Author Archive: dawn

“Music Talks” in Fremantle

Well things have settled a little bit in Western Australia, thankfully enough to give me an opportunity to do the “Music Talks” evening that I planned before COVID.

I will be in Fremantle at the Hamilton Hill Community Hub on Sunday July 19th at 6.30pm for one of my “Music Talks” events. I will be playing songs that I have dedicated to the refugees at every gig for the past 3 yrs. One of the songs was a collaboration with Kazem Kazemi a refugee on Manus Island last year. Kazem is an incredible guitarist and a full on metal fan, so you just need to imagine heavy metal meets folk lol. But as we all know and as Kazem told me “music is music” and it’s the passion for it that counts more than anything else. You can find him on Instagram under the profile manus_metal_man. He’s lovely guy and it was such an honour to work together to create this song.

I have an interview with Bill Hale from the Folking Around show on Fremantle radio 107.9fm on Monday 12th approx 9pm so please tune in. It’s always good when radio presenters are happy to talk about what I do with regards to refugee justice.

If you are around Perth or Freo please come and join us for an evening of music, and talk and a QandA to follow.  I look foward to seeing some new faces.

 

 

 

 

Virus changes the landscape

SO WHAT DID I DO?

Wow!! How things can change very quickly. I just made it over the border from my Busking Tour for Refugee Justice and within a few weeks the whole world was grappling with the news of a pandemic. COVID-19 is something that will go down in history and I guess we will have life before Covid and life after Covid. 

My life has changed drastically in recent months, not so much in my daily activities, but more in the inability to plan for the future. I was going to take a bit of a rest after the tour, however, I then had plans to record, do a Manus “Music Talks” concert at the Fremantle Fibonacci Centre, then it was the Denmark Festival of Voice and then organise another tour for later in the year. But all that had to be put on hold or cancelled.

NEW RELEASE

One thing that I could do was release a track “We Live and We Die”.  This is song that I wrote with a refugee Kazem Kazemi last year on Manus Island.  He was detained there with another 600+ refugees for 6  years. He and another 200+ refugees are now being detained in hotels and detention centres across Australia. This song is important because its’ purpose is to show the human side to these courageous people who have come to our shores seeking safety. They are real human beings with skills and abilities but most of all with personality and warmth just like you and me.

So how did I release a track with no possibility of launching it at a gig? 
I created an online “Live Stream Concert” on Facebook and invited everyone to join me in my virtual my studio. It was really good and I had a great response. I was also very surprised at how nervous I was, I guess I knew that it was being recorded so I had to be extra careful. When you play live you can get away with a few little glitches because it’s the overall performance that matters and people don’t notice mistakes. Well, unless they are hardened performers themselves of course lol. But it all went to plan and apart from the odd buzzing sound on my phone, because I didn’t turn off the vibrate function when people messaged, all was good.

I also put together a video for the song. This video was filmed on Manus Island when I was there February of 2019 and we had a gathering for my birthday. Kazem made me a beautiful cake and some muffins and we practised some songs to play to the guys. We also played “We Live and We Die” (Qassim’s song). Did I tell you why it is called Qassim’s song?

QASSIM’S STORY

Qassim & Me, Kangaroo Point Hotel, Brisbane (Detention)

I met Qassim on Manus at the local hospital…he was thin, pale and lifeless and had not eaten for 12 days. He had lost the will to live and wanted to end his life. As far as he was concerned 6 years locked up on a prison island, by the Australian government was more than he could bear. He had been dehumanised, belittled, demeaned, beaten and had all his rights taken from him. I sat with him and another refugee who was in another room with the same feelings about life. He was thin, unresponsive and also had had enough. I went back to the hotel that night and couldn’t sleep, so I got up and sat outside and looked out over the ocean. 

I sat behind the high fence with the barbed wire and a security officer who walked past every 20 minutes. PNG was not a safe place to be, especially if you were not a local, you would most definitely be a target for robbery.

Imagine what it was like for the 600+ refugees living there. I wrote some words down and the next day Kazem came to visit, he was very excited. “I have written a new song” he said, he had the melody and I had the words so “We Live and We Die” (Qassim’s song) was created.

