The legendary Warumpi Band holds a special place in the hearts of many Australian music lovers. Now two of its founding members reunite with a new album. Tjungu sees Neil Murray and Sammy Butcher back together after a two-decade hiatus with 10 new songs written in Papunya and set to be launched at Darwin Festival.
Sammy Butcher is of proud Ngalia ancestry, and one of the songs, ‘Pikilyi’, is inspired by the country of his grandfather. Others are evocative of the Central Australian landscape where he has spent his life and express the need for all of us to live with respect and understanding like the old people did.
The album title, Tjungu, is a Luritja word meaning ‘joined together’ or ‘all in one’, which goes to the heart of Butcher’s generous spirit of inclusiveness, without which neither the Warumpi Band nor this new album could have occurred. It was Butcher, way back in 1980 in Papunya, who sought out a newly arrived Neil Murray and invited him to play music.
To help record the album, a crowdfunding campaign was launched through social media and in July 2016, Murray and Midnight Oil’s Jim Moginie began the initial recording process at Mixmasters Studio in Adelaide, engineered by Mick Wordley. Around this time, Butcher suffered the first of three strokes that left him with an impaired right hand, seriously affecting his ability to play guitar. Undeterred, he reinvented his approach by playing one handed.
This album launch is a reunion of old friends with Midnight Oil’s Jim Moginie sharing the stage for the first time since the Blackfella Whitefella tour in 1986, and drummer Bill Heckenberg on board for this unique celebration – all in one, joined together.
Update: Unfortunately, due to recent deaths, sorry business and funerals, Sammy Butcher will not be able to perform at Darwin Festival. Neil Murray, Jim Moginie, Bill Heckenberg and Brendon Hicks will proceed as planned and present the songs from Tjungu.
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