Magpie Diaries announce Swoopin' Season with first run of shows in two years. 7/07/2022

‘I don’t want to go anywhere,’ the hook lyric of Magpie Diaries earlier single from 2020. Released just as the world went into lock down, now feels as though it represents a time endured, with the Hunter Valley based alternative country band, finally stepping out to announce their first run of shows in over two years.


Affectionately known as Swoopin’ Season, Magpie Diaries will play a few select shows throughout August and into Spring, as they prepare to release new music and embark on their annual pilgrimage to Dashville Skyline, the cosmic country festival Magpie curates at his family property over the October Long Weekend.


Very much a family band, Magpie and wife Jessica, who also run the unique outdoor music venue Dashville, have spent sporadic time hibernating in the Dashville studio over the last year or two. Enjoying the consummate distraction of family life, writing and recording new material. The moments fleeting, with Jess often having their little bubba magpie strapped to her back, in order to nail that perfect drum take with her trademark vibe that lends towards Magpie’s soulful lyrical approach, their harmonies the final ingredient which delivers the smooth country sound that is the Magpie Diaries.

Performing a bunch of new material and songs from their debut release, Sanctuary (2018) on this run Magpie Diaries will be performing in Dungog, Maitland, Pacific Palms, Cronulla, Newcastle, Marrickville and Dashville.

Magpie Diaries release new music - July 17, 2020

Go Anywhere, the new single from  Magpie Diaries, is an epic ethereal tune that enters into a world of emotion, where the overwhelming desire to relax and live the moment, feels perpetually impossible.  The feeling that time powers along, through a wasteland of vague emotion, where we never really have enough of a chance to feel that moment, to connect, to respond, to embrace.

The song is a sojourn, a moment of reflection, an escape into a world of beauty and longing. Making you want to be right here, right now.    It was recorded in January 2020, up in the foothills of Kamilaroi country with Leigh Ivan at Vale Studios, co-produced/mixed by Damien Charles and mastered by Lachlan Garrick.

Whilst the song was written pre COVID throughout 2019 and initially written from the perspective of a touring artist, it’s become uncanny as to the relevance of the lyric matter to the current times. Says Magpie, “Like it was a moment of unforeseen foresight into this somewhat predictable future we’re rolling into”, stressing “the song has many faces, and you can make of it what you want. Bend your understanding so you can feel what I feel every time I hear the song.”

Travelling back from Victoria in March, just as the lockdown was coming into force, it was apparent that the song was hitting a deeper relevance. “We wanted to release it then and there but we had bigger issues to contend with, a lot of people were freaking out, our festival was being cancelled and there was a lot to deal with. Oh, and amongst all that we also just found out that Jess (drumming wife) was 8 weeks pregnant.”



Aspiring to be positively connected in their world, Magpie Diaries share a story via a blend of smooth soul country, alternative folk airings alongside flourishes of psychedelic nuance.


'Sanctuary', the debut release from 2018 is a journey through the past and into the future, where one can still roam with wild exuberance,  where the desire to perform is matched with the desire to escape and unravel inside the music. Sanctuary is Magpie’s happy place.

'..beyond being a beautiful recording it’s a real genuine slice of classic Australian music, which is rare as hens teeth.  I hear a lot of stuff in there from Hunters to really obscure acts like The Apartments, and the much better side of alt country we do in this land, but it’s all digested and comes out very much your own - again very rare.' (Glen Richards, Augie March)

Sanctuary is their debut album and finds them inhabiting a sweet spot right at the nexus of country, soul and psychedelia.

There’s a warm and communal feel right across the album, its woolly and homespun vibe come off like The Band but they colour the music with some beautiful saxophone playing that combines perfectly with cosmic Americana pedal steel sounds and plenty of country twang and strum in the guitars. (Post To Wire)



MDs Sanctuary tour Poster
DASH0061 Magpie Diaries Honey Tour Poster_Added dates Round 2_A3_v2



At the centre of the creation is the heart and mind of singer-songwriter and Dashville founder Matt “Magpie” Johnston.

In 2004 after a huge solo adventure around the world, Magpie eventually made it home to embrace the lightening bolt idea to host a music festival on the family bush property. Much to the surprise of many, in 2005 the first Gum Ball music festival was held, with Magpie on stage alongside his brother Dan in their teenage rock n blues outfit of the time, Johnny Real & The Lovemakers. 

Over the years, just as the audiences have evolved, so has Magpie and his musical vocation. In 2008, after a few years on the festival grind, Magpie Diaries was born as a small songwriting project created by Magpie to help with the grieving of a close friend. This song writing project would soon become a band, which eventually would go onto release music in 2015 (The Introduction EP) and 2018 (Sanctuary LP). 

In 2020, alongside his beautiful drumming wife Jessica, Magpie Diaries is very much a dedicated vocation and a release mechanism for a captive powerful heart. 

'Constantly growing and learning more about the world, changes the way you see the world. It changes the way you see music and art as both a release mechanism and a weapon for teaching and learning. '

media release - January 2020.

Dashville born and bred, Magpie Diaries are currently working on their next musical release. The follow up to their acclaimed debut album 'Sanctuary' which met the world in November, 2018.

After an extensive 32 date summer tour in support of the first single, the 5 piece band playing alongside good friend Steve Smyth and book ended by acclaimed performances at Woodford Folk festival in Qld and Nannup Festival in WA.

In March the band released they're second official single 'Honey' with another charming video, shot on location at Magpie's home of Dashville at Lower Belford. The video paints a seemingly biographical picture of how the song emerged, growing up in the heavily industrialised area of the Upper Hunter and striving towards an idealism to believe in.

 ‘ A few years back I was twenty and travelling through parts of Africa and marvelling at the simple nature of people farming, making things and surviving off the land they had come to occupy. Essentially I came home and put that philosophy into play with the creation of The Gum Ball. 

‘When I saw this old fellow, parked up with his beautiful canary yellow Datsun staionwagon selling honey, I couldn’t help but think he must have been well travelled and made some smart decsions in life. He looked happy and it got me thinking that this elderly man could hopefully be me one day.’  

Magpie Diaries embarked on 'The Honey Chapter' throughout May-July, heading back up to Brisbane and Sunny coast, before travelling through Tamworth via central QLD and into Darwin, playing both their own ticketed shows, a crazy rodeo and the revered Mindil markets. As a troupe of 6 they travelled down the Stuart via Alice Springs, into Adelaide, across to Melbourne and back home again to Dashville. Travelling over 9500kms in 18 days to gallantly complete the final leg of a massive album tour. Solidifying their commitment to the craft and no doubt establishing a growing fan base ready for more things to come.

Dealing with a heavy drought on the local scene throughout the later part of 2019, after their appearance at Dashville Skyline, no plans were made for touring.

Early in 2020, Magpie Diaries headed up to Kamilaroi country to record at Vale Studios, popping down to play a few highlight shows as part of Tamworth Country Music Festival.

Stay tuned for the new music and shows coming soon.

Thank you for supporting the music and the band.

The debut album is available for purchase through the Dashville store

MEDIA - Images & Content

Visit here for high res and low res images, bio etc of the artist.

MEDIA - Dashville's story

Dashville was created by Magpie when he started The Gum Ball back in 2005, this is a story he wrote about that journey.

Extra Info Here