Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Explanatory note re: url of support material for Greg Sheehan nomination

 When I began putting this nomination together, I set up a ‘Facebook group’ for people to post relevant material and stories, called ‘Greg Sheehan’s contribution to Australian Music – Your Personal Story’.

This was conceived as a way to enable geographically diverse members of the artistic community to have their voice heard. It has since exploded with testimonials and expressions of appreciation from an ever-growing number of people who have leapt at the opportunity to pay tribute to Greg Sheehan’s importance in their own artistic and personal journeys and in the cultural landscape of contemporary Australia.

Due to the excessive size of the Facebook group, I consulted with a member of the music staff and proposed that I make a reduced selection of these accounts in order to highlight the most relevant to this nomination. Culling down the entries proved to be difficult, as, in their entirety they paint a very clear picture of the nature of Greg Sheehan’s contribution. They are stories that resound with the unequivocal wish for Greg Sheehan be formally recognised as the musical giant that he is. 

Please note that some have been edited for the sake of brevity and can be found in their entirety on the original Facebook page:

(*a Facebook account is required to log in to view this page)

The posts are ordered so as to give the clearest picture possible, not only of the quality of Greg Sheehan’s contribution to Australian music, but also of the sheer scope of his influence in terms of all the different circles, genres and movements he has been an integral part of. I understand the likelihood that they may not all be read due to time restraints, yet I trust that within this selection you will find evidence to illustrate a range of important factors to be considered in your evaluation of his nomination. The pictures included are a few examples of Greg’s rhythmic notation systems. I hope you will take the time to absorb the amplitude of the overall message, which given here in the form of a tapestry of accounts.

Thank you, 
Naomi Jean

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Selected testimonials for Greg Sheehan Don Banks Award nomination

Michael Askill

I first met Greg in the 80s when Nigel Westlake asked me to join the Magic Puddin’ Band as marimba player and percussionist. Hearing Greg play was a revelation. In the intervening years he has never lost his enthusiasm and passion for unlocking the secrets and potential of the mathematics of rhythm. He is able to transform numbers and formulae into the deepest grooves imaginable, whether it is using body percussion or whatever happens to be in his hands at the time. His generosity of spirit shines through his music making and this makes him a constant inspiration for players (both young and old) and for his adoring audience. Greg is a genuine master musician and should be considered a National Treasure for his untiring dedication to the elevation of his art.

Jaslyn Hall

What an honour to share a few words about this inspirational musician and colleague. World music in Australia owes its popularity to a handful of key people. Greg Sheehan is one such stand-out music messenger who has generously given his considerable talent, knowledge and time to anyone who asks. He has filled my most memorable radio shows on Triple J and ABC Radio National with passion and joy, his collaborations with other musicians so inventive and adventurous, he always has a story to tell in rhythm, I love every recording, every live performance and every encounter. May he be recognised as a kind-hearted man, a teacher, a leader, and for his awesome contribution to the listening pleasure of Australia and his fans worldwide. His music touches hearts and ears.

Greg Sheehan is not only one of the most valuable teachers rhythmically in Australia, but he has also inspired artists like myself and countless others as a performer. I have known Greg for 17 years and in that time have performed alongside him and seen him play all over the world and of course Australia. He has a unique ability to practice what he preaches by displaying virtuosity musicianship of the highest level, then by being the most supportive and humble teacher and spreading knowledge and passion. A teacher of that calibre is not often a celebrated performer in his own country. Greg is a national treasure of rhythmic knowledge, and Australia is definitely a richer place for having him here.

I first saw Greg Sheehan play in the late 1970's with Richard Clapton's, 'Good bye Tiger' tour and resolved to seek Greg out, to work together, if the opportunity ever presented. That opportunity came in 1984, when I was working on the second Goanna album, 'Oceania'. Greg added musically to the project in a unique way. Greg's work also featured on my album 'Time Will Tell' and on another Goanna album, 'Spirit Returns'.

It was always a joy to work with Greg. He is an intuitive and boldly innovative musician and has brought these skills to bear whenever we've worked together, live or in the studio. I have seen him perform over many years now, in many incarnations and his work is always exciting and individual.

He is a bona fide 'timelord', a master of drums and percussion. 

