A PNG Music Mix in Queensland – M A Uechtritz

A PNG Music Mix in Queensland – M A Uechtritz

What are the odds of two Papua New Guinea-born creatives meeting by chance in the Highlands of Eudlo in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast hinterland? When Chris Cobb stepped inside the door of Bradley Campbell’s shed in late 2023, he found himself staring back at a photo of a young Bradley wearing the ceremonial costume of the wigmen of Tari.

Chris is a PNG national, newly moved to Eudlo. Bradley is a long-time local, born in PNG to an expatriate mother deeply versed in the botanical flora of the tropics and a father who ​​flew DC3s and Fokker Friendships, eventually becoming operations manager of Ansett and Air Niugini. It wasn’t long before the two were exchanging shared interests in creative pursuits, trading laughs and generating the roots of goodwill. 

Bradley is a sound engineer with a background in theatre and the film industry and Chris is a singer/songwriter who runs a talent agency in Port Moresby that supports local musicians. He is currently tracking the evolution of music in PNG, from the earliest drum beats through to reggae, rock and modern

Chris Cobb

pop, from which he plans to build a show to tour. Chris talks about his earliest influence coming from his Uncle Oliver who was the leader of a well-known local string band called ‘Gara Texas’. Two of the guitars in the band only had two strings and sounded like a bluegrass upright T-Box bass, and the other two guitars sounded like banjos.

He became a roadie and, at eighteen, was introduced to the ‘big rock band‘ world through the legendary Barike Band. For a kid growing up in faraway settlements, the radio also provided a gateway to international sounds. Who would have thought that in August 2023 he would unexpectedly find himself singing back-up to ‘Life is a Rollercoaster’ with Ronan Keating on stage in Singapore.

He arrives in Eudlo with fresh energy to focus on songwriting as well as to establish himself as a Sunshine Coast talent. He has already performed in various venues around the Coast and Hinterland, including nabbing a spot in Buskers by the Lake in 2022 and a number of gigs at Maleny Lane, where he joined forces with the popular Andrea Kirwin on 24 November.

Speaking to human rights issues in West Papua, Cobb crafted the moving single ‘Freedom’ and says that ‘writing songs that have meaning, and that can give a voice to the voiceless is what I’m really hoping to do more of in the future’. As a father of three, he is keen to produce an album of traditional PNG lullabies for children as well as an album of songs that fuses cultural chants with a contemporary twist—created in the unique style that has become a signature of his music. Chris is currently penning a more light-hearted album with the working title ‘Songs about Nating’; there’ll be something for everyone!

Bradley Campbell and Tuki wigman

Bradley started out as an actor with the Qld Theatre Company then went backstage and became props master. When he segued into the film industry, he became a sets dresser in the arts department and a props buyer, then took on what’s known as ‘standby props’, which involves producing ‘effects’. In the 70s and 80s, he did a lot of work in theatre education with Aboriginal kids out west, in Cape York and up at Groote Eylandt.

His focus at the moment, however, is on creating a ‘Gong Bath’—the placement and recording of various types of gongs such as Tibetan bowls, traditional Chinese Chao gongs, and wind gongs. Originally he wanted to produce a series of healing music that didn’t have the vibration of electronics in it, incorporating string sounds such as the magical harp and certain percussion instruments but, Bradley says, the gongs ‘just came along and started to own me’.

Gongs are particularly hard to record due to their frequencies, and even more so if you want to record a lot of gongs at once (composing). He envisions lining up about ten gongs on stands to play all at once using flumies—special mallets made from high-density rubber that come in different sizes and produce different tones and pitches. He wants to source sounds that resonate at lower frequencies in the cosmos and is confident the arrangement will prove to be an intuitive thing.

Researching gong-recording techniques and listening to hours and hours of gongs to see what works has led Bradley to the point of now creating the space necessary to start putting it all together. The path has been a fairly long one, and has also become a very personal one. Analysis has demonstrated the powerful effect that sound can have on our nervous system and physiology. Bradley’s longer term aim is to open the Gong Bath to others to access.


Worked for Burns Philp in Popondetta and Port Moresby from 1980 through 1987

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