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Making music together


 

Christchurch businessman Martin Brennan has teamed up with Nelson Tasman songbird Aly Cook to bring music to Aotearoa and Australia.

 

 

Martin first met Aly just over two years ago, at a Sharon O’Neill at the Hornby Club in Christchurch.

Aly was the promoter for Sharon’s tour and singing backing vocals in the band. Now she’s managing director of his company Tasman Records Ltd and the two of them are brightening up the airwaves.

The company’s first release is a licensed title, Keeping the Light on – The Best of Gerry Beckley.

Gerry is one third of super group America, which brought us songs like Sister Golden Hair, I Need You, Horse with No Name, Muskrat Love and You Can Do Magic, to name just a few.

His new album has five previously unreleased tracks, including the single (I’m Your) Heart Slave, that offer proof of how prodigious Gerry’s output is when he’s in song writing mode. “Yeah, I’m pretty prolific,” he acknowledges, “but I like to preface this with the fact I come from the school of song writing where you need to write 10 to come up with two that are keepers. That doesn’t mean the other eight are crap, either. But you end up with an abundance of material, and you want to have a home for it.”

The album is available from Penny Lane Records in Christchurch.

 


 

Two operas, two Figaros: Lansdown Narropera


At ‘Lansdown(e)’, in behind the Bicycle Thief Restaurant on the Old Tai Tapu Road, something new is happening.

 

Narropera, the musical/narrative entertainment created for Lansdown(e) eight years ago, will present its first winter season.

All four winter performances will be on weekend afternoons, from 3pm to 4.30pm, so that audience members can be home before dark.

First up, a brace of performances of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro in June/July, followed by a brace of Weber’s wonderful opera Der Freischütz, in late July/early August (more about that in a later issue of Metropol).

Few music lovers know that Mozart made several major changes to The Marriage of Figaro, three years after the opera’s first performances.

The changes are significant, and not only musically since they also re-calibrate the dynamic of the two principal female roles. Lansdown(e)’s performances will highlight Mozart’s unfamiliar changes.

Visit www.lansdownsummer.com or phone
(03) 322 5512, for details of how to buy tickets ($30).
Mozart: The Marriage of Figaro
The Golden Room, Lansdown(e) Homestead,
132 Old Tai Tapu Road
Sunday, June 27 (3pm) and Saturday, July 3 (3pm).


 

Modernised Mozart


You wouldn’t think Beyoncé and Mozart had much in common. But when it comes to the Aotearoa adaptation of the Marriage of Figaro, when asked the question ‘who run the world?’ Both answer – girls.

 

 

More than 235 years after its premiere in Vienna, the female-led creative team will put its spin on one of the composer’s most popular operas at three locations around the country.

Running from July 8 to 13 at the Isaac Theatre Royal in Christchurch, and the messages presented in the classic, are in fact still relevant today.

“Mozart certainly had an interest in the role of women in society, and women drive the narrative of this opera. Ideas about knowledge, reason, liberty, progress, and tolerance are being presented to 21st century audiences in the form of a captivating and richly comic story,” says New Zealand Opera’s General Director Thomas de Mallet Burgess.

I hope the opera will be a catalyst for conversation about women directors, designers and conductors in opera.” A conversation that may be well overdue.

Don’t miss out on tickets! Visit the website below to secure your seat at one of the shows. Or go and take a picture at the mural of the show’s lead songbirds on the back of The Piano (across from the Isaac Theatre Royal).


 

A song to belong


A new exhibition at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū by a local artist gives a glimpse into what five New Zealand families with a wide range of cultural and ancestral connections feel about place and belonging in Aotearoa.

 

 

Artist Olivia Webb, whose own Christchurch-based family is part of the exhibit, worked with five families – who have ties to Kiribati, Zambia, Samoa, the Philippines, England and the Netherlands – to create their own songs about living in Aotearoa for her exhibition named Anthems of Belonging.

