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All that jazz: Big Band Festival


Dust off your dancing shoes because the Christchurch Big Band Festival is gearing up for its 14th annual musical extravaganza this Labour weekend. Through rain, shine, earthquakes and now a global pandemic; the sweet sounds of smooth jazz will be gracing the city’s ears during the unique five-day music festival.

 

 

Performers from all over New Zealand will flood in, followed by hundreds of partners and supporters, for the much-anticipated event. Riverside Market, Salt (Evolution) Square, the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, Tūranga Library, and many more quintessential Canterbury locations will serve as the backdrop for 24 mini concerts.

Run by the community for the community, it is an event for everyone to enjoy whether you are part of the swing dance community, a proud parent or supporter, jazz enthusiast or a curious passer-by.

A new and unique feature this year is the debut of the Big Band Ball at Welles Street on Sunday October 25. For $40 you can get your swing on and dance the night away to three amazing big bands.

Continuous canapes and a cash bar will equal a great night – and perhaps some sore feet for the famous big band picnic the following day.

The festival runs from October 22 to 26, 2020, with something for all ages from early child to the retired. For more information about the festival, programme or ticketed events visit the festival website.


 

Super Summer Sound


The wide appeal of Kiwi supergroup L.A.B is making waves here and abroad. Metropol catches up with lead guitarist and vocalist Joel Shadbolt ahead of their Christchurch show.

L .A.B, pronounced as each letter, but representative of a laboratory where pioneering ideas are cooked up, is behind one of the country’s most popular songs of the moment.

The nostalgic Kiwi summertime bop, ‘In the Air’ has spent 35 weeks in the Official New Zealand Top 40 Singles chart, 33 of those in the top 10 and three as number one.

It’s the first New Zealand number one since Lorde in 2017, the first independent single since Flight of the Conchords in 2012 and is nominated for a coveted 2020 Apra Silver Scroll song writing award.

Comprised of members of some of New Zealand’s most well-known bands of recent decades, L.A.B’s five members are Kora’s Brad and Stu Kora, Katchafire’s Ara Adams-Tamatea, and Miharo Gregory, and Joel Shadbolt.

Joel told Metropol how the accidental success of ‘In the Air’ has help the group – who have three albums under their belts since forming in 2017 – cement its sound.

“The thing with ‘In the Air’ is none of us thought it would be a number one hit,” he says. “It keeps growing legs with how long it’s been out and just keeps going.”

The reason for that?

“We think people are attaching themselves to the nostalgic sound. Lyrically, it’s about young love, it’s very much about that summer love.

“Musically, it’s more of an old school song feel. It’s different from other music which is prominent at the moment, but it seems to resonate.”

Starting life as a Kiwi reggae band, the supergroup’s sound has developed to put its blues, rock, RnB, and funk influences more centre stage.

“When I hear [‘In the Air’], I hear influences from the ‘70s with the basic beat, simple guitar chords and bassline – yet when kids at school hear it, they can hear something fresh in it because it’s not what they’re used to hearing.”

And it is inspiration from that era which the band is really tapping into, he says.

”The older the sound we try to come out with, the more it seems to resonate with audiences as something new.

“We’re influenced by the music we were brought up on. We have really close connections with music from Bob Marley and Stevie Wonder, their music resonates with all generations and when we write our music we’re conscious about doing that, too.”

‘In the Air’ is from L.A.B’s third album, which Joel sees as a turning point for the band, which he says will be further demonstrated in its fourth album due to be released this summer.

“In our third album we found the groove so to speak. You can definitely hear Kora and reggae more so in the first and second albums. The third, we don’t ascribe it so much to other bands, we just hear it as L.A.B.

“The sound is always evolving, but now we get to the point where we’re say that’s an L.A.B sound.”

Covid-19 disrupted L.A.B’s planned Australian tour as well as shows in Auckland and Hamilton. However, once the country went from Alert Level 4 to 1, the capacity of the New Zealand shows were increased – and the concerts were the first major events to take place amidst a global pandemic.

“Because of the pandemic we’ve been able to reschedule and make the shows bigger. We went from 1000 people at the Power Station to 6000 at Spark Arena, and also ended up playing to 6000 at Cloudeland’s Arena instead of 1000 at The Factory.”

They will also be headlining a number of New Zealand music festivals this summer, should they go ahead due to Covid-19.