Australian Art Orchestra, Vince Jones, Katie Noonan, Paul Grabowsky Quintet, Matt McMahon trio, Sandy Evans’ GEST8, Scott Tinkler, Scott Tinkler Trio, Drub

Greg has been a great inspiration and mentor to me for over 20 years. Around 1994, after a challenging gig with Mark Simmonds Freeboppers, Greg gave me a life changing drum lesson (whilst sitting in the street while it rained) and opened my mind to an amazing array of rhythmic possibilities.
Greg's generous help had a profound effect on me and gave me new direction and focus for every aspect of music making. He is without doubt a national treasure and one of the most inspiring performers/educators we have. I feel extremely fortunate to have spent time with such a wonderful musician here and there over the years


I think it is important that musical practice such as Gregs, are documented within musicological frameworks and become part of the wider discourse surrounding Australian music.

Please refer to Barry Hill's Honours paper on Greg Sheehan for more information.
          Greg Sheehan and the Drummers of Northern NSW
          (Hippy Drummers=serialist composers?)

Aneesh Pradhan

I am glad to hear of this group and I sincerely hope Greg receives the award. I have known him through my student Bobby Singh and have always had the highest regard for his music and musicianship. Recently, I had occasion to perform with him and also play some of his compositions. Music lovers, students and musicians in India witnessed his amazing virtuosity during the Baajaa Gaajaa festival in February 2011. I hope he can make many more visits to India to regale listeners and train young students in workshops.

Natalie Pa'apa'a
Frontwoman - Blue King Brown, Co director - Roots Level Records

Greg Sheehan is in no small way a major influence and inspiration behind my music.
I started playing and performing with Greg when I was 18 years old, he spotted me and my partner playing drums on the street and we have been so grateful for his open approach to teaching or more like, sharing his ideas, feelings and knowledge of rhythm. Having spent 6-7 years under Greg’s rhythmic wing alongside many other musicians young and old I have a deep connection and sense of rhythm that was nurtured and developed performing alongside, possibly this countries most under celebrated, contributor of Australian rhythm to Australian music. I strongly feel that someone like Greg should not financially struggle, ever, not considering the amount of energy he continuously gives without expectation.

I have performed with Greg at countless festivals and watched him use his spare time to give workshops to festival crowds, I’ve been there with him when he leads an army of drummers through difficult rhythms and a room full of body percussionists through odd timing patterns.

My band Blue King Brown are famous for our heavy percussive grooves and individual Australian style, and Greg is in my eyes the guru of that rhythmic inspiration. I hope you will seriously consider him again this year for the Don Banks Award, we the musicians of Australia would love to see him acknowledged like this!


Life is a series of moments where 'chance' and destiny collide to create what in Hindsight might be called a career or life path. When I look at the pivotal moments in my life where music, cultural community work and teaching have plotted their way, I can trace a pathway that began with an informal jam in Brisbane over 16 years ago. Greg was this larger than life character that shared a space in which everyone present was free to contribute. Over the years I grew to become friends with Greg and we shared stories of his life, music, travels, relationships and number system. At certain points Greg would call me up for a workshop he was unable to do and asked me if I would do it. Big shoes to fill, but I did it anyway. Greg's belief and trust in me as a musician and workshop facilitator has supported me in finding my own career path, taking me across the world doing body and voice percussion, musical theatre, circus and performing. No university training or professional development could ever have prepared me for what lay in store, that was fostered by a genuine belief that music is truly a language that crosses race and culture and brings people together. Greg has opened my view of the world into a musical one where endless possibilities are revealed through a disciplined and generous approach to inclusiveness and participation. These qualities I employ in my approach to working with Indigenous bands and clients in the central desert regions of Australia. They are working for me very well and publicly I wish to thank Greg for his influence and inspiration in helping me to inspire others.

Bobby Singh

Greg Sheehan is a legend in every sense of the word! He is one of the all time greats, a rare combination of teacher, player and thinker! His numbers system and way of thinking has influenced so many musicians around the world. I have been lucky enough to play with him in Australia and around the world, but my favourite was being in India with him and having a drum jam with folk drummers of Maharashtra and Gujrat... It was like a Woodford drum jam with Greg leading!! Wow, what a moment... Thanks Pandit Greg Sheehan.