In life-sized video projections, each family is seen performing their anthem from their own lounge room, emphasising both the personal and political qualities of using one’s voice. While they are not professional singers, music is an important part of each family’s culture.

Gallery Lead Curator Felicity Milburn says the exhibition illustrates the diversity of contemporary New Zealand culture, and shows how varied cultural backgrounds and traditions can shape the experience of living and belonging here.

“The face of Aotearoa is constantly changing – for the benefit of us all, I think – and this exhibition is a perfect illustration of that.”

Olivia says the anthems reflect the personal values, concerns and aspirations of all involved.

“These songs have different vocal qualities, musical structures and lyrics, often including ideas that do not feature in New Zealand’s current national anthem ‘God Defend New Zealand’ – a musical setting of a poem written by Irish-born Thomas Bracken in the 1870s.”

Webb is currently working to develop two new anthems with Christchurch families, and these will be added to the exhibition as they are completed.

Anthems of Belonging is on at the Christchurch Art Gallery from March 13 until July 11, and contains several public programmes including a floor talk and multiple workshops. Find out more at www.christchurchartgallery.org.nz.

THE FAULALO BULL FAMILY, 2019

 


 

The magic of Marlon


From home in the portside township of Lyttelton, music has taken alt-country troubadour Marlon Williams around the world, from The Yarra Hotel of inner-city Melbourne, to The Troubadour in Los Angeles.

It was the latter where Bradley Cooper spied his Kiwi-born and bred talents, seeking Marlon out to appear in his 2018 Academy award-winning film, A Star is Born.

There have been several film and television appearances since and more still to come out in the New Year. But it’s making music that still has his heart.

Marlon’s new album Plastic Bouquet hit the streets on December 11, his first new music since 2018’s award-winning Make Way For Love, made post breakup from Kiwi folk singer-songwriter Aldous Harding.

Collaboration – a strong theme of Marlon’s career – has once again proven a winning formula, this time with Canadian folk duo Kacy and Clayton’s musical talents providing the
cumulative glue, with the three musicians finding common ground between a lifelong shared passion for western country, folk and troubadour traditions.

It was driving through Europe with his band when he came across the duo’s ‘Springtime of the Year’. “It was an incredible vocal performance and song and it was just one of those musical moments when you get stopped in your tracks,” Marlon says.

“From there I very overzealously reached out to them and asked if we could make music together. Within a couple of days, we had decided to make an album.”

He hopped on a flight to Saskatoon for Christmas 2018 and together they wrote and recorded the bulk of what would become Plastic Bouquet over the course of just three weeks.

“This year being what it is, even February feels like a lifetime ago. So it’s been almost two years to the day. It doesn’t normally take that long, but in this case it has, so we’re super excited to get it out.”

Every December, Christchurch enjoys the start of summer as Saskatoon begins to freeze over. But despite hailing from opposite sides of the world, there was an immediate connection between the trio. “We found a dynamic that worked well, because we all love old Bob Dylan and Merle Haggard and have the same sense of humour,” Marlon says. “We’re kindred spirits.”
If there was a theme to the 11-track project, it was the dichotomy of familiarity and strangeness, he says.

“It’s the idea that we both come from the same place musically, but obviously culturally and geographically from somewhere very different, having faith that everything would blend together in a way that makes sense.”

Music has been something that has always made sense for Marlon, whose career has been a natural evolution. “I’m not a well organised person,” he laughs.

“I don’t plan a lot and I don’t think about the future that often, life just keeps rolling on and now this is what I do; I don’t do anything else.”

But he admits there came a time in his third year at university when, with a tour on the cards, he had to make a call between committing completely to music and finishing his degree – the only caveat from mum, visual artist Jenny Rendall, that he take it seriously and commit as much time to his musical pursuits as he had been committing to university.

This lack of planning ahead mirrors his approach to making music as well. “I don’t go into it consciously with intention, unless I’m collaborating, then it might be more systematic.”

Right now, he’s driven by the freedom to explore. “I’m most thankful for this time in my life, being where I’m at right now I’ve got time to figure things out, make mistakes, try and give things enough space to go somewhere new.

