'Rain Follows the Plow' - A Dust Opera
Steve Coffee, a visiting academic and musician (USA), presents excerpts from his folk opera 'Rain follows the plough' an environmental folk opera set in the Dustbowl era in the US in the 1930's. Backing Steve and performing the songs are the Dustbowl dirt band - Ann Palumbo, Paul Laszlo, Rosie McDonald and Nigel Lever. Steve Coffee & the Dustbowl dirt band play at the 4S conference (Society for Social Studies of Science Annual conference) Sydney International Convention Centre a few days prior to Humph Hall concert.
Drawing unnerving comparisons to Australia's current "dry spell" and the environmental havoc that is being reeked worldwide, this is a timely musical song cycle that presents its message in an entertaining yet thought provoking way. Think harmonies, hoedown, foot tapping ballads and bluegrass/old timey tunes.
The expression “rain follows the plow” was a popular aphorism of the westward expansion into the high (and dry) plains of the U.S. It expresses the widely held belief that simply by plowing and planting, and secondarily by burning fuel, settlers would impact the local climate and produce more frequent rainfall. It expresses the hubris and eternal optimism that is the special province of farmers—and their enterprising enablers and exploiters.
Fred Smith is without question one of Australia's best songwriters and every time he has come to Humph Hall it has, not surprisingly, been to a capacity audience. With over 48,000 viewings this clip of his song 'Sapper's Lullaby' is by far the most popular Humph Hall video clip I've uploaded.
Fred is returning to Humph Hall in order to support Stephen Coffee bringing his 'dust opera' to Australia.
Fred presents his songs with a wry humour and gentle worldliness earned through the experiences that inform many of his songs. He has spent the last 15 years all over the joint: working in Afghanistan and the South Pacific, touring in North America and travelling the Australian festival circuit. He has released about eight albums, mostly solo, but also collaborations with Liz Frencham and the Spooky Men's Chorale.
On 7th October 2013 he featured on ABC TV's 'Australian Story'.
Visit Fred's web site. Watch this YouTube clip from a previous appearance in Humph Hall (over 22,000 views!)
Rain Follows the Plow
"Rating 5 stars - Best of the 2016 Captial Fringe!" - DC Metro Theater Arts
"The music is top notch. These guys are professionals and it shows. The sound is rich and full, with effortless harmonies and evocative lyrics recalling folk music greats like Woodie Guthrie." - DC Theatre Scene
"Recommended... there's no denying the strength of Coffee's songs and the musicians tasked with bringing them to life." - Broadway World Washington DC
"Coffee’s intense interest in the subject is infectious, and there’s a message about the importance of balancing development and the environment (and how folks often aren’t very bright about that) that’s impossible to miss." - Washington Post
"The music of Fred Smith comes straight from the front line . . . raw, ribald, but also capable of moving grown men to tears." - John Huxley, Sydney Morning Herald, 28 July 2011
"In a world full of vacuous songs, Fred's is an incredibly strong body of work." - John Schumann
"An exceptional songwriter and certainly the equal of Bogle, Walker and Schumann." - Bruce Elder, Sydney Morning Herald 'Review of the Week' August 2011