Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Fly My Pretties IV CD/DVD Package

Review published in the Groove Guide April 2012

Fly My Pretties IV - five stars - by Tim Gruar

Every FMP project tops the last, introducing to us new and emerging arts, both musically and visually. This time around we hear from Aaron Tokona (Cairo Knife Fight), the stunning Amiria Grenell, Basist Fran Kora (who also plays the koauau for Grenell), Banjo maestro Justin 'Firefly' Clarke and taste the work of the immensely talented graphic artist Flox (aka Hayley King). Flox opens the show by spraying a stencil on an old school overhear projector and sets up the mood for the tracks to come, the first being Weir's own "Doorstep Blues" and into the animated postage stamps in the following "Dr Plumb". Whilst the music is a breathtaking set of originals, showcasing every artist in the collective, the strength of this cd/dvd is in the sum of whole. The vid is a mixes the live show and Flox's graphics, which on stage dominate a huge back screen. Production and sound are crystal clear, spot on, preserving the mood and magic on stage This, of course, was entirely planned from the beginning. I can remember at the Wellington show being coaxed by Weir to 'cheer louder' for the recording. That's still ringing in my ears. If you missed the live show, don't fret - this package will give you a front row seat and a backstage pass. Treasure it.

Show Review from last Novemenr 2012 - Published in Groove Guide November 2012
Fly My Pretties IV – St James Theatre 19 November 2011  By Tim Gruar

Out front, prior to curtain up, ‘Flox’ (Hayley King) is whipping up one of her iconic native bird creations with a discarded card and spray cans. Inside, her art will be animated by on a million foot projection screen that completely covers the back of the stage dwarfing everyone and enfolding the music into a trademark mix of native bird anthems and Kiwiana.

Barnaby Weir kicks off with his two new tunes “Door Step Blues” and the rockin’ little “Dr Plum”, graphically accompanied philatelist theme. Returning to the FMP stage Lauren Mitchell, decked out in a smokin’ hot cat suit, pulls out a couple soulful numbers ‘Apple Heart’ and ‘You know now’ (from her recent Concept EP serries).

Then, one of the highlights was ‘Newbie’ folk singer Amiria Grenell who fronted up with a special electric guitar constructed for wood recycled from the Christchurch earthquake. “Three Feathers” the title from her recent release, about a recent cancer sufferer, was sweet, sentimental and gave goose bumps, even with the big band treatment.

And speaking of treats, it was brilliant to see back the ever versatile Anna Coddington, who shone all night, especially on “underneath the stars” from her latest, Cat and Bird. Paired up with Mitchell, it was clear these two honeys were having a ball on stage.

With so many of the 16 strong cast from the shaky city we were reminded of the event, especially with Fran Kora’s gut wrenching “Am I Gonna Make it” which opens desperately with a recording of a mobile going permanently to answer phone .

Flip Grater added her own Steve Nicks flourish, in a long flowing black gown and a forceful ballad “I Am Gone” which she introduced as a wee promo for her cookbook, “now available at Whitcoulls. Even my mum shops there!”

“Dear Wellington,” announced auburn haired country chanteuse Eva Prowse, ”I bloody love ya, signed EP”. Then she broke our hearts by announcing she’s heading back to London on Tuesday. As it might be some time before hear that curvaceous alto again her contribution, “Space Cadet’ , was extra special

“I’m the professional awkward guy,” declares Justin ‘Firefly’ Clarke. His presence on stage harks back to the pioneer spirit of the earlier FMP shows with banjos, mandolin and a soft and ironic song ‘Please’. Despite the bumbling , the audience revel in the performance, cheering wildly at the end in encouragement.

A welcome return to the FMP stage was original Age Pryor who again showed of his skills and lispy vocals with ‘Folding Over.’

Class clown Aaron Tokona (Cairo Knife Fight) was hilarious on stage, like of Taika Waititi’s character ‘Boy’ , and impressive with his OTT guitars on one of his own tunes, “Ode To The World” and, later with a blazing rendition of “Lets Roll”.

A quick room survey, and a non-scientific poll at interval, told me this audience included a large number of younger types, experiencing the FMP concept for the first time. I got a sense that despite some of the early fans drifting off, or put off by the ticket price, or in some cases couldn’t get a babysitter, there was still plenty of love in the room. Weir reminded us they were filming and recording for a release in February, with the faithful Dr Lee Prebble on the 67 channel mix disk.

