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Country Queen

Jody Direen Our Country Queen

Shania Twain might have been her idol, but it was all down to her grandmother that New Zealand’s reigning Queen of Country, Jody Direen, is where she is today.


Jody Direen


“Grandma was very musical. She’d bring her guitar whenever she came to visit; I’d try to wrap my hands around it to strum a few notes. She taught me my first song – Pistol Packin’ Mama. The sensation of being able to play guitar and sing at the same time was amazing! Hats off to Grandma – she was my inspiration.”

When Jody was five, the family moved from Mosgiel to Wanaka; it’s still her base, but she’s seldom home for long periods of time. “Music’s been my fulltime career for around six years now. I’m very lucky to be making a living doing something I love.”

Jody has travelled to Nashville to write and record her songs, and has also performed there. “Nashville’s considered the mecca of country music. There’s nothing like it, but it’s also extremely competitive. I remember going into this bar along Broadway, this woman was singing – an amazing voice… think Tina Turner on steroids – and she was singing for tips!”

In 2014 Jody performed at Nashville’s Country Music Association Festival (CMA), in the Global Artists Showcase category. “The CMA Festival is one of the biggest country music festivals in the world; to be selected to perform there is the opportunity of a lifetime!”
Jody has already released three albums; next year she will release her fourth.

Signed to Australian labels ABC Music and Universal Music, Jody spends much of her time between New Zealand and Australia. “I’ve come to think of it as one big country now. One night I might be performing in Christchurch, the next it will be Sydney. It gets hard sometimes, but I’ve got a great core band; we’re there for each other. I couldn’t do it without them.”

When not writing, recording or on the road, Jody’s overseeing iHeartRadio Top Paddock Music Festival, a yearly New Year’s Eve event held at Wanaka’s Lake Hawea that was created by Jody. “Top Paddock gives me the chance to pay it forward to my artist friends by giving them a stage, a venue and a hugely appreciative audience.”

Jody reflects on what would be the pinnacle of her career. “To have bigger shows and venues would be fantastic, and perhaps a collaboration with a pop group, because the lines between pop/rock/hip-hop and country are becoming increasingly blurred – Nelly and Tim McGraw’s Over and Over, for instance. I’d love to do something like that!”

For a woman of such drive, passion and massive talent as Jody Direen, it can only be a matter of time.


Bryan Adams

Bryan Adams brings rock back

He encapsulates the 1980s, with a career spanning more than four decades and a signature brand of feel-good rock’n’roll hits, now Bryan Adams is returning to New Zealand with his ‘Shine A Light’ tour.



Bryan Adams


Presented by Neptune Entertainment and The Breeze, the four-date tour will celebrate the release of his forthcoming album Shine a Light and follows his visit to Kiwi shores earlier this year, when tens of thousands of Kiwis jumped at the opportunity to see the Canadian icon live. This time around Adams will play to crowds and cities he didn’t visit earlier this year, including Spark Arena in Auckland on March 12 and TSB Bank Arena in Wellington on 14 March. His tour will also take in the South Island, with shows in Nelson at Trafalgar Park on 16 March and Hagley Park in Christchurch on 17 March.

One of the most highly-acclaimed singer/songwriters, Adams is known for hit singles ‘(Everything I Do) I Do It For You’, ‘Summer Of ’69’ and his Rod Stewart and Sting collaboration ‘All for Love’. The Grammy-winning artist has seen success from a string of number ones in over 40 countries and has sold in excess of 65 million records worldwide. His thirst for performing and his unique take on live concerts have established him as one of the world’s best rock singers.

Thousands of New Zealanders got the chance to see Adams live in action earlier this year, with his shows receiving critical acclaim.
“Bryan Adams kicked off his Get Up! Tour in absolutely tip-top style… We’ve sung our hearts out, clapped our hands and waved our phone lights in gleeful revelry, and bounced our way through a solid two-hour set of pure, simple, honest pop-rock delivered with absolute class,” Ambient Light described of the earlier tour.

