The Coromandel Blues And Roots Music Festival 2008
As sister events to the East Coast International Blues And Roots Music Festival (Byron Bay Bluesfest) there are now three Australian festivals that are more than proud to host artists and the ethos associated with one of Australia’s premier international annual events.
In 2008 New Zealand has achieved a rare honour in becoming a part of this festival circuit with BluesfestNZ (The Coromandel Peninsula Blues And Roots Music Festival 2008) joining West Coast Blues And Roots (West Australia), Point Nepean (Victoria) and Southern Roots (Tasmania).
BluesfestNZ is set to be positioned in Whitianga on the glorious East Coast of the Coromandel Peninsula and will bring to New Zealand shores the flavour of the amazing Byron Bay Blues Festival. The inaugural festival is scheduled as a one day event and will play host to some impressive names in blues, reggae, funk, roots, pop and swamp rock. One look at the list confirms the reputation of world-class quality and quantity covering both global and local talent that this festival brings to New Zealand.
The appeal of the festival to artists and the music industry continues growing. In 2005 and 2006, Bluesfest won The Helpmann Award for Best Contemporary Music Festival in Australia two years running. And the US based Pollstar Concert Industry Awards also voted the event as a finalist for International Music Festival of the Year for the same two years, alongside major events like the Montreaux Jazz festival and Glastonbury.
Festival director Peter Noble said, “We couldn’t be happier with the line-up announced for New Zealand, with a surprise or two still to come. We’ve really hit on a winning formula that provides something for everyone with a passion for blues and roots music from all around the world. And we’re particularly proud to have recently picked up another award – this time for being a green, environmentally responsible event.”
The International East International Coast Blues and Roots Festival was recently announced as an international winner in The Greener Festival Awards for 2007. These awards were allocated by the website – www.AgreenerFestival.com, an influential UK based not-for-profit organization.
There are world-class artists packed into the lineup announcement of The 1st Annual BluesfestNZ (The Coromandel Peninsula Blues And Roots Music Festival 2008). The first announcement for BluesfestNZ includes:
Buddy Guy, KT Tunstall, Keb Mo, Wilco, Ian Brown, Midge Marsden, Hollie Smith, Pluto, Little Bushman and The Checks.
BUDDY GUY – Blues legend Buddy Guy has a colossal musical resume as well as many hard-earned accolades. He’s a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, a chief guitar influence to rock titans such as Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton, a pioneer of Chicago’s West Side sound, and a living link to that city’s halcyon days of electric blues. Guy’s club remains the most successful blues joint in Chicago, and he is without a doubt the Windy City’s reigning blues artist. Clapton unabashedly calls Guy his favourite blues axeman, and so do a great many adoring fans worldwide. High-energy guitar histrionics and boundless on-stage energy have always been Guy’s trademarks, along with a tortured vocal style that’s nearly as distinctive as his incendiary rapid-fire fretwork. In 2007 Guy released Can’t Quit The Blues – the first-ever career-spanning box set of this electrifying guitar pioneer’s 50 years in music.
KT TUNSTALL – Three years ago, KT Tunstall stepped out the front door of her flat in Harlesden, London. She was off to work, and to play. She didn’t go home again until she’d recorded her debut album Eye To The Telescope; wowed the music world with her one-woman blues-stomp “Black Horse And The Cherry Tree”; toured the world a few times; become a festival favourite from Glastonbury to T in the Park; outsold every other female artist in the UK in 2005; won a Brit Award for Best British Female Solo Artist; landed a Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance; lent her hit tune “Suddenly I See” to the soundtrack of the film The Devil Wears Prada and the TV show Ugly Betty; watched her songs become staple audition material for contestants on American Idol; recorded and filmed her lo-fi album Acoustic Extravaganza; and sell almost four million copies of Eye To The Telescope. After all of that, Tunstall got to go home and put her feet up. For five minutes. Soon it was time to work on her recently released second album, a collection of thumping pop songs and intimate, often mysterious ballads called Drastic Fantastic.
