4 August 2023

The Black Fireflies, supported by Life Without Barriers, find connection with the community through music.

Image: Photo of The Black Fireflies band sitting outside with instruments.

United by a shared love of music, participants in a Life Without Barriers’ program in Broadmeadow have formed a band, The Black Fireflies. They have been rocking on for five years!

The band started out as a music group, getting together regularly to have fun playing instruments. After a while, some support workers, who were performers themselves, organised for the group to go out into the community and busk.

Now, the group regularly performs at Hunter Mall on Thursdays and occasionally at Waratah Village and other locations in the community.

Coming together as a band has become something that the bandmates really look forward to, said Jacob Standley, Disability Support Leader.

“They love to play their music and have band practice but creating a bit of a performance for the public as well has been really, really successful.”

“They all have an absolutely amazing attitude towards it. The members are very, very keen when they get in. They start setting up, and getting the percussion sorted. And that's before the support workers even come in!” said Jacob.

“It's almost like the support workers are the backstage crew. We come in and just load up the bus or load up the car, and then they head out."

"They’re definitely very passionate, and very keen about it.”

The group usually makes around $50 from just an hour of busking, which is split between musicians or banked for new instruments. An electronic drum kit, which participants practice on at Life Without Barrier's Broadmeadow, was funded from busking money.

In 2022, The Black Fireflies were invited to perform at an Australian Services Union event.

“The Union reached out to us to see if we could perform at their event. So, we said yes, and The Black Fireflies performed percussion style,” Jacob explained.

“On the day, we had Hannah as our lead singer and Robbie, who was also our singer for the day. Robbie will often jump up with his star hands and his jazz hands and give a bit of a performance.

“Troy also joined in, and we had Cam. Cam loves to jump on the drums and give a bit of a backbeat.”

The Black Fireflies opened their set with an energetic rendition of ‘Holiday’ by Green Day and closed with a moving performance of ‘Hallelujah’ by Leonard Cohen.

“During the closing song, Hannah turned to Robbie and started singing to him. And then they actually hugged at the end. That had a huge response from the crowd. There were actually a few people screaming with excitement which was really good,” Jacob recalls.

The success of the performance left the band feeling a new level of confidence.

“The response from the crowd made the group feel amazing. Hannah was thrilled by the reception that she received from the community around them,” said Jacob.

When asked if the band has any big performances planned, Jacob said that they don’t currently have anything booked in but would be happy to hear from anyone in the community looking to book them in.

The band will be performing at Life Without Barriers’ End of Year Disco and Christmas Party for our Hunter Disability and Mental Health community of families, carers and friends.

When asked if the band has any other big performances planned, Jacob said, we don’t have any other big plans of yet. But if we're invited elsewhere, I'm sure the band would definitely be keen to do it.”

Bookings can be made via phone to the Hunter Hub on 02 49184901 or you can email: lifestylesupports-hunter@lwb.org.au

Photo by Peter Lorimer © Newcastle Herald/ACM.

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