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Band Rock Blues




"The Next Big Thing - Iwantja"

I had a very strange experience recently; lucky enough to be present at Bush Bands Business – the professional development week held at Ross River bush resort in the lead up to the Bush Bands Bash Concert – I had a weird moment where my musical radar ‘lost power’. I became confused and disorientated.. And then very excited when I worked out what was going on.

At any given point at BBBiz, there was so much live music going on around the compound – with up to 4 bands rehearsing or recording at any one time – you could hear all sorts of music intertwining, a bit like smoke from different fires meeting in the middle, floating around, just above your head.

So you had to kind of turn your head a lot to focus your ears on just what music was coming from where. When I finally worked this out the first music I identified made me really confused. “Has someone got the radio on?” I thought,” ‘Cos I’ve just heard Talking Heads.” Afro-Cuban beats with pretty top guitar and fat sliding basslines filled my ears and the space in front of me. “Nah, it’s got to be Vampire Weekend,” I said to myself, blinking in the sunlight. I started walking closer to the source of the music which became louder and stronger. “Can’t be Vampire Weekend, ” I muttered, this time out loud to myself. My brain had gone into over-drive trying to identify what the hell it was I was actually listening to. I felt kind of dumb and inspired all at once.

Turned out it was the music of Iwantja Band. In a tent at the northern end of the ‘compound’, sheltered from the rays of the unforgiving sun, I saw five young musicians, dressed in immaculate athletic gear, and almost-matching, radiant white socks and sneakers… They were turning out music that was worlds away from here.. Afro-Cuban rock, with addictive dance beats too hard to refuse. I looked around for an appreciative crowd, such was the level of their playing.

Soon the song parlayed into a Led-Zeppelin-like guitar opus, as the band moved effortlessly through their set. Playing only to one or two others, red mountains, gum trees, blue sky and birds beaten silent by the rhythms and melody, I was a bit stunned, just quietly.

It was the perfect introduction to Iwantja… I took a few photos of them for the Music NT website, sat and listened further, in awe, wondering wondering about their story. I also had that great feeling of realising I’d just seen a young band on the verge of something BIG. - Megan Spencer Music NT

"Alice Desert Festival diary day two – the Bush Bands Bash"

But the best for mine on the night was the Iwantja Band from the remote South Australia town of Indulkana. They didn’t have the slick moves and showmanship of Papunya’s Tjupi Band but they sure had their musical chops down on the night. - Bob Gosford - Northern Myth

"Music Biz"

Shellie Morris, who was one of the
professional musicians in the
audience said about the Iwantja
“The most amazing band I saw at the
Dreaming Festival!
I am so stoked with what I saw; also I
reckon them mob ready for festival
stuff. They are really hot guitarists. I
was so stoked, and my favourite style


Iwantja CD
Palya CD
Listen to tracks on MySpace www.myspace.com/iwantjaband



In the land of Tjilpis (Elders) and Tjurkupa (Dreaming) a new voice is rising deep from the heart of the desert country of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara lands of Central Australia.
In the searing summer heat in a dilapidated building in a remote desert community a band practises.
This is their land, their home and their country.
They call themselves IWANTJA, the Indigenous language name for their community, Indulkana, about five hours drive from Alice Springs past camels, cattle, burned out car bodies and not much more.
Despite the negative stories in the press about Indigenous communities, these wati, (men), have a dream; a dream of bringing their music and story to the world. This is the story of barefoot footy, Aboriginal Rock and Desert Reggae unseen by the hordes of tourists en route to Uluru. A story made from countless hours spent driving the complex networks of sand tracks between SA, WA and the NT; on unending dirt roads in Toyota Troop Carriers packed with dusty guitars, bush mechanic amps and whatever equipment the band can muster.
Sleeping, yarning, laughing the hours away through big sky country, wrangling some dollars for the next roadhouse feed and dodging all manner of humbug to their next gig in another remote community, far away in many ways from the outside world, greeted by swarms of countrymen, kids and cheeky-dogs wherever they play.
They are the bad boys and the leaders of the choir. Their blend of raw desert guitar rock with vocal harmonies from the Top End creates energetic dance displays from the famous desert hip-shakers on the dusty dance floors of Central Australian Aboriginal communities.
IWANTJA is not just a band, but an extended family, a web of relationships from the old people to the toddlers, from cowboy-hat wearing uncles to tobacco chewing aunties, proud dads and beanie wearing mums, wild cousins, brothers, sisters, kids and kin.
They have seen their lands colonised, families torn apart and generations stolen but regardless they say PALYA! and offer an invitation to walk with them, in their world, and not just listen to their story but to become a part of it. They provide a view to the oldest living culture in the world through the eyes of young men, just discovering the ways that we have taken for granted since our grandparents' time.

For more information contact:
Jeremy Whiskey iwantjaband@gmail.com
Mark Smerdon, Manager, (08) 8956 2829 or 0429 893 058