Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Wellyfest - the Wellington Folk Festival is on this weekend!

Wellyfest, the Wellington Folk Festival, is 55 years old this year, making it the longest running festival of its kind in the country, and it’s still going strong.

Running over this Labour Weekend (Friday October 25 to Monday 28) at the Brookfield Outdoor Education Centre,in Moores Valley, near Wainuiomata.

Wellyfest 2019 will have a jam-packed programme of concerts, workshops and dance events, and has attracted an impressive line-up of performers from here and overseas. Acts include include the Kiwi-Aussie duo Victoria Vigenser and Lindsay Martin, who as “We Mavericks”, play wild, original folk.

Also from over the ditch the festival hosts The Good Girl Song Project and The Bearded Cat. Award-winning New Zealand song writer, Jenny Mitchell, will be there playing her own blend of alt-country, folk and Americana.  Lower Hutt heros and Wellington-based trio, Across the Great Divide, will perform its unique fusion of Celtic, American and Scandinavian music.

The Chaps, from Dunedin, are give us some highly entertaining and energetic stage time.  They describe their style of music as “cowboy lounge”.  This we gotta see! 

The Skiffy Rivets from Auckland deliver harmonies with a swing. Songwriter Alan Downes will bring his mostly true tales from the back country and the rising young New Zealand poet, Jessie Fenton will also be performing.

But for those who need to rock rock, there’s local band Grumblewood, who combine a unique mix of baroque, jazz and traditional folk elements with vintage rock.  In true Jethro Tull style they produce electric folk and progressive early '70s vibes that'll have you spinning all night. 

The Wellyfest is big on participation, with blackboard concerts, singarounds,the big Saturday dance with the hot young musicians from Vicfolk, a full youth programme and plenty of opportunity for jamming. Festival-goers can book for the whole weekend or come for a day, afternoon or evening.

There are plenty of camping spaces and facilities and there are also bunks available. The full programme and ticketing information is on the website: www.wellingtonfolkfestival.org.nz

Monday, October 21, 2019

Maker Faire - An amazing weekend experience

We were lucky enough to go to the 2nd Wellington Maker Faire over the weekend.  The event was exceptionally well attended.  Shed 6 and the foyer of the TSB Stadium were packed to the gunwales with punters keen to soak up knowledge.  Exhibitors ranged from LEGO geeks to drone racers to sewers and embroiders, Cosplay costumers and woodworkers.  My youngest took a shine to the sewing and enjoyed working on a stitching project.  My other daughter also was keen on the hands on activities, making a bee wax sandwich wrap and watched the 'stupid robot fighting'.  If there was one tiny niggle, I think it was how the event had seemed to outgrow the venue.  All of it should have fitted into the TSB arena and seemed a bit cramped.  Perhaps next year this will be addressed.

Maker Faire Wellington is brought to you by Capital E, New Zealand’s leading centre of creativity for children and young people. For 21 years we have provided creative experiences to the youngest citizens of Wellington that include theatre, digital technology, and immersive, never-seen-before installations and events that spark and encourage creative thinking and expression. To bring these experiences to life, our creative team work with talented Makers from Wellington and beyond, constructing wild creations that invite children to explore their imaginations.

Wellington Maker Faire is a celebration and showcase of the innovative, do-it-yourself work of the Maker community. This fun, family-friendly event is for Makers both young and young at heart, whether you’re a hobbyist, inventor, creator, tech-enthusiast, educator, performer, or crafter, you’ll enjoy experiencing the variety of maker-achievements on display at Wellington Maker Faire.

Who are Makers?  A Maker is anyone who creates, invents, tinkers or constructs with anything, code, technology, or traditional craft materials, in labs, garages, or home kitchens. Makers are everywhere!

Maker Faire originated in 2006 in the San Francisco Bay Area as a project of the editors of Make: magazine.  It has since grown into a significant worldwide network of both flagship and independently-produced events.  Read more on Maker Faire history, the Maker Movement, as well as how to start a Maker Faire or a School Maker Faire where you live.

Huge thanks to sputnik.co.nz for the tix. 

Friday, October 18, 2019

This Just In: A third curator for the Arts Festival!

