Sparrows of Kabul
Touring as part of the 2023 Connecting Places Program
Fred Smith and band will be presenting this extraordinary song cycle on Australia’s involvement in Afghanistan, culminating in the dramatic evacuation from Kabul in August 2021.
Fred was there at the beginning in Uruzgan Province and returned at the end working from Kabul International Airport (KIA) on the difficult evacuation. His epitaph for the mission is ‘it was what it was’, and we are left with an admiration for the work of our soldiers and for the courage and tenacity of thousands of Afghans who braved the human logjams outside the gates of Kabul International Airport in a last-ditch dash for freedom.
The concert will begin with songs from Fred’s acclaimed Dust of Uruzgan album which draw on his experiences working alongside Australian soldiers in southern Afghanistan. It will culminate with material he wrote after working on the dramatic evacuation from Kabul in August 2021.
Fred Smith was the first Australian diplomat to be sent to work alongside Australian soldiers in Uruzgan Province in 2009 and a last to leave in 2013. While there he wrote songs about his experience and put on regular concerts on the base with bands made up of Aussie, US and Dutch soldiers as well as Afghan interpreters.
Returning to Australia, he recorded these songs on an album Dust of Uruzgan. The CD received rave reviews and was described in the Weekend Australian as continuing “a tradition of profoundly affecting Australians-at-war ballads that includes Eric Bogle’s And the band played Waltzing Matilda, Don Walker’s Khe Sanh and John Schumann’s I was only 19.”
The title track was covered by Lee Kernaghan on his top selling Spirit of the Anzacs album.
Smith also wrote a book called The Dust of Uruzgan about his experiences, published by Allen and Unwin in 2016, and is subject of an ABC Australian Story documentary.
In 2020, Smith went back to Afghanistan to work in the Australian Embassy in Kabul. As Kabul fell under Taliban control, he found himself working from Kabul International Airport (KIA) on Australia’s mission to evacuate passport and visa holders.
Touring window: May 2023
Fee: $3,500 + $500 for technical equipment (optional)
Artform: Music, Contemporary, Storytelling
Ideal for: Families, seniors, audiences with an interest in Australians at war and lovers of live music