It’s often said that music soothes the soul.
And it’s certainly hoped that’s what will be achieved on Sunday 13th March, at Rock4RnR, otherwise known as Rock for Reflection and Remembrance.
The unique event, which will see musicians perform over six hours has largely been the brainchild of Harry Moffitt, who himself has found music to be a tonic.
The SAS Veteran, turned psychologist and author, is the Musical Producer of Rock4RnR.
He says he was inspired to develop a concert featuring veteran-led bands, after an Anzac Day concert left him frustrated by the lack of veteran music talent.
“Ultimately, it’s to showcase veterans as musicians and artists. Some people can’t get their head around that veterans can write music and be artists. I want to show them as independent, self-determined agents, professional musicians and artists who are good at their craft.”
“The second part of the mission is to break down the ‘busted veteran’ narrative. Of course, there are people that need help but there are many who are just cracking on with their post service life.”
And Harry’s promising an impressive line-up of musical talent on
"We have current serving veterans and recent serving veterans, right through to veterans from the Vietnam era."
Artists include well-known musicians Stella Anning, who is currently serving in the ADF, The Pretty Bones Frontman Wayne Cooper who is a veteran, 70s veteran John ‘Swanee’ Swan and infantry veteran, Anthony Field, who many would know as the Blue Wiggle from The Wiggles.
The Riflemen and The Externals will also take to the stage.
Harry says the day is also very much about partners and families of veterans.
“We consider them as very important in the veteran journey. So, we’ve got Cate Taylor performing. She’s the daughter of a veteran.”
He says as a psychologist, the words reflection and remembrance have
been chosen very intentionally.
"One is a very powerful practice. Reflection on who you are, where you’re at, what’s happened to you, being deliberate about that kind of contemplative aspect of reflection."
“The remembrance part kind of came out of last year. It’s been a very tumultuous last 12 or so months for the veteran community and their families. We’ve had the Fall of Kabul, the end of the Afghan campaign after 20 years, we’ve had the Royal Commission into Veteran Suicide, the Brereton and IGADF Reports release. So, it’s been a pretty traumatic period. I think through reflection and trying to process all of these experiences, it’s time to take a break, enjoy some music and the arts presented by veterans.”
Veteran owned businesses, like food trucks, will be ready to feed the crowds, and ex-service organisation RSL Victoria will be hosting kid-friendly games, and a ‘chill out’ zone for a bit of rest and relaxation.
Adam ‘Buzz’ Lawson is the Chief of Veterans Services at RSL Victoria and an Royal Australian Air Force veteran.
"These events are important for the veteran community to share their unique bond in a relaxed atmosphere with friends and family."
Adam "Buzz" Lawson
RSL Victoria President, Dr Robert Webster OAM, says RSL Victoria is proud to support the event.
“Due to the pandemic restrictions, the Victorian veteran community have been unfortunately separated for much of the last two years. Rock4RnR is a wonderful opportunity to come together and for veterans to find their voice through music, the arts and in conversation.”
Rock4RnR is taking place during the Australian National Veterans Arts Museum’s March to Art (ANVAM), an annual exhibition series, which is returning for its fifth year.
Mark Johnston is ANVAM’s Chairman and Director. He says this year’s theme is ‘voice’.
“People want to be heard, and need a platform to be heard, just like we’ve seen at the Royal Commission, which came about because people wanted to be heard but didn’t think they had a voice to express their frustration, disappointment and grief.”
He says March to Art also allows ANVAM to shine a light on the many varied veteran projects, like Rock4RnR.
“It’s intended to be a positive reflection, or opportunity for us to show the diversity of arts projects that are happening in the veteran community.”
Mark, who also has an ex-service background, says it brings him joy to see others basking in the enjoyment of the arts.
“We’ll see veterans on stage and one of the things that will warm my heart is how they perform in this context, plus their audience and how they react to the performances. Those are the things that inspire me.”
The aspiration is that this concert will kick off a national tour and grow into a regular event at the Shrine.
“We often talk about a tour of duty where bands are sent overseas. Well, there’s a lot of work to be done here in Australia and I’d like to think we can do that as a group of veterans. What is better than an event that is conceived, designed, and delivered by the veterans themselves?” says Harry.