Presented with ILBIJERRI Theatre Company

Big Name, No Blankets

by Andrea James with Anyupa Butcher and Sammy Tjapanangka Butcher

  • Music
  • Theatre
  • Premiere
  • Performance
  • Family Friendly
  • Dancing
  • Sitting
  • Melbourne Town Hall

  • 1 hour 45 minutes

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Buy tickets$29 — $89
Audio DescriptionAudio DescriptionWheelchair AccessWheelchair Access
A band perform on a dark stage.

Big Name, No Blankets

A rock ‘n’ roll story celebrating the trailblazing music icons, Warumpi Band, inspired by tales from founding member Sammy Tjapanangka Butcher.

"You might think we're flash up here on this big stage, with big lights and big hair but we come from a little place with a big heart and a big story..."

Big Name, No Blankets cranks the amp and plugs into the heart of Papunya (Warumpi), where for the first time, we hear the stories of the Warumpi Band through the Butcher Brothers' perspective, narrated by founding lead guitarist Sammy Tjapanangka Butcher.

Warumpi Band is the original First Peoples rock band to sing in language, known for their anthems ‘Blackfella/Whitefella’, ‘My Island Home’ and ‘Jailanguru Pakurnu’. Big Name, No Blankets is inspired by their rise to the top through their politics, presence, and potent rock 'n' roll riffs.

Sammy weaves intimate storytelling with big rock 'n' roll songs. He takes us on a journey from the band's beginnings in the ‘70s—when Sammy and his two younger brothers, Gordon (drummer) and Brian (bass), learnt music by jamming on a flour drum in Pupanya—through to their wild nights conquering pub rock and touring the world.

Warumpi Band had a massive influence on the likes of Yothu Yindi and Coloured Stone. True to their roots, the show weaves in culture from Central Australia and North East Arnhem Land, and two ancestral languages—Luritja and Gumatj (Yolngu Matha)—as the band navigates divides between bush and city, white and black, fame and family.

You’re invited into the world of these central desert legends. Stomp your feet, clap your hands and sing along as you get swept away by this big-hearted story.

Has the audience screaming and stomping joyfully
— ArtsHub

Artistic Team


Andrea James

Story and Cultural Consultant

Sammy Butcher (founding member of Warumpi Band)


Dr Rachael Maza AM and Anyupa Butcher

Music Director

Gary Watling


Baykali Ganambarr (Sammy) Teangi Knox (Gordon & drums) Taj Pigram (George) Jackson Peele (Neil) Cassandra Williams (Suzina, Mum & Ensemble) Tibian Wyles (Brian, Ensemble & Understudy)

Cinematographer and Sound Designer

James Henry

Sound Arrangements and Composition

Crystal Butcher

Sound Arrangements and Composition Mentor

David Bridie

Set Designer

Emily Barrie

Lighting Designer

Jenny Hector

Costume Designer

Heidi Brooks

Video Content Designer

Sean Bacon


Nina Bonacci and Alexandra Paige

Theatre Consultant

Sarah Goodes


Amy Sole

Music Director

Gary Watling

Production Manager

Nathan Evers

Stage Manager

Celina Mack

Assistant Stage Manager

PJ Rosas

Audio Engineer

Daniel Lade

Warumpi Family Consulting

Suzina McDonald and Marion Burarrwanga

Core Band

Gary Watling Malcolm Beveridge Jason Butcher Angus McKean


With sincere thanks to Larissa Behrendt AO and Michael Lavarch AO, Canny Quine Foundation, Robert Salzer Foundation, Scully Fund and all private donors whose generosity and support make projects like this possible.

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government’s Major Festivals Initiative, managed by Creative Australia, its arts funding and advisory body, in association with the Confederation of Australian International Arts Festivals Inc., commissioned by RISING, Sydney Festival, Darwin Festival, Brisbane Festival and Adelaide Festival.

Supported by Canny Quine Foundation and The Robert Salzer Foundation.

Image Credits

Image: Brett Boardman