By Kaarin Davies-Cassin
Australian band Mixed Relations will not be touring France this month. Because of overspending by the French government on the Gulf War, half the gigs were cancelled.
Steve Pauner, the band's manager, explained, "We were booked to play at cultural festivals with government sponsorship, but because so much money went into the war effort, the French government advised its Ministry for Arts it was unable to act as sponsor of a lot of cultural festival activities planned for the summer months".
The tour will now begin in August, opening an Aboriginal Film Festival in Brittany. They'll then spend two weeks at the Palais de Sport in Paris before leaving for Germany, Yugoslavia, Spain, England, Wales, Ireland and finally Canada, where they will exchange musical techniques with the Mohawk Indians.
The band hopes to secure recording sponsorship for a CD to take to Europe with them. Mixed Relations is a talented and diverse act which remains unsigned to any record company. Apart from two tracks — "Our Mother" on a CAAMA Records compilation and "Take It Or Leave It" recorded by 2JJJ, the only recordings available are in the bootleg category.
Between now and August they'll play at the Laura Festival in north Queensland. The festival will protest against the Cape York Space Station and against oil drilling near the Barrier Reef.
Mixed Relations is made up of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal musicians. Its music blends syncopation and counterpoint harmony, weaving traditional Australian rhythms and melodic form with traditional and Western instruments.
Bart Willoughby, well known from the Aboriginal band No Fixed Address, creates the arrangements and songs. Bart grew up in an urban environment, and, like so many people from the "wrong side of the road", spent time in jail as a youth, where he first began to write and play music.
Many of Bart's songs and arrangements are created through his Dreaming. They are a living part of Aboriginal culture, in which visions are passed on through stories and songs, their message speaking about the struggle of this land to survive.
Until August, Mixed Relations will be doing various gigs along the east coast.