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Into the world of Aboriginal australia

Didgeridoo player Ash Dargan and Native flutist Morgan Fawcett to perform

Posted: Thursday, September 04, 2008

Music. Didgeridoo. Imagery. Aboriginal culture.

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Courtesy Of Morgan Fawcett
Courtesy Of Morgan Fawcett

These are some of the elements of Ash Dargan's multimedia show, "Territory: Journeys into Dreamtime," which he will present in a concert alongside Native American flute player Morgan Fawcett at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 7.

The show is a benefit for the Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Diagnostic Clinic, which is hosting a week-long campaign to raise awareness of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. FASD covers a range of disabilities associated with prenatal exposure to alcohol, and includes Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

"I'm a storyteller. I play the didgeridoo and I translate the living soul of the landscape of my country through a deeply traditional and cultural lens," Dargan said.

Dargan is an Aborigine from the Larrakia tribe in the Northern Territory of Australia. His show mixes music, storytelling and video images with both modern and traditional elements to offer the listener or viewer a deeper view of his homeland.

"I play the story and I show the story. It's like a three-dimensional sensory experience and it's all about indigenous culture in Australia," Dargan said.

His show features images of well-known rock formations and rock art, waterfalls, wildlife, salt water crocodiles, kangaroos, migrating birds and more. His music blends recordings of birdcalls, crickets, frogs and sounds from the landscape mixed with human vocalizations and didgeridoo - a long tube-like instrument indigenous to northern Australia made from eucalyptus, bamboo, aspen or agave.

"I'm here to represent my culture and the people that I'm from in a beautiful way," he said.

His Web site is www.ashdargan.com.

Dargan met Fawcett at a Native American gathering in the Lower 48 a few years ago and was impressed with the young flute player. When Fawcett invited Dargan to perform in Alaska, he was honored and happy to help, Dargan said.

Fawcett, 16, originally from Juneau, now lives in Arkansas with his adopted grandparents. He has only been playing Native American flute for a few years, but has a natural ability that has flourished into a professional career.

He founded One Heart Creations, a nonprofit organization, to raise funds and awareness about FASD, and was recently awarded a First Nations Composer's Initiative Grant that has allowed him to purchase new flutes and recording time for his flute students.

"It's allowing us to get Native children into the studio," Fawcett said. "A couple of my students want to record and I'm really excited about that."

Fawcett was diagnosed with FAS when he was 15 and suffers from the side effects of the disease. He has memory and concentration difficulties, which are relieved when he plays the flute, he said.

"When I play the flute, it lowers my blood pressure and eases stress away. With Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, you could have ADHD but instead of being on Ritalin, I play the flute," he said.

Fawcett plays from the heart, often improvising songs on the spot, and begins his show playing his first flute.

"Whether I'm sitting around a campfire at home, or if I'm in front of thousands of people, I always start off with my first flute ... because without that first flute, without that first step, I wouldn't be where I am today," he said. "It was my first step in my journey, so it should be the first step in my concert."

"I always like to say this wherever I'm at, 'I'd like to thank the mothers for coming forward to allow their children to be diagnosed,'" he said. "To get a diagnosis for FASD, the mother has to come out and say 'Well I drank during pregnancy.'"

Fawcett ends his concerts with "Savannah's Song" for his sister, who still lives in Juneau.

His Web site is www.morganfawcett.synthasite.com.

Ric Iannolino, FASD Diagnostic Clinic Coordinator in Juneau, said the concert is to help raise funds for the clinic, which serves both Native and non-Native residents of Southeast Alaska.

"The clinic provides hope and understanding for people with FASD and their families through screening, diagnosis and recommendations in treatment," Iannolino said. "Hope and understanding is really what we do. That's the effect of what diagnosis does for people."

• Teri Tibbett is a freelance writer and musician living in Juneau. She can be reached at www.tibbett.com.



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