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Nerang High wins Southern Cross University's School of Rock


Jessica Nelson
19 June 2018

Year 11 student Crystal Carthew-Zimmer has already performed in Thailand and New Zealand with the Nerang High Funk Bandits.

And now, the singer’s winning streak continues, with the band she fronts taking out the 2018 Southern Cross University School of Rock competition at the annual Cooly Rocks On Festival.

The eclectic group was established five years ago, with new Nerang High students joining each time members graduates. The current 15 members took to Coolangatta’s Greenmount Stage to claim the $900 prize earlier this month, sponsored by Southern Cross University’s music department.

Crystal began singing in the school choir in primary school and said it was an honour to take out the Southern Cross University School of Rock prize with her Nerang High Funk Bandit bandmates.

“It was a really good time and honestly it wasn’t about winning for us but about having fun together and putting the talent we have out there,” she said.

“The other performers from local schools did really well as well. It was fun competing against the Sour Straps who were really good, and while they performed our whole band got up and danced to their music.

“I love the 50s and 60s era with all the catchy songs and walking around seeing all the cars at Cooly Rocks On and I’m grateful to the Festival and Southern Cross Uni for helping pass down the legacy so the next generation can embrace and appreciate the music of the past.”

The nostalgic Cooly Rocks On festival celebrates culture from the 50s, 60s and 70s, with the Nerang High Funk Bandits played two medleys with music from Earth, Wind and Fire and Aretha Franklin followed by music from the Greatest Showman and Martha & the Vandellas’ Heatwave and Dancing in the Street.

Nerang State High School music teacher Dean Harawira said he was absolutely proud of the achievement of the students, who have previously headlined the Schoolyard Blues event at Blues on Broadbeach as well as Nerang’s Family Funanza and Nerang Celebrates Christmas carols event.

The band members and other Nerang State High students are now in rehearsals for their upcoming musical Annie, to be staged from July 26-29.

Southern Cross University School of Rock runner up band Sour Straps with members from Elanora and Palm Beach Currumbin State High School played their favourite surf rock tunes for the crowd.

Lead singer and guitarist Zeke Vearing said he’d been playing music since he was a kid and was stoked to don their leather jackets for a gig at the acclaimed festival.

Southern Cross University music graduate Max Foggon helped judge the School of Rock competition and said he was impressed with the emerging musical talent from the Gold Coast and Tweed region.

Mid-year intake for Southern Cross University’s Bachelor of Contemporary Music at the Lismore campus is now open, with more information at