Jordan Verzar

I snuck into the Harbourside Brasserie at 17 years of age. Inching my way across a thin concrete gutter, around the side of the building. Face pressed against a plate glass window which afforded the affluent lobster eaters at the Harbourview restaurant to view my folly in an entertainingly first hand manner. After this, you jumped through the window at the back of the venue and if none of the staff saw you... You were safe. This evening, I was safe.

I then witnessed the power of the Greg Sheehan orchestrated "Big Drum Up". This evening changed my dissatisfied view of how music was presented forever. I was forever changed and massively inspired and influenced by the way this show was orchestrated. Little did I know that a few years after that I would be working with Greg and co. to present Big Drum Ups and associated creatures at large festivals and other venues.

In truth, it all comes down to the music and I feel this is a spiritual hand that guides its servants. Greg has an astonishingly pure connection. His music, energy, aesthetic, generosity and teachings have had the most astonishing ripple effect, changing the fate and touching the lives of many.

MUSICA VIVA, AFRICAN EXPRESS, Xenos,  Flying Fruit Fly Circus,  Zulya, Gondwanaland,  Sirocco, Diana AhNaid, Christine Anu
I have been a musician/composer/producer and teacher for some 35 years. As well as working freelance, I am currently involved in the Musica Viva in Schools program and have performed around 700 school concerts in the last 5 years.

I have known Greg Sheehan for most of those 35 years both as a colleague and friend. I can state unequivocally that Greg is a living treasure. He is one of the best percussionists in the country and brings a unique perspective to his music. He has studied the music of many different cultures, assimilated it, respected it, and used it to form his own unique style.

Greg has had to tread the rocky road of life as a freelance musician in Australia, and while he has had to do the odd gig just to pay the bills, he has always kept a singular vision of moving ahead with his music. Indeed, even though we live in different cities, every time I meet up with Greg, he has something new to show me. Something that always bamboozles me and confirms what a genius he is. He has taught and mentored countless young musicians and has always been generous with sharing his knowledge and expertise.

The question “What is Australian music?” is often asked.
Greg Sheehan is the living answer to that question and I can think of no-one more deserving of public recognition and support.

Matt Goodwin

I met Greg in Bondi, Sydney in 1988, he was teaching young musicians at the Bondi Wave, a ten week music course. Greg showed me an understanding and passion for rhythm I had never known. His unbelievable fire and energy left me gobsmacked! I instantly wanted to know more about this wild man with the long hair and the East’s football jersey. I was 18 when Greg asked me what I thought of the idea of forming a percussion band with him and 3 other great young drummers he knew. I was blessed. Utungun Percussion was formed. We toured Australia and the world together... I still remember driving through the Countryside in the band van with Greg sticking his head out the window yelling, "excuse me!" at the cows, to which they all, simultaneously looked up at us... the band lost it!  Always a joker, Greg makes life funAfter having performed countless gigs and travelling millions of miles with Greg I am pleased to have this chance to say...I am very honoured to have met Greg, he has given me the guidance and taught me the skills to express myself through music... and make a career of it! 

A true master... Always delivering the goods... On fire! An amazing teacher... A beautiful man...

Thank you Greg.

Charles Wall

Probably the most amazing and Humble musician I have ever met. A true inspiration. He gives so much time to so many people. I'm so thankful. Whether it’s sharing the stage at various woodfords or jamming in the park, it's a true honour. Thanks Greg you're the man. Looking forward to more playing in the future. 10 10 10 2 ...

Si Mullumby 

Greg has been the greatest influence on my music and musicianship since I begun playing didgeridoo in 1993. As a non-indigenous didgeridoo player and out of respect for the custodians and traditional origins of the didgeridoo I have developed my own style and way of playing. Adopting Greg’s system of the numbers of drumming and applying it to the didgeridoo gave me the key to excel in my contemporary approach with this instrument. Greg gave me a map to understand rhythm from the inside, a way to be able to navigate complicated grooves through understanding a few very simple components.

I have since gone on to develop a method of playing didgeridoo based entirely on Greg’s number system of the numbers of rhythm. Apart from my international touring career with Wild Marmalade, I have taught workshops all around the world to hundreds of didgeridoo players, both beginners and advanced, further spreading Greg’s groundbreaking work.
I have never known someone so absolutely generous with his time and energy, who never ceases to tire of teaching others and who has an unstoppable will to play and develop his ideas. Greg’s concepts are theoretical in basis but have a fantastic application in the formation of new grooves and melodic phrases. With this system of subdividing the groove there is no limit to what can be created.