KEB’ MO’ – An East Coast Blues & Roots festival favourite, Keb’ Mo’ (born Kevin Moore) draws heavily on the old-fashioned country blues style of Robert Johnson, but fuses it with contemporary touches of soul and folk-styled acoustic playing. Before making his own albums since 1994, Mo’ applied his acoustic, electric, and slide guitar skills to jazz and rock-oriented bands. Since then, it’s been the smooth acquisition of Grammys and a large and enthusiastic global fan base. The 2004 album Keep It Simple garnered Mo’ another Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album. Of his latest album, Suitcase (2006), Mo’ says: “The creative process involved in the making has been a deeply rewarding experience… The music on this record represents life happening in all of its shades and shapes. I hope that spirit is conveyed to the listener.” It is certain to be conveyed to the crowds as they gather to watch Mo’ live in concert in Whitianga.
IAN BROWN – It’s been over 10 years since legendary band the Stone Roses broke up, and former lead singer Ian Brown has bounced back with a solo career that has proved the doubters wrong. In September 2007, Brown released what is regarded as his best solo album to date. The World Is Yours is a lush orchestral work-out that comes armed with politicised lyrics and some very special guests such as ex-Sex Pistols Paul Cook and Steve Jones, Paul Ryder, and ex-Smiths bassist Andy Rourke. While every British band went off and copied the Roses, he set off in the opposite direction and invented his own multi-cultural polyglot mix of music that has a cutting-edge cool to it. This is a multi-racial, multi-styled modern music that over the years and five solo albums has been honed to perfection.
WILCO – It’s been more than 12 years since guitarist and songwriter Jeff Tweedy formed the Chicago-based Wilco, but Tweedy has never felt better about it. “I think that everyone was a little more relaxed going into this record,” he says, referring to the band’s sixth proper studio album, 2007’s Sky Blue Sky. In the spring of 2004 – just before the release A ghost is born (a two-time Grammy winner) – experimental rock and jazz guitarist Nels Cline and guitarist and keyboardist Pat Sansone joined Wilco full time, adding to the existing quartet of Tweedy, longtime bassist John Stirratt, percussionist Glenn Kotche and keyboard player Mikael Jorgensen. The boys are coming down under following an extensive tour including the States, the UK, Ireland, Belgium and Spain.
MIDGE MARSDEN – Midge Marsden is virtually without equal. His career spans four decades, he has played thousands of concerts to countless people and he has performed with a list of artists that reads like a definitive Who’s Who of New Zealand Rock. In 1990 he was voted New Zealand Entertainer of the Year and later his critically acclaimed album ‘Burning Rain’ went gold.
Midge has toured the USA four times now, focussing mainly on California, Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana. Each time he has met up with some exciting musicians including ‘Mississippi’ Willie Foster, Bobby Mack, Ronnie Taylor, ‘Aussie’ Dave Boyle and JulieAnne Banks, all of whom have toured New Zealand with Midge.
It was during one of these tours that Midge was a student at the University of Mississippi in 1996 where he graduated with a Diploma in Southern Studies. Recently named an O.B.C, (Old Blues Cat) Midge fills in the gaps of his busy touring schedule as a tutor at the Waikato Polytechnic where his specialist subject is ... Bluesology, what else??
Midge is a household name and icon in New Zealand. In 2006 this was recognised with a New Zealand Order Of Merit for his services to music. Midge Marsden remains the number one Rhythm and Blues artist in NZ today. A combination of red-hot musician and unbridled energy combine to guarantee a rage every show.
HOLLIE SMITH - Some songwriters write in lists of random thoughts. Hollie Smith has recorded songs of intense sentiment and passionate belief as subtle reminders. Smith says she doesn’t deal in the traditional material of your average chart topper. “I don’t really write love songs - mainly because I need to feel passion for what I’m singing,” she explains. “And if I’m singing a love song for a person who’s not around any more, the passion isn’t really there. So really,” she concludes, “I like to write reminders to myself, reminders of where I really draw my inspiration from.” And that is from within herown personal philosophy. “It’s not something I’d really preach about, it’s more subtle than that,” Smith says. “It’s more a reminder to myself about the way I’d like to live my life. Because we do it all the time - we look around at a lot of things that go on in the world and we all know they’re happening and occasionally we do something. But most of the time we feel helpless or we don’t think about it too much. So a lot of these songs are reminders that I took a vow to try and make a difference and to live more consciously”.
A defining moment of recognition arrived on the eve of the release of her much anticipated debut solo album “Long Player” on EMI, when soulful Hollie Smith signed to the prestigious Manhattan Records, New York, a boutique pop label within the legendary Blue Note group, home to Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Thelonious Monk, Cassandra Wilson and Norah Jones. “You can hear that voice and you can hear the songs and you know right away- this is somebody very special.”– Bruce Lundvall. President, Blue Note Records.