Grammy Award-winning musician and multimedia artist Laurie Anderson will be the third Guest Curator for the New Zealand Festival of the Arts 2020. She's bringing a selection of works to Wellington including a concert that celebrates the ocean featuring Laurie onstage alongside long-time collaborators and Kiwi musicians; a VR experience that will see audience-goers taken on a virtual trip to the moon; and an installation of Laurie's late husband Lou Reid's guitars put on feedback loop creating a rich aural experience.

Laurie joins contemporary artist and acclaimed theatre-maker Lemi Ponifasio and Academy Award-winning composer, musician, actor, and comedian Bret McKenzie as the three guest curators for the 2020 New Zealand Festival of the Arts which runs 21 February until 15 March.  


Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Lala Simpson talks to the CoffeeBar Kid

The CoffeeBar Kid talks to Lala Simpson - a fun, energetic, creative and innovative song leader with a strong passion for music and a great sense of humour.

Lala will be presenting and running workshops at the upcoming Make Faire on Sunday 20 October at the TSB Arena. Lala hails from the exotic Island of Madagascar and has been making music since the day she was born - according to her parents!

She speaks 3 languages fluently and uses her love of languages and interest in other cultures to teach world music. She is able to work with groups of various ages and abilities, backgrounds and ethnicities adapting her teaching techniques to suit the groups she teaches.

www.lalasimpson.kiwi.nz / https://www.facebook.com/singingindri/

Lala is involved in many musical happenings in Wellington and is often asked to be one of the tutors for International Dance Day. Lala has acted as a guest conductor to various community choirs in Wellington. She travels around New Zealand teaching songs and dances from her homeland. Lala has worked as the choreographer for the Wellington Community Choir and has been recently appointed as one of their co-conductors.

Lala organizes inter-generational and cross-cultural interactive singing workshops at rest homes and Wellington City Libraries with the Manawa Ora Children Community Choir which she directs. She is committed to helping people discover their voice and works with individuals that think they can't sing or are afraid of singing.

She runs children's music classes and adult singing workshops in Wellington sharing songs from Madagascar and around the world. She is also a performer and is the lead singer of a quartet singing the songs of Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel.

Maker Faire is a gathering of fascinating, curious people who enjoy learning and who love sharing what they can do. From engineers to artists to scientists to crafters, Maker Faire is a venue for these "makers" to show hobbies, experiments, projects.

They call it the Greatest Show (& Tell) on Earth - a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity, and resourcefulness.  Glimpse the future and get inspired!
Euan will presenting at the upcoming Maker Faire brought to you by Capital E.
It will be on at Wellington's TSB Arena Sunday 20 October.

The CoffeeBar Kid will also be there, taking photos and will report
back to you about what goes on.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

WOMAD 2020 Artists Announced

Tonight WOMAD 2020 Artists are announced: A political Jamaican Reggae icon (Ziggy Marley), an ambassador of African music (Salif Keita  ), masters of gospel (Blind Boys of Alabama) and a group of seasoned musicians from Aotearoa are just a few of the heavy-hitting performers announced for WOMAD New Zealand 2020.

At a ceremony held at Parliament tonight and hosted by the MP for New Plymouth, Jonathan Young and Justice Minister Andrew Little the line-up for WOMAD 2020 was announced.
Last year, the Prime Minister was due to open WOMAD.  However only an hour before the awful news of the shootings in Christchurch came through, changing our nation forever.  That terrible incident affected the mood and vibe of WOMAD 2018.

Taranaki Arts Festival CEO Suzanne Porter (responsible for WOMAD) remembers having to make the tough call to continue.  “It was a difficult decision, but it would have been like giving in.  We wanted to show the world that we stood for diversity and celebration of all cultures.” Andrew Little, reminiscing on his speech last year, when he had to stand in for the Prime Minister at short notice, summed up the sentiment in his speech tonight, acknowledging that there is a time to grieve, a time to cry, a time to heal and a time to dance.  WOMAD is that time, he said.

WOMAD New Zealand is famous for bringing together artists from all over the globe for a
vibrant showcase of the world's many forms of music, arts, and dance.The 2020 festival is no exception and will feature close to 100 hours of music, dance and voices across eight stages. Over three days Ngāmotu's stunning  Brooklands Park and the TSB Bowl of Brooklands will once again be transformed into a village of colour, energy and inclusion.

