Songs tell story of Bentley blockade victory
THE NSW Government's announcement in May of the suspension of Metgasco's gas mining licence, which had the potential to industrialise the fertile farmland of Bentley, sparked celebratory fireside music at "Camp Liberty" for days.
But the joyous jamming was only the outro in the blockade's long soundtrack of solidarity, community and non-violent resistance.
Now, the music that buoyed and documented our region's most important recent outbreak of democracy will be recorded in the Songs Of The Bentley Blockade CD.
Funded by a Pozible crowdfunding campaign, the CD has been spearheaded by local musician Chris Fisher of Fruitbat Music.
"Crowdfunding is kinda like asking people to pre-purchase CDs and other rewards so we have enough cash to make it happen. Rewards include a private concert and CD cover credit as executive producer," Chris said.
The CD's aim is twofold, he explains: "It will be an archive. Something for people to reference for the future. It's a way of holding onto that spirit, providing inspiration for the future. It's also a way of sharing and promoting the creative spirit that is integral to our social and cultural movement towards an environmentally responsible future."
The motivations behind the Bentley Blockade music, from the ubiquitous fireside jams to the dawn hymn-like anthems, were as diverse as the music itself.
For elder Mookx Hanley music is an act of disarmament. The uke-wielding Aquarius elder had this epiphany at the equally famous Terania Creek Blockade in 1979.
He remembered six musos travelling two abreast on a narrow track on their way to their protest shift atop a bulldozer, when they were confronted head-on with six armed cops.
Mookx, his heart in his mouth, instinctively grabbed his banjo and played a bluegrass lick, which resulted in an oncoming policeman kicking up his heels and gracefully making way for the protesters.
"Right then and there I realised it's impossible to have a fear response when confronted by music. It's a blanket. It's disarming," Mookx said.
"It's spiritual money in the bank."
Mookx's song Let There Be Peace, a favourite sing-along at the blockade, will feature on the CD.
For singer-songwriter Luke Vassella, whose Go Gently song became the movement's unofficial anthem, the role of the musician was to "refresh people's spirit and comfort those enduring the injustices".
Vassella's simple anthems, which employed inclusive call and response strategy, were a calming, unifying force.
Similarly, popular choir master Peter Lehner, who led The Bentley Choir, said participation in simple songs was a crucial element in the non-violent strategy of the camp.
"Singing is a way to calm anxiety. Breathing together is unifying and a great way to relieve those facing traumatic situations."
Chris Fisher's new song Hand In Hand was written after he attended his first dawn vigil in late March, encouraged by the desire of people to sing along and the need to expand the repertoire of resistance.
"In recording and producing Hand In Hand I wanted to reflect the diverse nature and many voices of the Bentley Blockade community. Farmers, greens, Bundjalung peoples, young and old, all standing as one against gasfields invading this land we all call home. All the vocalists and musicians featured in the song were actively involved at the Bentley Blockade," Chris said.
Other contributing artists include Holley Somerville, Steve Andrews, Marcelle Townsend-Cross, Reggae Dan, Terri Nicholson, Anthony Gordon, Garth Kindred, Jodi Jo, Karen Connors, Roy Gordon, Lewis Walker, Laura Targett, Jeremy White, Paul Joseph, Terry Lawrence, Julian Smith.
The CD, a heartfelt stocking filler, is set to be sent out before Christmas.
Help Make it Happen
Order your CD or donate for other great rewards at pozible.com/bentleyblockadesongs.