Wednesday, October 17, 2018

WOMAD New Zealand announce the diverse line-up and exciting site changes at the festival launch tonight.

Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ader Speaks at the WOMAD Launch
Held in an esteemed event at The Grand Hall in Wellington's Parliament Buildings, surrounded by international delegates and WOMAD advocates.

"One of the WOMAD 2019 acts announced last month, the multi-national music collective the Silkroad Ensemble described its artistic process in the following words; "When we create music together we listen to our differences, connecting and creating meaning from them" - nothing for me sums up WOMAD better than that." - Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern 

The internationally established three-day world music, arts and dance festival WOMAD is all about artist discovery and the 2019 festival once again features an array of artists from all corners of the globe. Artists from countries as varied as Benin, Belgium, Ireland, Wales, Mexico and Greece are all invited to Aotearoa next March to share their cultures, identities and heritage and to tell ancient, joyous and powerful tales via a mixture of traditional and modern performances.

From upbeat Afropsychedelic party vibes to quiet moments of reflection and meditation featuring cellos, bagpipes and voices, WOMAD is a dizzying cocktail of exhilarating experiences for all. Once again set in the stunning 55-acre Brooklands Park and the TSB Bowl of Brooklands, amongst the trees and the lake, and under the watch of the mighty mount Taranaki WOMAD New Zealand 2019 will see the festival celebrate its 15th anniversary New Plymouth, 15-17 March 2019.

With over 20 local and international artists announced tonight, WOMAD New Zealand is excited to be able to deliver the discoverable and eclectic line up so far... Joining the early and engaging international line-up announce of Angelique Kidjo (Benin) and Silkroad Ensemble (Various) is: Amjad Ali Khan (India), Baloji (DR Congo/ Belguim), BCUC - Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness (South Africa), Dona Onete (Brazil), Jamie Smith's Mabon (Wales), La Dame Blanche (Cuba), Las Cafeteras (Mexico), Maalem Hamid El Kasri (Morocco), Maarja Nuut (Estonia), My Baby (Netherlands), Rebetien (Greece), Sharon Shannon Band (Ireland) and Taiwu Children's Ancient Ballads Troupe (Taiwan). Keeping things fresh, the festival are highlighting our homegrown talent with a top-heavy, off the bat local announce. Joining the already announced Teeks (Aotearoa) are: Charlotte Johansen (Aotearoa), Finn Andrews (Aotearoa / United Kingdom), KORA (Aotearoa), Nadia Reid (Aotearoa), Niko Ne Zna (Aotearoa), Ria Hall (Aotearoa) and The Black Seeds (Aotearoa).

Tonight WOMAD announced a refreshed and revamped Kunming area with a dedicated World Of Words stage to meet the popular demand of the programme.

"The World of Words for 2019 has been re-located to the beautiful setting of the Kunming Garden area. This will allow for a revitalisation of this area alongside an upmarket bar serving craft beers, fine wines and gin cocktails. Due to the popularity of the World of Words programme we have extended the programming to include late night slots. Festival-goers can enjoy the relaxed beauty of the Kunming area whilst listening to top-notch authors, presenters and comedians." - Suzanne Porter - Chief Executive at TAFT 

Exclusive to New Zealand, The World Of Words artists revealed tonight are: Dominic Tourettes Hoey (Aotearoa), Elizabeth Smither (Aotearoa), Marama Mullen (Aotearoa), Marcus Thomas and Neil Silverwood (Aotearoa), Michael Donaldson (Aotearoa), Michele A'Court (Aotearoa), Nick Bollinger (Aotearoa), Penny Ashton (Aotearoa), Pip Adam (Aotearoa) and Sonya Renee Taylor (Aotearoa).

Another artist announce is scheduled for late November 2018.

Pack a smile, WOMAD New Zealand is happening 15-17 March 2019.

Keep up-to-date with everything: 

Get Excited Groovers! The Womad 2019 Lineup will be announced tonight!

