NICKY Bomba first fell for the North East as a child.
He would spend magic summers near Bright with his mate's Austrian family, who were seeking out somewhere that felt like home.
The boys would swim in the Ovens River and run wild in the woodland.
"I've been coming to the North East since I was eight," he said.
"I fell in love with the mountains!"
The Maltese-born and Melbourne-based singer-songwriter (Melbourne Ska Orchestra frontman and former John Butler Trio drummer) bought into the region at the first chance in 2010.
He settled at Freeburgh at the foot of Mount Feathertop, just 10 minutes from Bright.
"I'm living next door to the block my adopted Austrian family used to visit every year!" Bomba said.
"I feel connected with nature and it empowers me."
Born Nicholas Caruana, Bomba has been a blazing creative spark in Australian music for decades: the drummer and percussionist in the John Butler Trio on classic albums Sunrise Over Sea, April Uprising and Flesh & Blood; the driving force behind Melbourne Ska Orchestra, the 10-piece brass collective that grew from a one-off gig in Melbourne to play stages from Bluesfest to Glastonbury and win ARIAs for best world music album in 2016 and 2019.
He is a multi-instrumentalist, producer and songwriter who has played in bands from Bomba to Bustamento and worked with greats like Joe Camilleri and Ross Hannaford.
As an offshoot of Bustamento, Nicky Bomba Trio will head the line-up for Ringer Reef Sounds at Porepunkah on Saturday, December 16.
They will join other epic acts in Royal High Jinx, JoJo Smith, Dean Haitani, Patrick Thurtell Band, Chloe Jade and Angus McKinnon.
Bomba welcomed opportunities to perform in his own neck of the woods.
An introvert who relished solace for writing and recording, Bomba was equally enamoured with performing live.
He enjoyed the authentic connection with the audience.
"I like the show to be really personal," he said.
"That's when the magic happens!"
Bomba's new album Food & Shelter is just his second solo album but the 24th of his career.
It is the first album he has made where he plays, writes and sings every note, all recorded in his studio at Freeburgh.
The family-friendly Ringer Reef Sounds will run at Ringer Reef Winery in the countdown to Christmas.
There will be buses running from Albury-Wodonga, Bright and Myrtleford.
A Ringer Reef glass will be included for all patrons over 18.
As it's a fully catered event, no BYO food or drink.
Tickets on sale now: events.humanitix.com/ringer-reef-sounds
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