At which time, L.A.B will perform alongside other Kiwi favourites Benee, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Shapeshifter, The Upbeats, Broods, and Sola Rosa.

When the band comes to Christchurch in October Joel says audiences here can expect to hear their super summer sound.

• L.A.B are playing Horncastle Arena on October 31. Buy tickets at www.ticketek.co.nz.


 

Jackie Clarke’s southern sounds


We caught up with powerhouse vocalist Jackie Clarke ahead of her 2021 trip down our way for Selwyn Sounds.

 

 

You’re heading down our way for Selwyn Sounds in Lincoln in 2021! How excited are you and what are you looking forward to the most?!
I’m so thrilled to be part of this line-up. This will be The Lady Killers’ second time to Selwyn Sounds; we’re honoured to get a re-call as honestly it’s one of the best gigs of the New Zealand summer, such a great vibe. This time round the bonus for us is it’s going to be like a big family party on stage. Suzie’s son Andy will be there, as will my good friend Nathan King, and our great mate Annie Crummer, plus I’m a huge Jon Stevens fan! I’ve had a major school girl crush on him since the days of Jezebel, so it’s going to be great to get to see him live… I’ll try not to stalk him backstage!


You’ll be showing off your powerhouse vocals with the other lovely ladies that make up The Lady Killers – Tina Cross and Suzanne Lynch. How did the three of you come together as a band?
We met at a benefit concert 15 years ago and ended up being thrown together to sing some backing vocals for another singer. The moment we opened our mouths and sang, it was like a bolt from the blue moment – it felt like we were born to sing together, like sisters. It’s pretty much a once in a life time sort of a connection we have.
We knew straight away we had to keep singing together. So I basically went out and booked us a gig. As soon as we had a deadline to egg us on, we spent months developing arrangements and also started a 15-year habit of very long lunch meetings and flat white drinking.


You’re celebrating an incredible 15 years together! How close are you?
It’s weird; we’re all very different women; we’re from three different generations, we have quite different views on the world really, but we do get along well. It’s the sort of relationship that shouldn’t work, but it does. I guess we are each other’s biggest fans, so that kinda helps! We also have to work quite hard to make the time to sing together because of constantly evolving and conflicting individual schedules, so I guess that keeps the relationship fresh too, we have enough space in the relationship to keep us from taking each other for granted. It’s still a treat to share the stage with one another.


How did you come up with the name – The Lady Killers?
Oh names are the hardest thing to figure out! It’s torture finding a band name; a lot of brainstorming went on. I was keen on being The Mothers, but apparently some motorcycle gang already had taken that one (how annoying!!). We liked the idea of reclaiming a name that men use. A ‘Lady Killer’ is usually some dude that fancies himself as a ladies man, but we think of ourselves as ‘ladies’ who do ‘killer’ versions of whatever song we like.


You’ve been a beloved New Zealand performer for more than 35 years now! What do you love about performing and getting to do what you do?
Yeah, my first tour with a band was when I was 18 and I’m 54 now and still strutting my stuff, so I guess it’s just part of my DNA. I love performing live on stage, it’s honestly the place I feel most at home in the world – I feel totally free when I’m singing in front of a live audience. I love the chemistry that happens between a performer and an audience, it’s different every show so that means every gig is unique.
I also LOVE singing and playing music as part of a collective. It’s such a satisfying and joyful thing to be part of. There’s no better buzz really. I love the discipline of making things as perfect as possible and the satisfaction when everything comes together and the music is just flying


What have been some of your most memorable experiences over the years?
Meeting your heroes is pretty cool and performing with them is mind-blowing. Singing with Tina and Suzie is like that for me. I used to watch Tina on Ready to Roll when I was 10 or 11 and Suzie as a soloist was a part of my growing up in NZ. When I started doing session singing in the late 80s and early 90s, Suzie’s name was always whispered in reverential tones as the high priestess of session vocals, and now to be singing alongside both of these women is just crazy and something I’m eternally grateful for. That’s NZ I guess, we’re never more than six degrees separation from our heroes.
Also I’d say the wonderful about singing is it’s a passport to the world… and I’ve never valued that more now that we’re currently in a space where the world is no longer available to us. Travelling to places far and wide with my singing mates having adventures singing in places like Kuala Lumpur, the Riviera, throughout Asia and the Pacific is something to be eternally grateful for.