The full lineup will be announced tonight at a reception at Parliament tonight. In the meantime here's the latest press release:   

WOMAD NEW ZEALAND is thrilled to deliver its first artist announcement with Angelique Kidjo, Silkroad Ensemble and Aotearoa's own TEEKS all setting the stage for the 2019 festival.
Still on a high from the 2018 festival which was dubbed "one of the best yet", today WOMAD New Zealand announced three stellar artists to perform in 2019.
Grammy Award-winning Angelique Kidjo is a Beninese singer-songwriter, actress and activist. The "Africa's premier diva"  will perform tracks from her 2018 release Remain In Light  - a celebration of the genius of Talking Heads.
The Silkroad Ensemble is a collective of virtuoso musicians from over 20 countries. The performers take time off from their roles in the world’s best orchestras and as pre-eminent academics at some of the leading music schools across the globe to tour with the supergroup.Their repertoire includes popular jazz; traditional Vietnamese, Chinese and Kazakh music; Finnish folk song; Jugalbandi and much more.
From Aotearoa, WOMAD New Zealand are ecstatic to present the young soul-sensation TEEKS. "The 23-year-old Maori soul singer who performs with the poise and grace of someone who has woken up every single day of his life and eaten a combination of Motown and Frank Sinatra records for breakfast." - New Zealand Herald
All three artists are set to become festival favourites and WOMAD New Zealand 2019 is already promising to be a very special weekend. 

Note that Pre-sales have already sold out but you can get tickets, info etc.  at:

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Photos: AARADHNA - San Fran, Wellington, 13 Oct 2018

Photos: Tim Gruar

Groove's very own CoffeeBar Kid caught the show on Saturday night and took a couple of snaps.

The show opened with Emily Muli, backed by two of Aaradhna's team.  Her almost crystal perfect voice and harmonies are just to die for.  She later came back as backing for the main act.
Aaradhna, herself was a star, winning over her crowd, which was in full force.  Many of her 'own peeps', as she called them, were in the house and very vocal, singing along to every number and dancing like there was no tomorrow.  At one point Aaradhna stopped the show to light a cake and wish her partner a happy birthday.  She and her three-piece, plus 2 BV's, played tunes from all her albums including her latest Brown Girl - like Talk Sweet To Me, Under The Blue Moon, and the sultry and soulful I'm The One For You, amongst others.  Towards the end of the show, she also played the mandatory hit Wake Up.

Performance-wise, it was a great show.  However, the audience, being mostly younger, did not seem respectful enough, and at times I found their loud talking to almost be drowning out the performance.  That, I guess is always a bit of a sad thing.   Overall, though, it was a great show.

Photos by Tim Gruar (aka The CoffeeBar Kid)

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Check out the review of Jamie Cooks Italy at the Groove Book Report

Live Review: Rhian Sheehan - A Quiet Divide - Wellington (Michael Fowler Centre) October 12th 2018

I will confess up front that I’ve always been a champion of Sheehan’s work.  That goes back to the time he gave me a copy of his first album, Paradigm Shift, which he made in his little dingy Newtown flat on a computer and guitars.  I was impressed then and always have been by his experimental approach and continued scientific ‘bent’ to his music.  No doubt commissions with big hitters like NASA's 3D Planetarium shows and creating for exhibits and rollercoaster theme park rides and Weta workshop projects have influenced his compositional viewpoint, as have travel, especially to India a few years back.  And his work has always been revolved around space, and alternatively, more grounded themes like ecology and humankind’s exploitation of our planet. 

Tonight’s show was once again a very ambitious project.  Like his previous shows, it involved a mix of music and projections, combining a dream-like montage of visuals with challenging and highly charged thematic music.

The last show I saw was pretty ‘out there’, literally suspending images over the band.  That show was back in 2013, and a mix of music and images from his last two albums, Standing In Silence and Stories From Elsewhere – both impressive studies in ambient electronica with a smouldering cinematic undertow. 

Tonight we arrived at a room full of dry ice ‘smoke’ lit in greasy, gloomy tones like the marshlands before the ascent of Mount Doom.  On stage were three huge screens, running floor to ceiling and angled in a loose triangle, encasing some of the band.  In perfect symmetry, a large inverted triangular prism hung in the centre of this pseudo-pagan construction.  During the show, a vast array of different imagery would be projected across these curtains and through the prism which was made of a number of smaller mirrored triangles to diffract the light around the room.  This part reminds one instantly of early Pink Floyd shows and was perhaps a nod to that era by the designers from Weta Workshops, who created all this. 

