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Walking With Spirits

David Bridie and Papuan music star George Telek have been working together for decades, ever since they made their hit album Tabaran, with Bridie’s band Not Drowning Waving.

Now the two are bringing a new project, a Bit na Ta, to the Walking With Spirits festival at Beswick Falls this month, and the show – in its first-ever live performance – is a signifcant coup for the festival.

The idea for a Bit na Ta (‘the source of the sea’) was “floating around for a long time,” Bridie says, before it found life as an art installation at the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art last year.

The audio-visual installation evoked the history, culture and spirituality of the Tolai people of New Britain (off the coast of PNG) through projections, field recordings and music.

“They’ve had volcanos, they’ve had world wars. They were the first place to have missionaries go there and traders, yet this Tolai society is as strong today as it ever was, so this is celebrating that,” says Bridie.

The concert adds to an already impressive line-up of Yolngu songmen Djakapurra Manyarryun and Rrawun Maymuru, Yorta man Benny Walker (from Victoria) and Rako Pasifika from Fiji – and Bridie is hoping some may join a Bit na Ta on stage, as well as introduce the audience to rising PNG stars.

“One of the great things about a Bit na Ta is that we were able to work with some young up-and-coming Tolai musicians and Levi Siale is one of those. He’s a beautiful singer.”

Bridie says Australia should prioritise its relationship with PNG more.

“It’s five kilometres from Saibai Island in the Torres Strait to the western province of PNG – you can wade across it at low tide.”

No wading necessary if you’re lucky enough to get a ticket to this fest.

Fri 14 & Sat 15 Jul | Malkgulumbu (Beswick Falls)

See the event listing.

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