Desert sons set to rock the city
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Desert sons set to rock the city

Canberra will come alive with harmony in every sense of the word on July 20, with the Street Theatre set to host the Rock for Reconciliation concert.

The centenary event is a celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, and bridges the gap between old and new with the universal language that is music.

The Tjintu Desert Band will play Canberra on July 20.

The Tjintu Desert Band will play Canberra on July 20.

Local rockers Hung Parliament will feature alongside soulful hip-hop artist Radical Son, although top billing on the day belongs to central Australia's own Tjintu Desert Band.

Lead guitarist in the five-piece, Jeffrey Zimran, says the band were ''very excited'' to be on a comprehensive tour that also took in Canberra.

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''I can't wait to be there, mate, and get out of the desert for awhile,'' he says with a laugh.

Formed in 2002, they were originally called Sunshine Reggae Band. While the name might have changed, the good vibes remain the same as ever.

''We all met at Ikunjti [in the Northern Territory], that's where we all come from,'' Zimran says. ''From there, we started playing in battle of the bands, community sports carnivals and that sort of thing. Ever since, we've been playing and writing songs and recording music.''

The band's name change reflects its proud links to the land they herald from, Zimran says

''Tjintu is a traditional name for the sun, that's why we changed the name, and the desert is our home, that's where we come from,'' he says.

As a young boy, Zimran says he became interested in playing music through his father, who was a singer in a gospel band.

''I used to look up to him,'' he says. ''When I grew up and went to college, I started going to music classes and learned how to play the guitar. I had a really great music teacher, he was really helpful in introducing me to the instrument. So I picked it up from there.''

The band's blend of funk, rock and reggae is given a traditional twist, as many of their songs are sung in the local Luritja dialect.

Regardless of language, the crowds always get up and dance wherever the band plays, Zimran says, which is always a highlight.

''Seeing the people up and dancing and getting into our music and our rhythm is great,'' he says.

The universal appeal of music is an important part of the reconciliation process, Zimran believes.

''It doesn't matter who you are or where you're from, and I think it's great,'' he says. ''On this show, I think it'll be really important for us to get up on stage and share our music - and our language as well.''

ROCK FOR RECONCILIATION: TJINTU DESERT BAND, RADICAL SON, HUNG PARLIAMENT

WHEN: Saturday, July 20, 7pm-11pm

WHERE: The Street Theatre

TICKETS: Free, but bookings essential at thestreet.org.au