Joining the already announced mesmerising duo of Welsh harpist Catrin Finch & Senegalese kora player Seckou Keita and the living legends of gospel music Blind Boys of Alabama are twenty cutting edge performers and world-class musicians from every corner of the planet.

Delivering fresh new takes on traditional music are multi-award-winning, solo artists, duos, trios and 12-piece brass bands from around the globe. Finnish Beatboxing, Maloyan Dance and Black Samba will join hands with Reggae, Rap, Folk, Funk Jazz, Soul, Classical and Afrobeat to celebrate the world's differences. Pioneering young artists alongside inspirational icons will come together across the weekend to promote acceptance, joy, love, hope and change via the universal language of mankind, music.

WOMAD New Zealand is very proud to present, for the 16th year anniversary of the festival (in alphabetical order)

Albi & The Wolves (Aotearoa/NZ), Blind Boys of Alabama (USA), Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita (Wales/Senegal), Destyn Maloya (Réunion), Ezra Collective (UK), Hiatus Kaiyote (Australia), Hot Potato Band (Australia), Kim So Ra (South Korea), King Ayisoba (Ghana), L.A.B. (Aotearoa/NZ), Liniker e os Caramelows (Brazil), L Subramaniam (India), Ziggy Marley (Jamaica), Minyo Crusaders (Japan), Muthoni Drummer Queen (Kenya/France), Orquesta Akokán (Cuba), Reb Fountain (Aotearoa/NZ), RURA ( Scotland), Salif Keita (Mali), Soaked Oats (Aotearoa/NZ), Trio Da Kali (Mali), Tuuletar (Finland).

Friday, October 11, 2019

Guitar inventor Euan Christie talks to the CoffeeBar Kid ahead of Maker Faire Wellington

Euan Christie has been making banjos and ukuleles with old tins, boxes, wood, metal, cutlery and various other salvaged bits of things at my house in Wellington, New Zealand for the last couple of years.
Each instruments is completely unique with its own distinctive sound and charming character. Every instrument has been imagined and then carefully hand-crafted with the highest attention to detail to create a piece of art that sounds as good as it looks.
Check out his creations at https://tinpiginstruments.wixsite.com/tinpig

Maker Faire is a gathering of fascinating, curious people who enjoy learning and who love sharing what they can do. From engineers to artists to scientists to crafters, Maker Faire is a venue for these "makers" to show hobbies, experiments, projects.

They call it the Greatest Show (& Tell) on Earth - a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity, and resourcefulness.  Glimpse the future and get inspired!
Euan will presenting at the upcoming Maker Faire brought to you by Capital E.
It will be on at Wellington's TSB Arena Sunday 20 October.

The CoffeeBar Kid will also be there, taking photos and will report
back to you about what goes on.

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Hannah Topp aka Aldous Harding win 2019 APRA Silver Scroll for The Barrell 

Aldous Harding (Hannah Topp) has taken out this year's APRA Silver Scroll Award for her amazing song The Barrel.   This is the second time she's been a finalist and conveyed her delight at winning over a video message played at last night's award Ceremony at park Arena in Auckland.

The Award was presented to her father by the Prime Minister Rt. Hon Jancida Adern. 

“Thanks everybody. I think it’s wonderful you believe in us so much," she said "and congratulations to the other nominees…I’ll put the money towards making the same happy mistake again.”

The last three years have been huge for Topp, having signed to 4AD in 2017, moved to Wales, releasing her second album Party (it won the Taite Music Prize in 2018). Now she's dropped her third album, called Designer to great acclaim.  Both albums were made in collaboration with producer John Parish (PJ Harvey and Sparklehorse). 

Last night's event was hosted by a fast and loose Madeleine Sami, whose jokes sometimes went a little bit haywire.  Sadly no TV station wanted to broadcast and we had to resort to watching it on RNZ.  Thank goodness for them!

Groove listeners would have caught her stunning permormance at WOMAD 2 years ago. But you may have seen her more recently as she tours relentlessly, with hundreds of show dates across Europe, USA, Aussie and over here in Aotearoa.

