Thursday, April 21, 2016

Ryan Bingham - The Tuning Fork - April 20 for one show only - Photos by Trevor Villers

Last here in 2014 the Texan singer-songwriter, RYAN BINGHAM, best known for penning “The Weary Kind”, the Oscar-winning theme song for Crazy Heart, once more captivated audiences with tracks off his critically acclaimed 2015 release Fear and Saturday Night.
RYAN BINGHAM, in an intimate semi-acoustic mode, played the Tuning Fork on Wednesday April 20 for one show only.  Trevor Villers popped along to take a few snaps. 

"Rodney Fisher (Goodshirt) on the undercard, together with Elizabeth Stokes (The Beths, Hipstmatics etc),  but the real action came from where you’d expect it.  Ryan Bingham very much at home in a pared down acoustic trio" - Trevor

Tel:    +  64 9 445 8356

Rodney Fisher

Ryan Bingham

Ryan Bingham

Ryan Bingham

Elizabeth Stokes

Elizabeth Stokes

Ryan Bingham


Monday, April 11, 2016

The full line up for the 2016 Wellington Jazz Festival has just been announced

The full line up for the 2016 Wellington Jazz Festival has just been announced:
Wellington Jazz Festival runs across 8-12 June 2016
Over 100 gigs will take place over five days with an unprecedented number of bars, restaurants and local venues also getting behind this winter music highlight
The now annual Jazz Festival draws a national audience of 15,000 music fans
Keep up to date by visiting our website at from 12 April or following us on Twitter @welljazzfest
Ticket prices range from $39- $79 (plus any Ticketek fees).
Pre-sale applies for Culture Club supporters from Tuesday 12 April.  Follow this link to sign up to the Culture Club for as little as $5 per month:
Tickets on sale to General Public on Monday 18 April.
Wayne Shorter Quartet (USA) Wed 8 June
Experience the searing sax style of jazz giant Wayne Shorter, performing with Danilo Perez, John Patitucci and Brian Blade. The multi-Grammy Award-winning quartet continues to win fans with dynamic compositions and electrifying improvisations. Early bird rates apply until 30 April.
Karrin Allyson with the Tom Warrington Trio (USA) Thu 9 June
Be swept away by smooth chanteuse Karrin Allyson, supported by the Tom Warrington Trio and New Zealand School of Music Big Band. Known for her impressive musical range, Karrin glides between bittersweet and sassy, covering the greats from Duke Ellington to Dizzy Gillespie. The experienced trio of bassist Tom Warrington, drummer Joe La Barbera, and guitarist Larry Koonse perform with her.
Mulatu Astatke with Black Jesus Experience (Ethiopia/Australia) Fri 10 June
The influential father of Ethio jazz Mulatu Astatke performs with the eight-piece Melbourne-based Black Jesus Experience. Together their hypnotic grooves and Afro-beat funk will seduce you.
Snarky Puppy (USA) Sat 11 June
Get down to the new jazz sound from the underground and revel in a night of raw “animal magic” (The Telegraph). This two-time Grammy Award-winning Brooklyn-based outfit is ready to bring the Festival funk with a jazzed-up rock concert of synth-driven grooves, “horn-hollering soul hooks, floor-shaking beats and punchy improv” (The Guardian).
Lisa Fischer & Grand Baton (USA) Sun 12 une
The voice that has backed the Rolling Stones for 25 years, Lisa Fischer is now stepping into the spotlight. Capable of both raw power and breathtaking subtlety, she mesmerised movie-goers in the Academy Award-winning documentary Twenty Feet from Stardom.  A humble and inventive performer, this Grammy Award-winning artist brings an intimate one-night-only show fusing gospel, soul and rock.
Borrowed, Blue, Old but New (New Zealand) Sun 12 June
Take a break with some of New Zealand’s most iconic entertainers as they jazz up the great New Zealand songbook. Led by the Rodger Fox Big Band, chart-toppers Hollie Smith (Bathe in the River), Mark Williams (Show No Mercy), Debbie Harwood (Melting Pot, When the Cats Away) and Erna Ferry will surprise you with their favourite classic Kiwi pop tunes and jazz standards.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

The CoffeeBar Kid talks to local band The Raskolnikovs

On a balmy Sunday afternoon, the CoffeeBar Kid sauntered down to Deathray Records in Newtown to check out the album launch by The Raskolnikovs.  Afterwards, they invited him round for a beer and a chat.  He was intending to interview the band but they had other ideas...

