In a twist worthy of a Pat Drummond song, this month will see the staging of Getting There, a musical using Pat’s songs to tell a story of its own.
The musical was written by Chris Gordon, a long time Pat Drummond fan.
“I’m from Goulburn, and some of us went to see Pat at the rest Hotel when he was still playing pub rock,” Chris said.
“We went one Friday night and then every Friday night and we’ve seen his transition from folk, to pub rock and then country
“Eventually we noticed the depth and recurring themes in some of his songs and he was saying a lot of important things.”
Pat and his brothers had a rock opera called School Days which Chris has taken a step further, asking what happened to some of the show’s characters.
“Throughout Pat’s songs, there’s a lot of things that come to light. People are being displaced on the land, the importance of honouring your word, bullying… those themes are in a lot of Pat’s songs, so there was a bit of a story being told,” Chris said.
Pat said the big thing about his songs has always been the narrative and a real connection to the experiences of country people.
“My songwriting has always had that narrative style, regardless of what genre I wrote in, he said.
“So I guess Chris has (a) set out to write a story that reflects a very Australian narrative and (b) at the same time he has tapped into songs I wrote about the school experience and there’s the romantic connections formed between a country girl and a city boy when they meet at the royal Easter Show.”
The musical offers up a story with some tragic and heartfelt moments, as well as a lot of fun, and covers a lot of ground – starting in suburban Sydney before moving to the Royal Easter Show, the Northern Territory and the South Coast of NSW.
Both Chris and Pat are quick to point out that this is not the story of Pat Drummond, although some of the subjects did take place in Pat’s life.”
“Pat did get bullied at school,” Chris said.
“And although he has travelled around the country writing story songs, there is a journalist character in the musical who travels writing stories and that could be equated to Pat’s persona as the Northern Daily Leader journo featured during the Tales from the Local Rag album during the first half of the 1990s.”
Chris said that one of the main aims of the show is to introduce Pat’s music to a wider audience.
“Pat has this treasure trove of great songs that paint so many aspects of contemporary Australia,” Chris said.
Getting There is presented by the Rocky Hill Musical Theatre Company, based in Goulburn, NSW, and Chris has hopes that it may one day be seen by a wider audience and even make its way nto the repertoire of professional musical companies.
And the final word should be left to Pat.
“This is an incredible acknowledgement,” he said.
“What’s happened in recent years is that I’ve got to the point, for all sorts of reasons, where my music has become the soundtrack of people’s lives.”
Getting There runs from Friday, August 3 to Saturday, August 18 at the Goulburn High School.
Originally published as A Musical Soundtrack in Country Music Capital News, July 2018.