On his upcoming tour, Adams will be joined for the South Island shows only by special guests Dave Dobbyn and The Jordan Luck Band.
Both legendary Kiwi acts in their own right, Dobbyn started his career in Th’ Dudes and DD Smash, before going solo and releasing hit after hit, including ‘You Oughta Be In Love’, ‘Slice of Heaven’, ‘Loyal’ and ‘Welcome Home’. Meanwhile Jordan Luck was the lead singer and songwriter for The Exponents for several decades, with countless hits to his name, including ‘Why Does Love Do This To Me’, ‘Who Loves Who The Most’, ‘Victoria’ and ‘Whatever Happened To Tracey’.

The Jordan Luck Band will be playing all of the classic hits from The Exponents on this tour. Bryan Adams – 17 March 2019 Hagley Park, Christchurch with special guests Dave Dobbyn and The Jordan Luck Band.


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Entertainment Company

Making musical magic: the Entertainment Company

As the name suggests, the Entertainment Company is able to knock your socks off, providing your function with the most awe-inspiring choreographed music and dance extravaganzas in town.


Entertainment Company


Director/Choreographer Sandy Gray has years of experience putting on the most magical and spell-bounding performances, thanks to her team of Christchurch’s most talented dancers, musicians, singers and cabaret companions.
The Entertainment Company also invite you to ‘A Night with the Stars’ on 30 November 7:30pm at Chateau on the Park Double Tree by Hilton.

You will be treated to two hours of music from icons like David Bowie, Aretha Franklin, Amy Winehouse, Freddie Mercury and many more, all performed by the newly formed Entertainment Company House Band. Delicious platter food will be on offer too.


With loads of dancers, backing vocalists, costumes and effects, this is one event all music lovers will not want to miss. Tickets are $50 at Eventbrite.

For more information, visit


String to her bow

String to her bow: Cathy Irons

Acclaimed violinist Cathy Irons has added another string to her bow – pardon the pun – for the Classical Jazz Quartet’s concerts in Southern Lakes later this month.


String to her bow


Cathy and fellow Christchurch-based musicians Barry Brinson (piano/keyboard), Michael Davis (bass) and Doug Brush (drums) return for two shows at Labour Weekend, following their warm reception at Arrowtown Spring Arts Festival 2017.
The quartet is excited to be performing together again, and Cathy promises that lovers of both jazz and classical genres will be entertained. “The audience comes along on a journey with us,” she says. “We give music a makeover, taking people’s favourites and infusing them with fresh inspiration and rhythmic drive.”

Reflecting her passion for music and dedication to her craft, Cathy has been learning to play the viola especially for the southern shows. This means she will be able to play ‘Tango,’ which is a movement from Bolling’s Suite for Violin and Jazz Piano Trio. Acquiring this new skill is no mean feat: the viola is larger than the violin and playing it is more physically taxing on the fingers.

Cathy says the concert programme includes Vivaldi’s ‘Spring’ from the Four Seasons – “we’re going to have a bit of fun with that” – and C.P.E. Bach’s ‘Solfeggietto.’ “People might not know that title, but they’ll recognise it when they hear it.” CJQ perform at The Rippon Hall (Wanaka) on Saturday 20 October and at Thomas L. Brown Gallery (Lake Hayes, near Queenstown) on Sunday 21 October. Tickets available through Eventfinda, plus there will be limited door sales.




Stan Walker

Stan Walker hits the high note: Q&A with Stan Walker

It’s been the biggest year of Stan Walker’s life; he has fought and won the battle against stomach cancer. Now he’s getting back to what he loves, with a 12-date New Takeover tour that will see him performing across New Zealand’s main centres throughout October and November.


Stan Walker


Metropol caught up with Stan to discuss his excitement about getting back on the road.

How much are you looking forward to your first tour in five years?

I’m excited. I’ve been waiting for this for so long and now I’m finally actually doing it. I’m on the road this month – I can’t wait!

You’ve had a pretty intense journey in recent times with stomach cancer. How difficult has your journey back to health been?

I guess it was pretty hard at times, but it all went by really fast and I’ve never felt better, to be honest. When it was all happening, it was hard, but it kind of happened really quickly. Now I’m skinny, fit and healthy; I feel real good.

Is this journey something you’re able to channel into your performance?

I guess so. I think I’m more on fire than I have been ever before, for my career, my goals, my flame has been reignited even more. It’s all part of the fuel for performing. I’m more motivated and determined and better than I was before as a singer.

In the beginning you feared never being able to sing again, how important is singing to you and how would that outcome have affected you?