The Raskolnikovs are an impeccably dressed collection of Russian gypsy sailors from Wellington. They have been described in 'the media' as "drunken Russian polka-rock" with a sound like "a cross between some kind of Eastern European music and The Munsters".
Presenting hard-bitten tales of the sea, murder, murder-at-sea, drinking, drinking-at-sea, coal mining, and madness all wrapped up in a delightfully dark dance-ability.
Formed in 2003 by Brett Moodie, Matt Steindl, Justin Barr, Airini Beautrais & Dan Lucka.

The current line-up is: 
Brett Moodie (Guitars), Danny Todd (Violin), Justin Barr (Drums), Matt Steindl (Accordion) and Menno Huibers (Bass) - plus on the ep Jo Contag (Clarinet), Tom Watson (trumpet), Sharon Boyd (trombone). BV's by Helena Nimmo, Erin Geohegen and Warner Emery (ep's producer)

The Band will be touring:

Friday Apr 7  @ Wunderbar, Lyttleton Saturday
Apr 8 @ The Crown Hotel, Dunedin
Friday May 27 @ St Peters Hall, Paekakariki
Saturday May 28 @ Laundry, Wellington

Vinyl available from Death Ray records, Newtown:





Sunday, April 03, 2016

Improve your PC AND keep Groove on-air at the same time!

Support Groove FM and get your computer running better by grabbing yourself a copy of our PC Cleanup application.
For 3 years I've been working on how to get people's PC's running faster and more reliably without them having to spend virtually any time setting up settings or reading instructions.
Make a donation of only NZ$25.00 to Groove FM and we'll send you a copy as a thank you :)
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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

WOMAD NZ attendance near record

Photo : McKenzie Jennings-Gruar

As the much-loved festival signs off for another extraordinary year; the ripples of the good vibe continue as 11 albums from WOMAD artists enter the NZ Top 40 Chart, the dates for 2017 are unveiled and the contract renewed with WOMAD international.

Over the 54 hours, WOMAD festival go-ers were treated to 32 acts from around the globe in the gorgeous setting of Taranaki’s Brooklands Park and TSB Bowl of Brooklands. Alongside the musical performances, Nova Energy Taste the World cooking demonstrations and  artists workshops, artists also made time to meet their new fans at the CD Signing Sessions. Fans queued, purchased CDs and merchandise with the happy result of 11 WOMAD artist albums making it into the Official NZ Top 40 chart.

First time in the NZ chart for Canadians, The Jerry Cans (no.7), Ukrainian crowd favourites Dakha Brakha had two albums enter at no.10 and no.14, UK dream folk fiddlers, Spiro, took out no.17, explosive maverick blues-folk-jazz fusion band Hazmat Modine in at no.19, Mali’s desert blues maestros, Songhoy Blues took out no. 20. Other first timers for the NZ chart included: soul sister Ester Rada from Israel (no.24), U.S. baritone John Grant (no.27), Iranian sisters Mahsa and Marjan Vahdat (no.34) and re-entry into the chart for Louis Baker’s E.P. at no.35 and after his electrifying set, French musician, St. Germain's latest album came back  in at no.39. The WOMAD 2016 compilation CD rose to no.2 on the RIANZ Compilation Charts, which is an outstanding result for an album with mostly artists no-one had heard of in New Zealand a mere two weeks ago.

2016 was extra special, as WOMAD International re-signed the deal with Taranaki Arts Festival Trust for another three years, which at the end of the new term will be a staggering 15 years of partnership. Head of WOMAD International, Chris Smith commented, “Every time I come back here, I am blown away by this amazing setting and how beautiful and custom made it is for the WOMAD festival."

The next WOMAD dates are March 17th – 19th, 2017.

WOMAD 2016 was the third most attended ever in New Plymouth in this, its 12th presentation of the festival. At its peak, on Saturday, there was near 16,500 people on the site made up of the near sell out crowd of 12,000, 3000 free children, plus traders, volunteers and staff.

