Song writing

Post Tour then WAM nominee!

It’s been a crazy few months. My “Manus Music Talks” events went unbelievably well and I think the worst thing that happened was leaving my purse at a servo and finding out the next day 2 hrs down the road, then sleeping in a caravan with giant spiders….. apart from that it was all good. lol…. I started in Kuranda QLD and drove down the coast stopping at Cairns, Townsville, Rockhampton, Yeppoon, MacKay, Cooran, Brisbane, Ballina, Port McQuarie, Newcastle, Gosford and Sydney. I grabbed a car in Cairns and did approx 3,000 kms which was incredible and I never imagined that I would get through it all in the 4 weeks I had. I met the most amazing people and they were so generous in the way they took on the job of organising the events and giving me a room for the night and sometimes 2 nights. Cairns for Refugees were the first group to host me and the Uniting Church in Kuranda.

My next stop was the Townsville Cultural Fest where I released my new EP “Can’t Let Go”. It was an incredible weekend and I met so many amazing people and it was wonderful to catch up with Farvardin again who is the person doing all the behind the scenes work of this great event.  Something I noticed as I drove down the coast was how dry it was, very dry and it surprised me because even though I knew there was a drought in Queensland I didn’t think it be that bad and that it would stretch the coast too.

The Greens Keppel

My next stop was Rockhampton and Yeppoon where I did performances for The North Rockhampton Uniting Church group and the Greens Keppel.  There are many many people doing a huge amount of work behind the scenes when it comes to the refugees in offshore and onshore detention and I can’t believe that between us all that we haven’t managed to find a way to end this disgusting policy. People should never be detained for no crime and especially for 7 years. 

Ballina for Refugees

Ballina for Refugees, Rik and me

My next stop was Cooran and then Ballina where I did a performance for Ballina Region for Refugees and a small refugee group in Cooran. I played songs from my previous album and my recently released EP. The most important one was a song called “In My Name” which I wrote last year. I wrote it because I thought change was coming and I imagined that the election would bring change…..HOW WRONG I WAS :O(  This song is about acknowledging that people are coming together and that change is coming so I play this near to the end of the performance and get everyone to sing the chorus with me…it’s the best feeling when everyone joins me. :o)

The photos above are of my gig at the Ballina Region for Refugees they were amazing and it was lovely to stay with Rik and Lisa Dillon.

My next stop was Brisbane where I did one in Hawkesbury with the Redland for Refugees and once again I was hosted by a lovely couple and a great venue was organised. When I organised this tour I really had no idea how it would all go and I didn’t know if it would have the desired outcome. My goal was to tell the story of how I got involved and how I had used my art (music and songs) to bring awareness to the issue and spread the word. I wanted to show everyone that they too have a voice and that we are in a position of power. I write folk songs and in the true traditional sense folk music is about activism and I love that part of it and I love having a purpose for my songs that is more than entertainment alone.  I had an incredible response from every single performance and it went way beyond my expectations.

Qassim and me

While in Brisbane I spent some time visiting the refugees that I had helped to get to Austraia via the Medivac Bill. They were all incredibly sick but it was so nice to see them smile and to spend a bit of time with them. Here is Qassim from Iraq, he spent 6 years on Manus and was tortured by ISIS. He had 11 bones in his body broken. He was incredibly sick when I saw him on Manus and here he is now looking so much better. I wrote “We Live and We Die” with another refugee called Kazem after visiting Qassim in the Lorengau hospital on Manus. I will be doing a professional studio recording of this song at the end of November. He is still in detention here in Australia and who knows how long the government will keep them there.

After Brisbane I went down to Port Macquarie then Newcastle and then Gosford. The Port Macquarie was with the Mid North West Refugee Group and Newcastle was organised by Niko at the Hunter Asylum Seekers group. Once again the events were organised beautifully and I was hosted by so many wonderful people all working really hard behind the scenes. My next stop was Sydney where I did my final two performances, one with the Hawkesbury Rural Australian for Refugees group and the other was actually at a music venue which was a bit novel for this tour… lol…… It was lovely to meet Geoff and Sue who hosted the Hawkesbury event and I really don’t want to miss anyone out because I was so well looked after by so many lovely people. The venue in Crows Nest was called Street Market Asian Tapas Bar and Restaurant and I had a lovely night there too. I was also very happy to be at the tail end of my tour. I was exhausted and really enjoyed my last few days with my very good friend in Sydney.

WAM Nomination

I had the shock of my life a week or so ago when I found out that I had been nominated for the category of “Best Regional Act” for WAM (West Australian Music). I have worked really hard in my music career and I had no idea how hard it actually was when I first started. I never really intended to take it this far but I just love it. Each time I say to myself well that’s it now I’ve done more than I could possibly have imagined, it’s time to get back into normal life but I can’t do that because I have learned in the last 8 years that this is normal life for me….the roller coaster of writing songs, performing, recording and touring. I love it wouldn’t change it for the world.

I received an invitation to the WAM Awards evening for October 31st so I am really looking forward to that. It says leave your ripped jeans at home so it looks like I might have to dress up a bit. :O)

Perth Royal Show

So far October has been extra busy with a gig at the Perth Royal Show and then I have a house concert in Northam for friend and Radio Presenter Allen Tonks. His partner Lisa is celebrating her 50th Birthday. Then I will be going up to Perth for the awards night. Well that’s it from me folks and I look forward to my next update soon.

 

 

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.

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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