Fred Smith isn’t your ordinary singer-songwriter. He spent over a year in Afghanistan as an Australian Diplomat in the Uruzgan province. There he acted as a link between the Australian Army and the local tribal elders. We had a pretty amazing chat about it on The Dotted Line this week.
It’s not every day that you get to meet a person who has had first hand experience in a war zone. This was a special opportunity to learn about a very controversial topic from someone with qualification.
Fred spoke frankly and sometimes sceptically about Australia’s role over there. He told us about his experiences in a culture that most Australians will never understand. He spoke about jamming traditional music with the locals, he also told us about a bomb exploding over a shelter he was in!
His latest album-Dust of Uruzgan is a collection of songs that tell stories of his experiences over there. He spins narratives about how the locals are affected by war, the lives of women under the Taliban and a tale from a US marine’s point of view. He aslo weaves in dry wit and humour. He has a song about the Dutch army’s port a loos!
Fred sang the title track from this album as part of a very special ANZAC Day performace at this year’s National Folk Festival. The powerful performance was sung in front of a backdrop of photographic journalism, illustrating scenes from the song.
Fred has also been posted to the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guniea with the Department of Foreign Affairs . He has released albums about these experiences as well and will be performing songs off them on his current tour.
Liz Fencham joined him on this record and she will be performing live with him. He plays this week at Burrinja Gallery and will be returning to Melbourne at the end of the month to play at the Oakleigh Caravan Club.