Wujal Wujal's Cold Water Band read to make splash /Newsport
Wednesday March 12 2014
The Cold Water Band’s reggae-flavoured party jams have kept the good times going in far north Queensland for years. Now they are taking their Cape York grooves to a wider audience.
Perched at the foot of a tall, thin cluster of palm trees, PJ Nandy leans back and kicks into a guitar lick he has been working on for the last week.
His back is sore following a 10-hour round trip to Townsville for a gig and getting comfortable takes a moment. Once he does, the riff comes back to him and the steady offbeat upstrokes that give Nandy’s songs such a sharp rhythm soon emerge.
The subconscious head nod starts and the young singer-songwriter from the remote Indigenous community of Wujal Wujal grins widely.
Nandy’s quartet, The Cold Water Band first formed in primary school. The gang would gather on the beach of an afternoon banging tin cans for percussion with sticks substituting as guitars.
Sometimes they would harmonise the vocals but mostly, they would just yell and cackle for hours until the sun went down.
Playing on the beach was where the band's stamina grew, Nandy says. When the boys finally got their own instruments they played friends birthdays' and any bash that would have them, strumming until their fingers were raw and Nandy’s voice gave out.
"We'd usually go for four hours," he says.
"That made us tighter and we weren’t afraid to learn cover songs."
"We like to party, that’s what we’re there for, y’know? We wanted to give 'em a full-on reggae party night."
And the party keeps getting bigger. Last year the band completed their first ever tour, 10 dates along the Queensland coast with Brisbane’s Impossible Odds, before starting to record for their debut album.
The early response from music lovers at gigs in Cairns and Townsville was encouraging, Nandy says.
"It’s the first time we toured properly," he says. "It was a good experience, especially for someone from a remote community, seeing the world. That’s a big step.
"Not a lot of people showed up but it was all fun."
This month, Nandy's band will perform at the UMI Soundz concert at the Tanks Arts Centre on Saturday March, 22.
The show is a free concert supporting and showcasing Indigenous musicians and performers, something Nandy says is important.
"I want to become an Aboriginal musician and a leader. I want to show that you can stick with it," he says.
"I see a lot of people with good talent and not doing anything about it. I’m sticking to what I know best.
"Instead of, y’know, hanging out with alcohol and drugs … I’d like to see more black people out there."
From there, Nandy says he wants much more.
"The future is to make Wujal Wujal shine on the map. Impress our families and friends," he says.