BA-BOOM! Adventures in Sound!

Mobile Music Program for Youth in Remote Areas

GeNeraTe – Youth Arts Showcase, Alice Desert Festival 2010


The aim of our second visit to Santa Teresa was to train up a specific drumming group and develop a performance piece to be featured in the youth arts showcase, ‘Generate’, which is the opening event of the Alice Springs Desert Festival 2010.

In the space of one week, we got a band of 12 boys and girls up and ready for their debut performance on the big festival stage experience! The Ltyente Apurte Drummers performed with excellence and radiated like stars in front of an adoring crowd of two thousand people who attended the festival opening night.

Due to their success last year, the Ikuntji Drummers were invited for a return performance at the same event this year. With only a week to prepare, all of the kids drummed with us at school and after school everyday, resulting in a performing group that was double in size to last year. These kids were most enthusiastic and excitable with the experienced few exuding a sense of knowing and confidence. We watched these Ikuntji Drummers shine before the same adoring crowds.

Our rhythm program was well supported by the Ikuntji School and the MacDonnell Shire. Without their support these kids would not have been able to accept the honourable invitation of an encore performance, so we sincerely thank the principals and the Shire for getting behind us to help make this happen.

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Ltyentye Apurte School, Santa Teresa, N.T.


The second school visit of the year, was by the invitation of a teacher at the Ltyentye Apurte School in Santa Teresa, 80km south-east of Alice Springs. Having observed the kids’ tendencies to beat out a rhythm on anything with anything, the teacher tracked us down to bring our African rhythm program to their school. We appreciated her opinion that a rhythm program would have educational and therapeutic benefits for their school, and we were keen to provide it!

Over a two week intensive period, we worked with every grade class at least four times each. The transitions and grade ones didn’t miss out either as we entertained them with simple songs, dances and rhythm accompaniments. All one hundred and twenty of the enrolled kids had an opportunity to learn rhythm with us in that fortnight and the response was most enthusiastic.

Of course, the experience of learning ensemble drumming takes a lot of  concentration on many things at once; technique, listening, playing and listening, polyrhythms, etc. To begin each class, we would take the students through warm-up and cross-core exercises to limber up their bodies and their brains, in order to able to focus on ‘the pulse’ and recognize group cohesion.

As the fortnight progressed, we developed and practiced unique rhythm arrangements specific to each class, according to their skill development. These pieces were performed by each grade class at school assembly on our last day, giving them the experience of performing for an audience, which in this case was their wider school community. Having a performance outcome helps to develop individual and group confidence, which inevitably extends to a becoming sense of pride and empowerment for the whole community. Everyone was so happy with the results and the experience that we were invited back to the school in August.

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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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School Holidays with Ba-Boom!


minyma animation

Throughout the past year, during each of the school holiday periods, Ba-Boom! have dedicated their energies to returning to and working with the youth in two Pitjantjatjarra/Yankunytjatjara communities; Fregon and Indulkana.

fregon mural

As always, we rock up with our ever-expanding, trailer-full of fun. Aside from the drums, instruments, art & craft gear, books, music, movies, projector & P.A., hair & beauty and cooking kits, we have added circus gear (stilts, hula hoops, juggling balls), power tools (for making polypipe bracelets), a softball kit and a bumper-sized camp-stove for cooking over the fire on cold winter nights. No kid could possibly get bored with us.

Returning as we have to these places, the kids know us, as do their families and wider community. They cheer when they see us arrive, hang out with us and enjoy the variety, routine and surprises we offer. The deepening sense of familiarity is rewarding and we constantly find new things to make and do together.


girls making music!

In Fregon we have continued to make animations and soundtracks, we’ve painted up a fantastical aquatic mural (inspired by postcards left by a visitor from cairns country) and have actively mentored the community youth worker, which has kick-started a vibrant and operational space for youth of all ages to come and enjoy.

