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Cairns-based Kamerunga has redefined and reinvigorated Australian folk, blending original composition with tradition and elements of world music, jazz, classical, rock and reggae to create a vivid new fusion.
Second album, 'Worlds Kaleid', continued the exhilarating journey that began when its 2009 debut album, 'The Push', garnered rave reviews, an ARIA nomination for Best World Music album and earned Kamerunga a place at major festivals around Australia, including WOMADelaide, the Byron Bay Bluesfest, National Folk Festival, Port Fairy Folk Festival, Woodford Folk Festival, Fairbridge Festival, the Australasian World Music Expo and an invitation to perform at the 2011 Rainforest World Music Festival in Borneo, an event featuring bands from more than 20 countries. Kamerunga performed at Canberra's National Folk Festival at Easter 2014 for an unprecedented third time in five years and at the W.A., equivalent in Fairbridge, for the second time in three years. In 2015 they were the only Australian band to perform at both the Port Fairy Folk Festival (for the third time in six years) and at WOMADelaide on the same weekend.
Recorded at the Whitfield studio of drummer and dual ARIA-winning producer Nigel Pegrum (former member of UK folk-rock pioneers and chart-toppers Steeleye Span), 'Worlds Kaleid' features guest contributions from Cat Empire trumpeter Harry James Angus, oud maestro Joseph Tawadros, slide guitar master Jeff Lang and legendary Bushwackers lagerphone player Dobe Newton, who are among the finest players of their respective instruments in Australia.
The Kamerunga frontline comprises the creme de la creme of local multi-instrumentalists in Peter Ella (acoustic & electric guitars, tenor guitar, mandolin, banjo, violin), Andree Baudet (saxophones, keyboards, cello) and lead singer David Martin (violin, mandolin), supported by a dynamic rhythm section, comprising Torres Strait Islander Will Kepa (bass) and Nigel Pegrum (drums), with national music writer and reviewer Tony Hillier on rhythm guitar and backing vocals.
The original compositions on 'Worlds Kaleid', which was released in March 2012, include 'Burkes Lament', a poignant song based on a letter that the ill-fated explorer Robert Burke wrote in 1860 on the day before he died at Coopers Creek in the 'Red Heart', and 'The Cameleers', an instrumental tribute to the Afghan camel herders who helped open up the Australian outback in the 19th century. The album also includes a paean to 'Seisia', a beautiful part of far north Queensland, situated on the tip of Cape York Peninsula on the cusp of the Torres Strait. 'Fannie Bay' recognises another part of the 'Top End' and an infamous 19th century Darwin gaol. 'Queensland Whalers', 'Ryebuck!', 'Lazy Harrys' and 'Lime Juice Tub' salute other aspects of Australian history. 'Seisia' appeared on a compilation album released by the renowned New York world music label Putumayo in March 2014. Two tracks from the album were playlisted on all Qantas domestic and international flights between June and December in 2013.
'Worlds Kaleid' was launched locally at the Tanks Arts Centre in March of 2012. The 'Cairns Post' accorded it CD of the week status, saying: "It's not often a five-star album lands on the timeOUT desk, let alone one written and created locally. Yet with Kamerunga's second full-length album, here we are with one of the most innovative and creative takes on folk music ever to emerge from Australia ... it is essential listening for fans of both Australian and world music."
The Weekend Australian gave the album 4 stars and said: "The term world music is often misused as a catch-all for anything that sounds vaguely exotic or unfamiliar to Western ears, but it's a tempting label for the organic product of well structured dalliances between boisterous Australian folk and the infectious rhythms of a veritable multicultural melange."
In another 4-star review, in the Sydney Morning Herald, Bruce Elder commented: "Part of the albums appeal, apart from its very obvious exuberance, is its sensitive and intelligent use of virtuoso musicians ... Worlds Kaleid is a fine example of innovative musical cross-fertilisation. It is original and it works."
Shane Howard, one of the country's most respected musicians, commented: "Worlds Kaleid is one of the more interesting albums to come out of Australia for a long time in the Folk/World Music spectrum. It's inventive, bold, and shines with brave and dazzling musicianship. Worlds Kaleid surprises. At times, it sounds like influences from Yes and Madness colliding with Australian bush ballads. At times jazz, at times jigs and reels. It rocks, it folks, it jazzes and gypsies it's way into your head and I can't get it out. It's a great record."
Leading Australian jazz musician and composer, Paul Grabowsky commented about 'Worlds Kaleid': "It's a great album ... Kamerunga breathe new life into Australian folk music".
Leading Australiana expert Warren Fahey said of 'Worlds Kaleid': "It smacks of early Afghan hawkers traveling the outback flogging spices, curries and bolts of cotton and silk."
An ABC interview with band members and a Cairns Post story on the launch of 'Worlds Kaleid' are located at:
The band's 2009 debut album 'The Push' was hailed by the national critics:-
If you are looking for an album of unusual and very original music that really tries to reach beyond the predictable, rather drab Australian folk tradition, then this is a genuine surprise. It basically demonstrates that folk tunes, in the right hands, can be bent in any direction.
