IN THEIR FOOTSTEPS: Fred Smith will perform Dust of Uruzgan at the Gympie Civic Centre on April 24.
IN THEIR FOOTSTEPS: Fred Smith will perform Dust of Uruzgan at the Gympie Civic Centre on April 24.

Musician brings Afghanistan experience to Gympie

GYMPIE will be transported to the front line in Afghanistan, when Australian diplomat turned singer-songwriter and author Fred Smith performs here on Monday, April 24.

Fred, whose regional Australia tour includes lectures and book tours, will bring the dust, heat, frustration, fighting and camaraderie captured in his poignant and witty album Dust of Uruzgan to the Gympie Civic Centre at the invitation of CoolArts Gympie and the Gympie Music Muster.

Fred Smith was the first Australian diplomat sent to work in Uruzgan Province, southern Afghanistan, and the last to leave.

In the words of Colonel Jason Blain speaking in an Australian Story feature about Fred, "He's actually walked in the same footsteps of those soldiers... He ate, he slept, he bathed, he worked, he lived with them and when soldiers died, he mourned with them”.

His Dust of Uruzgan performances, which combine storytelling, song and projected images by military photographers, has moved audiences to tears and laughter.

The title track has recently been covered by Australian country music icon Lee Kernaghan.

Fred's talents as a raconteur, his wry humour and larrikin spirit, have prompted critics to label him, "an exceptional songwriter and certainly the equal of Bogle, Walker and Shuman”.

Fred's performances will also give audience members a chance to understand the experiences of the 20,000 Australians who served in Afghanistan, many of whom live in Queensland, so they don't have to walk the land as strangers like a generation of Vietnam veterans did.

The tour is supported by The Playing Queensland Fund and arTour, initiatives of the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland, part of the Department of the Premier and Cabinet.

arTour's Creative Broker, Luke Harriman, said Fred Smith was one of Australia's most interesting songwriters, with two decades working on peacekeeping missions in Afghanistan and the South Pacific, touring in America and travelling the Australian festival circuit.

"Fred's guitar served as a bridge, not only to the troops, but also to the people and tribal leaders of war-torn Afghanistan. His songs have become anthems for soldiers and their families, and his masterful storytelling can help Queensland audiences connect with the reality of service on the frontline,” Mr Harriman said.

The two-hour performance is recommended for audiences over 12 years old, with parental guidance due to themes of war.

As part of the tour, Mates4Mates liaison officers will be in attendance at Fred's Dust Of Uruzgan Gympie performance.

Mates4Mates is a national organisation that supports current and ex-serving Australian Defence Force members and their families, who are wounded, injured or ill as a result of their service.

The liaison officers will be connecting locals with their relevant outreach services that are focused on physical rehabilitation and wellbeing, psychological services, employment and education, and a variety of other programs.

Tickets to Fred's Gympie performance are available online at gympieboxoffice.com.au or at the door, with discounted tickets for RSL members. Ticket prices $30, concession $25, CoolArts members and RSL members $20, youth $15.

Every ticket gives free entry in a raffle for more than $1000 of Muster tickets and merchandise, drawn at the concert. Bar available from 6pm.

Gympie Times


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