Sand Tracks tour a rocking success

Sand Tracks tour a rocking success

Jon Solmundson

On 10 September, the hugely successful Sand Tracks tour, presented by Country Arts WA and Act-Belong-Commit, started to make its way across the central desert  travelling a total of 10,346km and winning over six remote communities with live Indigenous contemporary music.

Northern Territory rock band Lonely Boys headlined the 24-day tour, bringing their energetic songs and crowd-pleasing dance moves from the remote community of Ngukurr. They were supported by red-hot up-and-comers Irrunytju Band, whose desert reggae sound come from the community of Irrunytju, located near the tri-state border.

Irrunytju Band open their Sand Tracks tour in Alice Springs with Bush Bands Bash. Picture by Jon Solmundson

The huge audience in Alice Springs for the start of Sand Tracks. Picture by Jon Solmundson

The bands started off with a bang at Bush Bands Bush at Telegraph Station just outside of  Alice Springs and performing to a crowd of over 3,000 people. The Sand Tracks tour then visited the remote communities of Amata, Irrunytju, Warburton, Warakurna, and Kiwirrkurra, performing to a total audience of 5,150 and running 10 community workshops.

Lonely Boys encouraged audiences to get up and dance with their popular songs ‘Drop it Down Girl’, ‘Hunter’, and ‘Murray Island’. A shooting star even visited the Irrunytju community when the Irrunytju band performed! This treat added special atmosphere for them as they performed to an appreciative home crowd.

Lonely Boys deliver a workshop while in Kiwirrkurra. Picture by Mark Smerdon

During the workshops, Lonely Boys spoke about the cultural and social significance of their music. The bands involved participants in song writing and guitar-playing providing opportunities for members of different communities to explore different musical styles together and connect with each other’s culture. People from all ages were able to make their stories into songs, have a yarn with their family and friends and talk with the Sand Track’s bands.

Feedback from community members watching the show and participating in the workshops has been overwhelmingly positive:

‘Everyone had fun, all joined in’ –Amata participant

‘Come next year!’ -Warakurna participant

‘Alanya—good’ -Warburton participant

‘Wirunya—excellent’  -Warburton participant

Audiences of all ages come to see the Sand Tracks tour. Picture by Mark Smerdon

The central desert communities look forward to the Sand Tracks tour every year. Lonely Boys’ management team Skinnyfish Music described the Sand Tracks tour as ‘an awesome program that enables remote bands to tour and share their music where it would otherwise not be a possibility’.

The Sand Tracks tour will return in 2018—keep an eye out on the Sand Tracks Facebook page for updates and tour announcements.

You can read more about Sand Tracks here.

Sand Tracks is presented by Country Arts WA and Act Belong Commit. The project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts funding and advisory body, and through the Indigenous Languages and Arts program.

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