“Simply put, freedom of creativity.”

Marlon has been hunkered down in his homeland during the global pandemic, which thankfully fell outside a big tour cycle for the singer, who spends eight to nine months a year on the road. He’s spent the time writing, reading, working on a film soundtrack and learning te reo Māori, the latter for an album he’s working on that will be exclusively in the language.

But for now, he’s enjoying some down time in Diamond Harbour before his New Zealand tour kicks off in February, that will take him from Invercargill to Auckland. He’ll be performing locally at the James Hay Theatre from February 25 to 27.


 

Festivities all grown up


Adult musicians – and the musically curious – are invited to join an educational and entertaining festival at the Christchurch School of Music next month.

 

The new Festival of Adult Music Learning will run from September 7 to 13 in collaboration with Adult Community Education NZ (ACE) and its Year of Lifelong Learning initiative.

The festival features a range of free workshops, open rehearsals of all CSM’s adult ensembles, and a celebratory concert featuring CSM’s Adult Music Performing Groups.

Workshops include specific instruments and disciplines like ukulele, community singing, samba band, and West African drumming, as well as more general options teaching some basic musicianship skills, too.

For those who haven’t picked up an instrument in years, or who have been playing solo and are ready to dip their toes into group playing – there’s also open rehearsals to join in.

Or, you can just come along for a listen as motivation for getting back into some playing or singing. It is never too late!

The concert on Sunday September 13 will celebrate learning music as an adult and will feature all of CSM’s adult groups – string orchestras, wind ensembles, jazz bands and a choir.

For more information and to register your attendance phone 366-1711, email office@csm.org.nz or visit the CSM website.


 

Born to sing


Delta Goodrem once told us she was, Born to Try. But to describe what this powerhouse performer has been able to achieve as simply ‘try’ would most certainly sell her short. Named after the Joe Cocker song Delta Lady, it seem Delta wasn’t Born to Try; she was born to sing.

 

 

“It was something that in my heart I knew was what I wanted to do,” she says of the career which will bring her to New Zealand next year for her Bridge Over Troubled Dreams Tour.

“Truthfully it was a feeling I had. My parents were so incredibly supportive of my dream.”

At the age of thirteen, Goodrem recorded a five-song demo CD, financed through TV commercials and minor roles in several Australian series.

Long story short, it secured her a record deal with Empire Records. But it was her role as shy school girl and aspiring singer Nina Tucker on Neighbours which made her a household name, launching her music career.

“I was so lucky to have had my parents. Nobody knew anyone in the industry; I was just a kid that wrote songs from what I was seeing in the world!”

Goodrem’s first ever headline tour of New Zealand will commence on 22 April 2021 at Wellington’s Michael Fowler Centre, before moving to Auckland’s Kiri Te Kanawa Theatre on 23 April and hitting the Christchurch Town Hall on 24 April.

“There’s nothing like being on tour and being with people face to face and to share in the magic of live music,” says Goodrem, who is heavily involved creating her shows.

“From day one when I started making music, it was important to me that the overall feeling had to come from my heart; being authentic is what people respond to and I deeply love putting on shows. Nothing gets me more excited than creating a world for everyone to come to.

“Visually, I love to make sure a tour represents the energy of what this new album embodies. There are going to be incredible musical moments in bringing to life the surprise elements of this new album and all of the favourites from my previous records. Anyone who has been to my shows knows that I like to have a lot of fun and this record and tour is no different.”

The singer-songwriter who has been in self-lockdown in Sydney also recognises the opportunity for fans to let loose. “I know many people are going through challenging times right now; come next year I want to invigorate and empower everybody in the room to have the best night of their lives and we’ll sing and dance through it all.”

It’s also an opportunity to allow her fans to connect with her new music and reminisce over the old – the ‘old’ including 17 Top 10 hits, four number one albums and selling more than nine million records worldwide.