Suzanne Porter, Taranaki Arts Festival Trust CEO reflected on the 2016 festival,  “This year’s festival has had a particularly chilled and relaxed vibe on site, and our audience were really well-behaved. The site was still flowing really well at peak times and we couldn’t be happier with the feedback from both our audience and our artists.”

The treasure of  WOMAD is more than a ‘show’ - it is a communal give and take and has the power to move not only the audience but the artists also. Middle eastern group 47Soul, hailing from Palestine, Syria and Jordan were visibly brought to tears at the Welcome Powhiri held at Owae Marae after their arrival. De La Soul described the wave of love coming to them over the TSB Bowl of Brooklands lake as “palpable” and WOMAD first timer Bic Runga sent a thank you note ‘I felt really lucky to be a part of the festival… the bands I saw and the atmosphere really blew me away”.

Photo: McKenzie Jennings-Gruar

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

WOMAD 2016 - Another Successful Weekend

Photo: Trevor Villers
Event organisers announced during the opening of this year's festival that they've just signed a deal with WOMAD UK for Taranaki to remain the home of the New Zealand leg of the festival.  Taranaki Arts Festival Trust chief executive Suzanne Porter said she was very happy with the deal and planning was already under way.  Tickets this year came in only a few short of a sell-out (12,000 + 3000 free children), although with volunteers, vendors and crew this number swells to about 17,000.  Still, it was their third best WOMAD, so far.  With an older crowd, many returning, and calendar threats from the Auckland Festival and the new Auckland City Limits Festival there’s a number of challenges but Porter was confident that Taranaki's special brand of WOMAD, a family friendly-all ages gig, was unique and the prime reason why audience loyalty is still so high.  On the ground, the numbers felt a little smaller, especially on the Sunday, but this could have been due to the fantastic weather.  All three days hit the mid 20's so many gig-goers probably opted for a swim or a walk on New Plymouth's fantastic boardwalk before heading to the festival site.  Speaking of weather, Thursday’s torrential rain nearly killed off the whole weekend but as luck would have it the clouds vaporised and held back right up to the end of Sunday. 

As always, the show was run with clockwork precision.  A few backstage grumblings came from the stage crew, many who are return volunteers.  Their standards were so high that even the tiniest issue unnerves them.  Getting it perfect was very important.  All onsite staff were helpful and friendly, right down to the recycle team who assist punters to dispose of their rubbish in the right bins.  There must have been a competition to customise their team tees.  Many had slashed, cut and remodelled them into new fashion items, vastly improving their usual androgyny.
Camping, motor homes, glamping are all part of the experience, too.  The adjacent racecourse holds at least half of the ticket holders.  Waking up with the vista of Mt Taranaki peeking through the canvas opening is a truly magical experience, especially on WOMAD mornings.
Photo : Trevor Villers
The 12th WOMAD officially Kicked off with a speech from Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Maggie Barry and welcome from kapa haka group Te Kapa Haka O Te Whanau A Apanui on the TSB Bowl Stage whilst Mali quartet Songhoy Blues got the party up and going on the Shell Gables stage.
Once again, Event Director Chris Herlihy and Co-Artistic Director Emere Wano’s mix of international and local acts covered the bases well, catering for the younger and the older ages and I was reminded by Posdnuos (De La Soul) that many of these groups have inter-generational fan bases (the hip hop act's been going since 1987).  To me this year's local fare looked unremarkable and once again I was proved wrong.  Tami Neilson was an exceptional show woman, only eclipsed by the D.A.I.S.Y age-ists in the Saturday night slot.  But it was the individual and joint performances of Louis Baker and Thomas Oliver, who later teamed up with Warren Maxwell for a "Pass The Gat" session that proved the most nourishing with a sweet mix of harmonies and laid back soul. On the surface you could ask what the ethnic or cultural connection was to WOMAD but looking deeper this Auckland and New Zealand Festival show is really a roots reminder of the campfire ritual that all Kiwis hold dear. 

