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Monday, November 30, 2020

Taranaki Arts Festival Trust will not present WOMAD NZ 2021 but there may still be a reprieve!

Photo by Mckenzie Jennings-Gruar

Two conflicting messages were release today from the teams behind WOMAD 2020.   The current organisers of WOMAD New Zealand, The Taranaki Arts Festival (TAFT) said in a press release today that it had little choice but to pull out of the upcoming 2021 event.  They said the decision was 'gut wrenching' but given that it stood to lose millions of dollars and risked being declared bankrupt if Covid-19 disrupted the festival. 

In their own accompanying statement WOMAD UK, which oversees the event internationally, however said it was pushing on with plans for a New Zealand festival in March, drawing on Kiwi talent. 

For two decades sounds from around the world have rung around the Bowl of Brooklands in New Plymouth, attracting tens of thousands of people from around the country to the three-day WOMAD festival. 

The Taranaki Arts Festival Trust (TAFT) has until now held the contract to put on the event, but, sadly this wont happen next year.  At a press conference Chief executive Suzanne Porter said there had been a difference of opinion between TAFT and WOMAD UK about the risk Covid-19 posed to events in New Zealand. 

"Our government will close things down," she said, "as we've just seen recently in Auckland with just two days' notice.  We analysed what that financial risk was, modelled it right through.  We could carry that risk through until about February and in February we start going over the $2 million mark and I need to be very clear here - TAFT carries the loss, so we couldn't take that risk." 

My Baby at WOMAD 2019 - Photo Tim Gruar

Suzanne also said it would only take Auckland going into lockdown for WOMAD to fall over completely. If that occurred in the final week leading into the festival the charitable trust's exposure would have been closer to $3.5 million. "We would be committed to paying the artists. They'd be in town. We'd be committed to paying for the hotel rooms because they'd be in the hotel rooms. Our site would be set up...we wouldn't be able to honour our debts which is not the way TAFT works. We are not people who would simply not pay our debts and close up shop, it's just not kaupapa." 

Porter said the trust had looked at every avenue and even made a plea to the government for it to underwrite the event.  Howver that was not successful. 

An so, she said in the press release "that really is the essence of the decision. It has been gut-wrenching. TAFT has been here since the beginning, it took risks, it took losses for a number of years.  We were happy to take a rest year in 2021 and come back in 2022 when hopefully our borders were open at least to some countries and promote the full WOMAD experience again." 

Although TAFT has recently had to let two full-time staff go and reduce contractors' hours they were not sitting on their hands and are already planning a new international event for 2022. 

So what of WOMAD?  WOMAD UK director Chris Smith, however, thinks that New Zealand's risk to Covid is much less than the UK and the rest of the world.  "We have looked at what is happening in New Zealand and certainly we can see there are a lot of events that are still happening and selling very well and there's clearly a demand.   The situation in New Zealand is very positive regarding the pandemic and the advice we received was that there was good reason to carry on." 

Reb Fountain -WOMAD 2020 - Photo Tim Gruar

According to their press statement WOMAD UK was now working with multinational concert producer Live Nation on the New Zealand event. 

Porter told Radio New Zealand today that she believed that TAFT had lost its hosting rights indefinitely.  She suspected that Live Nation had swooped in and would call for a multi-year deal in return for carrying the festival. 

Smith, however, says WOMAD UK was open to working with TAFT again.  The press release he issued today said WOMAD New Zealand 2021 would be different and feature an almost exclusively Kiwi line-up. "There's a very rich range of artists from different cultures resident in New Zealand playing creatively and to a high standard and that's the model we've developed in Australia and we are looking to use in Spain and the UK. So we're very much moving during this difficult period to actually trying to keep the spirit of the event alive and to keep the spirit of cultural exchange alive, but mining the resources that are within the countries we are working in." 

"Not surprisingly," he continued, "the format for 2021 will be somewhat different but will present the usual diverse programme of artists with all or most of them based in New Zealand.  This is possible because of New Zealand’s richly diverse population and cultural heritage."  

