Banjo man's wild and worldly ride into 'Gothic Australiana'

Harry Jakamarra will bring his blistering banjo skills to Yamba on Sunday.
Harry Jakamarra will bring his blistering banjo skills to Yamba on Sunday.

WHAT happens when a croc skinner puts down his knife and leaves the Kimberley in his house truck, with his banjo in tow?

A chilling collection of songs that have been described as "Gothic Australiana", that's what.

Harry Jakamarra forged his songwriting, banjo and guitar skills in settings as diverse as the desert sands north of Timbuktu, the choked back streets of Varanasi on the Ganges River, and the uninhabited reaches of the Great Sandy Desert in Western Australia.

Growing up in Broome WA, Harry was inspired to begin playing the guitar after seeing the Warumpi band perform. Soon after he picked up the five-string banjo and became a regular at local venues. Harry also developed a fascination with Indian classical slide-guitar and throughout his teens travelled to India to formally study with the gurus of Hindustani slide.

Back at home in the Kimberley, he was rapidly becoming a local favourite as well as garnering the esteem of touring artists. He shared the stage with John Butler, Missy Higgins and supported artists such as Paul Kelly and The Waifs.

In 2012 Harry released his impressive debut album.

Soon after he left Broome for Mali, in North Africa, to seek out the origins of the claw hammer banjo style. Mali was in a state of civil turmoil at this time due to a major Tuareg uprising.

Despite this, Harry travelled to Timbuktu to be mesmerised by such artists as Tinariwen and Vieux Farka Toure at the mysterious Festival au Desert. Gun battles raged nearby between Tuareg rebels and the Malian military and, at the end of the festival, Harry narrowly escaped with his life.

Returning to Broome Harry took a job at the local crocodile park as a full-time skinner. This gruelling job also involved chasing down and wrestling enraged escapees.

During this time Harry purchased an ex-navy fire engine and began converting it into a quirky, gypsy-style home on wheels. He currently lives and tours in this vehicle, which is completely off grid, solar powered and runs on used cooking oil.

At 23 years of age, Harry has already had a lifetime of interesting adventures. His captivating stories manifest in dark, emotionally charged songs. His powerful poetry, original voice and raw, intricate banjo and guitar sounds are exquisitely framed in his latest recording.

The sparse nature of the production makes the strength and maturity of Harry's songs very clear.

Jeff Lang as engineer/producer was a perfect match. With guest vocals from Liz Stringer, double bass by Ben Franz (The Waifs) and tasteful drumming by Harry's brother Albert these songs will have a lasting effect.

Harry's second album is set for release next year but in the meantime catch him in Yamba as part of his East Coast tour.

Topics:  banjo live music pacific hotel yamba

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Higher booze prices 'best way to combat abuse'

Should taxes be raised further on alcoholic drinks?

Report examines best ways to combat alcohol and violence

8800 complaints about water, energy bills in Queensland

Maree Skellern from Tweed Heads Kindy Care showing the dramatic changes in the latest power bill.

More than $320,000 in billing adjustments

'UNREAL': Paddler videos moment whale swims under his board

Surfer Ziggy Albert (blond hair) and his paddle buddy on their way to Old Woman Island enjoyed the encounter of a lifetime when a mother whale and her calf popped up in front of them.

You couldn't find a better way to start the day than this

Local Partners

Wakeskating champ hit with $200 fine at school pick-up

AUSTRALIAN wakeskating champion Cody Murphy has copped a $200 fine for forgetting to carry his driver's license when making a five minute trip to school.

Community garden set for Palmwoods

Kay Nixon at the Palmwoods Community Gardens will be hosting a launch day and inviting the ecommunity to come along and sign up.

Parcel of land to supply sustainable gardening for community

Barry Gibb is coming to Bluesfest 2017

FANS: Barry Gibb talks to a fan next to a cardboard cutout of his young self.

Aged 70, Gibb has re-launched his solo music career with a new album

Tim Finn headlining at Airlie Beach Music Festival

Music veteran Tim Finn from New Zealand will headline the Airlie Beach Music Festival.

Tim Finn: "It's the kind of festival that artists love"

Flick teases intense and entertaining Survivor grand final

Felicity 'Flick' Eggington in a scene from the TV series Australian Survivor.

GOLD Coaster's elimination leaves Lee, El and Kristie in final three

Priscilla concerned people will forget about Elvis

Priscilla Presley source Bang

She says she feels responsible to keep his legacy going

Taylor Swift files lawsuit over alleged groping

Taylor Swift source Bang

Swift has commenced legal action against a DJ over the incident

Kanye West threatens to boycott Grammys

West says he won't go to the Grammys if Frank Ocean's not nominated

Why this actress wasn't embarrassed by nude photo leak

Leslie Jones source Bang

'If you wanna see Leslie Jones naked, just ask,' she said

Dad's Army comic genius Jim Perry dies

Jimmy Perry, the creator of Dad's Army.

Dad's Army series captured all that British people savour

How Government will fit 100,000 new homes on the Coast

Property, real estate, housing, suburb,  August 2016

Fonzie flats and smaller block sizes part of long-term plan.

Hinterland horse stud passed in for $8.25 million

UNREAL: This Maleny estate is incredible.

12-bedroom hinterland horse stud still available

Hit songwriter's Noosa mansion on market

SPECIAL PLACE: The Cintamani estate is going to tender, marketed by Tom Offermann Real Estate.

Is this Queensland's best property?

Kiwi siblings snap up Dotcom mansion for $32.5m

The new toy company owners of the Coatesville mansion want replace any controversy with positivity and fun. Photo / Barfoot and Thompson

The trio paid $32.5 million for the property in June

New $200 million development will create 580 jobs

Cassie And Josh with baby Alfie and daughter Andee. They have bought at new Lennox Head development Epiq.

Majority of new positions will be given to Northern Rivers locals

Cherrabah's mega resort plans axed

PLANS for a massive development at Cherrabah have been scrapped.