I have been watching Greg’s concerts for 18 years, learning his system of drumming for 15 years and playing concerts with Greg over the last 10 years. In this time I have seen him lift many musicians from a place of raw talent into professional careers.  
I know no other who is more suited to the Don Banks Award. Greg Sheehan is the greatest asset to the Australian music scene. The effects of his work and teachings have spread way beyond the Australian shores, rippling around the globe with an impact that is tangible and vast.

Latai Taumoepeau


A Tongan proverb comes to mind as I reflect on the masterful Greg Sheehan.
‘Pā kuo fa'u ‘ A fishhook made with great craftsmanship - meaning when excellent craft or art work is seen as a measure of it's creator's abilities. 

Introduced by 'Sistanative' in Bundgalung country; I participated in Greg’s, compulsory body percussion classes in music at Southern Cross University Lismore NSW. I was blown away to say the least, by this seemingly simple and accesible process of a much more complex and sophisticated methodology. 

Gregs love for Polynesian rhythm and the people has benefitted me and other Pacific/Australian emerging artists. Greg's rhythm and notation system has enabled me to explore in depth, the indigineity of rhythmic sequences; its inseparable relationship with physical movement and their collective function, particularly in Oceanian cultural contexts. 

I am currently part of an ensemble of dancers working with Greg on a multicultural contemporary performance work titled ‘Mother Tongue’ conceived and choreographed by Annalouise Paul to be presented in 2012. Greg’s number system has been an invaluable way for a culturally diverse cast of multi disciplines to communicate inside and outside of their form to co-exist rhythmically without loosing cultural integrity.

Greg is not limited to being an exceptional musician, he is an outstanding human being; his excellence is evident in his ability to sustain the universal function of music crossing social, economic and political boundaries with respect and humility. Greg is a precious gift, and in his lifetime, must be acknowledged, celebrated and rewarded for his selfless contribution and sacrifices to Australian music with love.

John Butler

I’d like to support Greg Sheehan's nomination for the Don banks award because he’s a bloody big fat legend! His contribution to the Australian music scene has been extensive. His passion for rhythm and teaching has educated and inspired generations of musicians; from Blue King Brown, The Bird, to my own trio. In OZ music circles he IS LEGEND. No doubt about it.

Kia Mistilis

I first met Greg Sheehan in 1988, he was playing with Coolangubra at Brackets and Jam – a weekly open mic music night run by volunteers in Sydney. Coolangubra’s music was so evocative of the Australian bush, it moved me to tears. Throughout the years, I have danced and been uplifted at so many of Greg’s gigs across many genres - from the ground breaking percussion bands like Utungun Percussion and Skin to the improvised jazz of F.A.T.S. In 1999, the Woodford Folk Festival offered Greg the Creative Director role for their millennium festival event: The Rhythm Festival. With a tiny budget and a team of production volunteers (of which I was one) Greg masterfully directed an incredible indigenous and multicultural performing arts festival, and led the house band. 20 acts comprising 105 national and international performers participated in a 5 hour show celebrating cultural diversity and dedicated to the unity of all peoples. As well as a live audience of 30 000 people, it was the only Australian New Year’s event outside Sydney to be included in a global broadcast to an audience of 1.5 billion people for the new millennium. It was so successful the Woodford Folk Festival incorporated The Rhythm Festival as a permanent bi-annual event. I consider Greg Sheehan a great man for his big heart, humility and terrific sense of humour; all of which he brings, with his phenomenal musicianship, to every gig he plays, and every workshop he teaches. Thanks to Greg, I have even learned some body percussion, there are many enthusiastic rhythm students out there who are not musicians, but love music, and Greg kindles that spark lovingly and with great generosity.

Nashua Lee

Greg is a true innovator, teacher and wonderful human being. His unique and ever evolving language is truly an amazing gift and contribution to music and people in general. Transcending style and boundaries. Greg has a musical voice that is open and free and continues to work in infinite settings. I'm very grateful for Greg's influence with my music as he shared freely without any rigid musical bias or formalized heir-achy. A very honest and integral Musician.

