The much loved Boomerang Festival is back at Bluesfest in 2017! Managed and programmed from an Indigenous-led perspective, Boomerang offers a unique point of difference on the Australian festival landscape. Curated by respected Bundjalung woman Rhoda Roberts; Boomerang is the first of its kind. Never has an Indigenous festival of this holistic calibre been so accessible; featuring an array of music and dance along with cultural knowledge exchanges and thought provoking conversations. Hosted by the oldest living culture it’s a time to get up close and personal, there is nothing that quite matches the exchanges our audience’s experiences.

The Boomerang Precinct provides a safe, family-friendly program of arts and age-old culture and rituals, along with workshops and interactive experiences.

The line up is filled with gifted artists from Canada, New Zealand, Tibet and of course some of fantastic Indigenous talent from Australia will take the stage at Boomerang this year as well.

Boomerang Director Rhoda Roberts AO shares her excitement about this year’s festival:

“Let’s begin the healing together and dance to the new music , listen to the language and witnessed the ancient and the accessible . Now the time is right. Boomerang festival in conjunction with Bluesfest knows it’s time to redefine the great experiences of festivals . Come and dip your toe in.”

Bluesfest Director Peter Noble OAM , on the importance of the Boomerang Festival:

Boomerang, the festival is important please let me take a moment to tell you why I feel that way. I had an experience not that long ago, I was in London and went to the British Museum to see the exhibition called ‘First Contact’. It’s the story of when the British first discovered Australia, and of the interaction between them and the locals. Every 20 or so years the Brits dust off the Gweagal Shield. It was on display at the exhibition, and I saw it for the first time. Upon inspection, it became a very emotional moment for me, as I could clearly see the holes in the shield from the musket bullets. My thoughts were that someone possibly died who was holding that shield. If they knew the power of the rifles facing them, I could not help but wonder, would they still stand their ground?

For that day, when that shield was held to repel the invaders, was in 1770, and the place was Kurnell, in Botany Bay.
It was the first interaction between indigenous Australia and the explorers in recorded history, one that would lead to the European colonisation of Australia, and it seems the Captain Cook’s Soldiers came in to shore all guns blazing. A lot of water has gone under the bridge since that fateful day the outcomes from that first encounter still affect every Australian. Our original Australians have endured much at our hands, yet, despite so much, they have continued to be a pillar of what it is to be an Australian, as they are, and always will be our original culture. One that has continued beyond written history, and has so much to give us non Indigenous people to enrich our lives.

The Boomerang festival is a glimpse into this wonderful culture that exists all around us, and as Australians, within us, even if we consciously are not aware of that. Rhoda Roberts is its creative director, and I am her proud logistical partner. Bluesfest is Boomerang’s current home, and one day it will be a standalone festival. In these days of zero support from our Government Arts organisations, we have had to dig deep this year to maintain the festival’s continuance. However, just as our original Australians have survived, overcome adversity and flourish, so too will The Boomerang Festival.

Not only is it a living example of our Indigenous culture, it’s a lot of fun. Take some time to enjoy it, you won’t be disappointed and, while I’m on my high horse: We need to bring the Gweagal Shield back to our shores to be on permanent exhibition for all Australians to see our REAL history. And perhaps have that moment in every one of us upon viewing that I had recently. After the shock of seeing the musket holes, I felt so many emotions. Anger, shame and yes, tears.

But, more than ever, I felt a stronger determination to be a participant in true Reconciliation between me, and our original people. I ask you to join me in this quest. I am beyond convinced it is the most important thing each and every one of us can do to produce an even greater Australia.

See you at Boomerang

Boomerang Festival Artist bios

Leonard Sumner
Boomerang welcomes Anishinaabe MC/Singer/Songwriter Leonard Sumner in 2017. His storytelling flows directly from the shores of Little Saskatchewan First Nation, located in the heart of the Interlake of Manitoba. Sumner’s self-determined sound is evidence of his ability to simultaneously occupy landscapes of multiple musical genres including; Hip-Hop, Spoken Word, Country, and Rhythm and Blues. With every vibration of the strings on his guitar, Leonard rattles the dust off truths that have been buried for far too long. On stage he poetically sings awake the consciousness of audiences may have been unaware of their slumber.

Boomerang fans, get ready to dance when OKA take the stage. Embracing the future without losing sight of the past, OKA draws upon their indigenous connection to place and country to create their signature feel good Australian earth sound, an irresistible blend of influences spanning house, big beat, reggae-dub, Roots, Jazz and world music. A mashup of dance & downtempo electro beats marinated in the mystic spiritual traditions of the Dreamtime. “Try to imagine Bob Marley meets Stevie Wonder via the chemical brothers, on acid, playing in a steaming rainforest with a didgeridoo and you are getting close”

New gen Indigenous Australian artist Yirrmal Marika, from North-East Arnhem Land, has made a refreshing entrance into the music scene. Inspired by his Grandfather, Dr Yunupingu, former lead singer of Yothu Yindi, he fuses tradition and contemporary with class and passion. Yirrmal is an inspiring songwriter and guitarist with a beautiful voice, singing songs about his homeland and culture with feeling and depth beyond his years.

