Gold Coast singer / songwriter Mattie Barker recently packed up his van, borrowed a generator and headed south to fire affected areas to offer musical healing to communities affected by the bushfires that ravaged the East Coast.
“I was playing at a gig and the news came on with the catastrophic events that were unfolding, and people were visibly traumatised so I broke into a Paul Kelly song and everyone started crying and embracing each other. I knew then I had to get on the road and play for those people in need,” said Mattie.
Mattie took to social media and asked for help to connect with the right people in the affected areas. He was overwhelmed with the response from people willing to help and get behind his musical crusade south.
“I had offers to fit out my van, generators, food and people wanting to connect me with remote communities,” he said.
Taking two weeks off playing paid gigs, Mattie began his tour by performing two gigs at the Nymboida rowing club, with a special mission to bring joy to the children and families of the region.
He continued travelling south and played as many gigs as possible to connect people to his love of music and the healing benefits of a song, recently finishing up just south of Foster with a free gig for the Rural Firefighting Society.
“We’re coming together to celebrate their acts of bravery,” said Mattie on his Facebook page just before the final gig, where he and his partner Lilly again thanked so many people for their help along the journey, including donations for fuel, food and help with gig set up.
Mattie choked up several times recalling many of the personal stories he encountered along his travels, pledging to return to the fire affected areas as soon as he could afford to do so.
“What we’ve learned on the road here is the power and spirit of the people when they come together, here in these communities, is absolutely incredible.”
“I know a lot of people back home feel very helpless… but there are a lot of ways you can help. We’ve been spending a lot of time with the crew at BlazeAid.”
BlazeAid is a volunteer-based organisation that works with families and individuals in rural Australia after natural disasters such as fires and floods. Working alongside the rural families, the volunteers help to rebuild fences and other structures that have been damaged or destroyed.
Equally important, volunteers also help to lift the spirits of people who are often facing their second or third flood event after years of drought, or devastating losses through bushfires.
“They’re absolutely amazing,” gushed Mattie.
Mattie’s brand of heartfelt folk is the perfect salve to emotional wounds and the ideal human connector, encouraging audiences hop up on stage, or at the very least to dance and sing along throughout the performance.
“I believe this is where the magic happens between strangers, the walls come down with music” said Mattie.
Follow Mattie on his one-man band mission to heal souls through his musical dialogue.