Saturday, March 28, 2015

WOMAD 2015 - a few thoughts

It’s always to cover a festival like WOMAD.  There’s so much to cram into three days.  But what I can give you are my own personal highlights.  Friday afternoon began with a search for a campsite.  When they say the world comes to Taranaki – they literally mean that!  There were 5,000 pitching on the nearby racecourse this year. 

Estere - Photo Tim Gruar
Ticket sales were fantastic, too – selling out all the three day passes.  Early estimates suggest 12,000 attended over the weekend.  And with three days of near perfect festival weather spirits were high.  I found forgetting the can opener was the perfect icebreaker to meeting my neighbours – four women in their 60’s with a retro caravan – which, ironically was kitted out with everything except that specific kitchen tool!  Behind me was a family of four and two over a group of 20-Somethings.  A perfect slice of this all ages festival audience.  Friday night kicked off with a drum display by Taikoz (who later led ran the kid’s parade), followed by a slightly nervous Estere, who with her MPC Lola, got the crowd moving with her edgy brand of ‘electric blue witch-hop’. 
A VW Tent at thesampsite - Photo Mckenzie

Richard Thompson - Photo - Tim Gruar
On the Todd Energy Brooklands stage Brazilian pop act Flavia Coelho  was a firestorm of passion.  She was only slightly upstaged by crazy Spaniards Che Sudaka’, who were also favourites at the Taste the World tent when they cooked ‘au natural’, with only aprons and guitars!  Head liner Richard Thompson brought the goods –  well practised guitar solos and a mix of tunes from his enormous back catalogue.  My favourite: ‘Guitar Heroes’ which features a melody of styles from Chuck Berry to Django Reinhart, all in one song!”.  

Public Service Broadcasting brought their own corduroy cool and Airfix-kid geekery, complete with ‘40’s newsreels and tv snippets of cosmonauts. 

The ‘Mighty Lion, Senegalese sensation Youssou N’Dour was a worthy, if slightly stock-standard showman.  I expected more than a cookie cutter festival effort. 

McKenzie Interviews Estere - Photo Tim Gruar
Saturday was a crazy blur of interviews and gigs.  A wee highlight was watching my 12 year old daughter IVing Estere.  I did manage to catch the second half of Tahuna Break’s lunchtime chill session and some crazy antics from Children’s jugglers and entertainers Hoop Hooligans.  There will also be embarrassing twitter photos of me dancing along to Puerto Flamenco before dozing off to eerie strains of Indian classical artist Meeta Pandit.   I was blown away by the desert-Hendrix-blues of Niger’s Bombino and went back for their second show.  One festival fave will be the Malawi Mouse Boys, leaping out into the audience and crooning at strangers.  Local boy Mylele Manzanza (Sam’s son) and his Electric delivered two brilliant shows of hard funk. 

Thomas Bartlett (The Gloaming) - Photo Trevor Villers

On vinyl Rufus Wainright''s laboured  Broadway crooning can be an acquired taste but on Saturday night he won over every participant in the Bowl with a repertoire from his own Greatest Hits (‘Not My Best Of") and selections from his mom Kate McGarrigle and Uncle Leonard (‘Hallelujah’, of course).  The extra bonus was watching the whole hour side stage, just 15 feet from the piano.  Not even the wading stage diver /flasher could dampen the moment!  I didn’t get to see Irish band The Gloaming but all reports told me I’d missed another highlight.

Flip Grater - Photo Trevor Villers
I caught up to congratulate newlywed Flip Grater, who paraded her new beau on the Dell stage.  Along with band mates from French for Rabbits she charmed the assembled masses. 

Sinead O'Connor - Photo Trevor Villers
FFR had a slight struggle to do the same on Sunday following a typically flippant hour from Sinead O’Connor,  but they got there.  O’Connor, wearing a Catholic dog collar, cross and an shed load of tats looked like she was spoiling for a fight.  She was initially her usual intense powerhouse self before collapsing into giggles trying to finish “Nothing Compares To U’ at a swing tempo.  Apparently a quacking duck was what set her off!  Oh Well – it’s a festival, eh! 

