Aborigine culture comes to Carnival

The buzz has hit the streets, and on Feb. 12, there will be a buzz inside Paddlewheel Hall for Winter Carnival when Aussie band OKA plays the Komasket Music Festival Valentine’s dance.

  • Feb. 3, 2011 11:00 a.m.
OKA’s Chris Lane

OKA’s Chris Lane

The buzz has hit the streets, and on Feb. 12, there will be a buzz inside Paddlewheel Hall for Winter Carnival when Aussie band OKA plays the Komasket Music Festival Valentine’s dance.

Last seen in Vernon this past summer, OKA’s feel-good dance vibes –– a mix of Aborigine roots, reggae, jazz, and electronica –– made the band one of the favourites of the 2010 Komasket festival, said KMF artistic director Devaki Thomas.

“The magic OKA made at Komasket 2010 is still echoing in the valley,” said Thomas, adding the Carnival dance is to raise funds for this year’s 10th annual festival to take place at Komasket Park on the Okanagan Indian Reserve.

“The plan is to present a lineup featuring some of the favourite artists from the last nine years with a few surprises thrown in,” she said. “With the Canada-wide cuts to arts funding, festivals are having to be creative to pay the bills and the KMF has a passion for and a template for these dance parties.”

Hailing from Australia’s Gold Coast, OKA’s sound is deeply rooted in the laid-back coastal style of their ancestral home.

The band consists of Stu Boga Fergie (aka “Didgeristu,” as nicknamed by his Yakin Andu elders), the big man behind the beats, and raw didgeridoo rhythms and vocals; Chris Lane on slide guitar and woodwinds, including Indian and Chinese bamboo flutes and soprano sax; and newest member Charles “Zappa” Wall on native percussion and drums.

OKA has already independently sold more than 60,000 albums worldwide, a true testament to their ever growing appeal to people of all ages and cultures.

Following four previous album releases, the band’s latest release, OKA Love, is a celebration of Australian cultures, sinking deep into the roots of the Asia Pacific region.

The album, which blends organic earth rhythms in a smooth hi-fidelity sound full of uplifting melodies, tones and textures, was recorded by Fergie and Lane in their own studio in Coolum Beach, Queensland.

While touring extensively, OKA has built a loyal fan-base, gaining a reputation as crowd pullers wherever they perform.

They were voted one of the top five memorable festival performances alongside festival headliners Sting and Kiss at last year’s Quebec Summer Festival. 

Besides Komasket, they have also played Canadian festivals such as the Montreal Jazz Festival, Winnipeg Folk Festival, Vancouver Folk Festival, Montreal’s DiversCite, Salmo’s Shambhala, Nova Scotia’s Evolve, and the Calgary Stampede.

Down under, OKA was featured at more than 20 festivals this past year alone.

“OKA’s  hypnotic, high-energy live performances are a spontaneous exploration into the sublime. They consistently set themselves apart as a festival crowd favourite with their originality, honesty, and passion,” said Thomas. “The band is also easily internationally transportable. Technology and years of refinement mean they can tour their massive sound with no compromise or excess baggage costs.”

The Komasket/Winter Carnival Valentine’s Dance Party with OKA and special guests takes place Saturday, Feb. 12 at Paddlewheel Hall in Okanagan Landing. Doors open at 8 p.m. and tickets are $20 in advance at the Ticket Seller (549-7469, www.ticketseller.ca), the Bean Scene and the Vernon Winter Carnival office. Kids 12 and under are free.