Greg Andresen

It was Greg Sheehan, with his "Big Drum Up" nights in Sydney in the early to mid-90s – a huge part of which was his group Utungun Percussion – that opened my eyes to how powerful and how musical, untuned percussion groups could be. This inspiration played a big part in my musical journeys with firstly junk-percussion trio Pablo Percusso, and later with Japanese taiko group TaikOz.
It is extremely rare to meet a musician and percussionist who is a complete original, whose ideas, whose musical output, whose creativity appear truly his or her own. Greg is one such artist. If he was Japanese, I'm sure he would have long ago been designated one of their 'Living National Treasures'! The cultural landscape of Australia would be very different, and truly the worse off, without Greg's creative output, mentorship, generosity and inspiration over many decades (not to mention his great sense of humour!).

Kelly Staines

When I first met Greg it was one of those pivotal moments in life when you know you've stumbled on something great! Suddenly the windows were open and there was so many new possibilities.
I’d had a few 'instructors' up until this point but Greg was my first real teacher in the truest sense of the word. He set a bar for me that I've never wanted to lower - a bar that strives for excellence, pushes boundaries and is earnest and true.
In the early days of Utungun Percussion I was having some problems with my playing - no amount of Paradiddles or Doolikas could resolve the dilemma. Greg sat me down and said… "Kell, you need to put your sticks down, go and sit in the bush and just listen. Listen to the birds, listen to the wind and turn all of that in to your playing" They were life changing words for me!
Greg teachers from the heart, speaks from the heart, plays from the heart and lives from his heart. I have been so lucky to have him in my life.


Greg, you're a massive inspiration and constant reminder for me to be myself on the kit no matter what and to think outside the box and be original!
No one on the planet does what you do.

I am blessed to have the honour of having performed along side you, hearing you cutting up numbers left right and centre on your little kit while I tried desperately to keep time on mine!

César Rodrigues


Sheehhanisms were filtered down to me via musicians in Melbourne who had drunk from the same Sheehan cup. I watched, played, admired Sheehanisms for a very long time and it was only this year I had the privilege to drink from the fountain myself. No one else comes to mind when I try and think of another Australian who has made a conceptual offering to music and musicians that has visibly changed and affected the climate like Sheehan.


I first heard Greg play at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, with Irish supergroup, Coolfinn. I was fascinated by this tall Aussie who could make a tiny, toy tambourine sound like a cross between tabla and a drumkit.

When I first came to Australia as a backpacking musician, friends and many musicians in the UK and Ireland all said, “Check out this amazing drummer over there, Greg Sheehan!”

And as is the way of things, our paths did cross after meeting on stage at the fire event Woodford 2003/4. Now, 7 years and 2 kids later, I can positively say that Greg was and still is one of the biggest influences in my musical development as a violinist.

He inspired me to stretch myself far beyond the trad Irish fiddling background I came from, encouraged me to dive deep into the rhythmic patterns in melodies, and challenged me to step out of my comfort zone and learn to improvise… all of which I’m so grateful for! He continues to be a great mentor of mine.

He is also a dear friend, with a huge heart, and a bottomless pit of humour, who moves through life with unending curiosity and an eye for beauty in all sorts of unexpected places, often seeing the spark in many young musicians and artists in all corners of life, and supporting them to let it shine, finding delight in watching his many students take wing and fly with their art.

Airileke Ingram

One of Australia's only true masters. Greg set me on my way when I was 8 years old at "Drumming up Darwin" in 1983. It was then that I first learnt to tell a story with rhythm. That story has become my own now. In 1993 we started Drum Drum... 18 years later, the story continues... I’ve been blessed to have seen the world now through the life force of rhythm and culture.... thanx to Greg.

Greg is a true master, a guru. One who continues to leave wherever he goes better than how he finds it. 

Much love and respect to the King of Diamonds!

Ben Fink

Greg Sheehan- Hand drum virtuoso? Community leader? Eternal child? Zen Master?

The very first time I heard Greg Sheehan it was one of those rare and deeply profound moments. The joyous sounds I was hearing, the focus and presence I was witnessing, the fiery passion that was commanding my, and everyone else's, full attention. For an 18 year old musician, with a random collection of confused and naïve notions of what it means to be a musician, this was my first glimpse of what true musicianship is, the true path of the artist was right there before me.

It was at Brackets and Jam, late '80's, when it was at Crossroads theatre, Darlinghurst. Coolangubra were touring a show to spruik the benefits of keeping old growth forests, a multimedia event before such things were trendy. William Yang projected his beautiful photos of the forest, while Greg, Cleis Pearce and Steve Berry played music that defied description, other than it was true communication between the musicians themselves, as well as between them and the audience. At times it was like being part of a spiritual gathering, at others it was like some magical show, watching death defying feats of intuition and improvisation.

