The Pigram Brothers are a seven-piece country folk/rock band from the pearling town of Broome, Western Australia. Their original music captures Broome's and the Kimberley's Saltwater Spirit and Country. Songs from the albums Saltwater Country and Jiir have become hometown anthems and have also attracted critical acclaim. After many years of playing in a variety of bands and differing musical projects the brothers pooled together their skills and talent and officially formed The Pigram Brothers in 1996.
The Brothers opened the Deadly Awards at the Sydney Opera House in September 2006 and brought home the Deadly Award for 2006 Album Release of the Year. Stephen (lead singer and songwriter) and Alan Pigram (producer and lead guitarist) were the first indigenous artists to be inducted into the West Australian Music Industry’s Hall of Fame in February 2006.
Nominated for Best World Music Album 2006 at the Australian Music Industry’s ARIA Awards, Under the Mango Tree is the Pigram Brothers latest CD release, produced and recorded at Pearlshell Studios in Broome by Alan Pigram. There is also a live DVD filmed at the Pearl Luggers in Broome, released in 2007.
The seven members of the Pigram Brothers are:
Alan Pigram - Lead guitar, mandolin, ukulele, tiple.
Stephen Pigram - Singer, acoustic guitar, harmonica, requinto, vahlia, ukulele, dulcimer.
David Pigram - Singer, acoustic guitar.
Colin Pigram - Singer, acoustic guitar.
Philip Pigram - Singer, drums.
Peter Pigram - Bass guitar.
Gavin Pigram - Percussion.
From 1983 to 1995 Alan, Stephen and Phillip were part of the Scrap Metal band, another Broome group, that recorded four albums, toured nationally with Midnight Oil on its 1987 Diesel and Dust Tour and were presented with the Best Indigenous Act award by the West Australian Music Association in 1992. The boys were also heavily involved in Broome's other famous national musical theatre exports- as part of the original backing band of "Bran Nue Dae" a nationally acclaimed show that premiered at the Festival of Perth 1990 and ended in a six month national tour in 1993; and as co-songwriters/producers of "Corrugation Road" which toured nationally 1998.
The Pigram Brothers' debut album Saltwater Country was recorded 1996-97 with highly respected singer/songwriter Shane Howard as producer. The collaboration resulted in an infectious mix of earthy harmonies and acoustic stringed instruments bringing to life songs about the group's saltwater lifestyle and homeland. Saltwater Country was voted Best Debut Album at the National Indigenous Music Awards in Sydney 1998. Independent of major record companies, the group promoted sales over the next two year period through attendance and performance at Hong Kong's Midem Asia (Australian Showcase), Fremantle Festival, Survival Concert Sydney, Stompem Ground Festival, Fairbridge Folk Festival, Port Fairy Folk Festival and the Bardentreffen Festival in Nuremberg, Germany.
Generally despite numerous national and international initiations, the Pigram's do limit themselves to one, or sometimes two, mini tours each year. They prefer to stay at home, be with family, go fishing and stay connected to their country. With their hometown of Broome being somewhat of a tourist hot-spot (several hundred thousand people from all over the world venture into the town each year) the Pigram Brothers play some of their biggest gigs and get considerable exposure by staying at home in Broome.
National television exposure did come for the debut album with a 50-minute documentary entitled Saltwater Country screened on the ABC Sunday program Message Stick in March 2000. The strength of that screening led the ABC to feature the Pigram Brothers on the Heart of Country television series in 2001. Some momentum and popularity was gained and The Pigram Brothers' music has since appeared on several national and international television documentaries and series. ABC television continued to pursue band members for follow up feature appearances on programmes such as Radio Pictures (2001), Message Stick (2002) and George Negus' New Dimensions (2002) and SBS television featured the group on its ICAM and Fork in the Road programmes.
The love affair national television appears to have with the Pigrams is perhaps because there is no better blend of music to add to film footage when dealing with the northwest region of Australia. The Pigram Brothers' music has an enormous affinity with the visually spectacular Broome and Kimberley landscapes. Some interviews also pry into their indigenous and multi-cultural ancestry and ask for social comment about issues. Others just wonder how seven brothers manage to get along in a band after such a long time.
However it is this feel they have for their country that is naturally imbedded into their music that has had music critics searching for apt adjectives and superlatives. Many critics have tried to genre the product into new age music terms and some describe it as tropical-rim music, saltwater music, roots music, world music etc. The band doesn't wish to become too critical, analytical or literal about their work and would prefer the everyday listener to rate whether they enjoy it or not. And as a rule Broome people, Kimberley people and tourists do enjoy and purchase the Pigram Brothers music. The Saltwater Country album is rated one of the most popular souvenirs sold in Broome. (Ahead of the t-shirt brigade and plastic crocodile key ring!)
This was again the case when the Pigram Brothers recorded and released their second album, Jiir, in late 2001. Jiir (pronounced like the first half of mirror) was produced by Kerryn Tolhurst. Kerryn has been a long time hero of the Pigrams and Kerryn's group of the 1970s, the Dingoes, were one of the Pigram's early musical influences. One could say that they have been chasing him for over twenty years and the wheel has finally turned the full circle. Both Kerryn and the addition of yet another brother Colin to the line up brought an extra dimension to the music of the Pigram Brothers. Kerryn's production, his slide guitar playing and the incorporation of an even wider range of instrumentation including requinto, vahlia, dulcimer, tiple and harmonium have ensured a richer, more diverse and polished sound without losing the natural exuberance and spontaneity that has always been the trademark of the Pigram Brothers.