Internationally, the big hitters were St Germain (France) and De La Soul (USA) who both brought classy live bands to flesh out their usual samples and beats.  For St Germain, his French African ensemble added additional layers to favourite tunes from 'Tourist' and the recently released self-titled albums.  The Senegalese musicians particularly cleverly wove Kora and horns into funky sampling and deep, repetitive grooves - nothing too challenging but satisfying to get down to.  For De La Soul, it was on Posdnuos and Dave representing - Maseo was held back in the States due to his son's legal troubles - but despite a late start the crew found their rhythm and rocked the house show and style; cutting in and out of rhythms and jams with ease and aplomb; name checking rap milestones like Run DMC and Aerosmith and their own ground-breaker Three Feet High And Rising.  Sadly, no time on the turntables.  ‘Jennifer' and others were reworked as 'De La Lounge' with their very capable show band.
Photo: Trevor Villers
The party continued with Palestinians 47 Soul, who mix conscious grooves and middle Eastern horns with digi-tracks, proving they were showmen extraordinaire, whipping the crowd to a revolutionary frenzy before dive bombing them with Gaza Helicopter patrols and electro hard core. In cultural contrast Israeli actress Esta Rada showed us a great soul show, drawing deeply on American acts like Nina Simone (“See Line Woman”) for inspiration.  She was also a class act and a magnificent voice.  The most surprising act was Mongolian blues duo Telegur.  Their stilted, stage geeky banter was surprisingly funny and warm-hearted.  With a simple guitar and box drum set up they play with astonishing energy and charisma.  Anyone who's familiar with Robert Plant's recent desert blues projects will identify with their sound.
A common trend at WOMAD is the inclusion of crowd pleasers like Katchafire and Bic Runga, who pulled in good crowds, but delivered pretty mainstream sets.  I do wonder how much they compromise the integrity of a 'World/ethnic programme'. 

Backstage, Bic and new baby were very happy to be there, though.  She described her first WOMAD stage experience as "magical", and was very impressed with the artist's care and the festival atmosphere.  That was a common theme amongst many of the bands I talked to, including nu-folkies Spiro, who'd been to the artist Powhiri the day before and were keen to learn more Maori language and culture and the Talegur were totally basking in the festival love – especially during the CD signings.
One of the go-to bands this time was Inuit North Canadian folk rockers The Jerry Cans who got the crowd on their feet with their unique, but accessible blend of traditional and Celtic contemporary music.  Later they hosted throat singing workshops and made a caribou stew in Jax Hamilton's “Taste The World Tent.  I can vouch that it was deeee-licious!
During day two I had a chance to talk to French composer Carlos Roble Arenas, who trades as Orange Blossom.  His band recruited a wide range of ethnicities from Northern and Southern Africa to produce his crazy, border less mash, drawing a massive audience at the Shell Gables Stage.

If there was a regret it was missing Ukrainian quartet DakhaBrakha, of whom reports were stunning.  I did finally mange to catch South Korean group
[su:m] who made sweet, delicate, almost trippy music from a bizarre collection of traditional instruments, including a multi trumpeted horn pipe.  Sean Kuti and Egypt 80 should have been a highlight but didn’t really fire this time.  Also returning, Arizona’s Calexico had a great presence but the fresh shine was a bit buffed this time. 
Photo: Trevor Villers
One thing really missing from the festival was Nick Bollinger’s Artists in conversation, which allow the audience to get deeper with the world artists in particular.  This was universally missed by everyone I talked to.  On the other side the talking book, people who shared life experiences, proved very popular and getting into a session was a real challenge.
Over all, WOMAD has a brilliant formula.  It doesn’t change but it does work.  The music element is still the biggest draw card with performance art and dance components completely absent these days.  That’s a pity and it would be great to see their return.  That said, performers like John Grant, who sold a totally brilliant performance on Sunday night to all new comers and sceptics, show what the power of music can really do to bring us all together.  It’s a festival for the open minded, the family, the friendly and the explorer.  As one punter said, “If everyone lived and thought like a WOMAD crowd, war, racism, and bigotry would never exist.  
Why can’t the world be WOMAD?”
Photos by Trevor Villers -

