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Songwriters and Performers: Deportees

At this time when ‘my ‘ Australian government is reviving xenophobia and energetically promulgating the myth of imminent invasion by ‘illegal’ asylum seekers and depersonalised ‘refugees’, this classic Woody Guthrie song has taken on a new poignancy and a place in my setlist.


The simplicity and compassion of this version, with Ani di Franco, Ry Cooder and Dan Geller is my favourite of the many online.

May we keep this song, and our voices alive, mes amigos, and never accept the incarceration, dehumanisation, ‘turning back’ torture and cruelty done in our name.

Adios also to Pete Seeger, who kept this song alive. Here is his version with Arlo Guthrie, who kept his father’s tradition alive.

And one by the impeccable Nancy Griffith and friends, with some verses in Spanish


Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)     Woody Guthrie

 The crops are all in and the peaches are rotting

 The oranges piled in their creosote dumps

 You’re flying them back to the Mexican border

 To pay all their money, to wade back again

 Goodbye to my Juan, good-bye Rosalita

Adios mes amigos, Jesus y Maria

 You won’t have your name when you ride the big airplane

All they will call you will be deportee

 My Father’s own father, he waded that river

     They took all the money he made in his life

     My brothers and sisters come working the fruit trees

     And they rode the truck till they took down and died

 Some of us are illegal, and some are not wanted

     Our work contracts out and we have to move on

     Six hundred miles to that Mexican border

     They chase us like outlaws, like rustlers, like thieves

 We died in your hills, we died in your deserts

     We died in your valleys, and died on your plains

     We died ‘neath your trees, and we died in your bushes

     Both sides of the river, we died just the same

 The sky plane caught fire over Los Gatos canyon

     A fireball of lightning, and shook all our hills

     Who are these friends, all scattered like dry leaves?

     The radio says they are just deportees

 Is this the best way we can grow our big orchards?

     Is this the best way we can grow our good fruit?

     To fall like dry leaves, to rot on my topsoil

     And to be called no name, except deportee.


Songwriter and Performers: Amy Petty

Let’s celebrate the richness and wisdom of vocalists, songwriters and  performers.

Amy Petty

Amy Petty

Hope you find time to enjoy some of this selection of delicious live performances by Amy Petty; looping together a classically trained voice, warm guitar, refined craft and warm sensibility.


Amy works magic in concert halls or in someone’s front room at the House Concerts she loves; I particularly loved the comments from children she has inspired on her visits to their schools and choirs. 

She blogs beautifully as well… here is her November 2013 piece on music and human connectedness.


More American women songwriters here

The photos in this post are from JustCoolSounds Inc. and Last FM

2014 Fes Festival of World Sacred Music, Morocco

The Conference of the Birds: Journey of Cultures

Saharan dancer, Fes 2103

Saharan dancer, Fes 2103

Fes Festival of Sacred Music, one of the world’s great Festivals, brings together an extraordinary range of musicians, poets and lovers of inspiring word and sound from around the world.

As well as brilliantly produced ticketed events held in wonderful venues around the Imperial city,  the Festival also offers free events ranging from heavingly popular concerts in Bab Boujloud square to intimate Sufi Nights under the stars till late each evening.


Image by Peter Sis.

This year’s Festival theme- Conference of the Birds- Journey of Cultures- celebrates a 12th century allegorical poem by Persian poet Farid ud-Din Attar,  An inspiration to artists across the centuries, the epic describes the Sufi path to enlightenment through a quest undertaken by the birds of the world in search of their true ruler.  A specially commissioned event on this theme will  open the Festival at the stunning palace forecourt, Bab al Makina.

Also honoured  will be Nelson Mandela, with a tribute  featuring Youssou N’Dour and Johnny Clegg; and four morning forums  Giving Soul to Globalisation: The politics of Nelson Mandela at Batha Museum.


Coumbane Mint Ely Warakane

Intimate afternoon concerts in Batha Museum’s dappled courtyard are a highlight of Fes Festival. This year’s include Spanish maestro Jordi Savall with Ensemble XX1 Hesperion (Spain) in Mare Nostrum and the welcome return of the extraordinary Mauritanian  griot Coumbane Mint Ely Warakane presenting Poetry of the Sands and Words of the Nomads with India’s Raza Khan.


Last year I was fortunate to cover Festival events with  The View from Fes:  links to that coverage are below.

I look forward immensely to this year’s edition.