Sheehan has brought back old collaborators including guitarist Jeff Boyle (Jakob), Ed Zuccollo on keys, pianist and partner Raashi Malik (Rhombus), bassist Marika Hodgson (Hollie Smith), vocalist Anna Edgington (EDIE), and percussionists Steve Bremner (The Adults) and Grant Myhill, who all were vital to bringing this elaborate recorded vision to life on the big stage.  

Flanked on stage right was a string section, provided by experimental jazz-classical ensemble Stroma, and led by conductor, Ewan Clark.  Stroma did a fair amount of the heavy lifting for this show, especially in the first half. Their treatment of the soaring piece We Danced Under A Broken Sky. Musically, this album was probably as close to a classical experience as Sheehan has gotten so far in his career.  The show opens with a yawning soundscape Elegy For The Past, reminiscent of German industrialists or early British electronica but then folds into more melancholic themes such as The Absence Of You and the delicious and lush Lost Letters, which was accompanied by visuals of dancing, watery figures.  On other tunes, there are themes lifted from Baroque themes, some Eno, Boards of Canada, hints of Jack Body’s Wellington scenes, perhaps, and Douglas Lilburn, pastoral connections, and even some Vaughan Williams.  It was suggested to me that the piano parts intentionally emphasised a number of ‘kiwi-tinged notes’.  I thought that was very apt, with themes and motifs that drew back through popular local soundtracks from television and movies like The Piano.

Photo : Grant McLean

Thematically, A Quiet Divide deals with our relationship with the past. “We understand our time is limited,” Sheehan says of this work, “and that every poignant moment we experience is fleeting, tinged with a little sadness, because we know every moment is ephemeral; every experience immediately evaporating into a memory, slowly fading, gone.”  No stronger is that sentiment than on Last Time We Spoke, which gravitates around a motif built around a simple wind up music box ditty, a recurring device in Sheehan’s music.  The music reflects the sadness of the loss of relationships and moments. Time is slipping away, like sands washing out to sea.  Much of this mostly downbeat set dwell on reflection and sorrow.  But, here and there, is optimism and a general feeling of hopefulness, especially in the closers (of the album and firsts half) on the swelling forces in April and 1982.

aka Tim Gruar
The second half revisits a material from Standing In Silence (2009) and Stories From Elsewhere (2013) which saw Sheehan start the journey away from his earlier electronica roots, stepping deeper into ambient orchestral soundscapes.  So it natural, given the themes of time and reflection to revisit some moments from these albums again. It was also satisfying to hear the orchestral elements on some of this earlier music come to life on the stage. 

Overall, the mix of old, new and the incredible visuals made this a great night - perhaps tinged with some sadness and reflection on the slipping of time.  I am still in awe of Sheehan’s ambitiousness! 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The CoffeeBar Kid talks to Rhian Sheehan

The CoffeeBar Kid talks to Wellington Composer and Musician Rhian Sheehan about his return the stage (and album making) with his first release in over five years, A Quiet Divide. To celebrate, he will be performing a special series of shows across New Zealand, transforming venues into spectacles of sound and light.

This cinematic experience will see Sheehan lead nine musicians plus a live string section to perform a truly sublime audio-visual show. Combining a dream-like montage of captivating live visuals with sound to turn Wellington into a world of breath-taking son et lumiere.

Each performance will see some of NZ’s finest musicians combining with visual elements created by Weta Workshop, Perceptual Engineering and a collective of talented visual artists to create a richly layered live experience.

Sheehan’s band features a selection of talented musicians including long-standing key collaborators Jeff Boyle (Jakob), Steve Bremner, Ed Zuccollo (Trinity Roots), Raashi Malik and Andy Hummel, plus Marika Hodgson (Hollie Smith), Grant Myhill, and Anna Edgington, alongside a live string section.

Sheehan will showcase the brand new album A Quiet Divide, as well as previous work from acclaimed albums Standing In Silence and Stories From Elsewhere. Sheehan’s live shows are a rare occasion, with this being the first Wellington performance since 2013.