For Musicians and music industry people the Silver Scroll Award is special because it's voted for by APRA members, and is the best peer approval you can get, a stunning acknowledgment from fellow songwriters. For Topp, it recognises her memorable and daring work (on The Barrel). Her name will be long rembered next to Marlon Williams, Bic Runga, Ruban and Kody Nielson, Scribe and P Money, Chris Knox, Dave Dobbyn, and Shona Laing.

We at Groove were also delighted to see the return of one of our most admired jazz musicians Nathan Haines, back after his battle with throat cancer. He was music director of tonight’s show - the 54th APRA Silver Scrolls ceremony.

Tyna Keelan, Angelique Te Rauna and Matauranga Te Rauna recieved the APRA Maioha Award (which recognises exceptional waiata in te reo Māori), celebrated for their rich and heartfelt ballad Ka Ao.

Capital composer Michael Norris took out the SOUNZ Contemporary Award for the 3rd time! (2014 - for Inner Phases; 2018 for Sygyt). This time it was for his work Sama Violin Concerto, written for violinist Amalia Hall.

Ex-Supergoove(er) Karl Steven won his second APRA Best Original Music in a Series Award for his dark and bold score for the TV series The Bad Seed (a twisted drama of politics and power based on the stories by author Charlotte Grimshaw).

Mike Newport snapped up the APRA Best Original Music in a Feature Film Award for his music in the 80's inspired time-travelling heist film Mega Time Squad.

Writer Chris Bourke was the perfect choice to introduce us to the induction of Ruru Karaitiana, Pixie Williams, and Jim Carter into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame.  They really need know introduction. The trio created Aotearoa’s first ever true pop song Blue Smoke in 1949 - written, performed, recorded and made (in shellac) in aotearoa! There was a beautiful tribute performance inte Reo and English by Lisa Tomlins and Kirsten Te Rito backed by Riki Gooch, Jacqui Nyman, Mark Sommerville, James Illingworth, Nick Atkinson, Matthew Verrill, Luca Manghi and Paul McLaney's Black Quartet.

You can catch the special video made for the evening, which pays tribute to Blue Smoke here:  http://grooveradio.blogspot.com/2019/10/ruru-karaitiana-pixie-williams-and-jim.html

The winner of all awards were:
APRA Silver Scroll: Hannah Topp aka Aldous Harding – The Barrel
APRA Maioha Award: Tyna Keelan, Angelique Te Rauna and Matauranga Te Rauna – Ka Ao
SOUNZ Contemporary Award: Michael Norris – Sama Violin Concerto
APRA Best Original Music in a Series: Karl Steven – The Bad Seed
APRA Best Original Music in a Feature Film: Mike Newport – Mega Time Squad
Hall of Fame: Ruru Karaitiana, Pixie Williams, and Jim Carter


Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Ruru Karaitiana, Pixie Williams and Jim Carter inducted into the NZ Music Hall of Fame for 'Blue Smoke'.

Introduced by writer Chris Burke, Ruru Karaitiana, Pixie Williams and Jim Carter have been inducted into the NZ Music Hall of Fame for 'Blue Smoke' at the APRA Silver Scrolls awards held at the Spark Arena in Auckland.  What a fantastic honour.  The first record to be written, sung, recorded and made (in Shellac by TANZA) in Aorearoa.  A true taonga.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

WOW announces winners for 2019

The Lady Warrior
The organisers of the 2019 World of WearableArts have announced the winners for this year.

This year's Supreme Award was won by Indonesian designer Rinaldy Yunardi (The Lady Warrior, pictured above).

Yunardi has entered previously.  In 2017 – his first entry – he also won, taking out the Supreme Award and the Avant-garde Section with his garment, Encapsulate.

The Lady Warrior has won the Avant-garde section of the awards show.  Yunardi has also managed to add an extra award, being the Asia International Design award.

For this year's entry, Yunardi  was inspired by what he calls  "toughest warrior of all" – Woman.

His entry incorporates the role of a daughter, a wife and a mother.

"I used various mediums of materials to represent the different elements of The Lady Warrior. Recycled paper made into rope and woven tightly together represents humanity and inner strength built from her experiences," he said.

As the supreme winner, Yunardi wins $30,000 - from a total prize pool of $180,000.