A few months afterwards Greg did a solo show at Brackets and Jam, and this is where he really let his light shine, where his virtuosic mastery of rhythm collided head on with his playful "hey! look at what I can do with this!" showmanship skills. Rubber lizards and rubber duckies, baby rattles and whistles, toy tambourines, and even simple bowls of water were used to entrance and entertain the audience. He had us all in the palm of his hand.

Sometime later there was a Big Drum Up (possibly the first one), upstairs at Kinselas, and the finale of the show was based around some of Australia's best drummers, all seven of them in a row, at their kits, playing a strange and wonderful 17/18 groove together. We're talking people like Greg, Andrew Gander, David Jones, etc. An amazing sound it was, and then, inevitably, came the solo's, all seven of them.

One by one, each drummer did exactly same thing; they would start slow, building up gradually through the valley of paradiddles, until finally they're breaking the sound barrier, smashing every bit of the kit within an inch of its life. Somehow this was proving their prowess and domination over their instrument. All this is fine if its once in a big show at the Enormo-dome, but here, after 6 times in a row it was all getting pretty un-musical and predictable. Greg was last in line, and I had my hopes pinned on him to save the day.

There are so many great teachers out there, but Greg, as a teacher, as a leader, as a communicator, is of a very rare and special breed. without a doubt, there are quite literally thousands of people who have gone to the University of Greg Sheehan, many who have then gone on to become teachers themselves, and the cycle goes on.
From the first hit you could tell Greg was coming from a different angle, you could hear, and even see, him greet each individual piece of the drum kit as its own instrument, it was like he was the only one that actually saw all the different qualities each drum/cymbal had to offer, musically exploiting all those subtle differences. His solo was the only one where I actually felt that music was being created, he was playing within and around the rhythm, finding the cracks and paths in the groove that all the others chose to ignore, or maybe couldn't see. While they were busy chasing domination, inevitably racing faster and faster towards their human powered armageddon, Greg just played music.

Along the way, every now and then, we are lucky enough to find people that inspire us, inspire us to dream things that are beyond our immediate reach and abilities. Greg is without a doubt such a person; his enthusiasm is contagious, his deep knowledge of rhythms from all around the world is no doubt at a professorial level, his never ending search for new sounds and rhythms know no bounds, and his sense of community is something that has brought a lot of people together over the years.

In my opinion Greg is a national treasure, one of Australia's great intangible assets.

Top of Form
Bottom of Form
Trevor Brown 

My first experience of the Sheehan Machine, was playing at the crossroads theatre at a bracket n jam back round '88. He had just mesmerised the audience for 20 minutes with a salad bowl and a garbage bin. I was fronting up with a conglomerate of very serious young free-jazzers, (we all went on to start the What is Music? series, so young, so pretentious) and for the next 40min long exploration Greg showed exactly what it was, communication, acceptance, and joy. This is something that he's imparted to all that have worked with him or even observed him on stage.

Since that time, 23 years, I've been lucky enough to witness or share a wealth of inspiration from a wealth of experiences, too, across all levels of music and society. From steering an avalanche of chai tent drummers at 4am into a multipart symphony, to rocking the house at An Droichead Beag with Steve Cooney et al, in south west ireland, to inspiring young and old indigenous in the NT, to classical Indian concerts, to Woodford closing ceremonies, it's actually hard to think of an Australian musician who may have had such a directly inspirational effect on or society. Thanks Greg...


Some thoughts on Greg Sheehan’s incredible contribution to musical life in Australia.
Essentially the reason I became involved with percussion was because of witnessing a duo between guitarist Mark Punch and Greg on everything else at a tiny Glebe Pt rd cafe then called The Toucan back around 1981. They were part of the larger Magic Pudding Band - an iconic ensemble of the time with no less than Cleis Pierce and Nigel Westlake amongst other luminaries in the line up. Such was Greg's mesmerising performance that the next day this young guitarist (as I presented myself then) went out and bought a kalimba, my first hand drum (North Indian Dholak) and some shakers and began the exploration I continue 30 years later. Greg has since become a good friend and collaborator.