What do the next 12 months have in store for Jackie Clarke?
Well to be honest a lot of the things I had lined up for 2020 have skipped a year and turned up in 2021…. so it’s going to be like deja vu all over again! We’re talking about whether to release another Lady Killers album to mark our 15th anniversary. By the time Selwyn Sounds 2021 comes around hopefully you’ll know where the long lunch meeting with lashings of caffeine got us on that score.

 

My first tour with a band was when I was 18 and I’m 54 now and still strutting my stuff”

Psychedelic Sounds: Ocean Alley


Almost 10 years since its formation, popular Australian band Ocean Alley has more than 250 million streams under its recording belt, sold out headline shows around the world and become a major festival mainstay.

While their last album tour for Chiaroscuro saw the band play more than 200 shows around the world, it’s going to be quite a different experience with the release of their 2020 album Lonely Diamond on 19 June, with the COVID-19 lockdown putting paid to any chance of illustrious touring schedules.

Their home turf had already had a pretty rough year.

“Everything that has happened in the last 12 months in Australia – drugs at festivals, lockouts, bushfires, personal stuff that we had going on as a group of friends – that’s all gone into the album,” Guitarist Mitch Galbraith says.

“There are a lot of dark or heavy moments, and a lot of that comes from the unknown, but it has a shine.”

But they’re definitely keen to get back to the critical touring period.

“We’re keen to get out and play it! It’s been a very different experience to the previous record. We never realised we wouldn’t get to have that honeymoon period. We can’t tour non-stop, no live shows to get to know these songs.”

The band, which is made up of Baden Donegal, Angus Goodwin, Lach Galbraith, Mitch Galbraith, Nic Blom and Tom O’Brien, perform what’s been described as “cruisey psych, rock and reggae fusion”.

Rather than being confined to one style, they can pair lyrics with the right sound.

“We all write our own parts to our music,” Mitch says.

“So we all have input in making music together. We draw on our own experiences to put meaning into the music.”

The new release, Lonely Diamond, combines 70s guitar rock, country and western, old school funk and synth-heavy new wave.

“It’s quite dark in places, but parts where it doesn’t feel too serious,” Mitch says.

“The closing track explored a different sound, there are times in the record where Baden’s lyrics are quite dark and ominous, there’s a slow heartfelt jam in there; so there’s lots of variation, while keeping it to theme, so songs can sit next to each other.

Mitch picked up his first guitar in primary school and the band “kind of grew up together”, making their name performing at house parties and dive bars on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

“We always sort of created our music in the same sort of way, being together, showing each other the ideas we’ve come up with, building a song together, seeing what works, what doesn’t and spending time together.

“This record was much the same. We finished the last one and felt pressure to do songs that were better than the last ones, put our heads down, got into the room together and started writing songs. A theme emerged from those songs and we rolled with that.”


 

Keep the faith


It’s been 10 years since Faith No More last hit New Zealand, but that’s about to change with the five-piece Californian rock band set to head down south in May.

 

 

Bassist Bill Gould says the band – which is performing just seven arena shows across New Zealand and Australia – is well overdue for a proper Kiwi tour.

“Faith No More has taken many twists and turns over the years, and both Australia and New Zealand have been with us every step of the way; this is something that we have always appreciated,” Bill says.

“Nevertheless, we realise that it’s been 20 years since our last proper tour there. If we wait another 20, we’ll be in our 70s!”

Faith No More will kick off the New Zealand leg of their tour at Spark Arena in Auckland on 8 May, before performing at Horncastle Arena on Sunday, 10 May.

Faith No More’s pioneering, genre-defining career saw the band morph from cult underground heroes to boundary-pushing global chart-toppers, mixing metal to alt-rock to hip-hop to punk and much more, with hits such as Epic, Falling to Pieces, Ashes to Ashes, Easy, Midlife Crisis and Sunny Side Up.

The band is made up of Mike Bordin (drums), Roddy Bottum (keyboards), Billy Gould (bass), Jon Hudson (guitar) and Mike Patton (vocals).

They have released seven studio albums to date: We Care A Lot (1985), Introduce Yourself (1987), The Real Thing (1989), Angel Dust (1992), King For A Day… Fool For A Lifetime (1995), Album of the Year (1997) and Sol Invictus (2015).

Also performing at all shows is Melbourne band RVG, who’ll return in 2020 with the follow-up to the band’s critically acclaimed 2017 debut, A Quality of Mercy.