Back after a break, the second half is a fantastic two song sampler from the ‘band with in a band’, the Nudge (Ryan Prebble, Iraia Whakamoe and James Coyle) and run through a selection of faves from mainly FMP’s #1 and #3, including a star spot from the ‘Pryor Choir’, an all male six guitar rendition of “Singing in my Soul’

When Weir read out the list of sponsors and ‘thanksyous’ I was reminded of the juggernaut the FMP has become. Yet the show still felt intimate, fresh and wholly owned by the artist’s sense of fun, creativity and collaboration. The great thing about this concept now is the familiarity and the anticipation that you will be entertained as you’re introduced to new talents. Every time I see one of these I come away satisfied with the buzz few other events can deliver.

Liner Notes from Nathan Haines' "The Poet's Embrace"


With a set of originals and covers the music Nathan played that night firmly established in my mind that this was a very different Nathan Haines from the man who had left London in 2005 after enjoying considerable success as a “crossover jazz” artist. Whilst still accessible, the music had shifted more firmly into jazz territory with a greater focus on Nathan’s playing. This was obviously a new level for Nathan and his mastery of the music had grown in a way that demanded that he should be stretching out more, so that we could all enjoy the ride. It was somehow poignant that Nathan played propped on a stool that night due to a broken foot –here was the man who had strutted his stuff in the world of dance music immobilized in one of the hallowed spaces of Jazz, relying on no other weapon but his horn.

Already focusing on what would become ulti- mately this album – The Poet’s Embrace – Nathan returned to New Zealand with a new sense of purpose, even though this would not be his first entirely acoustic outing. Nathan at last wanted to make a real jazz record. This time there would be no hiding place, just a straightforward quartet recorded live to tape with no overdubs or mixing in the time-honoured tradition. Using vintage microphones and minimal processing, the music was captured by an Ampex 300 1/2 inch tape machine via the EMI- Neve desk at York Street Studios, Auckland over just two sessions in December 2011.

Nathan’s journey as a musician has been one of many epiphanies since his sojourn in London, yet though epiphanies may illuminate the path ahead, the journey requires dedication and hard work, and for a jazz musician there has to be the proverbial hours spent “woodshedding”. Nathan has obviously paid his dues in this respect as the first thing I’d say about The Poet’s Embrace is that he reaches places and spaces as a player that would undoubtedly have been inaccessible to the Nathan of old. What emerges from these tunes is a sense of a musician who’s gained his wings and there’s a confidence in his traversing of harmonic space that speaks of a knowledge of when to soar, when to glide, when to let go and when to lay back. Yes, Nathan’s paid his dues and though the debts to other players may sometimes seem obvious, his melodic invention, phrasing and solo construction serve no muse but his own. However beyond the rebirth of Nathan as a writer and player there’s been this other aspect of his renaissance studies –the question of how to achieve the warmth and wonder of those great jazz recordings. I can imagine Nathan immersed in these esoteric arts as the vision for The Poet’s Embrace coalesced. The stacks of old jazz vinyl piled around his old school hi-fi, or burrowing away on-line researching ancient microphones and recording techniques, trying to figure a way to get close to the luxuriant sound of Columbia’s legendary 30th Street Studios where Miles’ Kind Of Blue and Mingus’ Ah Um were recorded.

Enter Londoner and long-time collaborator Mike Patto. Nathan’s choice of producer is a telling one, not only as a great friend, but someone who in recent years has been on a similar journey with parallel goals both as a jazz musician and in pursuit of the lost art of analogue recording. Mike was able to bring to bear not only the fruits of his technical knowledge but also his sagacious qualities as a musician and human being. Beyond the practical aspects of recording it’s impossible to calibrate the qualities of a good jazz producer, other than the need to be some kind of conduit through which the energy required for great performances is channelled. To state that Patto has achieved this can only be judged in the listening, but to these ears he’s hit the mark both in terms of the way the record sounds and the way the material is performed. However there are also some concrete ideas that Mike introduced to these sessions which are highly relevant. Firstly the decision that Nathan would only play tenor on this album, (a decision vindicated by the fact that Nathan had recently switched instruments from a 1930’s Conn tenor to a classic 1964 Selmer Mark VI) and secondly the choice of Yusef Lateef’s “Eboness” as the set’s only non original. Also Mike, along with pianist Kevin Field and Nathan, contributed to the composition of the album’s first track ‘Realisation’ – a tune which Nathan had left delib- erately incomplete so there would be something the quartet would be playing completely fresh for the recording.

Field has been a musical sparring partner of Nathan’s for many years and it’s obvious they enjoy a deep rapport. He’s a musician who’s obviously not only immensely capable of binding the music together – as a pianist must inevitably do in a quartet session – but also he brings his own unique way of adding colour and shade to the harmonic picture. His touch and feel are more akin to the subtlety of Bill Evans than the incendiary left hand and intense clusters of McCoy Tyner, and there’s also a great sense of space in his playing. He never crowds out the sonic horizon with unnecessary notes always maintaining that hold on the tune whereby his contribution can transcend the realm of merely tasteful into the echelons of elegance. As well as collaborating on ‘Realisation’, his composition ‘Offering’ provides a beautiful finale to The Poet’s Embrace.