WOW founder and resident judge Dame Suzie Moncrieff said Yunardi's design "demonstrated perfect balance and form, as well as immaculate craftsmanship."

"The Lady Warrior conveys a stunning fragility which is perfectly balanced with a subtle strength. The judges particularly loved the use of traditional weaving to create a piece that is so contemporary."

In 2019, designers from 43 countries and regions entered in the hope of their garment making it
through the judging process and appearing on stage as a World of WearableArt Awards finalist.
Finalists come from an incredibly diverse range of backgrounds, professional and
non-professional, and working in the fields of fashion, art, costume and theatre, along with
students and first-time entrants.

This year the 115 finalist designers were presented with six design provocations, which
subsequently form the six worlds of the stage show. Three of these thematic worlds are
recurring - Aotearoa, Avant-garde and Open, and three are new for 2019 - Mythology,
Transform and White.

Woven In-tent by Kirsten Fletcher (Queensland, Australia)
WOW’s 2019 judging panel is comprised of WOW Founder and resident judge Dame Suzie
Moncrieff, innovative Auckland-based designer James Dobson of fashion label Jimmy D and
acclaimed multimedia sculptor Gregor Kregar. In addition, a number of awards were judged by
Sir Richard Taylor, CEO and Creative Director of Weta Workshop, B. Åkerlund, iconic fashion
activist and co-founder of The Residency Experience in Los Angeles, and Melissa Thompson,
Cirque du Soleil’s Montreal-based Creative Intelligence Team Lead + Conceptrice.

Dame Suzie Moncrieff, WOW Founder and resident judge says: “Each year we are presented
with the most extraordinary garments and each year it gets harder and harder to judge as there
are so many outstanding works.

This year has been no exception. I have been astounded by the wide range of materials used and the intricacy and originality of the designs. It is the highlight of my year and is an exhilarating and humbling experience to view this stage full of the world’s best examples of wearable art and to appreciate the immense amount of work that goes into each one of them”.

This year's WOW awards had a 108 garments enter from 115 designers across many countries. The WOW season runs from September 26 to October 13.

The Lady Warrior by Rinaldy Yunardi (Jakarta, Indonesia)
Winner: Supreme WOW Award / Winner: Avant-garde Section / Winner: International Design Award: Asia

Woven In-tent by Kirsten Fletcher (Queensland, Australia) / Winner: The Residency Experience Award / Winner: International Design Award: Australia & Pacific Runner Up: Supreme WOW Award
Second: Avant-garde Section

Waka Huia
Waka Huia by Kayla Christensen (Island Bay, Wellington) / Winner: Dame Suzie Moncrieff Award
Third: Aotearoa Section

Natural Progression by Dylan Mulder (Wellington) / Winner: Aotearoa Section /
inner: Wearable Technology Award

Kaitiaki by Lisa Vanin (Cambridge, Hamilton) / Winner: New Zealand Design Award
Second: Aotearoa Section

Chrysanthemum & Amphitrite by Jack Irving (London, United Kingdom) / Winner: Open Section
Winner: International Design Award: United Kingdom & Europe

Regnum Dei by Daniella Sasvári & Aaron La Roche (Upper Hutt, Wellington) / Second: Open Section

Collide-o-Scope by Vicky Robertson (Newtown, Wellington) / Third: Open Section

Gemini: The twins
Gemini: the Twins by Dawn Mostow & Ben Gould (Atlanta, United States) / Winner: International Design Award: Overall / Winner: International Design Award: Americas / Third: Avant-garde Section

Huaxia Totem by Sun Ye, Miao Yuxin & Yuan Jue (Shanghai, China) / Winner: White Section
Winner: Weta Workshop Emerging Designer Award / The Blomar by Akhilesh Gupta (Bangalore, India) / Second: White Section

Enlightened by Michelle Wade (New South Wales, Australia) & Adam Wade (Hawke’s Bay,
New Zealand) / Third: White Section

Infini-D by Tara Morelos, Ahmad Mollahassani & Nelia Justo (Sydney, Australia)
Third: Transform Section

Sea Urchin Explosion by Jack Irving (London, United Kingdom) / Winner: Cirque du Soleil Invited Artisan Award / Winner: Transform Section