One memorable moment that comes to mind is seeing Greg dressed in the band uniform of a "mission skirt" being driven across the Opera House forecourt suspended 3 metres high on a platform on a forklift - in front of an audience of 14,000 - accompanied by Wayne Freer (tuba) and Marcus Holden (violin) headed toward a band stage to meet myself and guitarist Llew Keik. Greg was driving the ensemble along with his famous tiny tambourine - backed up by a 4 storey high scaffold tower showcasing 15 more drummers pounding large 44 gallon style drums - for the opening event of the 1997 Sydney Festival "Kelly's Republic".

How can we contain Greg's profound influence and inspiration in a few sentences?

I would recommend reading Barry Hills BA honours thesis concerning North Coast drumming culture with Greg at the epicentre. Barry is Assoc professor of Music Technology at RMIT Melbourne and surely must have made a submission on behalf of Greg for this award. Greg's gift of making profoundly beautiful music with humour and joy has seen him reach across genres and audiences. His early rock bands as a teenager (Blackfeather's Boppin’ the Blues no less!) and the extraordinary Mackenzie Theory during the latter 70's are enough to secure a place in Australian popular music history.

In terms of Australian jazz, he played in Sandy Evan's "Women and Children First" - Mark Simmonds "Freeboppers" - FATS – to name a few. Time and time again he figures large in the seminal bands of our time.

To reference his work in cross-cultural forms, one fine example would be Dha with Bobby and Sukhi Singh, Cleis and Ben Walsh.

Add to this his (continuing) work in the professional dance community dating way back to the One Extra Dance Co days – and not to forget his body percussion classes.

Add to this Utungun Percussion and the profound inspiration and imparting of knowledge that flowed from this ensemble. It would not be an understatement to say Greg has been one of the great musical mentors for 2 generations of players.

I think this is the most important thing to note re Don Banks award, and that is Greg's ability to communicate and educate - across the full range of abilities and ages, captivating 5 year olds to 95 year olds alike. And for those of us who seek rigour and depth in musical practice, simply examine Greg's unique and profound rhythm concepts. He has developed a highly detailed systematic concept of playing that marries a conceptual approach to rhythm composition (exemplified for example in South Indian drumming and its approach to playing with number and compositional form) with a kinaesthetic / body centred approach to learning and performance.

Greg's "voice" - his sound - is like no other, immediately recognizable. And always beneath and infused throughout his performance is that unclassifiable "energy" that fills the room and fires up the body. Truly one of the "masters" and a genuine shaman of sound. Living National Treasure.

Pete Wilkins

Greg is a truly humble, unique and incredible human. Whenever I see Greg he's always ready to share something new he's been working on, or impart a piece of the giant mountain of knowledge on which he sits. For this I am forever grateful, although the complexity of his ideas usually does my head in. Greg's number system has completely revolutionised rhythmic interpretation and music in general, and due to the way he freely gives his knowledge he's forever inspiring musicians all around Australia and the world. Not only that but he's one of the most incredible musicians I've ever met, and he consistently shreds it up in any musical setting.

Thai Matus

Greg Sheehan is one of the main reasons I am a musician. His approach, passion and rhythmic language are of interstellar significance. He is the best musician I have ever met.

Joel Salom

Greg's passion and dedication to his craft and community has inspired and excited me so much. There are few people in our industry who influence so many and encourage so openly, thank god for Greg. I'm am fortunate to have performed with Greg a bunch of times at Music festivals in Australia and I'm so hungry for more.

Kavisha Mazzella

I think Greg Sheehan is one our most valuable musicians in the country. The way he plays and is so inclusive and vibrant. A giving person with a great soul and great skill and so much to give and who gives well. Where do i start..? I think I saw Greg first playing with Coolangubra with Steve Berry and Cleis Pierce years ago at the National folk festival in 1992... since then I have bumped into them many times and felt he has lifted us all up!!! He should get an award!!!

Shellie Morris

I been thinking about what to say for many weeks now, and this I believe to be true, that Greg has been such an inspiration to so many artists and we who have had the honour of working with him are truly amazed at his talent and his wonderful gentle nature. Greg Sheehan you also have been so generous with your time and energy, I watch you when you visit remote communities in the NT and I smile as the little ones gather around you and how they love sitting with you making a god-dam racket. You truly are an amazing man!

Tunji Beier