SO WHERE TO FROM HERE?

It’s going to be interesting times ahead and I have many ideas of what I want to do. I will be recording soon, so I am just in the process of working out where I will do that. Then I would like to put together another tour of COVID safe small concerts, maybe in small halls, or venues or the like. To do more “Music Talks” about refugees justice and all things that need to be talked about for social change. Please go onto bandcamp to download a copy of the new track “We Live and We Die”. Kazem is a 50% copyright owner so he gets half of all the income from the sales of that song.

 

Busking from Denmark WA to Melbourne VIC for refugee justice

All packed and ready to go

It was just an idea, one of those ideas that comes to mind when I am trying to find ways to raise awareness about the plight of refugees stuck in Port Moresby, Nauru and those who are here on mainland Australia. While this injustice occurs I can’t rest so I am always thinking of different ways to bring the information to more people. There are too many people who don’t realise the tragic stories that each of the refugees that were sent to Manus and Nauru are carrying. We also don’t know enough about the barbaric way that refugees are detained in Australia. So I as an artist can use my music to grab people’s attention and bring them into the world that I believe is Australia’s dirty secret. 

Caiguna Road House

Please join me on this incredible journey that I took in my car with my guitar and what I know about the situation. I plastered my car with signs because I wanted it to be very clear what I was doing. It was not comfortable at times because people definitely treated me differently and some of those that did talk to me couldn’t wait to say something that they felt about refugees. I didn’t take any of it personally but I was aware of how lonely it was a times. I was only lonely in the moments that these incidents happened though and I knew that all the way I was being supported by 100s of people across Australia. I got so many messages of support from advocates and people who want justice for these vulnerable people. The refugees were also incredibly proud and excited that someone was doing this for them which in itself made it so worthwhile and is what kept me going. 

The great Australian Bite

I had to leave Denmark WA a week late because of the bush fires on the Nullabor and there was a moment when I had to make a decision whether it was a sensible idea to go at all. But nothing could hold me back once the decision was made. My first port of call was Esperance where I stayed for one night with a lovely Vietnamese family who were refugees. Then on I went, I was nervous because I didn’t know if the road would be open at Caiguna (my next stop) but it was so nice once I got on my way I was happy and relieved. The road was open and Caiguna roadhouse was my first camping spot, it’s a dry and dusty roadhouse with powered and unpowered sites. I paid for a powered site but very quickly realised that the space was not suitable for tents so I moved to an unpowered site. It was just a dusty patch under a small tree. The generator was going most of the night and the main road was very close, these were all things I had not anticipated. I still got a good nights sleep and felt pretty refreshed to move on the next day.  My next stop was Penong where I camped in a relatively reasonable campsite and then I did airbnb in Port Augusta, it was 42°. Every night that I camped I had my signs in and outside of my car. It was very interesting to see how people responded or didn’t respond. Some people were very quick to make a case against the refugees before they had even considered asking me more about it. I purposely made what I was doing very visible because I wanted to put myself in the line of fire. I have done lots of touring and presenting my work to groups of people that are very compassionate towards the refugees and already doing lots of work to seek change in the system. 

I felt that this on this trip I needed to step further out of my comfort zone because that is the only way that I can connect or interact with the “others”. I know that the minute people talk to me they can see what a considered and understanding person that I am. I always find ways to challenge their perspective, even if that means I say nothing. They throw lines at me and I listen and give a considered response which usually ends in a question or two. I want to be on even ground with them, I want to understand where they are coming from. Because when push comes to a shove we are all the same. Yes I get frustrated and yes I get despondent but I never loose faith in humanity and our ability to heal and reach to others.

Me and Karam in Adelaide Immigration Transfer Accommodation.