Singing, it’s everything, it’s my be-all, I’m a singer before anything, so it would have affected everything, my whole life. Thankfully my voice came back stronger and better than before.

How much of a difficult decision was it to share your journey through your documentary?

Not really, I was excited to share that experience. I just wanted to share with people how it really is going through that sort of thing.

How has this experience changed you?

I’m skinnier, that’s the biggest change! I can wear anything I want to now (he laughs). It has made me more passionate, more excited, more on fire than I ever have been before.

You released a self-titled EP in March, can you tell us what this album meant to you?

Those are songs that I had written a long time ago, one I had written 11 years ago, four songs were from four years ago; they were all songs that were sitting there and meant something special to me, from ‘breakthrough’ points in my life. I wasn’t intending to do an EP; I wasn’t intending to do anything, but it made sense to have my own music on the documentary and that ended up being a really positive thing; it became what it became.

What do the next 12 months have in store for you?

A lot of work; I love working, love being busy, love getting tired from chasing my dreams, love making music, films, working on new projects, things that stretch me as a creative person and an artist.

How does it feel to have such a strong and diverse following across many ages and to have such a big fan base that are following your journey and what you’re up to?

I always find it interesting that people follow me. I am really grateful. I think a lot of times, I’m me and who I am 24/7 and I’m like really? I’m really grateful and chuffed at the same time. There are a lot of people that have followed me since the early days, since my Idol days. I’ve changed so much since Idol; my music has changed, even this next season of music and film, it’s completely different to the last, yet people follow my journey and I get new fans along the way. I find it really interesting but I’m really grateful.



Sons of Zion

A Reggae Return: Sons of Zion

Hit Kiwi band Sons of Zion has just wrapped-up a seven-date nationwide tour, while their latest hit ‘Drift Away’ continues to dominate Kiwi radio and smash up the charts.


Sons of Zion


The band’s single ‘Drift Away’, which comes from their new full-length album Vantage Point, has been the no. 1 most played song on New Zealand radio for four weeks running. It also topped the NZ Top 20 NZ Singles chart and has had close to 3 million streams on Spotify and 130,000 video views.

The band, which consists of Rio, Sam, Joel, Matt, Ross and Caleb – first made its musical mark in 2009 with a self-titled debut album, soon finding success at home and abroad as a reggae group.
Now after a five-year gap between albums, Rio Panapa says that the band has got better with age. “The things we write about today are deeper and more meaningful,” he says.

“We were just teenagers writing about immature things. That’s naturally evolved. Now some of the boys have families and things, so everything we do has matured.” Now more “fearless”, the boys are comfortable with who they are and are not focused on fitting into the boxes that get them radio air time. “We’re a lot more comfortable with making music that we like now.

“Vantage Point is a real aspirational album. It’s about going to bigger heights in our music. It’s a representation of where we see ourselves and where we want to be – which is at the top of a mountain looking at our success.”



Phil Collins

Phil Collins Rocks into Town: Not Dead Yet Live! Tour

Global superstar Phil Collins will be rocking his way down under, early next year. The former Genesis singer and drummer has been making his way across the US and Europe as part of his Not Dead Yet: Live! Tour, presented by TEG Dainty.


Phil Collins


One of the most successful artists of the 1980s with more than 280 million records sold, the English soft-rocker will be playing at Christchurch Stadium (formerly AMI Stadium) for one night only on 4 February after attracting sell-out crowds across the UK and Europe.
The highly-anticipated comeback tour Not Dead Yet: Live! began in the UK and Europe last June, with his five-night show at Royal Albert Hall in London selling out within 15 seconds. He also sold out all five arena shows in Germany and five arena shows in France, along with successfully headlining a 65,000-capacity show at Hyde Park.

He was a somewhat reluctant frontman, after starting out as a drummer in the 1970s, but he took Genesis from a beloved rock group to one of the biggest bands in the world. He made his smashing global solo debut with 1981’s Face Value and the album’s hit single In The Air Tonight, both of which topped the charts around the world and went multi-platinum in Australia.

Multiple chart-topping hits followed, with seven Top 10 Australian singles, including You Can’t Hurry Love, Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now), One More Night, A Groovy Kind Of Love.
“I thought I would retire quietly,” Phil says of his return to the spotlight. “But thanks to the fans, my family and support from some extraordinary artists I have rediscovered my passion for music and performing. It’s time to do it all again and I’m excited. It just feels right.”