Lending their support following Australia’s bushfire crisis, Faith No More will be donating $1 (plus GST) from each ticket sold across the AU/NZ dates to Animals Australia, and state fire services in affected areas, including NSW Rural Fire Service, Country Fire Association VIC, SA Country Fire Service, Rural Fire Brigades Association QLD


 

Folk Fan-Favourites


Award-winning Canadian contemporary folk band The East Pointers returns next month to awaiting die-hard Kiwi fans

 

We have a double pass to see The East Pointers up for grabs. To be in the draw, head to the Metropol Facebook page and tag your ‘plus one’. Winners drawn: 26 March.


Their Australasian tour includes a Christchurch gig to promote their new album at Cassels Blue Smoke at The Tannery on Friday 3 April.

Fan favourites in their home country, they grew up playing live music in their remote homeland locale of Prince Edward Island; their French and Celtic heritage fused into their souls and DNA.

As a crowd-pleaser at WOMAD in New Plymouth 2018, the band was chuffed to rank just behind Adele in the New Zealand charts.

This will be the second South Island visit after their gig with Kiwi icon Mel Parsons in early 2019.

Tim Chaisson sings and plays fiddle, percussion and guitar. His beguiling instrument is part of who he is. “My dad says I’m seventh-generation fiddle player.”

Cousin Cody Chaisson rocks the bango; tenor guitar, Moog synthesiser and their best bud Jake Charron is on main guitar and keyboard.

The name East Pointers comes from the fishing community near their home, East Point, where Cody was once a lobster fisherman.

Yours to Break is their 10-track album released in September last year, where echoing bass melds with Celtic vibes – lush in sound and lyrics.

The album has so far landed six East Coast Music Awards.

Their friend Emma Watkins from The Wiggles is the dancer in the video of the album’s popular track Wintergreen.

They met Emma “randomly”, when touring Australia and ended up accompanying The Wiggles in “crazy massive arenas”.

“She’s created a video incorporating sign language and dance into Wintergreen,” Tim says.

“It’s so cool how it turned out. Emma also comes along to a few of our gigs to hang. The song stems from a conversation about mental health – Cody being bi-polar himself.”

He says in everyday life some people often don’t see how incredible they are. “We named it Wintergreen, as it’s about surviving the storm – through all seasons.”

Their second album in 2017 What we leave behind won Traditional Routes Album Of The Year, at the Juno Awards – Canada’s version of the Grammys – which clocked up to four million streams on Spotify.

“Our Acadian French ancestry somewhere along the way was influenced by the Scottish and Irish who arrived in East Canada. There has always been dancing and music to get us through long cold winters.

“The band is doing a lot of international touring, and we’re always on the go writing and looking forward to the next project. I grew up around incredible musicians. Our type of music was always playing at the Cèilidhs, which Gailic for dance. We like to the bring old-style and new together.”

The trio, all in their mid-thirties love New Zealand for its landscape and locals.

“We have been holidaying here this summer with our families, during our four-month tour. Cody and I both have one-and-a-half-year-olds; we love to bring our families along with us whenever we can.”

Tickets: undertheradar.co.nz


 

The All Girl Big Band

Women inspiring women: The All Girl Big Band

The All Girl Big Band (AGBB) drew a crowd of more than 4,000 when they performed at Ingham’s Lazy Sundays event in February. “They were dancing on the grass,” says AGBB Musical Director and alto saxophonist Lana Law. “What a buzz!”

The All Girl Big Band

With an eye to maximising their exposure, the band – described as a ‘powerhouse of sound’ – plans to record a music video with an expected release date in July of this year.
“Our distinction is that we’re the only all-female ‘big band’ in New Zealand,” says baritone saxophonist Helen Renaud, ”The video’s about getting our name out there – to show we’re not a gimmick, but are trying to find our niche. Our priority is to have a quality online presence so we reach a wider audience.”
Lana says their focus for the next few months is on their recording session – after that comes preparation for the Big Band Festival, Labour Weekend. Each year the AGBB does one major themed concert in tribute to performing women; in 2016, vocalist Kate Taylor gave a magnificent acknowledgement of the late, great Natalie Cole and in 2017 they performed ‘The Ages’, celebrating women in music from the 1930s to today.
Apart from its regular Jazz After Work gigs, touring concerts, and corporate events, the AGBB also does private functions. “It’s always lovely to perform at these, because you know you’re helping create an awesome memory for everyone, and something unique to take away.”
Visit www.facebook.com/babesofthebigband or www.allgirlbigband.co.nz.