Airileke and the Rize of the Morning Star
Airileke and the Rize of the Morning Star are musical pioneers and fighters for freedom traversing a timeless sonic globe without frontiers. Front man Airileke [pronounced Irie-leck-eh] is a percussionist, producer, composer, activist, recording, global events facilitator and, in the words of Britain’s Songlines magazine, a “cause for celebration”. Born in Australia with roots in PNG Airileke grew up between the shores of both PNG and the Top End. He grew up learning traditional drumming from his ancestral village of Gabagaba (Drumdrum) near Port Moresby, the region’s ‘sing sing’ grounds for drums, dance and ceremony. Airi’s unique sound melds progressive ideas with beats of ancient Melanesian culture. Hip-hop production, fierce log drumming, Papuan chants, atmospheric soundscapes and samples from the front line of the Free Papua Movement combine to evoke one of the region’s darkest stories: the illegal occupation and ongoing oppression of West Papua. Urgent, fiery and innovative, this is the new sound of urban Melanesia.

Emily Wurramurra
Australia has a cultural heartbeat like few others. For millennia that pulse has been powered by music. It has always been song that has told Australia’s stories – it’s why such an ancient culture remains so alive and powerful. Drawing from two very different worlds to make music and tell stories about contemporary life with an ageless perspective, Emily Wurramara is driven by passion for culture and heritage. With national airplay on ABC and Triply J, Emily has become a seasoned performer who has taken her music around the country and abroad with shows in Sweden and France, as well as appearances at major Festivals across Australia, including: Gaarma Festival, Island Vibes, and Woodford Folk Festival. Add in a couple of 2016 Queensland Music Award nominations and Triple Unearthed showcase at Big Sound and the picture starts to build of a young artist with a very bright tomorrow.

Tenzin Choegyal
In 1997, Tenzin Choegyal came to Australia with little more than a bag, his Dranyen and a voice full of passion for Tibet. His raw talent soon caught the attention of the directors of that country’s largest folk festival, Woodford Folk Festival where he still plays to packed audiences each year. Over the years, Tenzin has created a successful international career as a musician, playing at such prestigious events as the WOMAD festivals as well as several Concerts for Tibet at Carnegie Hall, New York. At Boomerang Precinct Tenzin will also share his knowledge in Mantra singing – energy-based sounds which produce vibrations within the universe – was revered as a powerful tool for meditation. The word “mantra” is derived from two Sanskrit words – man meaning mind and tra meaning “to protect or to free from”

In 2009 Tenzin founded the annual Festival of Tibet which showcases Tibetan culture through music, film, art and discussion. Tenzin was musical director for the Asia Pacific Screen Awards in 2011 and 2013 and has written and performed soundtracks for numerous TV shows, films and documentaries. Through his music and cultural activities such as the Brisbane Festival of Tibet, Himalayan Film Festival and Women with Wisdom concert series (Sydney Opera House, Federation Square) Tenzin has increased the profile of Tibetan culture and the struggle for self-determination amongst people throughout Australasia and beyond.

Te Kopere Maori Healing
Under the guidance of healer Christine Bullock , New Zealand’s Rongoa Maori is the traditional healing system of Maori. It focuses on the oral transmission of knowledge, diversity of practice and the spiritual dimension of health. Rongoa Maori encompasses herbal remedies, physical therapies and spiritual healing.

Experience the real art of Rongoa Maori Healing at Boomerang. Maori are Indigenous to Aotearoa New Zealand and at Boomerang Festival you will have the opportunity to take part in some very special workshops that will have you walk away feeling focused and centred.

Debuting in 2014, eXcelsior Contemporary Arts was founded by a collective of aspiring performing artists and graduates from the Aboriginal Centre for the Performing Arts (ACPA), in pursuit of fusing modern art with the traditional art forms of Indigenous Australia. eXcelsior acknowledges the indigenous and non-indigenous elders who have paved the way, so all who follow shall prosper in excellence & prevail to transcend in mind, body and spirit.
The members of eXcelsior are of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Island descent. The clan groups they belong to range from North & Central Queensland, down to North & Central New South Wales.

Jannawi Dance Clan
Jannawi Artistic Director is Peta Strachan, a Darug woman with a passion for Sydney’s language culture and stories. Peta is a multi-disciplinary dancer teacher, choreographer, set designer, and costume designer. Jannawi dancers and students are predominantly from the inner west suburbs and
surrounding areas of Sydney. Jannawi recognises the enormous benefits gained through indigenous contemporary and traditional dance. Jannawi can go far in filling the void and providing a nexus for the strands of talent development, education and cultural identity engagement required in the young people of our community.

The company and its member collectively have performed across many festivals and events such as Woggan-ma-gule ceremony, Bangarra Dance Theatre, Woodford Folk Festival, Homeground, the Dreaming. Internationally they were one of the highlights at the opening of the Muse Du Quay Branly, Paris, The Sydney Olympics Opening and Closing ceremonies, Barangaroo opening events and more recently the Darwin Telstra Art Awards.

Bundjalung Weaving workshops
When you weave you have an instant connection to country as your using local flora hearing age old stories and reflecting. Weaving is an important cultural practice for both men and women. Intricately woven fibre baskets were traditionally highly prized for their practicality, and today treasured for their aesthetic excellence. Participants will learn the basic technique of varying styles from coiling to matting while developing an understanding of cultural importance of weaving and fishing techniques used by the Aboriginal community in this region. Weave a bracelet, basket, mat, and or a simple net to catch fish’ Open to all ages, relax and join the weaving circle.

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