Victorian Seniors Festival Reimagined 2020

Dan Witton - Week 21

 

Bec Reid

Hello, I’m Bec Reid, and welcome to the Victorian Seniors Festival Reimagined and in the Groove in 2020. This week, we’re exploring kinship and I have literally jumped around with plastic fruit on my head with our following artist, all in the name of creative kinship. Bassist, tubist, vocalist, general musical legend. Dan Witton’s here. Hello, Dan Witton.

Dan Witton

Hello there, Bec Reid.

Bec Reid

Where are you joining us from today?

Dan Witton

I’m joining from Narrm, Melbourne, in the centre of the CBD on the wonderful lands of the Wurundjeri and Kulin nations and I’m grateful to be here.

Bec Reid

Dan, can you tell us where kinship lives in your artistic practice?

Dan Witton

It lives close to my heart because I have been supported by the literal meaning of kinship, that is to mean my family and that has happened throughout my life and I’m very, very grateful to my family for not saying “that’s a ridiculous idea of what to do with your time”. They’ve been very supportive and, so, I’m very grateful to my family for supporting me in my artistic endeavours and so that’s been the literal way that my - that kinship’s sort of thing with me and my artistic practice and the other way is by, I guess, my chosen family. The family of comrades and compadres and colleagues who have basically offered support and skills and expertise in relation to collaborative art or just generally support when times are not so easy.

Bec Reid

And Dan, with your beautiful chosen, creative family, can you share with us a time that you have felt deep kinship?

Dan Witton

Kinship, in relation to the way that - I think it’s mostly revealed when things are hard. When you feel like you have the ability to lean on people or reach out and there’s a response, that’s one - one way that’s direct but, even through, you know, long term or even short term friendships, if you know that people have offered that support, that you think it’s in your back pocket, so to speak. I’m really lucky because I’ve worked in collaborative arts since I was a kid in theatre and music and that’s meant that you kind of get a project-based family.

Bec Reid

Is there a particular instrument that you have a deeper kinship for than maybe another?

Dan Witton

I do love my double bass here. This one here that I’ve had since I was a teenager. My grandmother, who was a musician, who’s actually still alive. Her name’s Doreen Bridges and she lives in Adelaide. She was a cellist and she said that I could have her cello and I ended up finishing my high school music on cello and composition, playing her cello and then I finished year 12 and then I sold the cello immediately and bought that double bass, which was found in a barn and then, basically, I’ve played it ever since. This is my grandmother’s piano that’s behind me that my mother had and then she said that I could have it, which I’m also very, very grateful for. So, I have - I guess I do have sentimental attachment, but I have no particular instrument that I really love. I think that I do love all forms of art. I’d like to think that I am egalitarian lover of art and its artefacts. I feel like the definitions of artistic practice are a lot more porous than people would give them credit for.

Bec Reid

Can you share with us the piece that you’ve chosen for the Victorian Seniors Festival. Can you share the story of it?

Dan Witton

It’s actually been recorded many, many times. I’ve heard lots of different versions of it, but I was introduced to it by doing a brass band version at my friend’s wedding not so long ago and it sort of stuck. This is Sermonette by Lambert, Hendricks and Ross. They were a hot ticket in the 50s and the 60s. They were a multi-racial and multi-gendered group. They were extraordinary jazz singers and technicians. They were really an astonishing group in the midst of great social change in the United States with huge civil rights activism and they were really, really popular. Sermonette is a hit record from their catalogue. I quite like this idea that the - the Sermonette can actually come to you from within and even though you may admonish or wave the finger, it’s - there’s - there’s probably ways of doing that to yourself or finding ways of having those messages come to you by any means possible.

Bec Reid

Well, Dan, we are so grateful for your grandmother’s foresight and her belief in your musical talents and for sharing all things kinship with us here at the festival. Thanks, Dan Witton.

Dan Witton

Thanks, Bec Reid.

[Dan Witton sings Sermonette]

I heard me a sermonette
Have you heard it yet?
With that soulful message
That you won’t soon forget

I’m talking about real true love
The kind folks lost sight of
With their sinful livin’
And scornin’ heaven above

It tells you to love one another
Feels that each man’s your brother
Live right, ‘cause you know
That you reap just what you sow

And so to have no regrets
And to find what you’re missin’
Bow your head and listen
To this sermonette

Now, you know, I’m not qualified to give advice, really
But you may find solace in many strange places
It may be in your breakfast
It may be from a parent or a child or a friend
It may be in a book, yes, a history book, a novel or a poem
Maybe, maybe just a walk
Go for it and be kind to yourself
It’s really, really important
It teaches many things

It tells you to love one another
And yourself and each man’s your mother
Work that out!
Live life ‘cause you know
That you reap just what you sow

And so to have no regrets
And to find what you’re missin’
Bow your head and listen
To this sermonette

Thank you.

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15 September 2020
Duration: 7:19

Dan Witton began work as a professional performer whilst still at school. He’s trained in circus in Canada, co-founded a theatre company and is a freelance performer and musician.