New Zealand, he said, has had fantastic and enviable success in controlling the pandemic, and whilst this means it’s all but impossible for artists to attend from overseas it means a a local all Kiwi WOMAD festival could go ahead in its place - "with all the features we know and love."   "By promoting WOMAD in New Plymouth for another year, we will be able to offer employment opportunities to many of our longstanding crew and supporters in the toughest of years for our industry, and to continue to support local business with a festival that injects millions of dollars into the economy in a region we now call home." 

So, Groovers.  Watch this space!

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Wellington Jazz Festival 2020 - Review

"Finally, after months of waiting, the rescheduled Wellington Jazz Festival kicked off on Wednesday 18 November. I was lucky enough to attend three flagship events while soaking up some of the awesome vibes from the ‘Coolest Little Capital’."  

Read on

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Wellington Jazz Festival

 The Wellington Jazz Festival wraps up today.  We took in some fantastic music including 4 new commissioned works from Kevin Field, Anita Schwabe, Riki Gooch and Blair Latham and the Noveltones.  There were gigs all over town but the most memorable were at St. Peters Church in Willis St. which  was converted into a magical Jazz club amongst the pews.

Over at the Opera House, Tom Scott's Avant Bowling Club rocked the show with a packed out gig.

Below are a few photographic highlights, taken by Festival photographer Stephen A'Court.

Monday, November 16, 2020

BENEE and the Beths score big at the Aotearoa Music Awards


For the second time this year, and the second year running, BENEE has cleaned up. After doing super well at the APRA awards earlier this year, she took home anothe four Tui at last night's Aotearoa Music Awards. 

Auckland alt-pop quartet The Beths  also scored big with three awards, including the much coveted 'Album of the Year' for 'Jump Rope Gazers'. Our own CoffeeBar Kid reviewed this for earlier this year and raved about it. He was right!

The Beths

Hot off a national tour and defying all the pain and frustrations Covid-19 has caused for local musicians,  BENEE scored a quinella, winning Best Solo Artist, Best Pop Artist, an International Achievement award, and Single of the Year for her smash hit ‘Superlonely’.

The Beths won deserving praise for their sophomore effort ollowing 'Jump Rope Gazers', released earlier this year scooping up a raft of accolades, including 'Album of the Year', 'Best Group', and 'Best Alternative Artist' - also for the second year in a row.

Jawsh 685

If you haven't heard of viral sensation Jawsh 685  you will now. He featured at Laneway earlier this year as the one to watch.  His track ‘Laxed – Siren Beat’ topped the charts globally and got reworked by Jason Durillo into the mega-smash 'Savage Love' charts globally. He’s the first Pasifika person, and only the third Kiwi ever get on the top of  the UK Singles Chart.
Jawsh took out 'Breakthrough Artist of the Year' and was the 'second recipient' of an 'International Achievement' award.

Mōhau, the supergroup collective (featuring some of our best;  Rob Ruha, Ria Hall, Troy Kingi, Bella Kalolo, Majic Paora, Kaaterama Pou, Ka Hao, and The Witch Doctor & Friends) received honours with two awards - Best Worship Artist and the Te Māngai Pāho Mana Reo Tui.

Winners of the 'Best Pacific Group' at the Pacific Music Awards earlier this year, hip hop duo Church & AP also took out 'Best Hip Hop Artist'.

Maimoa, who are a collective of ten young musicians, scooped the 'Best Māori Artist' gong for' Rongomaiwhiti'.

Lisa Tomlins (BV's on 'In The Air') poses with L.A.B's Roots Award

WOMAD heroes and summer festival fans L.A.B won 'Best Roots Artist'; Haz & Miloux picked up the tui for 'Best Soul/RnB Artist'; and 'City of Souls' grabbed 'Best Rock Artist'.

Here are all the Aotearoa Music Awards 2020 winners:

1. Te Pukaemi o te Tau | Album of the Year​

WINNER: The Beths - Jump Rope GazersL.A.B - L.A.B III
Nadia Reid - Out Of My Province
Reb Fountain - Reb Fountain
Six60 - Six60
Tami Neilson - Chickaboom!