Dress Up Dolls by Meg Latham (Motueka, Nelson) /  Second: Transform Section

Banshee of the Bike Lane 
Banshee of the Bike Lane by Grace DuVal (Chicago, United States) / Winner: Mythology Section

Soul Guardian by Chang Yi-Wei (New Taipei City, Taiwan) / Second: Mythology Section

The Moirai - the Shape of Us by Tina Hutchison-Thomas (St Albans, Christchurch) / Third: Mythology Section

Wrath of Medusa by Edyta Jermacz (Suchy Las, Poland) / Winner: First-time Entrant Award

Walk All Over Me by Louise Dyhrfort (London, United Kingdom) / Winner: Student Innovation Award

Engolfed by Leanne Day (Papakura, Auckland) / Winner: Sustainability Award


Protest: Third National Climate Change Strike

The third national climate change strike will go down in history as the largest held in Aotearoa.  Friday's strike action in the name of climate change attracted over 170,000 nationwide, according to the strike's organisers.  This is larger than NZ's 1951 industrial strike that saw 22,000 wharfies on the picket lines for 151 days (February to July).  It even out did this year's mega teachers' strike.

I personally saw thousands in the Capital holding placards and signs.  The March stretched from Civic Square to Parliament with no breaks.  In Lambton quay it took over both sides at one point.  Children and adults alike gathered to demand positive and definitive change mitigate the effects of climate change.

 In Wellington organisers, who were mainly High School students, reported 40,000 protesters.  An estimated 80,000 filled Auckland's Aotea Square; 9000 in Christchurch; 9000 in Dunedin; and another 2000 in Palmerston North and Tauranga.

There were believed to be about 45 events occurring nationally.  'School Strike 4 Climate New Zealand' spokesperson Sophie Handford said info was from people at each event, advice from councils, police.

The events were inspired by 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg, who spoke at the UN this week.  Handford is reported to have said the turnout was so large because people are so much more aware of the urgency of the situation. With local body elections, a general election and events in the UN in New York this week, people are on full alert and know they have power to get leaders to take change.  "More and more people are realising that our elected leaders aren't going to take action on the climate crisis without people using their power to show how important this is." (she told Stuff.co.nz).

School Strike 4 Climate New Zealand national coordinator Raven Maeder was reported to say that  everyone should march. "We want people from all walks of life to join us, I can't imagine a future where people are shamed for joining us. They will be celebrated."

Photos and Youtube slide session by Tim Gruar www.freshthinking.net.nz

Thursday, September 26, 2019

World Of WearableArts 2019 - Another fantastical night out!

Banshee of the Bike Lane by Grace DuVal (Chicago, United States) / Winner: Mythology Section
I can't remember how many WOW shows I've seen over the years but every year they seem to outdo the last.  I was privileged to talk to Musical Director Paul McLaney, who gave me a small insight into what was planned for this season.  But nothing prepared me for what I encountered at last night's Preview!

I don't want to give too much away, so I'll have to be a bit of a generalist.  What I can say is that I was totally blown away by the massive projection screen that opens up across the entire back of the stage - as wide at the TSB arena itself!  The imagery moves from Ice Caves to huge animated eyes to steam punk industrial scenes. 

Director of Choreography Sarah Foster-Sproull has done a superb job conveying Artistic Andy Packer's futuristic dystopian muddle.  As always, models decide how to 'move' in their individual costumes - some with little movement, some with great dramatic flourishes.  Then there's the circus performers and rope artists, who melt with the regular ensemble who carry the themes between each bracket.  One of the most memorable was a reinterpretation of the barricades of Les Miserables.   She included deep sea divers, urchins, a crazy violinist, drummers and a jazz band. Another amazing moment includes a large group of children and all other ages carrying inflated 'worms' on sticks like they do during the dragon festivals.  What the actual purpose was, I cannot say.  Did it matter?

I am very jealous of Chris Petridis's lighting.  As a budding lighting operator myself, I don't think I'll get to play with the massive bank of ultra-cool LED's that cut between colours and washes with split second precision.  The tandem effort between the lighting and John Strang's AV animations was near perfect.  Only twice (for only a second) was there a tiny misfit.  Together they created some fantastic atmospheres for the costumes.  Sometimes there was a bit of a visual clash as the eyes are over demanded by such an explosion.  But this has always been part of the WOW experience.