Fes Festival of Sacred Music 2014

Friday 13 – Sunday 21 June

Friday 13 June

  • 9pm at Bab al MakinaConference of the Birds: Journey of Cultures

Specially commissioned by the Spirit of Fes Foundation. Concept and Artistic Direction: Faouzi Skali and Layla Benmouss, Director: Thierry Poquet, Musical composition: Arah Sarkechik

Saturday 14 June

  • 9am-12.30 at Batha Museum: Forum- The Politics of Nelson Mandela (first 4 mornings)
  • 4pm at Batha Museum: Sacred Chants of Provence (France)
  • 9pm at Bab al Makina: Robert Alagna with Mediterraneo, specially commissioned for the Fes Festival
  • 10.30pm at Place Boujloud The Arab Orchestra of Barcelona -free
  • 11pm at Dar Tazi Sufi nights (each night -free)

Sunday 15 June

Image of Youssou N’Dour from

  • 4pm at Batha Museum: Altan Ensemble (Ireland)
  • 9pm at Bab al Makina: Youssou N’Dour and Johnny Clegg, in a tribute to Nelson Mandela
  • 10.30pm at Place Boujloud to be confirmed-free


Monday 16 June

  • 4pm Batha Museum: Bardic Divas of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan
  • 8pm and 10pm at Dar Adiyel: Melhoun from Fes and Meknes
  • 8pm and 10pm at Dar Mokri: Palestinian concert
  • 9pm at Batha Museum: Tomatito (Spain), with Omar Bouzmaazought (Morocco)
  • 10.30pm at Place Boujloud: Ouled Al Bouazzaoui – Song of Aieta-free

Tuesday 17 June

  • 4pm Batha Museum: Mare Nostrum with Jordi Savall and Ensemble XX! Hesperion (Spain)
  • 8pm and 10pm at Dar Adiyel: Leili Anvar: The Canticle of the Birds, a musical lecture (France/Iran)
  • 8pm and 10pm at Dar Mokri: Choir St Ephraim (Hungary)
  • 9pm  Batha Museum: Rokia Traoré (Mali) with Beautiful Africa
  • 10.30pm at Place Boujloud:  Saad Lamjered – free

HERE is my report on Saad Lamjered in concert at Volubilis International Festival 2013

Wednesday 18 June

Zakkir Hussein

  • 8pm and 10pm at Dar Adiyel: Wang LI (China) and Amazigh Poets  (Morocco)
  • 8pm and 10pm at Dar Mokri: Sacred Chants Ladino with Mor Karbasi
  • 9pm at Batha Museum: Zakir Hussain: tabla and bansuri flute (India)
  • 10:30 pm at Place Boujloud: Abidat Rma and Said Mouskir -free
Thursday 19 June

  • 4pm at Batha Museum: Luzmilla Carpio (Bolivia))
  • 9pm at Bab al Makina: Jewish- ArabAndalusian music
  • 10.30pm at Place Boujloud: Ribab Fusion Chant Amazigh Souss- free

Friday 20 June

  • 4pm at Batha Museum: Palais Royale Ensemble (France)
  • 9pm at Bab al Makina:  Arabic Music
  • 10.30pm at Place Boujloud: Wael Jassar (Lebanon) -free

Saturday 21 June

  • 10am at Batha Museum :  Ustad F. Wasifuddin Dagar (India)
  • 4pm at Batha Museum: Raza Khan and Coumbane Mint Ely Warakane (India and Mauritania) with Poetry of the Sands and Words of the Nomads


  • 9pm at Bab al Makina: Buddy Guy’s Legend with the Hot 8 Brass Band of New Orleans (USA)
  • 10.30pm at Place Boujloud: Saida Sharaf Chant Hassani -free

Tickets: available here at the Festival website

Free events include nightly 10.30 pm concerts at Bab Boujloud and 11pm Sufi nights ar Dar Tazi are free.

LINKS to my coverage of Moroccan festivals 2013 on The View From Fes

Fes Festival of Sacred Music 2013-1

 Fes Festival of Sacred Music 2013- 2

Fes Festival of Sacred Music 2013- 3

Shem’sy- National Circus School of Morocco

Volubilis International Festival, Meknes 2013

Volubilis International Festival, Meknes 2013

Volubilis International Festival, July 2013

 Here is my coverage of Volubilis International Festival, originally written for The View from Fes, Morocco’s foremost English language blog on cultural and current affairs. 

The Music is Pumping      &     Small but Perfectly Formed



Clambering into the crew bus after the tumultuous finale of the festival was an event in itself.

Screaming, mobbing fans  pressed against the windows like a scene from Don’t Look Back. Or HELP.

The crew onboard joking that the mob was after me;  with everyone knowing it was the local uberpopstar in the front seat they were screaming for.

On the way I’d run into music journalist Peter Culshaw, whose newly released biography of Manu Chao, Clandestino is an inspiration in participative  journalism. I read it on my Kobo by candlelight in the back of a van somewhere down the road.

It was a great season. I’ll be back.

     *                 *                   *                      *                        *

My coverage of the Fes Festival of Sacred Music, 2103, also on The View from Fes   

Heading to Gallipoli Pt 2- Dreams

Pt 2-  Dreams

Once upon a time, I read a passage in a novel that struck me profoundly.

