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Deluge: Mary Handsome, Double Dinghy & Horse Trank

The Studio Theatre plays host to three local bands who know how to celebrate this sweaty, stinking, crazy time of year in the Top End.

With tales of salty Top Enders, surf rock inspired by the cool breezes of North East Arnhemland and satirical swamp rock – whether you’re new to Darwin or born and bred, this is a gig that will make you feel right at home. Roy Kellaway from Mary Handsome spoke to Off The Leash about his music and the family connections at play.

You grew up in Arnhemland, surrounded by some of the most influential musicians to have come out of Australia, in particular Yothu Yindi. What can you remember about the music of your childhood?

That's a hard one to answer, because I could talk for ages about the impact Yothu Yindi has had on my life. The music, the values, the ideologies shared by my bapa Dr Yunupingu and my bapa Stu, I grasp with two hands. Listening to Yothu Yindi brings me back down to my roots. When I hear Yothu Yindi I get this really funny feeling in my body, even if I’ve heard the song a million times. I guess hearing these songs since I was an infant has cemented a really personal element within me. Without getting too "touchy feely", it's just something that connects with me, and I don't get the same feeling when I listen to anyone else. 

Amongst those influential musicians your Dad, Stu Kellaway, was a member of Yothu Yindi. What kind of influence has he had on your music?

Without pumping the old man’s tyres up too much, I honestly look up to him in all areas of life. Musically, he's my mentor, and the way he goes about his music is so humble. He’s in it for the right reasons; sharing messages, sharing stories and jamming with mates. That's what it's about. 

Tell us about how Mary Handsome got together – and how would you describe your style of music?

Reid (guitarist and singer) and I played music together in Arnhem Land. We just clicked and through our love of music we became best mates. When I was in grade 11 I moved to Brisbane and Reid moved to Perth. When I graduated school, Reid quit his timber shop job in Perth and we moved into a wobbly old Queenslander in sunny Brisvegas. We then formed the band after jamming in the kitchen with some mates of mine. We had a gig one week later. Our music is new-wavey surf rock. 

You're playing at the Entertainment Centre this December with acts Double Dinghy and Horse Trank, which includes your Dad. Is this the first time you’ve played in Darwin – and the first time on the bill with your Dad? 

It is the first Mary Handsome gig in Darwin! We've played at Yirrkala and Nhulunbuy but not Darwin, so we are so stoked to get up there. It’s not the first time being on the bill with the old man though. I remember playing a gig up in Gove with my high school mates, Dad made a last minute band called the "Stu Kellaway All-stars." He didn't actually name the band name, the event organizers did. But I still give him heaps about it.

Sat 9 Dec | 8pm | Darwin Entertainment Centre | $25 | yourcentre.com.au 

Image: Mary Handsome

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