Sydney Festival and Funkdafied audiences will witness for the first time ever, the compelling and rare musical ingenuity from members of the legendary and award-winning Kashmere Stage Band – the all funk big band survivors of the late 1960’s United States Big Band competition. Eleven original members of the thirty-something Kashmere Stage Band will take to the stage  as part of Sydney Festival 2013, alongside shows in Brisbane and Melbourne.

At a time when citizens took to the streets in unison with clenched fists held high as a powerful symbol of unification and resistance, racial segregation and political uncertainty compounded civil unrest, consequently reducing America to its knees.

One band stood to overcome the violence that permeated an entire nation, uniting a community together, breaking the profound racial tension through the power of Funk music! 

In 1967, Texan music teacher Conrad O. Johnson formed a band with his all African American high school students at Kashmere High School called the Kashmere Stage Band. Competing in the fiercely competitive, conservative and almost entirely white national High School Stage Band Competitions, the Kashmere Stage Band exceled beyond expectations.

546470_214147282054376_1634532538_nThe Kashmere Stage Band

Johnson and his big band broke down racial barriers and challenged the status quo with their elaborate funk arrangements. He also changed the band’s look, encouraging them to embrace their own inimitable style by introducing an unprecedented element of showmanship; with each section choreographing slick moves with their instruments.

Amassing multiple awards around the nation, they went on to perform in Europe and Japan upon invitation. Reigning as the untouchable champions of the Big Band prestigious competition for years, Johnson not only changed the lives of hundreds of students, he instilled racial pride, faith and inner strength at a time when such values seemed a distant fable. Ultimately, his teaching methods went on to impact an entire education system, valuing and placing importance on the arts. His rigorous and heart-felt teaching methods were later espoused by the US education system, and to this day, continues to make an impact upon the lives of many students.

The band’s recordings have been collected by crate-diggers, feted (and sampled) by luminaries like DJ Shadow, and reissued by respected record label Stones Throw Records. All members of Kashmere Stage Band are aged in their 50’s, proving that music can not only serve as a powerful tool for education and change, but transcends age, race and gender.

What happens next proves to be historic!

For Sydney siders, Sydney Festival’s Paradiso at Town Hall and Sutherland Entertainment Centre, Kashmere Stage Band live performance is preceded by a screening of the fascinating documentary about them entitled Thunder Soul, narrated by Jamie Foxx. This is inspiring documentary details the history of the band and them coming together again for a special performance 30 years later. It is a truly inspirational documentary that details the legacy of both the Kashmere Stage Band and their legendary teacher Conrad ‘Prof’ Johnson.

January 18-27 (18+ only)


Thu-Sun late night line-up til 2am

Where         Paradiso at Town Hall

When          January 20 Thunder Soul documentary screening at 7pm, Kashmere Stage Band at 9pm(free entry to Paradiso Terrace Bar from 5.30pm)

Tickets        $46 (standing tickets only, cushions provided for film screening)

Bookings    Ticketmaster 1300 723 038

                       Sydney Festival 1300 668 812


Where         Sutherland Entertainment Centre 30 Eton Street, Sutherland

When          January 18TH, 2013 at 8pm (Performance and Screening)

Bookings    Sydney Festival 1300 668 812

                     Sutherland Entertainment Centre 02 9521 8888

Where         Parramatta Festival Opening Night (Performance Only)

When          January 19TH, 2013



Where         Brisbane Powerhouse (Performance and Screening)

When          JANUARY 25TH, 2013




Where         Garden Party – SouthBank (Performance Only)

When          January 27th, 2013


kashmere poster 2013



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