Allen & Heath’s Australian partner, Technical Audio Group (TAG), is undertaking a massive tour of Australia with the eye-catching Allen & Heath ‘Ampervan’, as part of their philanthropic arm, TAG Cares. Taking three vehicles with musical instruments, audio and lighting to the remote Indigenous Community of Amata in the South Australian Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands, the tour is TAG’s most ambitious project to date.

Sited 200 odd kilometres south of Uluru (Ayers Rock), Amata is a very remote community of around 500 people, that can only be reached via unsealed roads. ‘Despite its remoteness we were very keen to support this project as it ticked the boxes for us,’ said Maxwell Twartz, TAG Director. ‘The number one thing is to be invited to help, and by someone with standing and vision in the community.’

‘We received the call from Amata resident and Pitjantjatjara man, Tapaya Edwards. He’s a next generation guy, a respected figure in the community. He works with the school, manages a local music band and is a traditional performance artist in his own right. With his involvement we were super confident to undertake the project and we can’t speak highly enough of Tapaya’s contribution, and to making it all happen.’ said Max. At the beginning of April three vehicles with various loads of equipment converged on Coober Pedy. TAG Director Tony Russo drove the Allen & Heath ‘#Ampervan’ from Sydney via Port Augusta, TAG WA Sales Manager Marc Sharman, with his Nissan Patrol ‘Recovery 7,’ traversed the Nullarbor, and Max in his Toyota Landcruiser took the short-cut from Sydney via the Oodnadatta Track. Audio consultant David Gilfillan and project coordinator Billy Armstrong arrived by plane and completed the team of five.

The following day the vehicles formed a convoy to drive to Amata, with the #Ampervan causing quite a sensation on the dusty, unsealed roads. ‘The Fiat is certainly not your typical outback vehicle’ said Tony. ‘We needed to take it for its load carrying, but some had doubts it was really up to the long hauls and the loose sand and corrugations of hundreds of kilometres of dirt roads. Well it certainly proved the knockers wrong and got us and the gear safe to Amata very stylishly – which didn’t go unnoticed by Amata residents!’

Tapaya had requested the gear both for local band Mala and for the kids learning music at the Amata Anangu School. Seven-piece desert reggae band Mala have played and won local band competitions and certainly proved to be seriously good musicians. Several of the band members are employed by the school to help with programs teaching music and other arts. Tapaya’s vision was both to equip the band with pro quality gear to help them take steps forward in their music and performance, and also to have gear available at the school for the kids to learn on and use.

The TAG team landed with a haul of musical instruments, many donated by TAG staff and industry colleagues, including six guitars, two basses, three keyboards, guitar amps, a drum kit, an Allen & Heath mixer, a QSC PA, multicore, full complement of Audio-Technica microphones and headphones, plus lights, road cases and more.

‘Tapaya had organised a day at the school where we were able to teach two groups of kids the basics of sound and audio technology,’ said David, who headed up the sessions ably assisted by Tony. ‘It was a full day. The younger kids soaked up the basics and just wanted to perform and show their singing and music skills, while the older group were getting a grip on audio technology.’

‘Our choices of equipment were designed to challenge the kids and give those with curiosity a forward pathway,’ said Marc. ‘The best example is the mixer. Although a simple analogue mixer would have done the job, we took an Allen & Heath Qu-16 digital mixer because it provides a gateway to pro mixing and a centrepiece for wherever their musical and production talents takes them, be it recording or live. Plus, with its pre-sets you can return to ground zero whenever you get lost!’

‘The sessions proved to be a success and although we were able to teach the kids, I think most of the learning was done by us!’ said Billy. ‘We were all challenged in different ways but deeply rewarded by our experiences and better understanding of Indigenous culture and community.’

‘Many people and organisations came together to make this project happen and many thanks are due.’ Said Max. ‘First of all, special thanks to Tapaya who couldn’t have done a better job of organising and coordinating with the Amata community, school and Mala. Thanks to TAG staff who donated time and spare musical instruments, to Show Technology for lights, The Resource Corp. for stands, Design Quintessence for packers, Trumps Music, Soundtown, Mega Music and Australis for musical instruments and amps, and team members who donated their time and undertook the trip, Billy, David, Marc and Tony.’    The next day the TAG Cares team were back on the road to Uluru, after which Marc challenged the Great Central Road all the way to Kalgoorlie (and won!), and the rest of the team headed for Alice Springs where Tony, Billy and David flew home, Max headed up the Strzelecki Track and The Allen & Heath #Ampervan awaited TAG Sales Manager James McKenna for the next leg of its Aussie Outback Adventure. But that’s another story! Stay tuned.