Securing the concert has been the result of a collaborative effort between ChristchurchNZ and Vbase, Vbase Board Chair, city councillor Tim Scandrett says. “Christchurch is set to become the concert capital of the South Island as our entertainment venues come online and fill up with many more world-class national and international headline acts.”
ChristchurchNZ General Manager of Destination and Attraction, Loren Heaphy says the global music legend is a significant feat for the city.

“We’re stoked that Collins has chosen to play in Christchurch. We’re expecting a sell-out crowd of die-hard fans and our city will be pumping with local and national visitors,” she says.
Phil’s backing band will feature long-time touring members, including guitarist Daryl Stuermer, keyboardist Brad Cole, bassist Leland Sklar and percussionist Luis Conte, along with a horn selection and backup vocalists. Phil’s 16-year old son, Nicholas, will round up the band on drums.



Artistic Attraction

North Canterbury’s Artistic attraction

As an escape from any urban existence, North Canterbury is perfect. Not only spectacularly beautiful, it boasts pure mountain air and hot pools; forest or alpine walks and mountain-biking. That high-adrenaline sports happen here is obvious when driving the last stretch over the precipitous Hanmer bridge.
Artistic Attraction


Home to a great gourmet and shopping scene, the alpine village of Hanmer Springs has long been foodie and fashion heaven, plus an outdoor adventure base.
Long-standing resident Grum Frith was “cycling solo around the world” in recent years when an idea emerged. Hanmer Springs had potential not only as a sporting playground-cum-holiday rest cure. It was also an ideal getaway-venue for cultural pursuits. Accordingly, a music and arts trust was formed.
Over the past 18 months things have gained momentum. Musicians and artists have begun to visit and perform here. Workshops in song-writing, singing, drama, photography, upholstery, sculpture, dance and film have been planned.

Music and Arts Hanmer Springs Trust community facilitator, Grum, says parts of the old Queen Mary Hospital have been sanctioned for use for specific events. For instance, last Labour weekend local artists held an exhibition in the hospital’s Soldier’s Block.
On 11 August, an internationally acclaimed violinist will offer a performance and masterclass in the village. Next, a pre-Christmas play is proposed by local thespians. See details of upcoming events at

Bic Runga

Hitting the right note: Q&A with musical talent Bic Runga

Bic Runga is one of Canterbury’s most successful exports and, although she hasn’t gone far – just the other end of the country – Christchurch is where her heart is.

Bic Runga

Bic released her debut album Drive in August 1997 to popular acclaim; an album that is widely regarded as one of New Zealand’s most iconic. It secured the New Zealand Music Award for Album of the Year in 1998, after going seven times platinum.
But that was only the beginning for this prodigious talent who has been hitting the right note for more than 20 years, collecting some of the country’s biggest musical accolades.
Metropol caught up with Bic – its Chinese checked vowel making pronunciation closer to Bec – about her musical passion and living in the moment.

Where did your musical passion come from and how was that nurtured?

I’m the youngest in my family and I remember on rainy days my big sisters would say “ok, let’s all write some songs!” I was five when I wrote my first song. It was called Snow Flake. It’s quite a good thing to get little kids to do before they think that they can’t.

You come from such a musical family, are your children musical?

My children are really musical and my 10 year old son just announced that he wants to be a musician! Most parents would shudder at the thought of this, but for me it was a relief; at least I know what to do with him now!

How has your song writing evolved throughout your career?

I had a good run between the ages of 18 and 27, I wrote a lot and I didn’t doubt myself. Then I got the fear! Now that I’ve had a family and I’m in what you might call the middle years, I feel experienced and more excited to do things however I want to, without rules.

What do you consider to be some of your most defining career highlights?

Getting a lifetime achievement award a couple of years ago, living and working in London as a musician and having Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin come to a couple of my shows! That was funny, I thought I could retire after that.

How do you juggle the demands of work and family?

With great difficulty! I try to be positive; sometimes when you’re exhausted that’s all there is! And learning new skills keeps me happy. I’m learning to engineer and mix music more – technical stuff that I never got too involved in before suddenly interests me, so everything is new again.

