Family makes a connection with cultural take on classic

Coonamble’s school communities have thrown their support behind a local band hoping to make it on the national stage, writes Vanessa Lahey.

Image: Keeping up with the Joneses: The band Castlereagh Connection

Three brothers from Coonamble’s primary and high schools have taken their culture to the national stage as entrants in this year’s production of The Voice: Generations.

The musical siblings and their dad fronted a panel of celebrity judges as band Castlereagh Connection, named after the iconic Castlereagh River that flows through their nation’s land.

Dad David “Davo” Jones, who is also a youth mentor at Coonamble Public School, said the river was significant to them as it has always “connected us together”.

The talented team of traditional owners from Wailwan Country performed classic song Stand by Me, made famous by African-American singer Ben E. King, with a local twist.

Castlereagh Connection front man and lead singer Travis Jones is the youngest band member and also the 2022 Coonamble Public School captain.

Coonamble Public School relieving principal Anthea Robinson said the whole school community and all of Coonamble felt proud and excited to see the incredibly talented Castlereagh Connection on the big stage.

“We are lucky to be able to see their talent locally and now they have had the wonderful opportunity to share it with a wider audience,” Ms Robinson said.

Castlereagh Connection struck a chord with the live television audience when they broke into Gamilaraay language for the chorus.

“They did an outstanding job and it was very special to hear part of their song sung in Gamilaraay,” Ms Robinson said.

“What an experience. We’re so happy for them and will continue to be their number one fans.”

The decision to incorporate Indigenous language into the lyrics was an important feature of the performance.

“We want to bring back our language and culture,” Travis proudly highlighted in a Channel 7 interview.

Coonamble High School Executive Principal Stewart Vidler was equally chuffed that his school’s two students David Jones Jnr (Year 9, on guitar) and Braydon Dodd (Year 8, on drums) appeared on The Voice: Generations in their family band.

“With their dad on bass and younger brother on vocals and guitar, they sounded fantastic singing Stand by Me, and made all of us here in Coonamble so proud of their achievement in getting to the last 16 from around 1000 competitors.

Mr Vidler said the school was committed to providing students access to creative arts, especially music, and ensuring the school represented Gamiliaraay culture so students felt school was relevant to them.

“Even though Castlereagh Connection was formed outside of school, they are greatly supported across our whole community, we applaud their efforts because they show all our students that remarkable things are possible,” Mr Vidler said.

“We look forward to hearing more from Braydon and David as their star rises.”

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