The Salt Lake Band bring music and culture of Groote Eylandt to Yabun Festival

All the way from Groote Eyelandt in the Northern Territory, the 11 member Salt Lake Band will make history next January when they become the largest band to ever grace the stage at Yabun Festival, one of the nation’s biggest and longest running annual Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander music and culture events.

Formally known as Yantarrgna Band (after lead singer/song-writer Brandon Yantarrgna), Salt Lake Band consist of brothers, uncles, cousins and grandfathers, all hailing from the Warnindilyakwa family group.

“We’re feeling really proud and excited that our mob, Groote Eylandt, Warnindilyakwa mob, from Top End, Gulf of Carpentaria, can have a voice in Sydney at Yabun with all our Koori brothers and sisters, we have never travelled that far from our Island,” says Basil Mamarika, a young elder and spokesman of the Umbakumba community and member of Salt Lake Band.

The name of Salt Lake Band springs from a special part of the band members traditional lands, bringing with it their song-lines and Dreaming’s, all sung in Anindilyakwa language. Mixing rock, blues and reggae, and incorporating the band member’s totems of dugong, turtle, whale, dolphin, seagull and shark, Salt Lake Band’s songs share the sacredness and potency of the Warnindilyakwa Dreamtime.

The Salt Lake Band share a 10 year history and have headlined at several major Indigenous music and cultural events including Garma, Barunga, and the Alice Springs Bush Bands Bash. Based in their home community of Umbakumba (which has a total population of 350 people) the band’s language group is distinct from Yolngu, belonging exclusively to Groote Eyelandt.

Proud representatives of their language group and culture, Salt Lake Band have gained the financial support of their own Anindilyakwa Land Council (ALC) to make the long trek to Sydney in order to share their music and culture with the Yabun audience, providing a special added cultural element to the 2017 Yabun Festival which already features esteemed Indigenous artists Kev Carmody and Warren H Williams.

“The Top End continues to be such a wellspring of vibrant and unique Aboriginal music and artistry and we are absolutely thrilled to showcase some of that proud legacy and culture at the 2017 Yabun Festival,” says Yabun Festival Producer, Miah Wright.

“This will be one of the few times that a Top End band has performed at Yabun and is set to be one of the most special moments in the event’s 15 year history.”

Yabun Festival takes places at Victoria Park in Camperdown on January 26, 2017 (10:00am – 7:00pm).