2. Te Waiata Tōtahi o te Tau | Single of the Year​

WINNER: BENEE - ‘Supalonely’
Drax Project ft Six60 - ‘Catching Feelings’
Jawsh685 - ‘Savage Love’
L.A.B - ‘In The Air’
Six60 - ‘Please Don’t Go’
Troy Kingi - ‘All Your Ships Have Sailed

3. Te Roopu Toa | Best Group

WINNER: The Beths - Jump Rope Gazers 
L.A.B. - L.A.B. III
Miss June - Bad Luck Party
Six60 - Six60

4. Te Kaipuoro Takitahi Toa | Best Solo Artist​

WINNER: BENEE - Stella & SteveJessB - New Views
Nadia Reid - Out Of My Province
Reb Fountain - Reb Fountain

5. Te Kaituhura Puoro Toa o te Tau | Breakthrough Artist of the Year


6. Te Māngai Pāho Te Kaipuoro Māori Toa | Best Māori Artist

WINNER: Maimoa
Ria Hall
Stan Walker

7. Te Kaipuoro Arotini Toa | Best Pop Artist​


8. Te Kaipuoro Manohi Toa | Best Alternative Artist​

WINNER: The Beths Mermaidens
Reb Fountain

9. Te Kaipuoro Awe Toa | Best Soul/RnB Artist

WINNER: Haz & Miloux
Stan Walker

10. Te Kaipuoro Hipihope Toa | Best Hip Hop Artist

WINNER: Church & AP choice
Raiza Biza

11. Te Kaipuoro Taketake Toa | Best Roots Artist

Lomez Brown
Ria Hall

12. Te Māngai Pāho Mana Reo Award

WINNER: MōhauMaimoaSix60

13. Te Kaipuoro Tāhiko Toa | Best Electronic Artist

WINNER: Lee Mvtthews
State of Mind

14. Te Kaipuoro Rakapioi Toa | Best Rock Artist

WINNER: City of Souls

15. Te Kaipuoro Kairangi Toa | Best Worship Artist

WINNER: MōhauKane AdamsTe Rautini

16. Te Kaipuoro Inamata Toa | Best Classical Artist

WINNER: Andrew Beer & Sarah Watkins
Klara Kollektiv
Matthew Marshall

17. Te Kōwhiri o te Nuinga | People’s Choice Award


18. Tohu Whakareretanga | Recorded Music NZ Legacy Award

Johnny CooperMax Merritt
Peter Posa, Dinah Lee
The Chicks and Larry’s Rebels

19. Te Toa Hoko Teitei | Highest Selling Artist

Drax Project ft. Six60

20. Te Rikoata Marakerake o te Tau | NZ On Air Radio Airplay Record of the Year

Drax Project

21. Tohu Tutuki o te Ao | Recorded Music NZ International Achievement


Additional Tuis presented in 2019

22. Te Kaipuoro Taketake Toa | Best Folk Artist

Winner: Mel Parsons - Glass Heart
Victoria Vigenser & Lindsay Martin - The Gap
Paper Cranes - Voices

23. Te Pukaemi Toa o Te Moana Nui a Kiwa | Best Pacific Music Album

Winner: Olivia Foa’I - Candid
Church & AP - Teeth

24. Te Kaipuoro Tuawhenua Toa | Best Country Artist

Winner: Delaney Davidson & Barry Saunders - Word Gets Around
Katie Thompson - Bittersweet
Kendall Elise - Red Earth

25. Recorded Music NZ Te Kaipuoro Tautito Toa | Best Jazz Artist

Winner: Dixon Nacey - The Edge Of Chaos
ALCHEMY - ALCHEMYMichal Martyniuk - Resonate

26. Te Kaipuoro Waiata Tamariki Toa | Best Children’s Artist

Winner: Anika Moa - Songs For Bubbas 3
Captain Festus McBoyle
Chris Sanders

Friday, November 13, 2020

Wellington Jazz Festival is ready to go!

With less than a week to go until the Wellington Jazz Festival we're super excited to see Wellington enlivened with more than 100 gigs across the city! 

Don't know where to start with the programme? We've got some inspo for you, with tributes to the classics and jazz for the film buffs among us to world premieres. 

To get you in the mood check out this playlist.

Here are a few highlights you need to note:

World Premieres

If you haven't booked yet for our amazing Jazz Premiere Series, get in quick. Riki Gooch's Ngā Tuone has already sold out and we wouldn't want you to miss out on the others! These performances will all feature brand new compositions commissioned by the Festival from some of Aotearoa's top performers.

