offer some support for her. So off we went and we didn’t know if we were going to get it because it’s not easy to get there and since I had quite a large online presence I wasn’t sure if they would stop me at the airport and send me back. It had happened a friend of mine only 4 weeks earlier so it really was a possibility.

We spent time in Port Moresby and on Manus and the newspaper article below gives the rest of the story which was not what we were expecting. I did get to play some music with the refugees and I took an extra guitar and did some teaching and it was lovely to see the guys again and to meet some that I hadn’t met before too. But they were all very sick and many had multiple problems and many of them were not being treated and hadn’t been treated for years. It really is terrible what is happening there an there is so much more to this story. I have added a few facebook posts to give you some examples of what happened there.

I played music with Kazem and Farhad and I was there for my birthday so Kazem made me a beautiful cake shown here in the photo. I saw many of the refugees that I saw before and lots of new ones and they all put on a very brave face. They are the most graceful and kind people I have ever met and they all are very sick. They all have so many medical problems that have not been treated for so many years and Australia will not take responsibility for it. It is so frustrating and so wrong. I really quite honestly don’t know what to do with it in my head….it’s happening in real life and yet we are all powerless to change the situation because the government have this ridiculous policy in place. These are real people and they are being treated so badly and it’s all wrong so very wrong.

It was also wonderful to meet Behrouz Boochani the author of “No Friends but the Mountains” which is an incredible read. He is a humble incredibly smart man and he really does think big picture. We had a lovely day on my birthday a bunch of the guys came to the hotel and we had cake and music which was lovely.

It was a difficult time overall because I knew there was not really much we could except listen to their stories and I hope playing a bit of music helped in some way too.

Kazem and me on my birthday.

New Year ….. New Releases

We’re already half way through January of 2019 and what a great beginning to the year. I hope you all had a fantastic break and festive season and that it wasn’t too hard to get back into things again. I am having a bit of trouble getting going but I figured it was time to start the year with a blog post.

It was very quiet over the December/January break in my neck of the woods but I really enjoyed it. It gave me a chance to spend some time with friends and generally relax. My son is almost 17 and he’s quite indifferent to the whole fiasco but likes to have a few presents and some nice food which we did.

So what has been happening Musically?

Well I played at the Denmark Arts Markets on January 5th which is one of my favourite gigs because it’s just down the road and I reckon it must be one of the biggest market stages in the southern hemisphere. The sound is awesome and it carries all across the town. Sorry no photos to prove I was there though this time.

I also spent a lot of time listening to my new tracks which I will be releasing this year. We had to go through the process of listening to the tracks and checking to see if there were any final changes that needed to be done. I am very grateful to Tony King and Al Smith from Bergerk Studios for all their time and work into this project and also Luke Tulloch for his beautiful violin work. Three very professional and wonderful human beings who are always a delight to work with and so generous with their time.

New YouTube video uploaded

Back in September of last year I spent a day standing in for Ruth Halbert Textile Artist at her Exhibitions “Castaway” and “Witness” which was part of the Great Southern Art Trail. Rob Castiglione (Film maker) turned up to do some filming with Ruth but there was a mix up over dates and Rob suggested that he record me playing my song “Fly Free Little Bird”
instead.
It was a special moment because I wasn’t feeling my usual bubbly cheerful self and Rob was able to capture the essence of my mood and I was very excited about the results.

Fly Free Little Bird – Performed at the Sanctuary Denmark WA
Filmed by Rob Castiglione

So what’s happening over the next few months?

Well I have a few gigs lined up and the next one is at Gallery 152 in York WA and it is an evening of stories through song. Chris Gibbs is the person organising and he is a professional artist too so I am looking forward to meeting him and maybe even getting him to play some of my songs with me. I love these types of gigs because the audience are usually very attentive and I get to play in a line up with other great artists. I then have Albany Boatshed Markets gig before of take off on my 3 week trip overseas. I am also planning to go to Papua New Guinea to play music and even do a bit of teaching which I am really looking forwards to.

I’m almost ready to release my EP which will consist of 5 tracks. After much deliberation I have chosen a track to release first and it will be the title track of my EP and that track is “Can’t Let Go” . I am very excited about this one because we tried a different format in the studio. We worked on the vocals first and the music was created around the vocals and the vocal melody and I am sooooo happy with the results.

I think I have covered everything to date and I hope you all have an enjoyable next few months and see you all soon.

WAMFest and Recording

WAMFest (West Australian Music Industry)

I was lucky enough to be selected for WAMFest this year, so after a gig at Freehand Wines in downtown Denmark I then got myself organised for a some original sets, one in Albany at the White Star for Regional WAMFest and then 2 in Perth.  One was at the Perth Cultural Centre where I did a busking spot and the other was at Yagan Square which is an amphitheatre right in the centre of Perth which was amazing.  Something even more amazing happened and it was a total surprise to me and that is my song “Fly Free Little Bird” got chosen for the KISS MY WAMi Compilation CD. I didn’t even realise till I checked the program to see when and where I was playing and the songs that had been chose were on there. All in all it was a fantastic weekend and a great honour to be a part of such a big Western Australian Festival

It’s hard to believe that so much has happened in the past 7 years and to be a part of this festival was something I had never imagined would happen because I thought that the music industry only catered for people who were not in the 20s or 30s.  It has been a real slog being a woman and middle aged for that matter to get noticed and be treated as an equal. I  am not using age and gender as an excuse, it’s just a reality, and I think our culture really doesn’t take mature women seriously and it’s not easy for young women either because

 they have to deal with expectations placed on them. However, I have noticed that things are changing and gender equity is starting to happen so hopefully this will happen more and more.  I notice that when I play at venues where there are people from Europe or the Middle East or India they are always much more attentive and interested in listening, so maybe we need to learn something from those countries.

Recording

Since my last post I have finished two recording sessions. Al Smith from Bergerk Studio came down from Perth for the

weekend twice, once in September and again in October and we recorded 4 songs for my upcoming EP which I will probably be releasing in January.  Tony King is amazing and once again he offered to do my instrumentation and he also helps with production which is awesome! I love recording andI love how the songs evolve and it really is a collaboration because I never know where each one is going to go. We just start with my acoustic version which is literally lyrics and chords and then Tony adds his magic as he comes up with ideas throughout the process.  This was the first time working with in the studio with Al although he has mastered all my tracks since I started recording. Tony has known Al for 20 years and they worked brilliantly together and what I love the most about working with these guys is that there’s no inflated egos. It’s all pure fun and creativity. Luke Tulloch came in and did some violin tracks, he is an incredibly talented young man that I met at TAFE a number of years ago now and it didn’t take him long to find some lovely violin melodies to accompany my songs.

To top it all off I had a great gig at the Three Anchors in Albany with Tony King and it was the first time that I had done a three hour gig with him, and I was a bit nervous hoping that he would know how to play all my songs, but I realised very quickly that there was nothing to be concerned about, Tony is a legend when it comes to improvising, he really is an outstanding musician.  We had a great gig and he managed to compliment every song brilliantly and thanks to John King we got a photo to prove it. 

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