PLUTO - Inspired by everything from the morning, to dusk, to love, to strangers they have met on their travels - Pluto combine elements of modern Sci-fi-delic, rock’n’roll power, pop sensibilities and gliding vocal melodies, to create music that evokes feelings from all parts of the atmosphere. The Auckland five-piece have carved their name across the New Zealand music landscape with a highly reputed live show, two critically acclaimed albums and an aura of mystique & intrigue. Since releasing their debut album Red Light Syndrome in 2001 and the double platinum-selling Pipeline Under The Ocean (2005), they have become a band known for consistently writing thoughtful, intelligent and memorable songs, including the sonic anthem Long White Cross (NZ Music Awards - Single Of The Year 2006).
In October 2007, they return with their eagerly anticipated third offering Sunken Water - the musical evolution and diversity of Pluto, shows them now as a band who can transcend between introspective acoustic pop, to writhing rock’n’roll power with grunge elements, to progressive pop psychedelia and atmospheric mood music. Firmly established as one of the country’s favourite live bands, Pluto will not disappoint.
LITTLE BUSHMAN - In 2004, Warren Maxwell, then front man for Trinity Roots, asked drummer Rick Cranson and bassist Tom Callwood for a jam, which eventually became a recording session at Wellington studio The Surgery. The focus was on getting a 60s psychedelic feel to the music. Another recording followed, and during these sessions, the band realised they needed a guitarist. Warren suggested Joe, and Little Bushman was born.
Both these sessions were to be demos for Little Bushman’s incredible debut album The Onus of Sand, recorded in 2006. A nationwide tour supporting Dave Dobbyn came first though, where the band refined their sound in a live setting. This organic pre-production process also became the formula for their second album, Pendulum. Lee Prebble (Black Seeds, Fly My Pretties, Phoenix Foundation, The Inkling) captured the music at Joe’s studio, and then mixed it with Little Bushman. Prebble’s skills, along with his arsenal of analogue effects and tape machines, were vital in getting the “dirty” 60s sound.
The four performers in Little Bushman are alumni of the Wellington Jazz School, where they studied during the 1990s before joining and forming various bands. For Warren Maxwell (vocals/keys) those bands were Fat Freddy’s Drop, where he played saxophone, and Trinity Roots, where his soulful vocals and guitar won the hearts and minds of listeners throughout Aotearoa. Drummer Rick Cranson, bassist Tom Callwood and guitarist Joe Callwood have all played in many other forms; rock bands, jazz experimental groups, at Wellington’s Jazz Festivals – too many to mention. Little Bushman are a well respected democracy that collectively agrees on themes and topics to write about and the underlying theme of Pendulum is the global imbalance between economy and nature. Little Bushman firmly believes that music has the power to awaken and unite people. A fitting addition to the Inaugural BluesfestNZ.
THE CHECKS - The road from the squeaky-clean world of the Barbershop quartet to the gravel-throated, primal howl of the blues is perhaps one less travelled, but it’s what’s led scarily-young Auckland, NZ five-piece The Checks to the precipice of success in 2007. Since forming at the grand age of fifteen (they all hover between nineteen and twenty now), the band have had a meteoric rise in their native New Zealand, their bluesy, age-defying garage rock racket winning them fans as illustrious as REM’s Michael Stipe and bagging them a 2005 New Zealand Music Award after just one 7” single.
A move to London and the band set about writing and recording their debut album. Produced by Ian Broudie (The Coral, The Zutons, Echo & The Bunnymen), ‘Hunting Whales’ is one of the great debut records of the year, a spit n’ sawdust rock n’ roll record that’s bursting at the seams with songs to send you bare-chested and wild. The swampy, beer-sodden stomp of ‘What You Heard’ follows a raucous, downright-filthy slice of Delta-rock chaos that the band likens to “A clean five in the guts”. This is perfect BluesfestNZ material. The Checks are one of the hottest live bands around and right now, you’d do well to catch The Checks’ swirling, swamp-blues howl from the belly of the beast before the rest of the world latches on.
The inaugural BluesfestNZ will take place on Saturday 22nd March 2008.
Tickets on sale 9.00am Monday 14th January.
Tickets from 0800 Ticketek (0800 84253835) www.ticketek.co.nz , www.bluesfest.co.nz or usual outlets.
For full show information www.bluesfest.co.nz