Festival organisers of Agnes Blues & Roots Festival 2018 have released the name of their headline act for February 2018 – and you’re going to love their stories and their sounds…especially, Sounds Of Then (This Is Australia)… that’s right, GANGgajang will perform!
GANGgajang was formed when The Riptides singer Mark ‘Cal’ Callaghan joined with The Angels rhythm section of Chris Bailey and Graham ‘Buzz’ Bidstrup, The Aliens’ Geoff Stapleton, percussionist and backing singer Kayellen Bee and guitarist Robbie James.
The name reflected a new attitude: music was all about ‘the song’; that any good song could be played solely on an acoustic guitar (‘gajang’: the sound of a guitar being strummed) and that they were a GANG (‘an informal body of friends’ – to quote the dictionary), rather than a capital ‘B’ Band. It all began in Sydney in 1984, when Australian music was really coming of age. Against this backdrop of increased confidence and global aspiration came GANGgajang.
Their self-titled debut album was released in 1985, with the singles, Gimme Some Lovin’, Giver of Life and House of Cards quickly climbing the charts to become part of the music revolution reinventing the Australian sound: a sound based on our stories; our places.
To The North, Ambulance Men and the perennial Sounds Of Then (This Is Australia) all echoed this new ethos, this new sense of place. GANGgajang is now regarded as one of the all-time classic Australian albums, while Sounds Of Then has reached near mythical status and continues to connect with new generations of Australian music fans to this day, especially in the Southern Great Barrier Reef region of Queensland, where singer Mark ‘Cal’ Callaghan grew up.
The Callaghan family settled in Bundaberg when they moved to Australia and it is where Cal penned lyrics of Sounds Of Then, relating to the experience of watching “lightning crack over cane fields,” a regular sight of the 1970’s in the region. Bundaberg also now has a street named in the band’s honour, GANGgajang Way, and the organisers of the Agnes Blues, Roots & Rock Festival are certain the accolades will continue for these genuine storytellers when they share their superb sounds onstage Saturday 17 February. Festival team member Amber Rodgers said “we are so pleased to have GANGgajang as our headline performers, the affinity of their lyrics to our area and to our audience is perfect, not to mention their sound in an outdoor venue, we can’t wait!”
GANGgajang’s soundtrack to Quiksilver’s cult surf movie Mad Wax also secured the group the title of ‘The World’s Best Band’ for two years in a row by the World Pro Surfers
Association! The albums gangAGAIN, Lingo and Oceans And Deserts further defined GANGgajang’s unique Australian sound and won them global audiences, most notably in Brazil where the huge surfing community went crazy for the GANG.
The band toured Brazil three times playing to packed venues up and down the east coast, with one of the highlights being an outdoor concert to 20,000 fans on Rio’s Copacabana Beach. True to their ‘GANG’ philosophy, this ‘informal body of friends’ has continued to work together for over 30 years, while also pursuing their myriad of separate interests: writing, recording and touring with other artists including the reformed original Angels line-up, a resurfaced Riptides, Yothu Yindi, Jimmy Little, Jimmy Barnes, The Stetsons, Absent Friends, The Dukes and Wendy Matthews, to name but a few. The branches of the GANGgajang family tree do indeed span far and wide.
And beyond even that the GANG’s activities continue, with Buzz as the CEO of Uncle Jimmy Thumbs up! (www.thumbsup.org.au); Cal as a board member of Support Act (www.supportact.org.au); Geoff as an artist and gallery owner (www.thegeoffstapletongallery.com) and Robbie as a key part of the Scattered People (www.scatteredpeople.com). And through it all, until his sad passing in April 2013 was Chris. Respected and admired by all he played with – and he played will all the greats – Chris Bailey was, and is, the soul of the GANGgajang and the GANG will carry him forward in their hearts to new chapters in the GANGgajang story, to new cycles, to new Circles In The Sand.
Agnes Water and the Town of 1770, with their clean golden sand, are in the Great Barrier Reef’s sensational Deep South, and every February the seaside villages rumble to the sounds of fantastic blues, roots and rock icons at the intimate 3 day Agnes Blues, Roots & Rock Festival. GANGgajang will be joined in the 2018 line up by international blues artist Eugene Hideaway Bridges and the energetic 19 Twenty, along with many more great Aussie artists.
Nestled amongst the pristine coastal forests, the event boasts a generous marquee with tables and seating, superb sound and staging quality, a range of tasty fresh-cooked multicultural food, a well-stocked bar, and market stalls to browse.