Where do you draw your inspiration from and who are some of your favourite artists?

I’m looking to older women as inspiration these days – Alice Coltrane, Patti Smith, Laurie Anderson, Yoko Ono. To commit to being an artist for the long haul is really exciting to me.

How does it feel to be hailed as an icon of the New Zealand music scene?

I don’t think about it too much, especially not these days. I think it’s good to look forward and not look back too much. Don’t they say the secret to happiness is a short memory? I think it’s good to live in the present and have things to look forward to.

Why did you make the decision to become involved with the Māia Health Foundation?

Working with the people at Maia has been such a pleasure. Musicians get so much air time and sometimes my interviews seem like I’m repeating myself so it’s good to have something else to rep, something else to advocate for. I’ve never been an ambassador for a charity before and it feels good to be involved in this one in my hometown.

Do you get the opportunity to get back to Christchurch very often? What are some of your favourite things to do or places to go in Christchurch?

The Arts Centre was my stomping ground in high school so I always feel happy and nostalgic when I’m in that part of town. And Lyttelton and Governors Bay are still special places for me. I went to Cashmere high and a lot of my friends came on a bus from over the hill; it was a cool place to hang out growing up as a teenager.

What do the next 12 months have in store for you?

I’m writing, recording and engineering as well, I’m having the time of my life! There’s no pressure and it’s super fun.

Lionel Richie

Lionel Richie: A living legend

Last month, Christchurch was witness to one of the best musicians of the 1980s. The legend himself, Lionel Richie.

Lionel Richie

Songwriter, actor, singer and record producer, he has been gracing our televisions of late with his role as an American Idol judge. With such hits as Endless Love, All Night Long, Stuck on You, Say You Say Me and, of course, the heart-wrenching Hello, the hits from his years with the Commodores and many, many more, his ability to bring a stand up and dance moment at his concerts is never in question.
I was fortunate enough to catch up with him the night before the concert for a chat. “It’s Lionel Richie!” I said as I approached.
“Have been all my life,” he said in the beautiful gravelly voice of a seasoned pro.

How do you find New Zealand audiences?
“It’s a great country and I always enjoy coming here. You are all so friendly!”

It’s such a privilege to meet you, I grew up with your music in the 1980s and Hello is such a beautiful song
“You know what? I grew up with that music too! When I first started, people would say ‘what a sexy man’. When I got into my late 20s early 30s, people would say, ‘what a handsome man’. Now all I get is… ‘You look good for your age!’
“I was out in a bar in New Orleans and I saw this attractive woman looking across at me and I started looking at her, she looked at me and I was giving her ‘the look’ when she came over to me and said in this French accent ‘Yoouu are Lion-Nell Reechiiee?’ And I said ‘Yeeeesss, I am Lion-Nell Reechiiee’.
“She then handed me her mobile and said, ‘I’m friends with your daughter Nicole, she wants to say hi’. That’s when I got an earful from my daughter about hitting on her friends. I’m OLD now!”

How do you find the audiences respond to your music these days?
“Nothing’s changed except for the fact when I started off everyone said that if I kissed a girl at the front of the stage, the audience would go nuts – so I started doing that. Obviously now it’s a lot harder to lean that far down, so I don’t do that anymore. I’m OLD. I’m really looking forward to the Christchurch audience. You’re going to have a fun time tomorrow night.”

And he was so, so right. Those fortunate enough to be at Horncastle Arena were subjected to hit after boogie-down hit. The energy that this 68-year-old can conjure up on stage would make any teenage musician envious. Reminding us just how prolific and how relevant he was during the decade of music that was the 80s, back when he had us all singing We are the World, which he co-wrote with Michael Jackson. Music royalty was visiting Christchurch.
“As always, Lionel put on an amazing show, we love hosting him at Horncastle Arena,” Turlough Carolan from Vbase says.
“It’s also great to see such a varied range of events visiting the city over the coming months, from the incredible Dynamo (20-21 July) to the sublime Queens of the Stone Age (25 August), yet again, Vbase will be bringing many more great acts to Christchurch.”
Marvellous to have caught up with a living legend here, such a down to earth man with a beautiful voice for singing and conversation. A moment all those who saw him in concert will remember for a long time. He had us all, Dancing on the Ceiling.