As far as the costumes go.  Well, what can I say.  To lead the design themes, the competition asked for entries loosely based around 6 themes, which all show up in surprising ways: Elizabethan, Architecture,  Monochromatic, Avant-Garde, Open and Aotearoa.  From the entries they are shown in to six distinct categories for the competition.  We got to see all the finalist's work last night, with photos of the costumes clearly printed in the programme (a must to get if you're going!)

The first is 'Blindingly Beautiful', where all the costumes are pure white.  Many this year incorporated variations on lacework, and one by India' s Akhilesh Gupta ('The Blomar') reminded me of those elaborate paper cards you see in shopping mall stalls, with their intricate details cut with scalpel precision.  Her's was also mechanical, opening like an impossibly fragile infrastructure.

'Connections Run Deep' was the Aotearoa section.  As with last year, there were plenty of references to our Colonial past.  Kayla Christensen's Waka Huia carried on an idea I saw last year of huge wearable paintings with portraits of wahine on each.  Lynne Dunphy played with our dubious land trading heritage, making three sets of clothes (with colonial themes) out of woolen blankets (get it muskets and blankets traded for lands?)

The open section this year had a new name, too.  'Wonder Has No Bounds'.  A chance to really experiment.Jack Irving did just that.  The UK designer gave up a life sized 50s atomic illustration made of inflatable plastics.  It was kitsch like a lilo, or a blow up cactus.  Hi second piece was completely bizarre, as if the model ha fallen into a spiked blow up paddling pool.  Her upper torso was completely covered by a large clear inflated sphere.  You had to wonder how she breathed. 

Mythology gave designers a real go at exploring the lurking elephant in the  WOW room: Cosplay.  Ever since its conception, the competition has straddled a fine line between Halloween party costumes and art.  'Where Stories Begin' is a chance to embrace that.  Works varied between birds and superhero villains.  One, aptly named 'Banshee of the Fallen Bike Lane' (by US' Grace DuVal, was made of bicycle tyres and parts.  This one stood out as a 'howling spectre to fallen cyclists'.

The Transform section ('Nothing is at it seems') features costumes that move or transform into other shapes, lights or colours.  The orange inflatable sea urchin (by Jack irving) and Anna Baines' multi layered flower ('Bloom') were clear standouts in this category.

Aptly titled 'Blurring The Lines', the avant-garde section offers a chance to really get crazy,  Yet most of the entries this year were pretty conservative.  Some were more like theatrical period costumes or even real fashion.  There was an emphasis on care and detail, which didn't necessarily come through unless you were up close to the garments.  China's Lyu Lu and Gu Yiheng gave us "Faceless" - an entirely black, faceless anonymous character inspired by an origami method called RES that transforms 2D into 3D.  'Dearth Extern' by Aussie Nicola Rule made a strong female witch character that would feel right at home in 'Lord Of The Rings' or a Harry Potter film.

There were a number of returning designers, including Ian Bernhard, whose had winning entries in 2013, 2014, 2016, and last year.  He's back this year with a colourful costume called 'Joan', with it's sleek aviation helmet and and spiky shoulder pads.  It reminded me of the evil queen in Snow White.

Sadly, one category was missing.  The amazing and fantastically whimsical bra section was not there this year.  It seemed like a bit of  a hole.  With that section gone, the humour and fancifulness of the competition was missing - absent but returning we hope.

There is plenty more to see in this year's show.  But I don't want to spoil it for you.  Once again the star shaped set is set and the costumes, dancer, musicians and lighting are ready.  Dress flashy, buy bubbles at the bar and soak it all up.  An amazing show.  Well down everybody!

CoffeeBar Kid



Nominees for the Vodafone Music Awards

The finalists for this year's 2019 Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards have just come out.  Alt artists are leading the race with Aldous Harding, The Beths, Troy Kingi and Avantdale Bowling Club all showing high in the category lists.

Some awards like the Pacific and Jazz sections have already been announced but there's plenty more.  The official Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards will on telly, live on Three on November 14 (8.30pm).  We plebs can also join in the fun, for a price: General public tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster.