Photos From WOMAD:18 - 20 March - New Plymouth

Photo : Mckenzie Jennings-Gruar

Photo : Trevor Villers

Edma Castneda / Photo : Trevor Villers

John Grant / Photo : Trevor Villers

Postnuos - De La Soul / Photo : Trevor Villers
CoffeeBar Kid interviews Edma Castaneda  / Photo : Mckenzie Jennings-Gruar

Songhoy Blues / Photo : Trevor Villers

Tiny Ruins / Photo : Mckenzie Jennings-Gruar
Photo : Mckenzie Jennings-Gruar
Tiny Ruins / Photo : Mckenzie Jennings-Gruar

Tiny Ruins / Photo : Mckenzie Jennings-Gruar

Cigar box Guitars / Photo : Mckenzie Jennings-Gruar

St Germain on the Bowl Stage / Photo : Mckenzie Jennings-Gruar
숨 [su:m] / Photo : Mckenzie Jennings-Gruar
숨 [su:m] / Photo : Mckenzie Jennings-Gruar

Bowl Stage Crowd / Photo : Mckenzie Jennings-Gruar
Calexico / Photo : Mckenzie Jennings-Gruar

Funky Hats / Photo : Mckenzie Jennings-Gruar
Face painting / Photo : Mckenzie Jennings-Grua
Face painting / Photo : Mckenzie Jennings-Gruar

Kidspace / Photo : Mckenzie Jennings-Gruar

Kidspace / Photo : Mckenzie Jennings-Gruar
Orange Blossom / Photo : Mckenzie Jennings-Gruar
Orange Blossom / Photo : Mckenzie Jennings-Gruar
Diego El Cigala / Photo : Mckenzie Jennings-Gruar
Julia Deans / Photo : Mckenzie Jennings-Gruar
Kid's Parade / Photo : Mckenzie Jennings-Gruar

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Review: NZ Festival 'Sorceress' - Shed 6, 15 March 2016

Wellington-based band Sorceress: Myele Manzanza (drums), Marika Hodgson (bass), Rachel Fraser (vocals) and Isaac Aseili (loops, laptop wizardry and bongos) put on a fantastic show last night - a taster to their upcoming feature at Glastonbury, the main stop on their two week Blighty tour.  That's a tall order but the band were definitely in their groove.  Despite the smallish audience, the band were playing to their strengths.  The youngish crowd were well keen to get on their feet early and as soon as the slow songs were over they did. 

This is a smaller version of the band, having stripped of a couple of players but the core is still there.  Rachael Fraser, in particular, has a powerful, deeply intense voice, with roots that reveal her own East Coast whakapapa.  I love her own Maori twists in amongst this gumbo of Afro Cuban hip hop and modern urban soul.  They've been around in various forms, especially as Funkcommunity since the early 2000's but the shills have now been well honed.  It was also a great warm up to the d'Angelo concert tomorrow night.  Their tunes are addictively funky in places but also conscious in topic.  A definite highlight was the drumming duel between Aseili on bongos and Manzanza on the kit, who really revealed his skills and jazz training.  Despite the heavy mix of digital backtracking the instruments were still upfront and it never once felt like Karaoke.  Fraser was powerful behind the mic, a keen advocate for her rhymes and lyrics.  Towards the end she wears the current NZ flag, reminding all that it's a symbol of the Crown's protection of Maori (The Union Jack) and the navigational stars of the Southern Cross, of which Kupe had followed.  I'd never looked at the flag in that way before.  So thank you, Rachael, for opening my eyes.  If you get the chance, check out this band - worth the ticket price.  If they ever come back from the UK, that is.

Monday, March 14, 2016

WOMAD is nearly here!

As a celebration of the upcoming festival, Groove will feature a 2 hour show brought to you by the CoffeeBar Kid.  Tune in from 8 PM this Wednesday 16 March.

