Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Dreaming Festival

For those who missed my previous post on the up coming Dreaming
Festival being held on the June 6 - 9, 2008 long weekend I'll give
you a quick run down. The Dreaming is the largest indigenous
cultural festival in Australia four nights and three days it showcases
the wide variety of cultural expression both here in Australia and
around the world.
With 7 main venues, including both film and drama theaters,
an outdoor dance venue and on top of that the outdoor
ceremony grounds, theres just so much to do on a
program that runs from 9 am to 1 am.
I attended yesterday, on Saturday, with the family, I mainly
wanted to go on Saturday cause of the 3 nights No Fixed Address
play this was the earliest, finishing by 10.30 instead of 1 am,
kids you know.

Well I haven't been to one of the dreaming festivals before and I
have to say it was fantastic, unique yet with a feel much like
the Woodford folk festival held on the same site, only colder.
Thats what all the fire places are about its winter here and quite cool
at times. The attendance was reasonable without a lot of the
overcrowding you get at the summer folk festival and the
program reflects that being more compact, but the quality
doesn't suffer at all.

The Dancestry venue is a popular one with my kids, I'm very happy
with that I think cultural dance traditions are one of the finest
bridges for connection and understanding between non - indigenous
and indigenous peoples that there is.
With no less than 18 performers in this venue on the Saturday,
including Idja, a new emerging outdoor puppet work,
based on song cycles of creation ceremony, performed at night.

I didn't see any of the theater , film or drama stuff, I just had too
much music and dance stuff, beside the kids would sit through it,
I'd think the best way to enjoy these things is to camp and have
the time to do a bit of everything.
That said the drama and film program looked impressive.

That brings me to the music, the MERRg a band that epitomize the
new renaissance in indigenous music, well thats what the program
says. I enjoyed these guys the first band I saw, they have a straight
down the line koori / Murri approach to music that I enjoy.
Chris Combette from French Guyana wonderful acoustic bossa nova
brilliance and I do love that kind of thing too.
Cino do Oriente from East Timor were enjoyable melding traditional
Timorese with the sounds and influences from around them.

Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu

Gurrumul was a true treat, Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu is
a incredibly talented singer songwriter, a former member of Yothu
Yindi, he performed with two others a double bass player and a
fellow on a classical guitar, to produce some of the most beautiful
music I've heard. Singing almost completely in his Gumatj
language, this blind from birth singer has, as the program attests,
the voice of an angel. Fantastic.

I also watched half an hour of Sweet Cheeks, Lou Bennett's band
(formally of Tiddas) who's acoustic music with nice harmonies was
what I expected, but not much more., but I was just waiting now
for No Fixed Address.

Bart Willoughby

Well No Fixed Address are one of those bands that when I hear
them I'm transported back to 1983, back to when I was 19,
such a long time ago.These guys haven't play together since
1982 and I never expected to see them play.
From the opening bars you could tell they still have it.

Bart Willoughby and John Miller

They played all the favorites, but started with "Aboriginal Woman"
the Bart Willoughby penned tune from his later band,
Also a highlight was the fantastic Joe Geia tune
"Message for young and old"

Chris Jones

Bart was in fine form, his vocals fantastic and Les Graham's lead
guitar work spot on. The band worked together like a bunch of
old mates, enjoying themselves

Les Graham

I also brought a limited 2008 edition of "from my eyes"
which includes 3 new tracks, which is pretty exciting.

John Miller

All in all a fantastic time, I reckon I'll be back next year.