I spent a week in Adelaide and while there I visited a refugee who was on Manus for 6 years and had been medivaced here to Australia and is still stuck in detention. I took Iranian treats that I bought from the Iranian store and we sat and chatted and chatted and laughed and there was sadness too as he talked about missing his family that he hadn’t seen for almost 7 years. While there I saw another refugee walk into the room and I went over to shake his hand and greet him, then the guard came over. There are guards watching you all the time when you visit refugees. The guard threatened to end the visit because I was not allowed to talk with other refugees and he also threatened to send the guy I was visiting back to his room. I couldn’t believe it…at the end of the visit I complained to the other guard and told them it was totally out of line for them in to intimidate me like that. He could have just told me the rules first and I would have complied. 

Parliament House Adelaide

While in Adelaide I went to Parliament House and did a busking protest. I had a great response and managed to play for 45 mins before the Police came and moved me on. I continued on to Melbourne and spent a week there. I stayed with a fellow refugee advocate and my plan was to busk and I also had a “Manus, Music Talks” concert lined up in Bittern at the “Bayview Country Art Club“. It was touch and go whether it would happen because of the fires but Jenny Keck who has run the club for 10 years was awesome and brought the evening together. I joined the Melbourne State Library protest and busked there too.

While in Melbourne I decided to use my time protesting as often as possible on the Bell Highway outside the Mantra Bell Hotel where they are keeping 70 refugees who were medivaced from Manus and Nauru. I positioned myself on the highway at the traffic lights and in view of the men in the hotel rooms. I also visited refugees everyday, I did 2 visits each day with 2 of the guys and some days just one. It was great to catch up again but very sad and disappointing to see them stuck in detention still.

Photo taken by Moz in hotel room

It is so wrong that they are still being detained after almost 7 years. Many of them are not receiving adequate medical care and they are withdrawing and loosing hope again. On one of the evenings I was asked to go and join a flash mob to play music outside the hotel. A bunch of musicians and singers rolled up at 7pm and we went to the carpark and positioned ourselves so that all the refugees could see us through the windows. We sang and played music for an hour.

Melbourne Immigration Transfer Accommodation

While in Melbourne I went to visit 3 Sudanese refugees who had not had any visitors yet. I organised the visit just like any other online. It’s a ridiculous process. When I got there I went through the strict security procedures and when they did the swab for chemical substances I tested positive. I couldn’t believe it….they tested me a gain and it came up positive again. It was so frustrating and since then I have heard it happens all the time.  I argued with the SERCO boss but he would not allow a contact visit. I had to do a non contact visit which was so disappointing. Here is a link to the video I did on Facebook at the end of the visit. I don’t know how I managed to do it because they are very strict about using devices to record what is going on there. https://www.facebook.com/dawnindenmark/videos/vb.630081916/10157108957651917/?type=2&video_source=user_video_tab
https://www.facebook.com/dawnindenmark/videos/vb.630081916/10157202669621917/?type=2&video_source=user_video_tab

There is so much that I would love to write but just don’t have the time. I met many amazing people and had lots of interactions some positive some negative but overall I believe it was a very productive time. I would do it all again if I had the money. I absolutely love being on the road and love meeting and talking to people and playing music everywhere I go.

On my way home I played at the Marion Hotel in Adelaide and once again I got to talk about refugees and dedicate songs to them.  

I took my trek back across the Nullabor and stayed at different spots on the way home and decided to spend 4 days in Esperance for a bit of a rest. I also had a gig at Taylors Street Quarters Cafe and Restaurant which I was pretty exited about. I took the opportunity to do a busking protest in the centre of Esperance and surprisingly I got a lot of support. I posted on Facebook and tagged Taylors to let people know that I was looking forward to playing there that night. Mousey is the lovely guy who organised the gig in Esperance.  Just before I arrived he said the boss of Taylors asked that I not get “political” to which I responded of course I never get involved in politics. The boss was very respectful in the way he approached it and said he had full respect for what I was doing. However, a part of me couldn’t help feeling a bit concerned that there are so many people in fear of doing the right thing. I don’t believe that what I am doing is political, all that I talk and sing about is in the name of HUMAN RIGHTS and nothing more.  

State Library Melbourne

Just one more photo for the record. While in Melbourne I joined the Friday vigil at the State Library. If you are in Melbourne you can join them every Friday at 5pm and show the refugees that you are with them.

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.

 

 

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