If music heals the soul, there’s an event this weekend that is sure to bring medicinal value to the scorched Snowy Mountain ranges.
And if there is a place in need of a salve it’s Tooma, 31 kilometres south of Tumbarumba – population 101 – and one place few people wanted to be in January.
But Australian country music singer and songwriter Edwina Margaret “Fanny” Lumsden was there, and her first-hand experience of a conjoined 600,000 hectare megafire that threatened her home, family, neighbours and community plays out in a hauntingly memorable body of work titled Fallow.
It’s fitting, then, that this, her latest album will be launched in conjunction with a bushfire fundraiser from 5 pm this Saturday, March 14 at Tooma Recreation Reserve.
An album recorded in a stone hut on the western side of the Snowy Mountains, Fallow’s poignant tenet is one of loss, bringing new life into the world, possibility and new beginnings.
It’s a departure from Fanny’s usually upbeat, humorous style, reflective of some very personal experiences of the past three years; the birth of her son and loss of her partner’s mother to cancer.
It also draws on the harrowing month she and her family experienced early January, without power, cut off from the world with fires burning within a kilometre of her home.
Fanny recently described the experience.
“Our valley was cut-off in all directions so they evacuated emergency personnel, there were no firefighters just local farmers there to protect their properties,” she said.
For those of you not familiar with Fanny – this is a girl born and bred in western NSW where she grew up riding horses and helping out on the family farm.
But it was her father who, despite living in the plains, instilled in her a deep and abiding love and respect for the mountains which came to be her home and inspired “Mountain Song” – the album’s title song which she wrote after returning to her home valley after a day in the high country.
And even Fanny will admit the timing of another song, “This Too Shall Pass”, was weird.
“It’s pretty straight up about how the good and the bad passes,” she said, “all time passes, just be there for it.”
Recorded back in May 2019, Fanny says the theme is more relevant in the aftermath of the fires.
It’s hard to believe that 18 years have passed since Fanny Lumsden and the Thrillseekers burst onto the scene with October 2012 debut EP titled Miss.
Her debut album Small Town Big Shot was rereleased in September 2015 and nominated for an ARIA Award for Best Country Album at the 2016 ARIA Music Awards. The album produced two singles “Soapbox” and “Land of Gold”, which reached number one on The Country Music Channel and she won CMC New OZ Music artist of the Year.
In 2017, Fanny won her first Golden Guitar for New Talent of the Year. Later that year she was nominated for another three Golden Guitars.
Her second album Real Class Act was released in September 2017. It debuted at number one on the ARIA Country Charts.
The album then went on to win the 2018 Independent Country Album at the Australian Independent Record (AIR) awards and was nominated for Best Country Album at the ARIA Music Awards of 2018.
Fanny and her team recently have taken home two Golden Guitar’s for CMC’s Video Clip of the year; last year for “Elastic Waistband” and in January for “Real Men Don’t Cry (War On Pride)”.
No stranger to the country roads, Fanny and her husband Dan have clocked up 150,000 kilometres on their self-produced Country Halls Tour, selling out halls and celebrating live original music throughout Australia.
But this weekend it is all about Tooma, the community that stuck together in the face of a firestorm.
This weekend, Fanny, the band and crew are donating their time, their production, their work with all proceeds going to the Tooma Community Bushfire recovery fund, which is raising money to help with the clean-up, rebuild fences, sheds, provide feed for pets and stock, mental health resources and more.
Free bus transport is available from Corryong and Tumbarumba for the launch. Camping facilities are available at Tooma Rec Reserve.