BA-BOOM! Adventures in Sound!

Mobile Music Program for Youth in Remote Areas
Browsing Ba-Boom! in Schools

Marree Aboriginal School, S.A.



In between doing our youth holiday programs, we keep busy with specially commissioned school projects. Earlier this year, we were invited to come to Marree Aboriginal School, on the southern edge of the Oodnadatta Track, to write a song that would focus on the strengths of their community.

Historically, Marree has seen inter-community/family challenges that sometimes seeps into the school environs. We were honoured to not only offer a direct, hands-on, musical experience for all the students in the school, but to look at the community’s cultural assets as seen through the eyes of the youth and convey this in song.

We asked the teachers to work with their classes, prior to our arrival, in order to establish a foundation for the song. The kids were asked to think about their town, what makes them feel good about it, what brings a smile to their faces and what gets them excited. By the time we arrived, we were enthusiastically greeted with three pages of key words and impressions that best described all of the above.

Over at the youth shed, we were delighted to discover that the community had been given a bunch of new, still in-the-box, instruments, p.a. system, amps, mics and hardware. We swiftly unpacked these, set them up and put them into the hands of the kids. Everyone had a chance to play and learn on an instrument.

First, we came up with the rhythmic structure in the context of West African ensemble music, where everyone played djembes, dun-duns, shakers & bells. Over this, some of the kids played along on guitar, bass and keyboard. Once we established the groove, inspiration for the melody of the song emerged, and we were on our way!

In the week of our visit we made a recording and arranged to perform the song for the community at the end of the week. The band consisted of an ample african rhythm section lead by Shon, four female vocalists, Lee (a musical teacher) on time-keeping duty playing hi-hats and Svet on bass, keys and real marimba! It was like an orchestra, as all the kids from school were involved except for the wee young ones. Our song was titled, “Culture Keeps Us Strong”. The community came together to support their children, the tune was catchy and the whole journey was a success.

In continuation of the song project since our visit, Marree Aboriginal School have been making a book about the song to accompany a CD of the tune which they aim to publish and sell at the local shop. Thanks Marree, we had a great time, go forth and sing!


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and then, in spring…

And so, it should be added that in-between Wipeout! and the Midnight Carnivale, Shon & Svet were literally roped into the live fantasy 1950s country & western postcard that was Fake Fires, Marshmallows & Horse Stories, a special event in the High Moon Saloon program of the Alice Desert Festival where we (& a posse of cowgirls; Rose, Sabrina & Ruth) spit-polished our boots, tweaked some moustache and saddled up our ukes and geetars for some sweet harmonizing of some classic cowboy/girl campfire songs that had the whole saloon singing along to! Yippiyi-yo!cowgirls 2

In the wake of the desert festival, instead of having a hard-earned rest, Shon & Svet, along with Eddie, their soulful, operatic-guitaristic compatriot in Alice muse-seeking, who, amongst the surge of activity associated with the Desert Festival, also hatched a band by the name of The Transients which performed their premiere gig at the festival club with a less than satisfying effect, decided to go an extra mile!

the transients

Being a night of post-cabaret, post-festivalia and phenomena-of-worst-consistent-sound-mixing-at-a-festival, The Transients debut gig suffered a difficult birth due to unimaginable technical hitches on the night! The ensuing feeling of despair could only be remedied with an encore performance off our own bat, a week later, which, along with 11-hands, Shon’s Alice afro-trance drum ensemble and DJ Sveti-Boom-Boom! played for a dedicated crowd at The Lane. We all got to have our ‘day in the sun’ even though it was unseasonably cold that night on the Lane’s rooftop. Nonetheless, people were absorbed with The Transients’ tuneful appeal and the beats and crazy-gyspy-electro tunes warmed the bones of the crowd-folk, offering a perfect panacea and a fitting book-end to our Alice activities for a wee while!

dance moves

School holidays were around the corner once again, and Ba-Boom! zipped off to the communities of Fregon and Iwantja, in the southern ‘Pit’ lands for a couple of weeks. A whole range of activities were enjoyed by youth of all ages including keyboard, ukelele, drum and dance workshops, animation projects, recording, cooking, hygiene and beauty workshops. Each week was topped off with a rousing disco event where we featured films we made in the community that week, put on a big barbie and let the kids go crazy to the music and projections!