The ‘new’ includes Let It Rain, released in January as Australia battled devastating bushfires, with proceeds donated to bushfire relief.

Keep Climbing was released in her social media Bunkerdown sessions in May.

“I’d like this song to remind people to not be afraid to find the strength when they feel stuck between where they are and where they want to go,” Goodrem explains.

“To find that part in you to keep climbing and to continue to believe that it will lead you to that next moment in your life.”

Continuing to let the music do the talking, she released Paralyzed on the grand finale of The Voice Australia 2020; a narrative of when your whole world stops and has to be reset.

“Sometimes we are forced to take the difficult cards we are dealt with in life, in our stride. Of course it’s a personal song, but it’s there for everyone who is asking themselves for patience and a chance to stop and rewind,” she says.

Forming what she describes as her “new era of music”, she’s since come to realise the powerful lyrics mean something unique to everyone. “So many people have experienced it.”

Seemingly busier than ever during lockdown, Goodrem has also been undertaking highly-acclaimed performances for global event One World: Together At Home and Music From The Home Front where she shone as one of four hosts, delivering a show-stopping duet rendition of the Men At Work classic Down Under with Colin Hay.

But a project that is even closer to her heart has been the launch of the Delta Goodrem Foundation, in partnership with St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney.

Established to help fund medical research into blood cancers and autoimmune disease, the foundation stands in recognition of her own health battle – one with Hodgkin’s lymphoma when she was just 18.

“I think [that experience] cemented for me that health is the most important thing,” Goodrem says.

“And also the understanding that someone is going through that fight right now; you don’t know what someone is going through. Part of my DNA is this huge empathy and compassion for someone’s journey.

“Being able to talk to people as a survivor is a real privilege.”

But it is perhaps the establishment of the foundation which has been the biggest takeaway for her and $1 + GST from every ticket purchased for the Bridge Over Troubled Dreams Tour will be going to support the foundation’s work.

So what do the next 12 months have in store for this powerhouse performer?

“Hopefully lots and lots of new music, I’ll be continuing to bring out new songs and heading out on tour see you in person. I’m truly looking forward to it.”

She may be Australia’s sweetheart, but she might soon be ours too.

METROPOL HAS ONE DOUBLE PASS TO GIVE AWAY TO DELTA’S CHRISTCHURCH SHOW! TO ENTER, HEAD TO OUR FACEBOOK PAGE AND FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS


 

She had a dream


Sometimes all it takes is perfect timing to bring your best achievement into the limelight.

 

 

When she was 20, local Christchurch musician Steffany Beck won a grant with the foundation Rise NZ, to record her song I Have a Dream. Now at 30 she has just commercially released her favourite original to the world.

“The lyrics are about what the world would look and feel like if everyone accepted each other for who they are, allowing people to just follow and live their dreams,” she says.

At the time, the inspiring indie pop-rock song was recorded professionally with a full band, released on the Rise website and showcased on the Erin Simpson Show, but that was the limits to the song’s publicity.

“Only my friends and family really knew it existed back then – there was no opportunity for it to go anywhere,” Steffany explains.

“However, a teenager did recognise me in the mall and said it completely inspired her. That really meant a lot; creating your community and connecting with them is what inspires me the most. It’s who you do it for.”

The song title was inspired by Martin Luther King’s famous 1963 quote when he called to end racism in the United States.

It was watching videos of his speeches that the American-born songstress got inspiration to write and headline the song.

“Coincidentally this even has relevance with what’s been going on recently,” she says of the lyrics which she hopes will inspire others to be more accepting.

“Helping people is all I have ever wanted to do.”

When it comes to inspiration, it was in fact her own song that inspired Steffany to write and record her EP Blue Eyed Girl last year.

“This February I realised this song (I Have a Dream) was actually the prologue to my EP – the reason. My gut instinct told me I had to now share it with the world.”

When the original was released, Steffany was a budding artist but decided to learn the marketing side of things and be her own manager to get her music out there.

“That’s what many musicians are doing now,” she says. “There are so many platforms you can put your music on that weren’t there 10 years ago.”