There is at least twice as many youth in Indulkana, and it is here that we all greatly enjoy African drumming, organized sport & games and big cook-ups. Indulkana is a very musical community. Local talent, The Iwantja Band, are building  up a national profile for their unique blend of desert reggae, blues and heavy metal styles. Band leader, Jeremy, often accompanies his father, Pastor Henry, on keyboards for weekly outdoor sermons which brings peace to the whole village at night with it’s long, warm, inclusive embrace. Indulkana kids are dynamic, energetic, interactive and lots of fun!

jamming with iwantja band

polypipe bracelets

recording drums

indulkana camp-fire cook-up

Last winter, we also got to go and work in a new place, Ali Curung, a little south of Tennant Creek. We were so warmly welcomed into this community and we had a great time doing ‘our thing’ with the new mob including organizing a big community camp-fire cook-up with malu wipu (kangaroo tail), damper, camp-fire songs, drumming and even fire-poi-twirling. We made a couple of new films, an animation and a girls’ story of country, which were enjoyed and celebrated by the kids and their families.

hula train

new experiences!

painting the scene

camp-fire sing-along

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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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The Midnight Carnivale!



While Shon was scooting back and forth, between Ikuntji and Finke-Apatula, prepping the kids for Wipeout! Svet was in her element conjuring mad melodies for the annual Cats Meow Cabaret show, The Midnight Carnivale.

A highly-anticipated event in the Alice Desert Festival Program, The Midnight Carnivale, fondly referred to as the cabaret, was a whirl of a project that evolved into an event far bigger than anyone predicted.

The story of lost love, as told by a cigarette girl in a dusty old theatre-world, surrounded by a bunch of disenchanted characters, recalled the ancient greek story of persephone’s journey into the underground crossed with the surreality of alice in wonderland.

6 ft under bar

This thrilling theatrical tale was brought to life through a variety of mediums; dramatic choreographed dance (chorus-lines, ballet, tango, hip hop, bollywood to name a few) sideshow & aerial arts, chamber opera, stage magic, video projection, costumery, roller-boogie, mock-cowboy fighting and all with a live band to boot.


Svet relished her role as musical director, composing for and assembling an awesome 7-piece band, showcasing the talents and individuality of the Alice Springs music scene as well as roping in multi-instru-mental extraordinaire, from Melbourne, Mal Webb.


The show premiered, in all of its exciting production glory, at the Araluen Arts Centre, over two sell-out nights. It featured a committed cast & crew of 120 people, an incredibly dedicated and talented team of director/performers (Franca, Melissa, Miljika, Kerz, Lily) and two mentors (Svet and Lily).



For Svet, it was absolutely exciting to be a part of a professionally produced, large scale, boundlessly imaginative community event. The performances were superb, the audiences were in raptures and ideas are already in the pipeline for next year’s Cats Meow show.


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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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Ntaria (hermannsburg) & Ikuntji (haasts bluff), N.T.



Ba-Boom!’s next assignment was running a winter school holiday program, over four weeks in two different communities for CAYLUS (Central Australian Youth Link up Service); Ntaria and Ikuntji, both west and north west of Alice Springs
on the way to palm valley

 on the way to ntaria


Ntaria is a large community and also known as Hermannsburg. We had lots of things going on in the Youth Shed but our most exciting experience was really connecting with the young male musicians. They came everyday, keen not only to play their own music but enthusiastic to learn new feels as well. We ended our stay there with a great recording and a concert and BBQ for the community.


ntaria recording session

 ntaria recording sessions


mask & instrument making

mask and percussion making





Ikuntji is a community Shon has had the pleasure to teach in before. In 2008 between April and July CAARMA produced a teaching tour through 6 different communities. 3 artists collaborated to create an exciting 2 week program for each school. Ikuntji was one of those schools!
little drummer boys

little drummer boys


eating honey ant, mmmm, exquisite

 eating honey ant..mmmm, exquisite


digging tjupi (honey ants)

 digging for tjupi (honey ants)



rhythm practice

 rhythm practice



handful of sweet treats

 handful of sweet treats


So for Ba-Boom! to return there was a wonderful thing because the kids remembered and were excited to get some fun happening! We made percussion instruments, played ukelele, learnt some great drum patterns, played keys, bass, guitar, went on bush trips for honey ants, made our first animation, ran cooking classes and fed all the kids, and had movie nights and a disco!

Ikuntj kids went on to take the ensemble rhythm we had put together on the holidays to the Alice Desert Festival 2 months later, for Wipeout, the opening event on the main stage….more about that later. . .


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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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Hello world!


Hello and welcome to the website of BA-BOOM!
Stay tuned for updates on our community projects, gigs, recordings & more!


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