Review by Wanda Hill
Boomerang Festival took its maiden voyage onto the Australian festival scene yesterday at Tyagarah Tea Tree farm near Byron Bay. Boomerang is the brainchild of Rhoda Roberts who started the very successful Dreaming Festival at Woodfordia. Peter Noble (Bluesfest producer) was very proud and excited to welcome Boomerang to the home of the Byron Bay Bluesfest last night during the opening ceremony.
The ceremony started with a heartfelt welcome to country from the Arakwal peoples of Byron Bay area and progressed to involve many of the dancers performing over the weekend including the very spectacular Malu Kiai Mura Buai dance group from the Torres Strait Islands with their elaborate headdresses made of feathers, and the famous Chooky Dancers who bring a touch of humour to everything they do.
The ceremony climaxed with everyone being invited to Move it Mob Style and participate in a big flash mob of traditional/contemporary dance that will be broadcast on NITV and YouTube. With the whole festival contingent on their feet learning new moves, laughing and dancing, the festival had well and truly begun.
Boomerang will be showcasing Australia’s vibrant and dynamic Indigenous music, performing and creative arts and culture over the weekend as well as welcoming indigenous performers from as far away as Canada. The program is extensive and includes opportunities for hands on learning as well with weaving workshops and woodcarving.
Last nights highlights included Archie Roach performing with a 10 piece band. His deeply moving songs were amplified to new heights with an emotive string section and eclectic band including banjo and piano accordion as well as the guitars, bass and drums you would expect. Three divine back up vocalists added a gospel twist to his tunes. The audience was captivated by his ability to be simultaneously so gentle and so powerful in the delivery of his very profound songs.
Wantok Sing Sing closed the night with their mind blowing show involving artists from all over Oceania, including Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga, Raratonga, the Torres Strait Islands and mainland Australia. Their show Wan Solwara Pipel traces the songlines of peoples in Oceania and involves a seamless transition between many styles of music including traditional log drumming cycles, to island style vocal harmonies and even Samoan street hip hop.
The result is very exciting, invigorating and gets even the most subdued person dancing. Visually this show is spectacular with the different nations represented not only in music but in costumes and by a large collection of hand carved drums and logs on stage from around Oceania.
Pitjantjatjara man Frank Yamma from mainland Australia performed several of his beautiful songs during this show. Wantok Sing Sing represented Oceania at the London Olympic Festival and attending Boomerang this weekend is a great opportunity to see this world class act as they are on again today at 5:15pm. Also look out for Gurrumul performing tonight at 9:30pm. Both acts are appearing on the main stage.
Boomerang has a great family vibe and friendly atmosphere. Camping is available onsite and day passes are very cheap. Come and check out what is set to be one of Australia’s biggest festivals and enjoy it while the crowds are still small.
The Boomerang Festival will be held at Bluesfest’s home, the Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm on the October Long Weekend, October 4th -6th 2013.