Bart Willoughby Musical Career
Bart Willoughby’s musical career began in 1978 when he pioneered a distinctive Indigenous Australianmusic sound, a fusion of Jamaican reggae with traditional Indigenous influences. It was whilst at CASM that Bart Willoughby formed his first band, Australia’s first Indigenous rock band No Fixed Address in 1978. At CASM Willoughby also met Broome artists and began performing with composer and musician Jimmy Chi’s newly formed band Kuckles1979.
In 1979 No Fixed Address played its first large concert The National Aboriginal Day held at Taperoo, South Australia and over the years has played at numerous concerts for Aboriginal causes including Rock Against Racism in1980. In 1982 Willoughby and his band toured Australia in support of Peter Tosh and SBS Peter Tosh in Concert featuring Willoughby and No Fixed Address screened a documentary of this tour.
In1982 Willoughby also played drums with Shane Howard and Goanna. After the success of the Peter Tosh tour Willoughby and his band. In 1983 No Fixed Address became the first Aboriginal band to travel overseas becoming cultural ambassadors for their people touring Great Britain playing nine cities London, Bristol, Leeds, Plymouth and Manchester. A documentary of this tour No Fixed Address in London was produced and screened on SBS TV (was recently re-edited by the National film and Sound Archives and screened at AWME Melbourne 2011, Message Stick Festival Sydney 2012).
Returning to Australia Willoughby joined his cousin, Bunna Lawrie and his newly formed band Coloured Stone playing with this group in 1984 and 1985 and on its Scottish tour where they appeared with K.D. Lang at the 1986Edinburgh Festival then returning to Australia where the band was awarded Best Indigenous Album at the 1986Australian Music Awards for Human Love.
Willoughby reformed No Fixed Address in 1987 and in 1988 the band toured Europe, including Eastern Bloc countries where Willoughby made his wry comment about “being hungry in Hungary” appearing at the 1987 East Berlin Music Festival.
In 1988 Willoughby was asked to join Yothu Yindi as drummer on their Diesel & Dust tour, visiting 73 cities throughout the USA on what Willoughby. In 1989 Willoughby left Yothu Yindi to form a new band Mixed Relations. From its inception, Mixed Relations toured extensively throughout the Aboriginal communities, Australian cities, Pacific Islands, New Zealand and Hawaii
Following work in on the film Until the End of the World 1990, Willoughby was invited to tour Australia with Shane Howard and The Big Heart Band before returning to his work with Mixed Relations representing Australia at the 1990 and 1992 South Pacific Music Festival and the 1990 and 1992 Asian Music Festival. Documented by ABC Television and SBS TV
In 1993, International Year of Indigenous People, Willoughby and Mixed Relations were invited to attend the Los Angeles Indigenous Arts Festival, the London Indigenous Festival England and the Wanchai Music Festival, Hong Kong.
Leaving Mixed Relations in 1995.
Bart Willoughby went on to pursue his Solo career releasing two Albums Pathways in 1997 and a double album Frequencies in 2000.
2001-2005 Toured Europe / Amsterdam performing with the Paranoia Club
In 2006 was one of the Elder artists that became a collective touring internationally as the Black Arm Band Playing Woma-London, still making occasional guest appearances with the B.A.B to date.
In 2007 Bart formed the Bart Willoughby Band with producer and drummer Airi Ingram, with long time collaborator Selwyn Burns on Lead Guitar and occasional guest legend Ross Hannaford on second lead. The Line up has grown to a ten piece with a 3-piece horn section percussion and the sublime harmonies of Decline Briscoe and Emma Donavan.
2010 The Bart Willoughby Band Appeared on National Television performing Barts iconic tune Message for Young and Old at the pre match entertainment for Dreamtime at The G, the song recorded at Sing Sing studios was later released on the Bands first E.P
2012 The band released a 5 track E.P Rock Against Racism
2013 Released first full length Album Proud
2012/2013 Received a grant through the city of Melbourne to record an Album We Still Live On, on The Melbourne Town Hall Pipe Organ accompanied by Indigenous Songstress Decline Briscoe. Adding to Barts many firsts in his illustrious musical career he is the first Indigenous artist to play this instrument.
2012 Released an Album recorded live busking on the streets of Melbourne with Ross Hannaford BUCKSKIN.
Film, Television, Theatre
In 1980 Willoughby starred with another indigenous band Us Mob in non-indigenous director Ned Lander’s movie about Aboriginal musicians Wrong Side Of The Road This film was a semi biographical drama and won an AFI Jury Award in 1981 for its director Lander.
After his 1988 European tour Willoughby directed, composed and recorded the music track using his band for Always Was – Always Will Be, produced, directed and written by Indigenous filmmaker Madelaine McGrady and screened on SBS TV in the same year.
In 1989 ” Into The Mainstream” (1989) directed by Ned Lander and covering the 1988 Yothu Yindi Diesel & Dust Tour screened on SBS-TV, screened internationally, through distributor Ronin Films.
In 1990 Willoughby was cast as “Ned the Computer Expert” in German director Wim Wenders’ Until The End Of The World starring, William Hurt, Sam Neil
In 1992 Willoughby was invited by Australia’s first Indigenous feature film director Brian Syron to become the first Aboriginal to compose, play and direct the music track of a feature film Jindalee Lady. The film was invited to the International First Nations Film Festival, ‘Dreamspeakers’. Following this festival both Syron and Willoughby were invited to attend the 1992 Hawaii International Film Festival where Jindalee Lady was nominated for the East West Award –Best Feature Film and in 1993 Jindalee Lady was then invited to screen at the Tinker Theatre, Woodstock, New York, as part of the Woodstock Tribute to the International Year of Indigenous People.
In 2010 Willoughby appeared in the Documentary Film, Murundak Songs of Freedom produced by Day Break Films ‘murundak – songs of freedom’ is a feature documentary that journeys into the heart of Aboriginal protest music following The Black Arm Band, a gathering of some of Australia’s finest Indigenous musicians, as they take to the road with their songs of resistance and freedom. The film was received the following awards
In 2013-14 Willoughby was bandleader for the Malthouse Theatre stage production of the Shadow King touring through Australia the Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Darwin and Brisbane International Arts festivals co written by Lead Actor Tommy E Lewis and Director Michael Kantor.
During 1995 Willoughby took time out to work with his Pitjantjantjara community as Music Instructor to secondary school students at Yalata Anangu School,Yalata South Australia where he taught drums, guitar and song writing.
Willoughby still teaches and mentors young indigenous musicians whenever time allows.
Willoughby received the1993 Inaugural Indigenous Aria Australian Lifetime Achievement Award for his Outstanding Contribution to Indigenous Music in Australia. The award was presented by Will Smith and screened on Channel 10. In 2013 Willoughby was a finalist in the Melbourne Music Prize and in 2014 received an ATSIC – music fellowship through the Australia Council