Students gain music industry, Indigenous community, insight through VANFEST outreach

"If you'd tried to tell me when I was drumming for The Angels that one day I'd be running a not-for-profit organisation ..."

Graham 'Buzz' Bidstrup, whose career in the music industry spans decades, and not only The Angels but Gang Gajang and The Party Boys, admits he wouldn't have believed it.

But here he is, running Uncle Jimmy Thumbs Up and visiting schools in Forbes in a new community outreach that's part of this year's Mini VANFEST venture.

While all eyes were on The Veronicas taking the stage to headline the music festival on Saturday night, the event reached beyond the weekend, bringing Bidstrup along with Adam James from the charity out to local schools on the last day of term.

Uncle Jimmy Thumbs Up is all about promoting healthy tucker to kids, and Bidstrup's musical and songwriting talent is the perfect vehicle.

Bidstrup - who was manager for incredible Indigenous music artist Jimmy Little for years - was the inaugural CEO of the Jimmy Little Foundation.

It's out of that the work of Uncle Jimmy Thumbs Up began, with the goal of reaching Indigenous children with the message about healthy tucker - intervening before they ever became pre-diabetic.

The drummer who toured internationally has spent recent years touring remote Indigenous communities, working with students small schools, turning his song-writing and music production skills to writing music and producing music videos with students.

The foundation has launched a Good Tucker app that lets kids scan foods to find out whether it's a good, green thumbs up food, or something they should only have as a treat.

That brings us to Forbes, where he was able to spend time with Bedgerabong Public School and Forbes High School students on the last day of term.

Bidstrup said music and his work in small schools were all to be part of the local school workshops - but he's also got a wealth of experience to share with students of all ages and interests.

At Bedgerabong he and Adam shared music as well as their healthy tucker message - and enjoyed listening to the students perform on their merimbas.

With high schools, Bidstrup often shares about the music industry.

"I knew I was going to be a drummer when I was 10," he says. "The moment I picked up the sticks and started mucking around with the drums, that was it - but I still had to learn to do it."

Bidstrup started his first semi-professional band when he was 14, with a group of 18 to 20-year-olds, and would go on to tour with The Angels, co-writing their top 10 hit No Secrets, form Gang Gajang - think Sounds of Then aka This is Australia - and then achieve gold record sales with The Party Boys.

He has a degree in mechanical engineering, which he was urged to undertake so he'd always have "something to fall back on" - only music never let him fall.

"I picked mechanical engineering because I like steam trains, I specialised in heat engines," Bidstrup said.

"The day after my last exam I was on a plane to England.

"Although I've never used it - as such - I do use it. I use the powers of reasoning, of knowing how things work."

He reckons learning how to learn, and how to find things out, is a skill for life.