‘Realisation’ is a great opener and as a mission statement, full of (the right) intent it pulses and swoons in equal measure and sets the tone perfectly. Right from the off we can hear Nathan’s command of a new soulful tone, relishing each note of the head before releasing into a stream of invention that bubbles with the joy of rejuvenated purpose. ‘Universal Man’ reminds me somewhat of the great Paul Horn’s sixties output, achieving an impressionistic shimmer in it’s rhythmic backdrop, with it’s 6/8 time having no recourse to “jazz waltz” clichés. It’s more about the space within the meter, the harmonic framework spare enough to allow the drums and horn to be visceral without losing that ethereal quality. ‘Ancestral Dance’ is the tune that bears the Coltrane influence most heavily, and “heavy” it is too, drums all ablaze like Elvin Jones and Nathan conjuring not only the spirit but also sometimes quite hauntingly the tone and timbre of Trane’s horn.

Nathan has always had a synergy with the ballad form, often deploying his Chet Baker like vocal tones to plaintive effect – however his horn is no less plangent, and here on the title track it combines beautifully with Kevin Field’s piano which seems particularly at home in this setting. Showing great delicacy and reverence to the power of space, it’s like watching smoke curling in a shaft of sunlight, time tem- porarily suspended. ‘Eboness’ keeps a fairly tight rein on Lateef’s original, it’s evocative theme switched from flute to tenor, softly grinding and statuesque – this ‘Eboness’ stands proudly beside Yusef’s. ‘Consequence’ provides a simple backdrop for some of Nathan’s best blowing on the session and it’s a burst of energy before the journey comes to rest with the lovely theme of ‘Offering’. The pianist stretches out here with incandescent runs and phrases before Nathan takes over, his warm lyricism given full licence to please, caressing each phrase and bringing out every nuance of timbre from his horn.

The rhythm section is completed by Thomas Botting and Alain Koetsier on bass and drums respectively who despite their relative youth have obviously racked up plenty of hours playing together at music school and beyond, such is the symbiotic nature of their shared pulse. As Nathan says, Alain gives him the “fire” he needs with this music, and as bass players rarely receive accolades for doing the simple things well it leaves me to state that Thomas Botting holds down the bottom end with impeccable taste throughout, never straying too far from the essence of the task at hand.

So for Nathan Haines, this is a significant mile- stone on his journey through life and music. A jazz musician can never really “get there” - the warp and woof of his art is all about the process of “becoming” and the endless quest. For the moment Nathan seems to have achieved something quite magical – he seems to have arrived.


This is published from

Check out this review:

All About our Interview Subject Author - Paul Thomas


DEATH ON DEMAND, by Paul Thomas (Hodder Moa, $36.99), released February 28; Thomas will be part of the “New Zealand Crime” session, chaired by Craig Sisterson, in Wellington on March 11 during Writers & Readers Week in the New Zealand International Arts Festival; he will also be appearing at library events in Hamilton, Dunedin, Mosgiel and Christchurch during New Zealand Book Month. Click here for details
Paul Thomas is a novelist, scriptwriter, journalist and sports biographer. Thomas has also worked as an editor, public relations executive and a consultant. He is a prolific writer who has written numerous novels, select sports biographies and a collection of short stories. As a celebrated crime writer, Thomas is known for the comedic and satiric qualities of his books as well as an ability to depict crisp realism. Paul Thomas is based in Wellington.

Some Bio - Thomas, Paul (1951- ) is a novelist, scriptwriter, journalist and sports biographer.

Thomas was born in Harrogate, Yorkshire. He was educated at the University of Auckland. Before turning to writing full-time Thomas worked as a journalist, editor, public relations executive and a consultant.

A prolific writer, Thomas’ novels include Dirty Laundry (aka Old School Tie, 1994), Inside Dope (1995), Guerrilla Season (1996), Final Cut (1999), The Empty Bed (2002) and Sex Crimes (2003). Inside Dope was the winner of the Ned Kelly Award for Best Crime Novel 1996.
Although Thomas has been celebrated as a crime writer, he is always ‘a writer of wild, blackly comedic thrillers’. Critics agree that much of what defines Thomas as a writer is his sense of the comic and the satiric. In Writing Gothic Matilda: The Amazing Visions of Australian Crime Fiction, Michael Pollack and Margaret MacNabb write about Thomas’ early novels, ‘These comic novels leave the reader laughing, that’s for sure. The sparkling dialogue, absurd situations and all the crackling one-liners are pure entertainment. But there is always the shadow of doubt falling over the page…After reading Paul Thomas… one never reads a newspaper or watches a television newscast with the quite the same degree of innocence again.’