Read Tim Gruar's interview with Riki on this amazing project.

Book now for the time-travelling tunes of Karla and The Divide by Blair Latham and the Noveltones, which will feature visual accompaniment created live on the night. 

For a celebration of resilience and coming together in the face of adversity from pianist Kevin Field and NYC-based bassist Matt Penman, make sure to check out the Kevin Field Quintet

In a performance for all the senses, join Anita Schwabe for a composition that will transport you from Cuba Street to Otari-Wilton's Bush alongside artistic photography. 

Classic Album Make Overs

Ol' King Cole

An ode to the great drum-less trio of Nat King Cole, featuring Louis Thompson-Munn. The formidable Ol' King Cole was born out of a love of the great music of Nat King Cole's early drum-less trio, which was active 1943-1950. Humour and a lively sense of banter is the essence of what makes this band a great enjoyment to behold.

Sat 21 Nov, 4pm | Southern Cross Garden Bar and Restaurant

Festival Big Band Play Sinatra/Basie

The annual All Stars Big Band takes on two iconic albums; The Atomic Mr Basie and Sinatra at the Sands featuring rising vocal star Eugine Wolfin. The All Star Big Band is led by the incomparable John Rae on Drums along with Ben Wilcock playing the part of The Count on piano.

Thurs 19 Nov, 7:45pm | Meow

Rogue Classic Albums Live: Ella and Louis

Local singer Ella Dunbar-Wilcox presents Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong’s 1956 masterpiece Ella and Louis with full band as The Rogue and Vagabond hosts five nights of classic albums played live by top local musicians.

Fri 20 Nov, 7pm | The Rogue and Vagabond

Jazz On Film

The Vincent Vega Four

 Hard-hitting mix of surf, soul & rock'n'roll.  These real pipe-hittin' muthas plus Wellington's very own soul diva Lisa Tomlins bring a raucous mix of Tarantino tunes. Grab your hunny bunny and bring out the gimp for a night of banging awesomeness full of great vengeance and furious anger!

Also featuring Chris Armour on guitar, Nick Lissette on bass and Richard TeOne on drums.

Fri 20 Nov, 10:30pm |  Hashigo Zake

Pandora's Box (Germany - 1929)

Jazz-age cinema classic with live improvised accompaniment.  The iconic Louise Brooks stars as free-spirited Lulu in G.W. Pabst's bold, lurid, dazzlingly ahead-of-its-time journey through the eroticism and desperation of Weimar Berlin. Long hailed as a silent masterpiece, Pandora's Box is now brought to you with a live-in-the-room musical score from Leonardo Coghini on suitably period keys and Frank Talbot on slinkily sexy sax!

Sun 22 Nov, 7pm | Hashigo Zake

Callum Allardice's Cinematic Light Orchestra

An Arthur Street Loft Orchestra special: new works for jazz orchestra inspired by music for film.

In 2016 Callum Allardice’s "Sons of Thunder" (from The Jac’s 2015 album The Green Hour) won the inaugural APRA Best Jazz Composition Award at the NZ Jazz Awards. He won it again the following year with "Deep Thought" from the 2018 Antipodes album Good Winter, and in 2019 was a finalist for his piece "Chungin."

Fri 20 Nov, 10pm | The Third Eye

Sunday, November 08, 2020

Former NZIFF Director Bill Gosden Dies

We at Groove champion unique heroes in the arts world.  Bill was like no other.  From his earliest days as a Director, he chose films that we'd never considered or heard of.  Taika Waititi, Gaylene Preston and many other Kiwi directors owe him their very lives as film makers for promoting their work and flying their flags.  He really did make the NZIFF what it was and we have spent many hours in the dark enjoying the great movies he personally selected and curated for us - especially, Groovers, those that featured musicians.  We can not express how deep our sadness is for losing Bill.  May he rest in peace.  Aroha a nui to all his friends and whanau.   

We received this note from the NZIFF yesterday:  

The New Zealand International Film Festival is deeply saddened at the passing of former Director Bill Gosden (ONZM). Bill died peacefully early yesterday (Friday 6 November), five days shy of his 67th birthday.

Bill helmed the film festival for almost 40 years before retiring last year due to ill health. His promotion of, and commitment to, New Zealand film and filmmakers is one of his enduring legacies.