teaching keys

Following the end of that assignment, Ba-Boom! were invited to participate in Mobfest ’09, a inter-remote school festival held over 3 days at Ti-Tree school. Through a variety of exciting daily workshops, indigenous kids’ skills were expanded, encouraged and then showcased in concert form in the evenings. Fortunately, the kids from Ikuntji were invited not only participate, but especially to perform a couple more times in front of the scores of gathered school kids. They were excellent role models, performing their drum-story with pride and confidence! Ba-Boom! ran four workshops a day with all of the students from the 6 participating schools as well as co-facilitating a ‘super drum group’ which involved at least 60 kids and a lot of drums and percussion. Arranging for and conducting this ensemble was challenging but fun once we got going, and the piece we created was diverse, engaging and had an absolutely thunderous groove!




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Wipeout! Alice Desert festival 2009

 ... and the beat goes on..
…and the beat goes on…


 After the CAYLUS holiday program finished we were both exhausted. But there was no time to rest because the next mission had been organized months before and was to begin straight away. Shon went back to Ikuntji school and to the Finke River/Aputula community school on the edge of the Simpson Desert (8 hours from Ikuntji) to create her most exciting rhythmic arrangements yet. Svet temporarily anchored down in Alice Springs to be the Musical Director/Mentor for the annual Cats Meow Midnight Carnivale cabaret show. Both were to be key events in the Alice Desert Festival 2009.


..and a one and a two

                                                                     …and one and two 

Shon worked tirelessly for the next 6 weeks, teaching and preparing the youth from Finke and Ikuntji schools to perform their unique rhythm stories on the main stage for the opening of the Festival. It was a huge undertaking and very hard work! A lot of travel was involved. Shon blazed forth even despite coming down with swine flu during the process and having to be air lifted by the flying doctors out of Ikuntji at one point!


finke school

    tecahing at finke school



everyone worked hard-we aimed high!

everyone worked very hard 



It was an unforgettable experience and an incredible success.

Remote community youth had never before been invited by the Festival to perform, let alone open the festival. Shon was the artistic director, co-ordinating and writing a finale piece for all of the acts involved in the event which included Ti-Tree school choir (Music Outback with Mal Webb and Steve Berry), Maori Youth dancers, Drum Atweme, Yirrara College Band, Ikintji School and Finke/Aputula School.


rehearsal-shy but willing!

                                                                      shy but willing 

The finale parts were taught separately and only rehearsed all together for the first time the night before at RedHotArts space. Logistically, it was a huge job for everyone involved in this process, i.e; transportation and accomodation of the kids in town. Without the help, tireless work and enthusiasm of the teachers and the Festival programer, this unique event would not have happened.

Somehow it all came together beautifully. The crowd was in awe of the skills and abilities of these talented young people and showed it with their applause and appreciation!


Still 1


There’s no greater thrill than your first ever big stage perfomance!

These kids performed with all the passion and intensity of seasoned artists!




Still 2



Still 3

Indigenous youth have hidden talents that only need recognition, encouragement and patience to bring forth. Fortunately, there are enough of us (teachers and artists) who recognize this and do not compare indigenous kids with english speaking non-indigenous kids. Indigenous kids are incredibly smart when given the space to show what they can achieve! Shon is deeply proud of the youth she has had the priviledge of working with so far.


post concert joy with ikuntji kids

                                                                post concert joy with the ikuntji kids

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Catching up on 2009



since combining forces, Ba-Boom! have been going off to the driving beats of many a kid in far-out places!after months of planning, visualizing and assembling the equipment needed to spark musical imaginations of the young ones, we embarked on our adventurous journey overland to the centre



flinders ranges, journey north

 journey north, flinders ranges 

some 3000km later, with a few good travel stories under the belt, we arrive at our first gig at Mutitjulu, on the south-eastern side of Uluru. At the school there, we ran a two week daily music program focused on rhythm

uluru and katja tjuta after rare winter rain

 uluru and kata tjuta after winter rain


incorporating west-African ensemble drums & percussion, bass & electric guitars, keyboard and laptop studio, Ba-Boom! achieved some great results with the college students from Mutitjulu, Imanpa and Docker River

palya mutitjulu

palya mutitjulu


daily encouragement, practice and focus resulted in a fine recording of five original tunes and a closing performance for the wider community.

 the class continued on to making a finished product of the CD

able to look back now on our first gig, it was pretty challenging, but through meeting these head on, with all of our musicality, we discovered a little of what gems we are capable of creating with these young folk – exciting!

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