CD Review by Tony Smith
As the name implies this 2006 album marked Greg Hasting’s 30 years as a professional wandering musician.
In an earlier time, Hastings played his guitar and sang with Western Australia’s Muck Duck bush band, but spent most of the three decades solo doing shows for schools.
His first performances were for Indigenous children in the remote north and it was in that period he added didgeridoo.
He also took on a show partner, Linda Gillan.
More recently, Hastings has survived a serious car accident and also a kidney transplant.
These have understandably slowed him down and he hopes that a couple of young Indigenous performers might take on his show.
On this album, Hastings does vocals and plays guitar, didgeridoo, sticks and spoons.
Melissa Taylor-Hastings provides vocal harmony, Rudy Knuvelder plays mandolin, flute and strings while Peter Hardinge plays bass guitar, acoustic guitar and percussion.
Hardinge also has engineering credit and shares production with Hastings.
The 12 tracks feature songs that tell of a life spent travelling in space and time and personal development.
The strongest emphasis is on the Indigenous peoples and their cultures and their influence on Welsh-born Hastings’ journeying.
Indeed, many of his songs hope for a synthesis in which we might all learn from Aboriginal experience.
Hastings is a ‘Troubadour’ by trade.
There is a picture of him by his camper van as ‘the magic of the bush draws me back’.
In a ‘Day with a Dreamer’, you can leave your worries behind and enjoy some nice guitar breaks.
There is some lovely mandolin on ‘Where I’ll be Found’ which might be anywhere from Cooktown to Albany.
‘Woodford Bound’ is very powerful with voice alone across the Nullarbor.
‘Spirit Man’ uses the image of a white dove holding an olive branch.
‘Freedom Song’ has beautiful harmonies and reminds us that a journey shared seems shorter.
‘In A Memory’ features some nice guitar and says that we carry absent friends in our minds.
‘No Strangers’ has the philosophy about friends we have not yet met.
Hastings describes travel between Darwin and Hobart and says that for the gypsy ‘freedom is a place’.
‘Didgeridoo’ is an instrumental with clapping sticks and some of the chants sung through the didgeridoo.
‘Spirit of Your Heart’ suggests we ‘believe in the dreaming culture and song, believe in the spirit of your heart’ and tells the tale of a man taken from his mother, never to meet again.
In ‘Rainbow Time’ Hastings hopes that the rainbow colours will make a diverse Australia.
Finally, in ‘Waves of Change’, Hastings sings ‘new days are coming, give love a helping hand and we will know peace’.
Hastings has a clear communicator’s voice.
The lyrics of his songs are simple and all the more memorable for that.
The sentiments he expresses are positive, hopeful and selfless.
What more could we want from a CD that sings of freedom, friends and this beautiful land.