Author Archive: dawn

It’s a wrap – 2020 awaits!

Canberra

It’s been an incredible year and if I sit down for 5 mins to recount what I have done in 2019 I might feel like I need to go into hiding for a year.  So I’m gonna just recap on my trip to Canberra recently where I played at a “Walk for Refugees” concert. It was great 5 days in Canberra and I actually got to go to Parliament House for the first time ever which was awesome. The the concert I played alongside two great female artists Dorothy Jane Gosper and Mileyna Cifali and thanks to Evita story for taking these photos. She also gave us an insight into her exquisite story telling.  I really surprised myself because I never imagined that I would enjoy Canberra…I had always been told that it was a very boring non eventful place filled with politicians and government employees. I actually really liked the city and went to some to of the best pubs I have ever visited in Australia, one being the Old Canberra Inn and another one that the name I can’t remember but it was in Lyneham and when it opened in the 70s it was a womens only bar! Awesome!!!

A Little Bit of Filming

Something else that I got up to in 2019 was a little bit of filming. Rob Castiglione is an in incredible film maker and he asked me if he could make a short documentary about me and my art and it’s involvement in the Refugee advocacy that I have been engaged in. Of course I said yes, he had already produced one with my friend Ruth Halbert (Textile Artist) and he wanted to do another one with Renee Pettitt Schipp (Author and Poet). All three of us have produced art that has become a voice for the refugees detained offshore on Christmas Island, Manus and Nauru.

Here is the video with my story:

Busking across the Nullabor 

I will be busking from Denmark WA to Melbourne to raise awareness about refugees being held offshore and onshore. So I will be taking my songs, signs and car and talking to as many people as I can about the issue.  In the midst of bush fires burning out of control across Australia right now I have even questioned my need to do this. However, I am an artist and it is my job is to push the edges and ask the difficult questions. I believe that the very character of our government has been crystal clear in the way they have treated refugees and it was only a matter of time before people here in Australia would also be affected by their lack compassion and leadership. As we watch Australia burn, people killed, animals dying, ecosystems decimated, home destroyed our government and mainly our Prime Minster continues to lie and deceive us. For them it is about ownership and power and not about the people. I never thought I would hear myself say this but I don’t think the government of Australia gives a shit about the people and quite frankly I think they have totally lost the plot.😔

I am fortunate that I can play my songs and create a safe space for people to feel something. I won’t be celebrating the New Year in my usual style.

I WILL NOT BE SILENCED
BUT I WILL LIGHT A CANDLE AND SIT WITH SILENCE.

2020 AWAITS

 

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.

Call Now Button