Bridget Kearney (Lake Street Dive) Photo Tim Gruar
Speaking of, the best acts – at a WOMAD it was always going to be the boisterous party act Balkan Beat Box, who were crazy, mad, insisting that even the oldies in the over 65 stands get up to boogie – and they did!  I had a chat to Puglia’s Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino just prior to their spell-binding set, which included a ‘suicidal’ rope dance that only the Italians could master!  I also had a chat to Trinity Roots who pulled out two solid sets over the weekend mixing their challenging new album, Citizen with old fav’s like ‘Sense not cents’ – which they’d reworked into a trance like 20 minute wig-out.  Quick mention goes to Lake Street Dive, who’d sprinted down from the Auckland Arts Festival to serve up a fine ol’ hour of mostly original retro-soul numbers, retranslating those 60’s Black girl groups into white indie pop with the added vibe of a smoky late night speak easy.  Very cool.
Osadia - Photo Tim Gruar
Featuring in the intervals were Spanish ‘hairdressers’ Osadia.  Looking like a clash of Bjork and a Turkish silk shop they singled out crowd members to doll up with outlandish and fantastical hairdos and face paint.   This year flag-maker Angus Watt came to the party with a brilliant collection of banners, which encircled the grounds and a new feature, a pyramid of red poppies was constructed from audience purchases in fitting commemoration.   When it got dark the blue lights of the strung out sculpture and an ever-changing colour lit ‘couch’ came into their own.  There was also a very cool carnival style café, complete with hula-hoops and photo -op’s with a guru, in the old Pinetun space.  And that was one small commiseration, with the Artists in Conversation section of the programme disappearing this year.  For me there were only two other gripes – more toilets and showers on the campsite please and the food prices, which have been steadily increasing, in disproportion to the portion sizes.  Small, I know.  But not small was the sense of occasion and jubilation. 

WOMAD is over ten Year’s now and a permanent date in my calendar.  Every Year the line ups get better.  I’m sure I missed a few things, but given the size it was bound to happen.  One even no one missed was the Adios performance of Qrquestra Buena Vista Social Club.  Down to four of the originals from the Ry Coder days they showed utter professionalism and grace.  84 year old Omara Portuondo was the consummate show woman having the time of her life.  Through torch songs, tunes of celebration and a raunchy version of ‘Perhaps, Perhaps’ she wooed her crowd, like no other.  It was the perfect way to finish as I walked back up the hill to the car, with the crowd’s cheering in my ears, for the long hall back. 

Qrquestra Buena Vista Social Club - Tim Gruar Back Stage at the Main Stage

Public Service Broadcasting - Photo Tim Gruar
WOMAD stepped up its ongoing no waste campaign this year by eliminating all plastic bottles and issuing goblets (complete with washing facilities) for punters to refill at the bar (beer, soft drinks, smoothies, etc)  Apparently that’s knocked down the onsite tip load to about half of last year’s hall – brilliant!  There will always be criticism that the festival has too many commercial or mainstream acts but the balance is still right.  Like a food court it has a host of national dishes.  It’s only when the large franchises bully in that whole thing goes under and that hasn’t happened yet.  Big cheers to the volunteers, comperes from The Hits and RNZ, who’ll be broadcasting a few shows in the future and did ‘Nights’ on Friday and ‘Music 101’ the next day.  And kudos to TAFT and their publicity crew who also outdid themselves again!  Before the gigs started each day I managed a walked along the waterfront, a spot of shopping in the quirky art shops and a gawk at the Wind Wand.  Next year the Len Lye-Centre at the Govett Brewster Gallery will be open – even more reason to make the journey into an extended stay. Kia Ora New Plymouth!
The New Lye Ly Wing of the Govett Brewster Gallery getting close to completion

Many Thanks to the Ladies at the Label - Lisa and Lucy :, Trevor Villers (photographer -,, Taranaki Arts Festival Trust (

Friday, March 20, 2015

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 :)
(Approx US$19.00 as at Mar 2015).
  • Speeds up boot up time (up to 63% or more), general performance speed and resolves many issues (Mouse freezing, applications crashing etc)
  • Easy to use
  • Like having a technician available at your place whenever you need for the next 5 years! (5yr licence)
Hop over to our Software page here to find out all the details.


Thursday, February 05, 2015

On Yer Bike CoffeeBar Kid

The Kid goes adventuring with the Wellington Regional Council.  Listen below.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Wellington International Ukelele Orchestra

The Kid interviews Age Pryor about the upcoming shows and the debut album 9 years into their 'career'.

The Wellington International Ukelele Orchestra Launch Be Mine Tonite

Festival fav's The Wellington International Ukelele Orchestra are about to embark on a national tour in support of their debut, all Kiwi sing-along-able CD "Be Mine Tonight" which is due for release on iTunes and in stores on November 7th. The band has already been on the road and are just back for a quick home visit before heading back out again.  Taking a breather their recent excursion to China and Japan founding musician Age Pryor found a few moments to chat over the blower from his digs in Auckland.  Auckland, Age. Really?  Not Wellington? "Ah, yes.  I relocated up here about 6 years ago to teach music at Unitec part time."  But he's still a Welly at heart, he assures me. 