Instead, Steffany arranged interviews on radio stations, TV segments, even for a music magazine in India! “The whole world is my platform,” she says.

Over the last decade the songstress has been reinventing herself and counts being chosen for a song-writing workshop weekend with Kiwi icon Bic Runga as one of her professional highlights.

The brunette Stephanie from the original YouTube video of I Have a Dream has now become a more talented and very blonde, Steffany.

“I changed my name spelling as there were so many other Stephanie Becks. You need to be easy to find,” she says.

Steffany’s working week is busy as a full-time Health and Safety Manager at Contract Construction, a career she adores.

Lockdown gave her the chance to let herself relax a little and get the re-release of her original I Have a Dream organised.

“I really want to inspire people. Especially now with everything in crazy chaos, you still owe it to yourself to live your own dream.”

Her original song is now up on Spotify, iTunes, apple music, Sound Cloud and Facebook and the latest video went live on YouTube on 15 July.

 

Song Spotify/ iTunes/ Apple Music

smarturl.it/SteffanyBeck

Music video

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nq_x6Xi4buA

Social media

www.facebook.com/steffanybeckmusic/


 

Jackie Clarke’s southern sounds


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

 

 

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


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


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


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


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


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


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

 

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

Gray Matter


We’re all pretty familiar with the line that there’s often several years of hard work behind an overnight success; plenty of stars of their fields have filled us in on this very fact.

 

PHOTOGRAPHY: DERRICK SANTINI

 

But there’s an even more magical twist to the success of UK singer-songwriter David Gray.

Although there had undoubtedly been the stock-standard six years of solid hard work behind his success, it’s the fact that his first three albums, recorded under the professional guidance of a record label, were instantly superseded both in popularity and in sales by White Ladder, made on a budget in Gray’s bedroom, that is perhaps the most powerful plot twist here.

The tidal wave of success that has seen seven million copies sold and spawned a string of classic hit singles like Babylon, Please Forgive Me, Sail Away, This Year’s Love and My Oh My first started in Ireland.

After another 18 months on the road, Gray broke into the UK with what would become one of the biggest albums of the 21st century and it has remained in the top 30 best-selling British albums of all time.

Here in New Zealand, it would go three times platinum and 20 years on, we can still sing along!

“It was a moment of reckoning, a moment that was me flipping all the negative energy into a positive,” Gray says of White Ladder’s success.

“After three records I could have blamed the world, blamed the critics, everyone but myself, but I decided I needed to make a better record, needed to give it more, not just time and effort and concentration, but more courageousness, more open-heartedness.

“We went in and did this thing. We didn’t do it in a self-conscious way; it’s a genuine thing, it has heart. People related to the stories, the melodies, the emotional centre. People connected to the album as a whole.”

Although part of 2020 has a “giant question mark hanging over its head”, Gray will hit the New Zealand leg of his tour late this year.

Bringing together the album’s original band members and original equipment to “recreate the record in its entirety” on stage, it’s set to hit Auckland’s Spark Arena on 28 November, Wellington’s TSB Arena on 29 November and our very own Horncastle Arena on 1 December.

“It’s like listening to the record but live,” Gray says.

Despite some big songs on there, Gray says White Ladder as a mellow, low-key album when it was first recorded and it has been “beefed up” in recent times for modern audiences.

The tour however, gave the band members the opportunity to honour the original sound.

“It was home recorded so we didn’t have the budget or means to make it sound big. It’s a mellow listen, but we’ve recreated the music for this tour. It’s really sweet to hear the songs the way they were then; it’s lovely to return them to their original.”

It’s the story of DIY success. “It was extraordinary how it happened,” Gray says.

“We weren’t blessed by big music companies, it was a word of mouth kind of success that came from nowhere. The music has stood up really well because we made it to be not like anything else and that still holds up today.

“It’s an incredible thing that happened and it’s a special record. Touch wood we’ll be with you at the end of the year, with big smiles on our faces!”