The Bartlett Brothers is an Indigenous rock band made up of sing-songwriter multi instrumentalists Phil and Jason Bartlett, their younger brother Azrael on drums and bassist Rob Findlay. They describe their music as “soulful rootsy pop rock sounds with soaring harmonies”, and they draw imagery and inspiration from their country and heritage.
Set to be stars of NAIDOC in WA this year, the band is appearing at NAIDOC festivals in Perth and Karratha. “NAIDOC is important for everyone, not just indigenous people,” said Phil Bartlett. “It gives everyone a chance to feel indigenous culture.”
The Bartlett Brothers are no strangers to travelling up to the Pilbara. Although their family’s roots are in the Midwest and the Southwest regions of WA, the brothers went to schools in the Pilbara and the Kimberley. They have had plenty of chances to go back and visit, as the hard-working band has been playing gigs and touring for many years.
“What I’m most proud of is how hard we’ve worked. We’re now becoming recognised and well known, and it’s all through hard work. We’ve been doing this for fifteen years, it didn’t just happen,” said Phil.
The band is gaining plenty of recognition, as their list of awards keeps growing. They have received awards from the Too Solid Awards, WA Music Industry, NAIDOC, and Next Best Thing, and Jason made it to the top 24 of Australian Idol.
Phil says that the band draws inspiration from Indigenous musicians that came before them, like Archie Roach, who will also be performing at the Karratha NAIDOC community festival. “To be playing with Archie Roach is fantastic. Back when he started out it was pretty hard for Aboriginal musicians, but people like him set the way for us,” said Phil. “Indigenous music is getting bigger and bigger. There are more pathways, more money, more opportunities for Indigenous artists, and more and more of us are touring, recording albums, and putting up websites. It’s only a matter of time before the next big Aboriginal act becomes a household name.”
You can see the Bartlett Brothers at the Perth NAIDOC ball on Friday, 8 July and at the Karratha NAIDOC closing community festival on Sunday, 10 July.
Across Australia every July, NAIDOC Week celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. In honour of NAIDOC 2011 YMAC is featuring a series of Aboriginal people and organisations that contribute to the vibrant Aboriginal culture of the Midwest and Pilbara. For more information on NAIDOC including its history and events happening near you, visit http://www.naidoc.org.au/.