A few years ago Age led a number of projects including the Woolshed sessions, recorded on Jane Campion's Nelson farm and two solo albums.  These days his main focus is the 'Uke's' (as he calls them), with whom he plays and co manages with fellow musician Gemma Gracewood. "It's incredible," he remarks, "that the band is still together.  As such it's scattered to the four winds these days.  Some are back in Wellington.  I'm in Auckland.  Gemma's based in New York and there's another in Singapore."  Truly international locals!   

The band’s reputation has built up over the years based on a live show of madcap hilarity and spontaneous audience participation. But behind the hijinks is a finely-tuned musical group who've  have truly cemented their place on New Zealand’s entertainment scene. Their unique sound – a choir of gorgeous voices set to magnificent ukulele riffs and licks – is now in hot demand worldwide and they've long been the darlings of festivals and special events with tickets for their shows snapped up almost before they go on sale. The band's original line up has changed little over the years and includes session musicians, a member of twinset and occasionally Brett Mckenzie.

The last time I talked to Age must have been over 9 years ago, when the Uke's first was playing bars and Summer City gigs.  Right from the start the aim of the band was to be interactive.  Age relays tales of playing in morning cafe's and sending people off to their day happy and cheery having sung and boogied away to the Uke's interpretations of well-known songs, reinterpreted for the ukulele.  "The sign of a good song is that it can be played on a uke.  Like a school choir doing Beatle songs because their so easy to arrange.  Ukes have become the ‘new recorder’ - simple, interactive and easy to get into.  I read that we are in the Uke's third age.  The first was the 1920's, then the 40's and 50's when Pacific music was the rage.  And now there are a new generation of performers."  Uke music is everywhere - from the immensely popular Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain to the avant-punk of Amanda Palmer and the skilled quirkiness of James Hill, a favourite at the last International Festival of the Arts.  Hill also features on the new album.  James does a brilliant little solo on Aadarana's "wake Up".  "He recorded it in a hotel bathroom for us, when he was on tour, jammed into a tiny space."  Other guests on this all Kiwi repertoire include Amanda Billing (the recently deceased Dr Potts from Shorty Street). "Amanda's got a great voice, she does choir work too.  She's been in shows like Cabernet.  She'll be touring with us.  We got her to do vocals on "E Ipo" (an old Prince Tui Teka number)."  Although in hot demand by the likes of Fat Freddy's Drop and Neil Finn, of late, star vocalist Lisa Tomlins also found a moment to work o the project, with an old Aotearoa track: "Long Ago".  That one also includes Hawaiian uke specialist Pi’ikea Clark.  Age tells me that Pi’ikea is schooled in traditional Hawaiian music, "from the ones who were the keeper of the knowledge.  He is a really fine player and we really learned a lot from him traditional playing."

Recently the Uke's have toured Asia, opening them up to a whole new audience base.  "We found China very challenging, especially the language.  I don't speak Mandarin.  They don't speak English and even relying on gestures was hard because they do theirs different to us.  But we learned a lot.  Chinese audiences are very polite," Ages says.  Relying on a translator to convey their frivolous banter provided some extra complexities, too.  There were moments of blank-faced embarrassment. "Japan was different as we mainly did festivals and community events.  And English is not a problem.  Also the Japanese are less inhibited once they understand what you are doing.  They know about New Zealand.  So that helped."  So, how will Kiwi audiences react in the coming month when the Uke's arrive in their local halls and theatres?  One thing you can rely on - plenty of fun and hilarity.  "Be prepared to sing your lungs out - From Lorde to Sherbert, you'll know all the songs!"   

The Be Mine Tonight Album Release Tour:

8 Nov – Glenroy Auditorium, Dunedin
9 Nov – Stadium Southland, Invercargill
10 Nov – Alexandra Memorial Theatre
11 Nov – Lake Wanaka Centre
13 Nov – Ashburton Trust Event Centre
14 Nov – Roy Stokes Hall, Christchurch – JUST ADDED!
15 Nov – Roy Stokes Hall, Christchurch
21 Nov – Regent on Broadway, Palmerston North
22 Nov – TSB Showplace, New Plymouth
23 Nov – Great Lake Centre, Taupo
25 Nov – MTG Theatre, Napier
27 Nov – Baycourt Theatre, Tauranga
28 Nov – Wintergarden, Auckland 7pm SHOW SOLD OUT! 10pm show still available.
29 Nov – NZ Ukulele Festival
30 Nov – Turner Centre, Kerikeri
5 & 6 Dec – James Cabaret, Wellington

All ticket info can be found at


Friday, November 14, 2014

We're selling records from the Groove Vinyl vault today!

As part of our studio move we've decided we have more in our music library than we need so call us today if you'd like to buy any records.

Styles we have available include: 60's crooners, 60's R & R, Show soundtracks (e.g. Sound of music etc), 70's, 'Solid Gold' style compilations, 80's, Classical, old BBC sound effect records, Motown/soul, and, interestingly, quite a few German records.

