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.

Aussies carve watermelons as Halloween becomes 'Aussie'

It is no longer something that Americans do. It is here to stay

Dreamworld boss breaks silence with message to family

Deborah Thomas faced the media today after the AGM.

"I am a mother, I have a family. I take my family to Dreamworld."

Dreamworld ride worker: "It couldn't have been foreseen"

A former Dreamworld senior ride operator has broken his silence

Local Partners

QR executives quit after train debacle

Announcement made late this afternoon after Queensland Rail held a board meeting.

WATCH: NASA space station is live, see the view from above

In this picture taken from NASA's International Space Station from April 2015, the SpaceX Dragon is captured with the 57.7-foot-long Canadarm2 robotic arm before its installation to the Harmony module.

See the world from a new perspective as space station passes Rocky

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

RECAP: The Bachelorette S2E12 - the finale

Georgia Love pictured in a scene from The Bachelorette finale.

GEORGIA chooses Lee and leaves Matty J heartbroken.

The Bachelorette finale: Georgia declares her love for Lee

Georgia Love with The Bachelorette winner Lee Elliott.

MATTY J left heartbroken in emotional grand final.

Buy your own brothel: Scarlet Harem for sale

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS: The Coast's first brothel, Scarlet Harem at Kunda Park, is up for sale.

Coast brothel madam sells up

Tom Cruise credits success to Scientology

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise credits his success to Scientology

Hacksaw Ridge leads AACTA Awards nominations

Andrew Garfield and Teresa Palmer in a scene from the movie Hacksaw Ridge.

MEL Gibson's wartime drama opens in cinemas next week.

ABBA to reunite for virtual live experience


ABBA have confirmed they are to reunite - in virtual reality form

Tough times in CBD: Woolies says goodbye Ipswich

Woolworths in the Ipswich Mall.Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times

The last day of trading will be January 1

Look at me! Kath and Kim home up for sale

Kath and Kim from the iconic Aussie TV series.

'Crack open the Baileys and grab a box of BBQ Shapes'

How to fit 100,000 new homes on the Coast

Property, real estate, housing, suburb,  August 2016

Fitting 2m extra people in south-east Qld in 25 years a balance

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