Queen Guinevere, reflecting on life, sees that the young believe their growing up- gaining knowledge and money, power and status- will bring them more choices in life.

551408_4915171851601_261978343_n Sad eyed lady

Then how she’d learned that lives become not wider,  but more confined, by the consequences of  choices we make and the overwhelm of  choices made by others.

Strangely, when I re-read that book years later, the passage wasn’t there.  Perhaps I’d dreamed it. Perhaps my soul was sending me a message I needed to hear as I embarked on an adult life that’s certainly had its share of narrowings and overwhelms.

And now I’m the other side, in a regained widened space.

My kids are grown, my father’s passed away, and I’m on the road,  backpacker, grey nomad, waltzing my matilda on an open-ended journey.

So many people tell me how lucky I am. Living the dream they say.  

Really, I think, is this your dream?  

Jealous, some say.

(I shiver when I hear that word, make signs, avert the evil eye)  

I won’t go into the realities of monadic backpacking right now. I’d rather do that with humour and I don’t feel funny today, heading to Gallipoli.

I’m solemn, like the Dawn Service, like the Recessional echoing through Sydney canyons.

 But I accept that my travelling is a dream.

Not as in a ‘dream boat’, a sugared fantasy. Not as in a ‘dream house’, the envied culmination and ‘got it all now’ haven.

But as in a multiply confounding, dislocating, provocative profusion of half digested image.  Where things change as you look at them and maybe nothing is as it appears. A royal road yet barely there track through the ‘vale of soul making’, this world.

My travelling life is so little about ‘sightseeing’, though I do keep my eyes open.

It’s more like a mobile retreat. So much time to observe in solitude, pay attention to small things, to just be there with no role or obligation beyond breathing. To loosen old chains, ponder on shadow and meaning, privilege, trust, hurt and renewal, identity and choice; to open up to the extra-ordinary  or retreat to my hotel room de jour.

That’s not what people envy though, cos it’s not what they imagine.

That’s just my way,  the way that I create it. My choice. And that, I think, is what people envy, if they do. Or aspire to, or wish me well in.

The privilege of choice.  

 This brief chance to roll though possibilities, for better or worse.  Before the next run of no-choice narrowings – an accident, old age, illness, stroke, confinement and death.

My daddy’s dead.

 That stern and generous man who ‘paid it forward’ long before that phrase came into vogue.

Who knew that ‘privilege’- that he worked so hard for and passed on to me, unearned – carries an obligation. Pass it on, do some good. Pay for someone’s doctor, help them on their way.

 A year ago, in my Bali time, I wondered what he would think of my life now,  wanderer, dreamer.

Then I saw him in repose in clouds above my house, and took it for an answer. It’s OK.

He was bound to his commitments. And he set me free to roam.


 If my living ‘the dream’ in these hotel rooms and bus stations, ruins and foreign streets, throws a ray  on  others in their confinements or creativity,  confusion or compromises

we’re still paying it forward

by being where we are.

Next stop. Gallipoli. For you, Dad.

More photos of  Indonesian skies in this Facebook album

Heading to Gallipoli Pt 1- Songs

Heading to Gallipoli Pt 1- Songs

I’m on my way to Suvla Bay to sing a searing song; Eric Bogle’s desolate ballad of war and waste; The Band Plays Waltzing Matilda. It’s been haunting me, demanding my attention  ever since I came to Turkey.

I’ve sung it before, in another place, and strongly; backed by a banjo, safe among friends, showcasing the power of music to tell a story and stir the heart.  But this will be a bare rendition; a capella and alone. My guitar’s not with me here, and perhaps that’s for the best. It would draw attention; and it’s not a performance I want to create now, but some kind of offering. I know the story, and my heart’s already stirred.

But already I know that without those firm strings to drive my voice through the harrowing verses,  I’m surely going to choke. I’ll have to push myself on from the gut to make it through. My voice will disappear into the autumn wind up there, perhaps it’ll just feel foolish and pointless. So be it.  Even the rolled up pain of my whole life so far would not shadow one footstep of what people went through there.  My meagre discomfort is part of the tribute. A   Balinese friend, exhausted from sleepless nights preparing yet another  ceremony, taught me that.

Travelling teaches; and shifts us inside, as well as through space.

Until I came to Turkey, I’d no idea that drawn out battle, almost a century ago, was so important here;  that it still shapes the connections between the peoples of our lands.  I hear it in the generous response when I answer Australia to that constant call to travellers: Where are you from?  Yesterday, when I narrowed it down to ‘Brisbane’, the questioner shouted Cool bananas!  I felt like a good luck charm. 20131031_170317 A village shop has a kangaroo / emu clock on the wall. . Guesthouses far from Gallipoli are called Wallaby, Kiwi or straight out Australia New Zealand. In one tiny hill town, the barely mobile matriarch of Oz Garden brought me a flower to brighten my coffee at her ramshackle table.  ‘Aussie’ she creaked as she patted my hand and sat with me to share the sunset view. Crowded House is a fine witty name for a hostel. It’s been quite the entertainment.