Visit Dan Witton's website: www.danwitton.com.au/

Read his Performer Profile.

 

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Victorian Seniors Festival Reimagined 2020

Dan Witton - Week 21

 

Bec Reid

Hello, I’m Bec Reid, and welcome to the Victorian Seniors Festival Reimagined and in the Groove in 2020. This week, we’re exploring kinship and I have literally jumped around with plastic fruit on my head with our following artist, all in the name of creative kinship. Bassist, tubist, vocalist, general musical legend. Dan Witton’s here. Hello, Dan Witton.

Dan Witton

Hello there, Bec Reid.

Bec Reid

Where are you joining us from today?

Dan Witton

I’m joining from Narrm, Melbourne, in the centre of the CBD on the wonderful lands of the Wurundjeri and Kulin nations and I’m grateful to be here.

Bec Reid

Dan, can you tell us where kinship lives in your artistic practice?

Dan Witton

It lives close to my heart because I have been supported by the literal meaning of kinship, that is to mean my family and that has happened throughout my life and I’m very, very grateful to my family for not saying “that’s a ridiculous idea of what to do with your time”. They’ve been very supportive and, so, I’m very grateful to my family for supporting me in my artistic endeavours and so that’s been the literal way that my - that kinship’s sort of thing with me and my artistic practice and the other way is by, I guess, my chosen family. The family of comrades and compadres and colleagues who have basically offered support and skills and expertise in relation to collaborative art or just generally support when times are not so easy.

Bec Reid

And Dan, with your beautiful chosen, creative family, can you share with us a time that you have felt deep kinship?

Dan Witton

Kinship, in relation to the way that - I think it’s mostly revealed when things are hard. When you feel like you have the ability to lean on people or reach out and there’s a response, that’s one - one way that’s direct but, even through, you know, long term or even short term friendships, if you know that people have offered that support, that you think it’s in your back pocket, so to speak. I’m really lucky because I’ve worked in collaborative arts since I was a kid in theatre and music and that’s meant that you kind of get a project-based family.

Bec Reid

Is there a particular instrument that you have a deeper kinship for than maybe another?

Dan Witton

I do love my double bass here. This one here that I’ve had since I was a teenager. My grandmother, who was a musician, who’s actually still alive. Her name’s Doreen Bridges and she lives in Adelaide. She was a cellist and she said that I could have her cello and I ended up finishing my high school music on cello and composition, playing her cello and then I finished year 12 and then I sold the cello immediately and bought that double bass, which was found in a barn and then, basically, I’ve played it ever since. This is my grandmother’s piano that’s behind me that my mother had and then she said that I could have it, which I’m also very, very grateful for. So, I have - I guess I do have sentimental attachment, but I have no particular instrument that I really love. I think that I do love all forms of art. I’d like to think that I am egalitarian lover of art and its artefacts. I feel like the definitions of artistic practice are a lot more porous than people would give them credit for.

Bec Reid

Can you share with us the piece that you’ve chosen for the Victorian Seniors Festival. Can you share the story of it?

Dan Witton

It’s actually been recorded many, many times. I’ve heard lots of different versions of it, but I was introduced to it by doing a brass band version at my friend’s wedding not so long ago and it sort of stuck. This is Sermonette by Lambert, Hendricks and Ross. They were a hot ticket in the 50s and the 60s. They were a multi-racial and multi-gendered group. They were extraordinary jazz singers and technicians. They were really an astonishing group in the midst of great social change in the United States with huge civil rights activism and they were really, really popular. Sermonette is a hit record from their catalogue. I quite like this idea that the - the Sermonette can actually come to you from within and even though you may admonish or wave the finger, it’s - there’s - there’s probably ways of doing that to yourself or finding ways of having those messages come to you by any means possible.

Bec Reid

Well, Dan, we are so grateful for your grandmother’s foresight and her belief in your musical talents and for sharing all things kinship with us here at the festival. Thanks, Dan Witton.

Dan Witton

Thanks, Bec Reid.

[Dan Witton sings Sermonette]

I heard me a sermonette
Have you heard it yet?
With that soulful message
That you won’t soon forget

I’m talking about real true love
The kind folks lost sight of
With their sinful livin’
And scornin’ heaven above

It tells you to love one another
Feels that each man’s your brother
Live right, ‘cause you know
That you reap just what you sow

And so to have no regrets
And to find what you’re missin’
Bow your head and listen
To this sermonette

Now, you know, I’m not qualified to give advice, really
But you may find solace in many strange places
It may be in your breakfast
It may be from a parent or a child or a friend
It may be in a book, yes, a history book, a novel or a poem
Maybe, maybe just a walk
Go for it and be kind to yourself
It’s really, really important
It teaches many things

It tells you to love one another
And yourself and each man’s your mother
Work that out!
Live life ‘cause you know
That you reap just what you sow

And so to have no regrets
And to find what you’re missin’
Bow your head and listen
To this sermonette

Thank you.