With The Empty Bed (2002) Thomas’ work shifts, becomes less funny and more ‘real’. Writing in the Evening Post Juliet Ashton argues that ‘Thomas doesn’t put a foot wrong in this bleakly brilliant depiction of a marriage unravelling… That makes the book sound very grim. But in fact it’s a compulsive and acerbic read.’ Crime Factory claims with this novel ‘Thomas turns to a more classic style of crime writing’ and at the same time ‘there are elements of the psychological novel, now raised to an art form.’

In addition to his novels, Thomas’ short stories have appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian Financial Review, Metro, The Eye, Australian Penthouse and The New Zealand Herald. He has written the screenplay for a number of television movies, including Ihaka: Blunt Instrument. He has also adapted his novel Inside Dope for the screen.

Best known as a fiction writer, Thomas began his writing career as a journalist and a collaborator on a number of sporting biographies including, Christmas in Rarotonga (with John Wright, 1990), Running on Instinct (with John Kirwan, 1992), Straight from the Hart (with John Hart, 1993), Change of Hart (with John Hart, 1997) and A Whole New Ball Game (2003).

Sex Crimes is a collection of blackly humorous stories which explore the unpredictable and sometimes fatal consequences that can occur as a result of the pursuit of sex. 'A master of plot, pace and the killer one-liner' Marele Day.  Paul Thomas participated in the 2004 Book Council WOW (Words on Wheels) tour of the deep South.  Work in Progress (2006) was published by Random House New Zealand.  Paul Thomas lives in Wellington.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Still time to come up to Womad for the day or overnight.

The weather's perfect here at Womad, the artists are talented, the people are nice, the food is delicious and the vibe is great!

Friday, March 9, 2012

First Aid Kit - International Festival of The Arts - Telstra Festival Club, 8 March 2012

Klara and Johanna on Stage in Wellington

*Also published on , March 2012

When Swedish folk duo composed of sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg hesitantly took the stage last night there was good reason. Johanna fumbled with her guitar cord for a few moments and restarted the first number “This old routine’ twice before she was fully comfortable on the stage. They later apologized, explaining that they’d only just touched down, with sodden luggage and nothing to wear. Apparently Klara’s keyboard had to be aerated with a blow drier before it was fully functional. The quiet, appreciative 200 strong crowd smiled on through all this like admiring parents - compassionate and understanding. And soon the early hiccups were forgotten as the girls soon took over their stage with beautiful lilting harmonies and hook laden folk and country. Eyes widened on “Emylou”, which lists all their favourite Nashville heroes but frowns were stead fast on “In the Hearts of Men”. The rapport with punters was a little clunky as Klara and Johanna took turns to make various observations and notes of introduction in their perfect American influenced accents.

The shy, staccato innocent presence was gradually winning us over. Songs were dedicated to local family members, to Richard Dawkins (“Hard Believer”), early career band champion Fever Ray (“a cover – “When I grow up”) and the weather, who played a special part by appropriately howling around the tent during the lullaby lament “Ghost town”. With the addition of local references in the same song the audience finally warmed and smiles appeared like Christmas tree lights on faces around the room. All in all the repertoire was delicate and trippy, sparsely played with just guitar, keys and a pared down drum kit operated by an anonymous goati-ed, long haired player. If fact the fourth band member of the night appeared to be the girls’ long waist-length tresses, cut in 70’s styles, swishing around and at times curtaining off their faces, adding an additional layer of mysterious removal.

For a show the audience knew little of they were an appreciative bunch, especially by “Lion’s Roar”, the title track from the new album and the show’s closer. Many leapt to their feet and stomped and clapped te band back on for a one song encore: “King of the World”, a rousing folk manifesto of self awareness. For a festival show, this appearance seemed fairly pedestrian yet I’m glad I got the chance to see this duo and look forward to many more releases from them in the future. Here’s hoping on their next tour the sun shines on the baggage!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

This week on the Adventures of the CoffeeBar Kid

This week, it's a WOMAD Special.  We have an exclusive interview with guitarist and songwriter and earthquake survivor Paul Ubana Jones.  After what seems like an age Paul is finally at WOMAD this year 16 -18 March at New Plymouth.  Also appearing is Harrison from Grounation, another great band coming to WOMAD this year.  Plus plenty of music from bands cong to the event. 

For more info:

And finally we play some music from Kimmo Pohjonen (the avant garde accordianist who appeared on Saturday and Sunday at the Internationational Festival of the Arts)


See you at 7.30 PM on Thursday only on Groove 107.7FM