Dan Acfield is an accomplished Brisbane based singer/songwriter and is also one half of brother/sister act, The Acfields. Dan comes from a long line of talented musicians and regularly tours as a solo artist and as part of the Acfields. His songs have aired on Triple J and Rage and he has performed with the likes of Josh Pyke, Vika and Linda Bull, Diana Anaid and the Hungry Kids of Hungary, to name but a few. Dan and his sister, Hannah draw upon rich family memories as inspiration for their tracks. Harnessing warm melodies and heartfelt storytelling, the pair breathe life into their live performances . Dan has very kindly offered his services to perform at the Gala citing a very personal connection to the cause.
What was it like growing up? Did you have a musical household?
Our family was very musical – we always had lots of musical instruments lying around and music was often playing. We regularly sang and our parents modelled making and writing music by doing it themselves. Hannah and I both started learning to play guitar as teenagers and it was a natural thing to do, because there were always guitars lying around. Our Pop (paternal grandfather) was also very musical. Although we rarely saw him play an instrument, he was a prominent bass player in Adelaide for many years and performed with many large acts of the day as a performer in the Channel 9 band there.
Which family member/s inspired you the most musically?
Each family member had a little bit of influence, I’d say. Even our Grandad (maternal grandfather) was often whistling and singing as he walked around the house; I picked up whistling because of him, I guess. Hannah was the oldest sibling, so I was generally influenced by what she was listening to, and so was a bit ahead of some of my peers in terms of listening to the ‘good stuff’ at an earlier age.
What is the story behind Lighthouse?
Lighthouse was written by Hannah. She went away on a weekend to a place on the Mornington Peninsula called Somers, specifically to write a song. There was a beautiful grand piano there and I believe that this was one of the first songs that Hannah has written on piano. The story behind Lighthouse is loosely based on our maternal Grandparents’ love story; they were engaged at the time and Granddad was living away in Mackay. He would write a letter to our Grandma every day. In reality, there was no lighthouse and Hannah infers that there is a fishing boat involved in the story, but Granddad actually worked for the railway industry. However, they are from Yeppoon, which is a coastal town near Rockhampton, so I guess that it’s a bit of artistic licence influenced by their home town.
What is the story behind Grabbed me by the heart?
This is a tribute to our late Gran (paternal grandmother). This album appears to be a real tribute to our grandparents, hey! Gran had dementia and I went to see her in her nursing home in Adelaide shortly before she passed away. She was very weak and frail at the time and it was shocking to see how fast her health had deteriorated. Basically, the song was written shortly after that trip and it’s like an open letter to her, letting her know that I was grateful for the moments that we had spent together “when our lives overlapped”.
What is it like touring and performing with your sibling?
Mostly it’s quite fun. Don’t get me wrong, touring is hard work, but it is also wonderfully adventurous and I just love seeing different places and meeting so many nice people along the way. It’s great to be able to share that with my sister. Of course we bicker at times, but being siblings we get over it in no time and since we live on opposite ends of the country, it’s mostly a good opportunity to catch up.
What do you think are some of the biggest misconceptions people have about dementia?
I’m not really sure. I know from my experience that our Gran in particular knew that she was having issues with her memory, so perhaps that people with dementia are oblivious to it? Gran would often scold herself and her mind for forgetting things. She would sometimes tell us not to tell her if she repeated herself and would even joke about it…even though the jokes were often repeated.
Have any of your fans shared their own personal connection to dementia after hearing your lyrics?
Yes, we performed our song ‘The Years’ one night; the song is based on a true story about a married couple that split up and ended up getting back together (in a way) when they both had dementia at the same nursing home. They couldn’t remember each other, but staff kept finding them holding hands and fondling. Anyway, we told the story and then played the song and noticed that at one particular table, they were all in tears. Later we found out that one of the people at the table had recently been told that they had Alzheimer’s disease and so the song had naturally brought up some strong emotions around the topic.
Which song are you most looking forward to performing at Alzheimer’s Australia (Qld)’s anniversary event?
I think that it would be nice to perform ‘The Years’. Hopefully we don’t make too many people upset.
Tickets are available to ‘A Night to Remember’ 10th Anniversary Gala Dinner on Friday 29 May. Book Now
To find out more about Dan Acfield, you can visit his website www.danacfield.com