Palm Creek Folk Festival is famed for bringing together a beautiful patchworked program of musicians, writers, dancers, visual artists and more each year. The styles vary widely and people from all walks of life are welcomed with open arms, untied by common goodwill and sense of camaraderie.
One of the headline acts for this year’s Festival, Dana Lyons, embodies the very spirit of Palm Creek – blending comedy, ballads and stories from his travels through his beautiful music.
While in Australia he’s probably best known for his comedy hit Cows With Guns, first released in 1996, Dana uses his music to spread messages of social change and mobilise his listeners to take positive action.
Why is music so powerful in sharing messages of social change?
Music can affirm people’s feelings about an issue and help inspire and unite them as a community. When people feel united and inspired, they feel that there is a chance of winning. And a key part of winning a fight, is believing you can win the fight.
How do you maintain the balance between making people laugh and communicating a serious message through your music?
People like to laugh at themselves and the predicaments we all get ourselves into. At each show I ask myself, how much do these folks need to laugh tonight? Usually I can mix serious ballads and comedies pretty evenly, but some nights it needs to be mostly comedy. Comedy can make serious issues understandable. “A semi truck full of sugar helps the medicine go down . . .”
You have a diverse range of sounds – what can people expect from your set at Palm Creek Folk Festival?
I’ll do a mix of comedy, ballads, love songs, ranging from beauty to the wacky.
I see you also have a Cane Toad Muster Tour happening while you’re in Australia – what’s that all about?
I’ve written a comedy song called Cane Toad Muster about the fight to slow the cane toad advance across Australia. I’ll be releasing my new album The Great Salish Sea, which has Cane Toad Muster on it.
You’ve been called the minstrel of the environmental movement – how does that weigh on you as an artist?
I write songs about things that move me. Some of the songs I write are about environmental issues, some are love songs, some are silly or odd songs. Our beautiful Earth needs our help right now. It’s an honour for me to try and serve in some small way.
What do you love most about what you do?
I’m very lucky to be able to travel all over the world and to sing for small groups of people who are doing wonderful things to try and protect the environment and people. And unknown to most of us, is that a lot of the time, the people win. I share these stories everywhere I go, because people need to hear that it is possible to win. We the people, have more power in our hands than our governments and the corporations that influence them would like us to think.
Catch Dana Lyons performing at Palm Creek Folk Festival 7 – 10 June. Day and Weekend passes are now available at www.palmcreek.com.au