New Zealand Film Festival Trust Chair Catherine Fitzgerald said Bill’s contribution to New Zealand’s film culture through film festivals is indelible. “Bill lived and breathed film from his earliest years, working tirelessly to create a demand from New Zealand audiences for the highest quality films from around the world.”

Film Festival Director Marten Rabarts said the news of Bill’s passing was a sad day for the film industry in New Zealand and worldwide. “The film festival and film community in New Zealand owes Bill a huge debt of gratitude for the decades of work and passion he committed to develop and champion a world-class festival experience for audiences and filmmakers alike.”

The New Zealand Film Festival Trust and the New Zealand International Film Festival extend their condolences to Bill’s wide circle of friends, family and colleagues. 


Q & A with Blair Latham

They often say that music is the universal language, that it has a special power and place in society, but can jazz take you back in time? For the upcoming Wellington Jazz Festival musician Blair Latham has created Karla and the Divide is a two-part suite of original music that will envelop the audience in the highs and lows of the modern day, presented by the chamber jazz group The Noveltones. Portrayed through sound and visuals created live on the night, this experience will unsettle yet exhilarate. 

To find out more about this exciting project, the CoffeeBar Kid, obeying all the conditions of Level 2, emailed Blair to find out more:

Kia ora, Blair, welcome to the hot seat. Tell me a little about yourself?   

"I'm a professional musician of over 20 years experience, born and bred in Wellington. 
I went through jazz school studying jazz saxophone plus composition and arranging, then like many others went overseas to get some flying time in various musical groupings and styles in the US and eventually in Mexico.  I've been back in Wellington for about six or so years, enjoying the energy that emanates from our live music scene."      

Have you always been a bass clarinet player?   

"No, I started playing Bass Clarinet after forming an all sax trio around 2003, but had always admired it from afar as I was and am a big fan of Eric Dolphy, probably the best bass clarinetist in jazz that has ever touched foot on our planet."     

Tell me about your youngest memory with music and what inspired you to be a musician? 

"Like many others my earliest memory of music was from playing the recorder, in this instance with my Mum on my parents bed (she is a trained teacher so had that skill set there). An inspiration to really delve deep into music and it's possibilities was from listening to John Coltrane's Impression (live in '65) and feeling drawn to the message he seemed to be transmitting." 

We all agree that the Covid-19 lockdown has been a pretty tough time for musicians. What have you been up to? What have you learned about yourself? 

"It was definitely hard, I've learned that my main goal is to play live music to people in the same room. Like many of us I was involved in remote musical projects, and taking a bit of time to relax in the evenings for a change."        

Let's talk about the Noveltones, your partners in crime for the Jazz Festival.  Tell me about soprano saxophonist Jasmine Lovell-Smith, bassist Tom Callwood and violinist Tristan Carter. How did you get together?  

"I've known Tom since I was 13, he and I learnt music together through the years. Noveltones really is Jasmine's project that she started a few years ago, and I am very happy that I was able to nab the Bass Clarinet chair as it's an exciting and unique group."

You mentioned time in Mexico earlier. What did you learn about music there and how does it influence your work?

"Mexico really is something else, and is a daily lesson just being there. Musically I learnt that music is as important to humans as food. Over there that seems to be accepted more as the norm than here. A big part of my family is Mexican, so everything I do is touched by Mexico's history, culture and present."     

Karla and The Divide is a two part suite – tell me about it. What will the audience hear? 

"It's definitely a cliche but I do try to tell a story with the music that I put together, so people can expect to hear something that could take them for a ride, if they're willing to give it a chance. There'll be many, many moods to traverse.   I believe there are visuals, too. What will we see and how do they work with the music? I'm in for a surprise as much as anyone else. Andy Wright creates beautiful images, but for this he has taken his own path based upon the sounds that we've created and sent to him, so we'll see!"

Karla and the Divide by Blair Latham: Wednesday 18 November 8PM @ St. Peters 

Blair Latham (Bass Clarinet) 
Tristan Carter (Violin) 
Jasmine Lovell-Smith (Soprano Sax) 
Tom Callwood (Upright Bass) 
Dan Beban (Sound Effects) 
Andy Wright (Visual Effects)