Below are 5 bands you must check out ...  
 [su:m] (South Korea)

Initially formed in 2007, by traditional musicians, the group expanded to include a Piri-Bamboo Oboe, Mouth Organ, a 25 string Gayageum-Zither and a steel string Gayageum.  TheIr manifesto was to 'start a new era of Korean traditional music that sheds light on contemporary spirit by addressing in musical sense sentiments and lessons learned from living a modern life'.  On vinyl, their sound is a mashup of the old and the new influences of western classical harmonies which will make Korean music not only more palatable but hopefully convert a few new followers in the process.
ORANGE BLOSSOM (France / Egypt)

This is one of those bands that is a result of living in a multicultural city, with all the tastes and influences of exotic and local flavours.  Orange Blossom are a musical concoction that marries suspense-heavy electronica with Arabic rhythms – Portishead relocates to the Maghreb, if you will.  Robert Plant's a fan, having toured with him.  They've been in hiding for a while making a new album, 'Under the Shade of Violets', a record that draws from all over, but especially Egypt, with an urgent sound these days, underscored by a refusal to stand still, a clear message about living today: “You have to travel,” they say.  “You have to move”.
They've been refenced as a Talking Heads funky…growlingly bluesy…contemplative and hypnotic…A triumph" : The Guardian

Songhoy Blues formed in 2012 after the group fled their homes in North Mali due to growing unrest and a ban on music. The four-piece have since collaborated with Nick Zinner of Yeah Yeah Yeahs for the Africa Express project, released their debut album to critical acclaim and have been in high demand on the international touring circuit.

With the band citing influences ranging from Malian greats such as Ali Farka Touré and Baba Salah to Jimi Hendrix, Songhoy Blues unique blend of traditional and modern sounds has been described as everything from desert blues punk, R&B, to the love child of Ali Farka Toure and US Bluesman John Lee Hooker.

‘The sounds that hit you first are sounds that you are familiar with; they sound folky, but once you start listening to the music and how it’s composed you hear elements of systems music – people like Steve Reich, Philip Glass, dance music. All sorts of musical influences are woven into this very contemporary music. This is soulful music, passionate music and I love it.’ Peter Gabriel

Signed to Real World Records by Peter Gabriel after years in obscurity, Spiro redefine English folk music with their very special blend of Northumbrian traditional tunes and systems music.  They have since performed at festivals in the UK, Europe, Canada, India and UAE, and have toured throughout the UK in support of four albums on Real World Records.  They attract fanatical enthusiasm from their increasing audiences who to follow their performances with an almost religious awe.  Their approach to their music is unique, breathtaking and seems impossible, even as you watch it.

‘We’re like a string quartet, but the most driving and exciting string quartet that you could imagine.’  Jane Harbour, the violinist of Spiro, is trying to put a neat handle on the essence of this instrumental four-piece.  It’s not an easy task.  Despite the group’s folk-friendly tools (violin, acoustic guitar, mandolin and accordion), they’re something of a slippery beast when it comes to being contained by mere words.  Guitarist Jon Hunt has a go.  ‘We’ve got more to do with minimalist classical and dance music than we have with folk.  Even though we use folk tunes, they’re raw materials that the rest of the sound is built around.  There’s no ornamentation to attract attention to one particular instrument.  In fact, there’s that feeling that each member of the band isn’t just playing that instrument, they’re playing the whole thing.’  This is what Spiro refer to as “the mesh”, the locked-in ensemble sound that’s a relentless, wonderfully overpowering assault on the eardrums.

Tulegur, a modern nomad group, rooted in traditional tunes of Inner Mongolia and influenced by rock music. Their sound is a great mixture of traditional music, rock, throat sing (Khoomei, traditional throat singing of Mongolian) and Mongolian and Chinese folk. This combination results in a unique style that is being called“Mongolian grunge” or “nomad rock” by the artists themselves.

Gangzi is the soul of Tulegur, educated in traditional opera, his voice can reach the lowest tone of throat singing. Attracted by modern music, Gangzi moved from Inner Mongolia to Beijing to perform and compose. A year later, he returned to his hometown, Hulunbeier, where he spend time with local farmers to learn Khoomei. This nomad experience became a revelation in his life and helped him to discover his own musical style. After years of solo
performances, Gangzi has achieved remarkable success all around China and in the world.

In the end of 2014, percussionist / guitarist Zongcan joint Tulegur’s new bigger picture. As an experienced guitarist and percussionist, Zongcan has travelled to many places both in China and other countries. He has special ways to embrace different cultures and combines them with his music.
For more go to