Acclaimed for both his original music and composition work, Sheehan’s latest album is a sublime marriage of orchestral chamber music, cinematic guitar, and synth-based soundscapes. Fusing this sound with post-rock and ambient/electronic moments, A Quiet Divide affirms Sheehan as NZ’s foremost voice in the ambient/post-rock genre.

Monday, October 08, 2018

Post Modern Jukebox Return To Wellington - Wellington Opera House 7 October 2018

Back to the Capital for the 4th time, Scott Bradlee's Post Modern Jukebox travelling review returned again to wow us with remodelled pop tunes set into the jazz, swing and musical templates of old.  And wow, did they ever impress!  Music swung (literally) between Radiohead to Taylor Swift and everything in between.  Even one of Bieber's schmaltzy-est numbers was done over as a lush and entirely credible ballad, delivered by newby Mario Rose.  He totally nailed Where Are U Now, making you forget everything and forgot everything else ever mattered.  It really felt like he was singing straight to you, alone.

The night kicked off with a bit of old-fashioned pizazz as the band took to the stage for a vibrant performance from out 'FeM-C' of the night, Ariana Savalas, who did a brilliant version of Sisqo’s 1999 hit Thong Song.  That included some rather raunchy tap dancing that mixed old-time rag and burlesque, courtesy of Arissa Lee.  She also popped back on, dressed in a Josephine Baker-styled dress for more stunning tap-work later on.  Savalas proved to be a provocative ringmaster, knocking out a couple of stormy numbers including a seductive striptease to the tune of Ginuwine's Pony.  In Auckland, I hear, she did this with the help of an unsuspecting audience member.  No such luck tonight.

Back again was the heartbreaker, and longterm term fan fav Von Smith, to blow us away with Cry Me A River (sung at the highest falsetto I've ever heard!).  He was joined by San Francisco Bay Area powerhouse Mario Jose, the 'kid of the group' 17 year old 'movie' starlet Olivia Kuper Harris (who won 2017’s PMJ vocal Search), the sexy and the sultry Brielle Von Hugel

As with all PMJ shows the musicians are just as part of the show as the singers.  Clarinet and sax player Chloe Feoranzo (who's been before, as well).  Sung and gave us a few nerdy jams.  Bassist and MD Adam Kubota was once again the perfect conductor and leader from the back.  My personal highlight (apart from Hadaway's What is Love? done swing style) was their reworking of Radiohead’s classic Creep, done as a true torch song, oozing emotion and self-loathing.  Marlene Dietrich would' loved it! Such an emotive ballad.  Also worth a mention was the very twee Hey Ya and Beyonce’s All The Single Ladies, and not forgetting a glorious cover of Maroon 5’s Sunday Morning.  The show finished in full Broadway power and glitter with Taylor Swift's Shake It Off.  It's not hard to do a better version than the original, as Ryan Adams has proven.   But this one really does take the cake!

Every time I go, I really enjoy myself.  PMJ are an institution that blows the lid of the Capital.  If I had only one tiny criticism, it's that the formula of singers and a tap dance is just getting a little too comfortable.  I want more now and knowing how this cast is recruited and the pool of talent out there I want to see more and more.  PMJ is a brilliant platform for bringing back all these older skills - from the old theatre days.  Please give us more, more, more!!!

Sisqo – Thong Song
Sam Smith – I’m Not the Only One
Katy Perry – Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F)
Justin Timberlake – Cry Me A River
Outkast – Hey Ya
Radiohead – No Surprises
Harry Potter Theme – Tap Dance Interlude
Ginuwine – Pony
Skrillex & Diplo – Where Are U Now w/ Justin Bieber
Beyonce – All The Single Ladies
Lady Gaga – Bad Romance
Smash Mouth – Rockstar
Selena Gomez – Same Old Love
Maroon 5 – Sunday Morning
Bruce Springsteen – Dancing in the dark
Tears For Fears – Mad World
Radiohead – Creep
[Happy Birthday Interlude]
Meghan Trainor – All About The Bass
Haddaway – What Is Love (Baby Don’t Hurt Me)
Taylor Swift – Shake It Off

See Poster at the bottom of this page for a concert near you or go to &

Thanks to Nicole Thomas at NicNak Media 

Photos by Tim Gruar