Call us on 381 4766 today (or maybe tomorrow) if you'd like to come by Trades Hall in Vivian St, Wellington and grab yourself a Groove souvenir!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Packing up the Groove studio this week :(

Today was the day we officially moved out. A first for us was broadcasting/streaming for about an hour from a moving vehicle! I don't think anyone would have noticed.
By the way, if you need short term, high quality streaming (or FM) for an event you're organising we can do it at a far lower cost than you would imagine. Perfect if you have a conference that people in other parts of the country or the world can't get to.

A bit of a sad time as we dismantle the Groove studio after about 8 years at our current location...
A turning point for New Zealands only Cafe Style Radio station.
If you would like a momento of the station we have office desk's, chairs, coffee table etc for sale or give away. Call us on Wellington (04) 381 4766 to find out more.

To help keep the station around somewhere, see the deal a couple of stories below or donate to the right.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The CoffeeBar Kid Interviews the author of The Rosie Effect - Graeme Simpson

The Rosie Project author Graeme Simpson, on the rise of his book, why he wrote the sequel The Rosie Effect having promised himself that he wouldn't, progress on a film deal and why so many people have fallen in love with his unlikely hero, Don Tillman.
The CoffeeBar Kid had a chat to Graeme when he was in town last week

Monday, November 03, 2014

The CoffeeBar Kid Interviews Janet Hunt

Listen to the CoffeeBar Kid interview Author Janet Hunt.
A landmark book about New Zealand's marine reserves that connects readers to New Zealand waters.
This important book, written by award-winning natural history writer Janet Hunt, examines New Zealand's 38 marine reserves, and the need to protect and preserve our seas and foreshores in their natural state.

Each chapter contains features about outstanding plants, birds, fish, mammals, invertebrates and crustaceans as well as interviews and items of interest about people associated with marine conservation—divers, underwater camera operators, marine biologists, Experiencing Marine Reserves (EMR) people, including young folks who have had recent marine encounters.

From New Zealand's most distant marine reserves (the Kermadecs and the Auckland Islands) to the Poor Knights, and from the five reserves of the Hauraki Marine Park to the ten reserves of Fiordland, this book also covers New Zealand's marine animals and their unique environments. It's a fascinating tale, with stories of conger eels prowl for sleeping fish, mass gatherings of fish, tropical turtles, the snatch-and-grab habits of gannets and much much more.

Our Big Blue Backyard is based on a six-episode television series made by Natural History New Zealand and which is to be screened on TVNZ in late 2014 but it goes much further than the six episodes go. This entertaining, beautiful and engaging book about our little-known backyard oceans, the place where the world's largest marine predators and weirdest fish live, covers a wide variety of life from the sub-tropical seas to the sub-Antarctic oceans. It makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the sometimes contested waters that surround us.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

WOMAD 2015 Launches

WOMAD NZ March 2015
Last night, Wednesday 22 October, at the Grand Hall in Parliament, it was announced that, once again, the world was coming to Taranaki in 2015.  Supported by speeches from sponsors, Arts Minister Maggie Barrie and their local MP Jonathan Young the Taranaki Arts Festival unveiled the line up for the 11th iteration of this immensely popular all ages festival. Director Emere Wano referred to her bill as "a box of chocolates", quoting Forest Gump gleefully.  As always the 3 day festival had a mix of classical, jazz pop, blues ethnic variance and performance art.  Headlining will be three acts exclusive to WOMAD – Irish pop diva Sinead O'Connor, West African Music legend Youssou N'Dour and Folk/Blues Pioneer Richard Thompson.  In the mix were also a Balkan beat band, Spanish soul singers, innovative newsreel mash-up crew Public Broadcasting Service, traditional Mali troubadours and a band who make all their instruments from rubbish.  Kiwi artists included rising Country star Mel Parsons, legendary reggae band Trinity Roots and Wellington based meteoric risier Estere who performed her funky single "Charlie" with Lola (her MPC) at the launch.  Early bird tickets are already on the festival website, where you can find the full line up and while you’re there, don’t for get to vote for your favourite local act.  The winner will take out wildcard stage spot for next year’s WOMAD.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

WOMAD 2015 is set to be the biggest ever!!!

Tomorrow night WOMAD (World of Music and Dance) will launch at Parliament, hosted by the Minister of Arts and culture (Maggie Barrie, prev. Chris Findlayson - or both - we'll have to wait and see).  Two artists have already been announced - Rufus Wainwright and Youssour N'Dour but there are big names to come - so stay tuned to Groove for more....Dean and the CoffeeBar Kid will be at the launch to bring you all the news and updates... Remember folks, don't touch that dial! Go to the official WOMAD website or log in to Groove's Facebook page for all the skinny...

Groove Facebook:
WOMAD Website: