Big storm no brake on band’s ambition

Cyclone Trevor didn’t stop Numbulwar School Band from winning a place at the NT Music School’s Battle of the School Bands finale.

As the maelstrom tracked towards the Territory the residents of the remote Gulf of Carpentaria community were evacuated, including the band’s seven members Shianne Numamurdirdi, Shania Wurramara, Leeshaun Nundhirribala, Leydon Wilfred, Percy Wilfred, Trixon Nunggumajbarr and Jade-Mark Ngalmi.

The Katherine Showgrounds became their refuge, and the group continued to rehearse at a pop up school in the local Youth Outreach Centre and at Katherine High School.

In the past two years the band has benefited from the musical expertise of assistant principal Chris O’Neill.

“After playing together for about a year, these first-time entrants to the competition will introduce their unique interpretation of pop, and music couched in their traditional language, Wubuy, at the 3 May decider,” he said.

“The band is one of a dozen finalists, but I’m confident the judges will be impressed by their technical proficiency, stagecraft, self-assurance, and by their songwriting, which has become much more intuitive.”

Bass player Trixon Nunggumajbarr said the band will perform two original songs, This is the Truth and Nganjarri a-lhaal-wuy.

“We have tried to include a lot more of our Wubuy language in these songs, which has been tricky for us because we are still learning this language from our elders,” he said.

“Kriol is the language we speak at home, so singing songs in Wubuy has been hard, but important to keep the language alive.

“We’re all friends in the band, we all turn up to practice on time, and we are getting better at (playing) our instruments — this is our great strength.”

The Friday 3 May finale begins at 6.30pm at the Darwin Railway Club, 17 Somerville Gardens. The winners will take to the stage at the BASSINTHEGRASS music festival on 18 May.

Numbulwar School Band

Last updated: 02 May 2019