Updated: Jun 24, 2020
Hughie and I had just played a show at the Raleigh Hall and were about to head home when we decided to stop in and see Ian Casey, owner of Real Feel Studios, Nymboida. When we phoned Ian, he sound tired and shaken. We had heard about the terrifying ordeal that Nymboida residents underwent when a massive firestorm swept through the village, and it was no surprise to us that residents were still traumatised. We began making our way up to visit, racing the Brisbane XPT for a few hundred metres were tracks and country road aligned.
Just as we were arriving in Nymboida Ian called again, explaining quickly that the RFS Recovery Party was going on at the Nymboida Community Hall. All the fire survivors were there, and they had two pigs on a spit... but no band. Ian asked if we would roll the piano out for a few tunes and we readily agreed.
We had our reservations about walking into this community unannounced. These people had been through so much- we didn't want to intrude on their night of fun. We needn't have worried though. The moment we opened the piano trailer doors, six burly Nymboida men whisked the piano into the hall and onto the stage, with no need for the ramp we usually use.
The crowd were warm and welcoming... and ready to cut loose. Voices from Nymboidans young and old rang against the corrugated tin roof, as residents took turns taking to the stage to sing accompanied by Hughie and Ian on drums. Children ran riot, dancing and laughing, shedding the stress and anxiety of the previous weeks, grateful that there were no fatalities.
Hughie played piano for almost 4 hours straight, stopping only when a shot glass of "bush tequila" was thrust his way by local chef Wal (the mastermind who transformed two huge pig carcasses into hundreds of delicious gourmet tacos to feed the hungry revellers).
In the early hours of the morning the piano was wheeled down the ramp to the hall courtyard. While we left it there to prepare the trailer, another party started up outside, with musical locals taking it in turns to serenade each other.
Hughie and I were astounded by the community spirit that abounded that night, in a room were two thirds of the dancers, danced despite having no home to go to at the end of the night. These were people dancing like they were determined that fire would not take anything more from them.