Tag Archive: Contemporary Folk

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

 

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.

Townsville Festival and beyond

It’s almost time to pack my bags and get ready to go again. Next week I am off to Townsville Cultural Fest and I am soooo excited about it.  I am even more excited to have a little feature photo on the program.  The Townsville Cultural Festival is an all inclusive all ages festival which is the amazing work of Farvardin Daliri who has been running this festival for the past 30 years.  He has a wonderful team of people there including his son who have worked hard to make it happen each year with no government grants or funding. (I have inserted the program at the end of this post)

GIGGING LAND
I’ve had a fair variety of gigs the past couple of months, the Manjimup Truffle Kerfuffle was a great opportunity to play to a totally different audience and what a fantastic venue! I also played my first gig at Freehand Wines which was lovely…Matt and Danni are a lovely couple who are passionate about what they do and they love to have live music at their cellar door 2 nights a week which is wonderful for us musicians.

Then I got an opportunity to play for the WAM Winter Sounds Series which was at Brookfield Place in Perth.  This is a very upmarket dining place in the big smoke where the corporate mob go to have lunch. It was a great gig and once again nice to get paid well for a gig of all original songs. Thanks WAM for that. On Sunday just gone I played at Six Degrees Albany and it was my first 3 hour gig for while and I have to say probably my best.  I had an awesome night, with great hosts and an wonderful audience.  I hope I can do it all again soon.

Documentary screenings have also filled my time and as much as I try to keep my music separate to the documentary screenings it seems like a strange thing to do now.  My music has been inspired by the things that I am concerned about and the plight of the refugees is the most current concern right now although I am not limited to that issue.  There are many concerns and my music is my vehicle to express what I need to say with clarity. I am a communicator and I spend most of my time engaged in the big issues we face today and expressing those concerns is, I feel, the most useful thing that I can do for myself and for the planet and humanity.

DOCUMENTARY SCREENINGS
I have done a number of documentary screenings and I absolutely love doing them! I have done one at the Agricultural Colllege of Denmark, the B’hai youth group and a home schoolers group as well as a community group in Walpole WA.  I have a heap of screenings organised in the next couple of weeks from Townsville to Newcastle, Gosford, Sydney, Thirroul and Eurobodalla.  I am so excited about meeting all the refugee groups and advocates that I have become friends with on social media over the past 12 or so months. I absolutely love the work that I do and it gives me so much pride that I can do this.

The format for the screening events is that I introduce myself and I talk about how I got involved in this whole thing and then I play 2 songs which are the songs I have dedicated to the refugees on Manus and Nauru since June of 2017.  Then I show the documentary and then I do a Q and A afterwards and I have found people really do engage with the whole situation. I feel that people really do care but they are just overwhelmed with the terrible way in which the policy has become a political tool and the magnitude of it.  Many people are fearful to discuss about the subject matter because it has become so political and I find that when the bare facts are placed there with the music and the joy of playing music with these lovely young men the viewers become disarmed.  They actually see the refugees are real people with the same human traits as all of us and that is the most exciting moment for me because it’s at that moment that I can see change is possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taking flight – Festival fun

Denmark Festival of Voice 2018
The sun was shining and there was a buzz in the air in Denmark as the Festival of Voice got into full swing. Our beautiful little town came alive with song, poetry and music scattered in every venue across town. I played at Mrs Jones Cafe on Saturday and Sunday.

On Saturday early evening Tim and I did a documentary screening of “Music from Manus – 5 Days not 5 Years” which was very well attended. Once again we had a fantastic response and people really engaged with the information being shared on the screen and thanks to all those who signed my petition and put money in the tin afterwards.  I have been able to send some money to help a refugee get some urgently needed dental treatment today as a result of the money raised at the screening.

Thanks to the Denmark Yoga community for raising funds and to all the individuals who have approached me in the street to donate too, their money also was able to support the dental costs. We have a few more local screenings, one in Denmark and one in Walpole then the next ones will be when I go over east in August.

So life has been changing dramatically for me in recent months with so many more engagements than ever before.  My music career has overlapped with my activism work and my purpose has become more clear.  I am passionate about music and writing and recording songs and performing which always comes first.  However, alongside that is my desire to see an end to the offshore detention of innocent people.  I am passionate about that too and I am honoured that I can use my music profile to raise awareness and support change.

Gigging Land
In the next few months I will be doing my usual gigs and they include my first time at Freehand Wines right here in Denmark and then I have been asked to perform a the Truffle Kerfuffle in Manjimup being organised by Kelsi Miller Good nights Bunbury on Sunday 24th which is fantastic!.  A week before I go to Townsville I will be playing at one of my favourite local spots….well almost local….in Albany called Six Degrees which will be a great warm up for the pending trip.

Next Album in the making
I have a heap of new songs that I want to get onto my next album so I’ve booked a weekend in September to record the first few songs and it’s wonderful to have Tony King there to do lots of the instrumentation and Al Smith from Bergerk! studios is coming down to set up his recording gear in my music studio. I’m going to ask a bunch of locals to participate too so it’s really going to be another local affair.  I’ll keep you posted on that one folks.

Townsville Cultural Festival
July is a month where I will be getting organised for the biggest event for  “Dawn Barrington Music” this year and that is that I will be performing at the Townsville Cultural Fest! This will be my very first visit to Townsville and it’s going to be awesome and especially lovely to catch up with Kallidad who are one of the headliners.  This is an incredible festival where gender equity is a priority and all cultures are recognised in one big celebration.  The organiser of this festival Farvardin Daliri and his team have been making this happen for many years and he is a great advocate for cultural diversity in his community and I am very looking forward to meeting him and his team in August for this fantastic weekend.

Documentary screenings
After the Townsville Festival I will be going down to NSW to do a heap of screenings down the NSW coast in Newcastle, Gosford, Sydney x 2, Wollongong and Eurobodalla. I am very excited because there is such enthusiasm by the people hosting them to make it happen and I will get to meet all the fellow activists/advocates over there who I have been conversing and liaising with on facebook for the past 18 months or so.

I am now keen to spread the word far and wide so please feel free to share the documentary and if you want me to do a screening in your town please make contact with me because I am very happy to come and do that.

 

 

 

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