Then a few days ago in a bus stop cafe I double-took a closer look at a photo of what at first appeared to be raggedy clowns in a field.  

Then on a hunch asked… Who are they? Where is that?


The cook reached into her small stock of English and, miming a rifle, explained Gelibolu – soldiers – war. Gallipoli! I said. That’s where I’m going. Miming a guitar. Gallipolito sing a song, for the soldiers.     She called over the waiter; translated. Customers came to see what the action was. Together we mimed ‘former conflict’ and ‘now friends’ and my eyes blurred with sudden tears. Their eyes did too. We shared a moment of honouring those old ones and their suffering, and with hands on hearts they blessed me on my way. Travelling solo, such moments of connection can feel immense. But still I was puzzled, questioning my tears.

Why does this mean so much to me now, that long gone battle in all the wars of the world? Why do I so have to go there?  Why am I so moved?

They don’t spring from reflex patriotism. I’m told it’s more so now, but in my day, Australians weren’t big on the kind of flag waving I saw a few days ago on Turkish Republic day. Not outside sport anyway.  Australia Day casts a shadow, as invasion day.  We are comfortable with our ‘national character’-  resilient, open, natural backpackers, we’ll chat with bus stop cooks-  but shy of nationalism. We fluffed or were bluffed out of even becoming a Republic. Our war remembrance, ANZAC Day, does not even celebrate victory. AtaturkDecades ago, I was taught history, by teachers who cared.  But there was little about the generals who sent so many away to suffer and be slaughtered. Here, Kemal Ataturk, the victorious commander, is the ubiquitous hero, his name and image almost deified. Insulting him is unlawful, like a treason or blasphemy. We learned about Private Simpson, who survived a whole three weeks at Anzac Cove, tending the maimed and dead. But that doesn’t moved me to tears. More to contempt for the bastards who sent him there. Sure we make damn fine soldiers, Aussies, but I think we more truly revere those everyday warriors, the fire-fighters who face the flames in our own backyard.

Back on the bus, I asked myself again- Why am I so moved?

And suddenly I realised. A redemption. My father.

Who never served in battle; but who took me as a raging teenager to the National War Museum, where he suffered my refusal to even go inside. Committed to the struggle of my generation, ending war in Vietnam, unimpressed by ‘the glorification of imperialist soldiering’, I sat outside and sang Masters of War

I wasn’t kind. I wasn’t smart.  As Joni Mitchell put it: I thought I knew life’s purpose, I thought we had a choice. I made some value judgements in a self important voice.

I burned his hand as I smacked away a gift he wanted to share with me; respect.

Not for ‘glory’, or power as dominion. Not for simply winning, for destruction or political mastery. But for facing the unbearable, with humanity and courage. Making the choiceless choice. In war, for some of us. In life, for most of us.

Years later, with his values intact, his big heart worn out and his daughter a little less raging, he got his lesson across, so directly, as I watched him slowly die.

I almost didn’t come to Turkey.  There was war in Syria and I was afraid of whatever the hell the Masters of War might promulgate next. I’m so glad I did.  For the people and the land. And now for this small pilgrimage; with a song, the blessing of a small town cook and a sense of my father’s hand on my heart.

          *                                                     *                                                      *

The tumult and the shouting die, The captains and the kings depart,
Still stands thine ancient sacrifice, an humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget, lest we forget.



Kemal Ataturk’s words of reconciliation, 1934. Inscribed at ANZAC Cove, Turkey and in  Canberra, Australia

“Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives… you are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours… You, the mothers who sent their sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears. Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”

Translation and more information of the  poster of Turkish soldiers in this post available on request. 

The tumult and the shouting…. from Rudyard Kipling’s Recessional.

More photos from Turkey, and Greece, in this Facebook Album 

Following the signs

Following the signs


The Temple of Athena wasn’t where the painted arrow led

To rocks and weeds, an old man and a dog behind a fence.

Not even fallen jenga stones that might have been her glory once,

like stand there, resurrected to Apollo, on the hill.


So I walked on along the road and found myself enchanted

By a sign I couldn’t read, down curved steps, ribbons on a grille

A flowered space protected with a spirit tree and bell

A small cave turned by villagers into a candled chapel.


The angels there were human and polite

We told each other stories in the fading shadowed light

while chatting women came and went in faded daily clothes

To tend this tender rock where peace and faith could find a home.



Perhaps Athena Gloriana died off with her father.

Perhaps what’s rich is what’s below when we lay down the armour.


Written in Rhodes, Greece.