Deadly Award winning musicians, Jessica Mauboy and Dan Sultan perform with Ernie Dingo, Missy Higgins and the original Bran Nue Dae band, Kuckles, in a movie soundtrack to remember.
Melbourne musician Sultan won the ingle of The Year at the 2007 Deadly Award for his song "Your Love is Like a Song". Two years on, former Australian Idol runner-up Mauboy won Female Artist of the Year, in addition to many other community and national accolades. Together they performed with their celebrated co-stars and the original Bran Nue Dae band Kuckles at the premiere of Bran Nue Dae in Broome. It was a welcome return for the band, whose original members included Jimmy Chi, Stephen Pigram, Mick Manolis, Gary Glover and Patrick Bin Amat – all Broome locals who studied together at Adelaide's Centre for Aboriginal Studies in Music (CASM). They formed Kuckles in 1981.
Kuckles had disbanded by the time Chi's play, Bran Nue Dae premiered in 1990 but their songs became an intrinsic component of Chi's much loved classic. See the film and you'll be singing along to them for days to come—they are original and poignant, funny and full of charm.
Here's a taste:
There's nothing I would rather be
Than to be an Aborigine
and watch you take my precious land away
For nothing gives me greater joy
than to watch you fill each girl and boy with superficial existential shit.
This fella song all about the Aboriginal people, coloured people, black people longa Australia
Us people want our land back, we want 'em rights, we want 'em fair deal, all same longa white man
Now this fella longa Canberra, he bin talkin' about a Bran Nue Dae - us people bin waiting for dijwun for 200 years now
Don' know how much longer we gotta wait, and boy it's makin' me slack
Here I live in this tin shack. Nothing here worth coming backto drunken fights and awful sightspeople drunk most every night.
On the way to a Bran Nue Dae Everybody everybody say
On the way to a Bran Nue DaeEverybody everybody say.
On its release in 1990 the play of Bran Nue Dae it was an immediate hit on the festival circuit. It toured nationally and was seen by more than 200,000 people. The play won the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Award and the published book, comprising the play's script and song scores, won the WA Premier's Book Award and Human Rights Award. Let's see what happens for the script and songs this time round. For me, the film version of Bran Nue Dae is already a winner.
Respected Broome actor and singer, Stephen "Baamba" Albert plays Born Again Christian minister, Pastor Flakkon in the movie, and who now often sings with the band.
“The Kuckles band are very creative… They are real musos,” he says. “To me they are our icons in Broome. They are the first five guys to go through CASM [which] is attached to the Elder Conservatorium of Music at the University of Adelaide. When they came back home they developed their music and turned it into a musical play and now, a feature movie. Those guys should be recognised as well. To me they are the icons – as well as Jimmy Chi.”
Albert has been involved in every stage production of Bran Nue Dae—first as an ensemble member and Pastor Flakkon in the original version, and then taking over from Ernie Dingo as Uncle Tadpole (Dingo reprises that role in the film). He didn't perform in the movie but admits there are discussions about future tours.
“When everything settles down… the other thing is Stephen Pigram also plays with the Black Arm Band. He's been busy traveling overseas. When we can pull him down, anchor him down, I think that could be a trip around the country. The Kuckles band and Bran Nue Dae songs.”