Finally, the Westies get their day: The Legacy award this year will go to one of our favourite pub-stomper bands Th' Dudes.  Bliss, indeed.

And the nominees are (roll those drums!):

Album of the Year
Aldous Harding - Designer
Avantdale Bowling Club - Avantdale Bowling Club
Broods - Dont Feed The Pop Monster
Marlon Williams - Live at the Town Hall
Mitch James - Mitch James
The Beths - Future Me Hates Me

Vodafone Single of the Year
Aldous Harding - The Barrel
Benee - Soaked
Church & AP - Ready or Not
Drax Project - All This Time
Six60 - The Greatest
The Beths - Future Me Hates Me

Three Best Solo Artist
Aldous Harding - Designer
Avantdale Bowling Club - Avantdale Bowling Club
Benee - Fire On Marzz
Mitch James - Mitch James

Beatwars - IV
Broods - Dont Feed The Pop Monster
L.A.B - L.A.B II
The Beths - Future Me Hates Me

Smirnoff Best Breakthrough Artist
Baynk - Someones EP II
Benee - Fire On Marzz
Church & AP - Ready Or Not
The Beths - Future Me Hates Me

Pop Artist of the Year
Benee - Fire On Marzz
Broods - Dont Feed The Pop Monster
Mitch James - Mitch James

Aldous Harding - Designer
The Beths - Future Me Hates Me
Tiny Ruins - Olympic Girls

Beastwars - IV
Racing - Real Dancing
Villainy - Raised In The Dark

Hip Hop
Avantdale Bowling Club - Avantdale Bowling Club
Chursch & AP - Cathedral/All Purpose
Diggy Dupe - Island Time

Soul / R&B
Bailey Wiley - Bailey Wiley
Louis Baker - Open
Rei - The Bridge

L.A.B - L.A.B II
Lost Tribe Aotearoa
Troy Kingi & The Upperclass - Holy Colony Burning Acres

Louis Baker - Open
Rei - The Bridge
Troy Kingi & The Upperclass - Holy Colony Burning Acres

Pacific Heights - A Lost Light
Sweet Mix Kids
Tali - Love & Migration

Michael Houston & Bella Hristova - The Complete Beethoven Violin Sonatas
Simon O'Neill - Distant Beloved
The Linkwood Guitar Duo - Music from New Zealand for Two Guitars

Equippers Worship - Equiipers Worship
Harbourside Worship - Collide
Jule Riding - Rivers

Josh Fountain - various
Simon Gooding
Ji Fraser
Eli Paewai - Mitch James (Mitch James)
Tom Healy - Olympic Girls (Tiny Ruins)

Ben Lawson & Vivek Gabriel - Avantdale Bowling Club (Avantdale Bowling Club)
Josh Fountain - various
Simon Gooding - Mitch James (Mitch James)

Album Cover
Jaime Robertson - A Quiet Divide (Rhian Sheehan)
Mike Braid - Raised In The Dark (Villainy)
Tim Harper & Dick Frizzell - Offering (Various Artists)

Music Video
Jason Bock - Feeling Free (Leisure)
Martin Sagadin & Aldous Harding - The Barrel (Aldous Harding)
Vision Thing - Rock Bottom (Randa)

Music Teacher of the Year
Duncan Ferguson
Jane Egan
Sue Banham

Legacy Award
Th' Dudes

Anna van Riel - Fishing For Stars
Craig Smith - Not Just For Kids 2
Marian Burns - Songs For Kids

Winner: Craig Smith - Not Just For Kids 2

Great North- the Golden Age
Jono Heyes - 9 Pilgrims
The Frank Burkitt Band- Raconteur

Winner: The Frank Burkitt Band- Raconteur

Kings - Love & Ego
SWIDT - The Most Electrifying
Tomorrow People - BBQ Reggae

Winner: Tomorrow People - BBQ Reggae

Jenny Mitchell - Wildfires
Jamie McDell - Extraordinary Girl
Tami Neilson- Sassafrass!

Winner: Jenny Mitchell- Wildfires

Antipodes- Good Winter
Dog - No Dogs Allowed
GRG67 -The Thing

Winner: GRG67- The Thing

Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards