10 May 2023

Cape York’s finest perform at major country music festival

| Samuel Davis
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There were plenty of Cape York faces at the Savannah in the Round music festival at Mareeba on the weekend and they weren’t just in the crowd. Local favourite Black Image Band, featuring the Harrigan boys – Dylan, Arrami, Vince, Pando and Cliff – played a set, along with Cooktown’s rising songstress Yazmindi.

MUSIC is a family business in Cape York.

And for Black Image Band’s Vince Harrigan, it all started in the backyard playing for aunties, uncles and cousins.

“When you’re growing up, you really just want to make everyone happy. And if you don’t, you have to pass the guitar on to someone else,” the singer-guitarist said

The pressure to perform has paid off.

This week, the group were one of two Cape-based acts to perform at Savannah in the Round festival in Mareeba featuring stellar acts including the Waifs, King Stingray, Shannon Noll and more.

Cooktown singer-songwriter Yazmindi, who opened the festival on Friday, also grew up playing and performing alongside kin.

“I was in our family band, the Roadtrippers, for years,” she said.

“I grew up watching the Black Image Band boys and being inspired by them and I remember saying ‘I want to be like them when I grow up’.

“I’m really proud to be from the Cape. We have our own flavour, our own genre and it’s just surreal to be playing at a big festival together.”

Just like any family business, succession planning is important, Vince said.

“For us, we’re starting to bring other younger family members like (14-year-old lead guitarist) Arrami through,” he said.

“They’ve seen artists like Yazmindi, Ella Hartwig and Amber Farnan do great things for a while.

“I always say the Cape is so full of talent. We do whatever we can to showcase the Cape.

“It’s always been a highlight for us to share with people about life in the Cape.

“It could be something in the water but it has always produced great musicians and songwriters.”

Defined by its distinctive blend of genres and styles, Harrigan said Cape York music’s sound sets it apart from anywhere else in the world.

“We play the music we grew up with from Bob Marley to Merle Haggard to Slim Dusty,” he said.

“We’ll play the Doors and AC/DC too.”

Savannah in the Round closed on Sunday evening with American country superstar Brad Paisley performing to an adoring crowd at Kerribee Park.

An avid fan, Harrigan said he never expected to be performing on the same bill as one of his musical heroes.

“We purchased tickets to see him in Melbourne and a few weeks later he announced he was coming to Mareeba,” he said.

“It was a journey but I’m glad I got to see him twice because he’s worth it.”

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