From Go-Betweens to above and beyond

There is more to the drummer from iconic cult 80s band, The Go-Betweens than meets the eye.

Lindy Morrison is well known for her unique drum rhythms but is also, among other talents, a social worker, human rights activist, advocate and award winner.

Coming from an accomplished and successful career as a touring musician, Morrison is enjoying her time off the road and working with other projects now.

“I’ve devoted myself to other things,” she said. “I don’t think people realise how long it takes to build up material with a group of musicians. It’s not like you can sit down in one rehearsal and arrangements come together simply.”

“It takes months and months of rehearsal and I don’t have the time to develop work, take that work out and make an income from it; nor do I have the hunger.”

As well as playing in the indie band most famous for songs like “Cattle and Cane” and “Streets of Your Town”, Morrison has also played with Silent Figures, Shrew, Xero, The Four Gods, Deep Blue Sea, Cleopatra Wong, Tuff Monks and The Rainy Season.

Most recently, though, Morrison has been the recipient of the Ted Albert Award for Outstanding Services to Australian Music, and last year was awarded an Order of Australia for her contribution to the music industry.

Lindy Morrison at the APRA Music Awards. Photo by Tony Mott
Lindy Morrison at the APRA Music Awards. Photo by Tony Mott

Morrison has worked for 15 years as a social worker with Support Act, a benevolent fund supporting musicians going through hardship; and she has worked with Junction House Band for 20 years.

Junction House Band is a band of intellectually disabled people who write and perform their own songs under the guidance of Morrison.

“It’s a really great project. The people in the band write the original songs and play the instruments,” she said.

“The keyboard player, who is autistic, can reproduce any melody. He can only play one rhythm but he can play any chord and the people who are writing the songs will often just sing a melody to him and he’ll just play it. I will just write out a chord chart but I’m really not instrumental in writing the tunes.”

Morrison is so passionate about the Junction House Band that her pride in, and affection for, the musicians is clear as she speaks about them.

“The singer, Brook Crowley, he writes all his own songs but when other people write songs, we have a group-think and I just sit there and facilitate. We did a cabaret in June. We linked up with a drama group,” she said.

“It was fantastic. June 19 next year we are going to repeat the cabaret. The one thing I’ve learned is that one-off community projects are great but you spend years developing a single community project and that’s when you really start to see the effects of the work.”

As well as Junction House Band and Support Act, Morrison works tirelessly teaching and fighting for copyright for musicians and their intellectual property, so it’s easy to see she is more than worthy of every honour bestowed upon her.

“I am not in favour of any unlicensed services. Any sites trading unauthorised files or files that have copyright protection and they haven’t got the permission of the owners to be traded, I find it abhorrent,” she said.

“The unauthorised streaming services don’t have permission, nor pay royalties and I see that as theft.”

Support Act is a charity set up by the music industry in 1998. It makes its money from donations from people within the industry.

“The way we work is that people must have had a career in the industry and they’ve fallen sick and as a result of the illness their income is less than their expenses,” she said.

“We provide grants and payment of bills up to ten thousand dollars a year. It’s been an amazing charity. We have really helped out a lot of musicians, and roadies and techs. It’s really the most valuable organisation and I am so happy to be employed by them as a social worker.”

As the National Welfare Coordinator of Support Act, director of Junction House Band and facilitator of welfare projects, Lindy Morrison continues to improve the lives of musicians and aspiring musicians in Australia and is committed to advocating for the rights of artists.

Story by Libby Parker

Image of The Go-Betweens in 1988 by Steve Pyke/Getty Images