Bruce Elder (Sydney Morning Herald, 10/01/09)
Clever and tasteful concoctions devoid of overkill and kitchen sink tendencies. Ethnic elements breathe peacefully within the cosmopolitan jungle. Recommended.
fRoots magazine, UK
This multi-instrumental, multi-talented Cairns ensemble takes a big stick of funk, jazz and reggae to rouse traditional Celtic and Australian tunes from their safe slumber. Musical dexterity allows the band to shift the material from whisky-soaked shanty swagger to reggae-infused bush ballad to lounge-lizard jazz, sometimes within the same song.
Brian Bolton (Weekend Australian, 22/11/08)
This is the type of project to take Australian sounds to international world music stages Im sure that was pretty much the idea behind it, and it is bound to succeed. You can imagine both the narrative content and musical energy of these songs striking an immediate and lasting chord with such audiences.
Martin Jones, December issue of Rhythms magazine.
After a decade or two waiting in the doldrums, Australian folk music has finally been given the revitalisation and rejuvenation it needed to allow it to return to festival headline status - thanks to a new band from far north Queensland ... Kamerunga takes traditional Aussie songs like South Australia and the Lachlan Tigers as a starting point, adding elements of rock, classical, jazz, reggae and even rap to the mix to make a well-crafted, accessible and respectful synthesis. It is a lively journey.
Andy Copeman, ABC Radio National Daily Planet (13/11/08).
What sets Kamerunga apart is their musicianship.
Seth Jordan, Limelight magazine
I think Kamerunga is one of the best bands currently in Australia, totally different interpretation of Australian bush music; multi instruments in a sort of jazz, reggae rock style.
Bob Eilliston (Brisbane Folk Rag)
Fresh and funky
Jamie McKew, Director Port Fairy Folk Festival.
Kamerunga's audio track 'Samba For Australia', commissioned by VISA for their on-line 2014 Soccer World Cup promotion (a project that featured contributions from bands representing all 32 competing nations), racked up 80,000 hits.
Kamerunga followed in the footsteps of Irish super-group Clannad by releasing an album worldwide with top UK world music label Arc Music. Released in late 2014, 'Terra Australis' has received airplay in South and North America and various European countries, including the BBC in England. The compilation album has received rave reviews in magazines like R2. The US-based website Inside World Music said this about 'Terra Australis':
"The innovative band from Down Under, Kamerunga, invigorates the human soul with a mish-mash of enjoyable tunes originating from a variety of sources and inspirations, including the Balkans, Scandinavia, Ireland, the Mediterranean, Caribbean, and seemingly everywhere in-between. The jig-friendly tunes excite the Celtic vein at times, while other times, the music is ripe with contemporary folk and rock compositions in a lively, global-esque product. The multi-national influences imbibe the music with a type of authentic candor that is refreshing and unique, but most of all, infectious. While Yothu Yindi may be one of the most popular groups to come out of Australia, Kamerunga produces a more engaging and varied listening result that is mostly non-rock oriented. At any rate, the mix of jazzy, folk, roots, and globally-inspired tunes will set anyone's feet ablaze with musical fire." ~ Matthew Forss
Here's a link to an extensive interview/broadcast with Radio Adelaide shortly before Kamerunga's performance at WOMAD in March:
• Tracks + video at:
• Kamerunga's CDs are available via Amazon, iTunes and Big Pond. 'Terra Australis' is available via Arc Music, distributed worldwide (and by Select in Australia).
|Farewell & Adieu
South Australia Suite
Fanfare For A Common Mandolin
Lime Juice Tub
Queensland Whalers / Sligo Creek
The Cameleers / Soldanza
The Hour Before Dawn / Munster Cloak
|La Bottine Souriante, The Bushwackers, Shooglenifty, Bellowhead, Afro Celt Sound System, Lunasa and many, many more.
|CD Launch at the Tanks Arts Centre, October, 2008
Yungaburra Folk Festival, October, 2008
Woodford Folk Festival, December 2008
Port Fairy Folk Festival, March 2009
The Dreaming, June 2009
Festival Cairns, August & September 2009
Wallaby Creek Festival, September 2009
Bellingen Global Carnival, October 2009
Maldon Folk Festival, October 2009
Australasian World Music Expo, November 2009
Cygnet Folk Festival, January 2010
East Coast Bluesfest, Byron Bay March 2010
National Folk Festival, Canberra March 2010
Wintermoon festival, Mackay May 2010
Fairbridge Festival, W.A. March 2011
Rainforest World Music Festival, Sarawak, Borneo July 2011
Tablelands Folk Festival 2011
Port Fairy Folk Festival 2012
Tanks Arts Centre new CD launch 2012
National Folk Festival, Canberra April 2012
Cairns Festival, Carnival on Collins, September 2013
Australasian World Music Expo, November 2013
National Folk Festival, Canberra, April 2014
Fairbridge Festival, W.A., April 2014
Tablelands Folk Festival 2014
Australia Day weekend, Cairns Casino 2015
Port Fairy Folk Festival 2015