Midnight. A great wind rises up from the Southern Ocean. A single raven crows from the distant fenceline as Sanshi, Koji, & Böötsie are lifted off the tarmac with their tools towards a little town folks call ‘Mel-bunn’.
Firstly, let us give thanks to the genuine cowgirl who offered to take Böötsie’s “overweight” didge onto her baggage allowance so that we could all make it across. Cheers darl! After touchdown at Melbourne Airport she decided to shed denim to show Koji-san her latest tattoo.
And with that the festivities had begun, and the infamous rock n roll didgeridoo lifestyle was feeding the many-headed beast of the night in a fresh new town. The boys hired a car and hooked up the polite Japanese street-map voice to direct us over to the Mornington Peningsula where one could caffeinate oneself with correctly-served long macchiatos and jam heartily on wind instruments till the Mornington cows come home.
We stayed with Anne Norman of BREATH and got a few hours practice in to balance the sounds of a largely improvised set, under the influence of pu-erh and driftwood. We sought further inspiration from the waves and the setting sun over Gunnamatta beach (epic!) and after an Afghani banquet – we were energized & ready to perform.
The location of the Melbourne Didgeridoo & Cultural Festival was ideal. A quaint town, an easy street, a big flowing river, a green bush setting, a big stage at the base of a gentle hill. As we arrived, good people were already at work building a mandala of ochre and gum leaves across the earth. Marquee stalls of proud looking gents and shiny logs of wood dazzled the eye. Didgeridoo Breath held a space between our friends Ganga Giri and Bruce Rogers, who would both be performing that day and were in good spirits.
There was a lot of didge-talk that day. Punters from all over had congregated to learn more about how they could become involved with the oldest instrument of all mankind. There were lessons all day, talks of technique, waxing, tooting, fluting, commuting. Many hundreds of people! There was a ‘drone’ in the air it seemed.
Everyone performed well that day, and we had some real joy both on stage and off. A big thank you to the friends & fans who travelled to the festival to hear us play! The energy was well received.
A particularly special moment was an impromptu duet between Mark Atkins (yes, THE Mark Atkins) and Ondrej Smeykal (yes, THE Smeykal) – WOW!! The best in the classic bushman’s sound together with the best in contemporary technique was a rare moment, and many found themselves within a trance. We certainly tipped our hats to this powerful combo.
What we take from great events like this is a feeling of connectedness. Of One Big Mob. There were people there from countless cultural backgrounds, all sharing their differences, similarities, and respect for the didgeridoo, it’s origins, the people, and the land. On a larger scale, it was clear by the great sea of smiles all round that music in general prevails once again to bridge all gaps and take us to a higher place. A place we belong.
Thank you to Colin & the boys from the Didge Circle for running the show.
Congratulations to our prize winners on the day.
See you all next year ☺