Chris Tamwoy taps and strums his way in to the hearts of Woodford

by Isaac Gregor

Chris Tamwoy captivating the audience at the event ‘Always Has, Always Will Be’ – The Grande, Woodford Folk Festival.

An undeniable aspect of Woodford Folk Festival’s ethos is connectivity, and that theme has acted as a catalyst for performer Chris Tamwoy to connect with his culture and his family as his musical career takes off.

After being invited to talk and perform at a TedX Brisbane event in 2013, Chris Tamwoy explains that while his friends went and partied at Schoolies, he brought himself to Woodfordia to share his unique instrumentation style that had been brewing for some time.

“The opportunities from that TedX Brisbane talk and performance led to an opportunity to perform at Woodford,” Chris said.

“I was in this different mindset… my mates were at Schoolies and I was here at Woodford.”

It might not surprise some that the guitar was Chris’ second instrument of choice. Incorporating his rhythmic fills learned on the drums, the guitar virtuoso drew inspiration from seeing his cousin lay the guitar down on his lap, building on this to develop his signature style of air tap.

“I started playing drums when I was nine and I wanted to learn how to play the guitar after hearing a song, a traditional Torres Strait Islander song,” he said.

That song, ‘Ah Da Sor’, features on his 2015 EP ‘Ngaw Laag’ (My Home).

Chris is no stranger to Woodford Folk Festival, bringing some of his family along for this, his third visit.

“I had my little sister and my Uncle accompany me with backing vocals, and another cousin of mine played keys for the very first time,” he said.

The talent runs in the family, and Chris loves the idea of having his little sister, Tania-Rose Gibuma’s first festival performance here as well.

“My little sister, it’s her very first time performing at Woodford as an artist, so to bring her to Woodford, I thought to myself ‘Woodford was my first festival, so let’s keep it in the family.’”

2018 has been a big year for Chris – performing at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and giving an Acknowledgement of Country and People at the closing ceremony of the Invictus Games alongside Colin Hay – but he thinks 2019 is going to be bigger and better.

“We’re going to start off by taking some time out to think about how we’re going to tackle the next 12 months,” he said.

And if 2018 is anything to go by, the next year will see Chris go from strength to strength.

The last chance to catch Chris’ final performance at Woodford Folk Festival is 2:30pm at the Halycon Stage on Monday 31st, and is not one to be missed.

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