Kathryn van Beek has been a contributor to The 13th Floor since our earliest days. Recently Kathryn, who is now based in Dunedin, has found fame, if not fortune, thanks to her cat, Bruce, who became an internet sensation when Katherine and her husband Tim rescued the kitten from the mean streets of Auckland. Now, Kathryn is ready to take the story of Bruce The Cat to the world… Continue reading
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There is no doubt that Aldous Harding’s music is polarising. Some (like me), love it, others find her vocal affectations annoying and her intense live performances, either weirdly comedic or darkly disturbing. But Harding’s recent appearance on Later With Jools finds the artist taking things further than ever… big, dramatic gestures, a voice that careens from deep growl to a stratospheric screech and facial expressions that seem like discarded masks from the set of Twin Peaks. Continue reading
What better way to celebrate New Zealand Music Month than with a video session from the wonderful Albi & The Wolves! Continue reading
Just when I thought I knew about every band to find the courage to lay down on the tracks during the 1970s yet another one resurfaces – complete with an overstocked pedigree of albums spanning decades of hard work and ferocious output. Half Japanese were born out of the Fair brother’s lo-fi bedroom recordings of the mid-70’s and early 80’s. Embracing the punk DIY ethic, art college swagger and protest anger, they reinvented music with their off-kilter view and popular outsider rock. Continue reading
Liz Gunn donned a hi-viz vest and ventured out to Shakespeare Gardens in Auckland’s Ellerslie Racecourse to check on the progress of the construction of this season’s Pop-Up Globe Theatre. Workmen have already broken ground in building the three-storey theatre. While she was there, Liz spoke to Artistic Director Dr. Miles Gregory. Continue reading
After being sought after to play in established acts Thee Rum Coves and The Situations for her multi- instrumental talent and powerful soulful vocals, Kendall Elise has broken out on her own. Continue reading
The New Zealand Music Foundation provides support to members of the local music industry in times of illness, distress and hardship, and develops and assists projects across all areas of society that use music to positively influence the lives of those in need.
The charity has announced the launch of its latest initiative to support Kiwi music people: The New Zealand Music Foundation Wellbeing Service. A world first, the service offers 24-hour online, on the phone and in-person counselling, specifically tailored to the music community, in order to provide support for those who are experiencing emotional, physical and mental health challenges.
The Wellbeing Service reflects the commitment of the New Zealand Music Foundation in providing proactive assistance to those who make our music happen. The service is available free of charge to anyone working in the New Zealand music industry unable to access help due to hardship or other circumstances, and is staffed by registered professionals with experience in providing support to creative people.
The Wellbeing Service was established in response to the results of the New Zealand Music Community Wellbeing Survey conducted by the charity in July. With over 1350 participants, initial survey results already paint a detailed picture, showing that many in our music community are experiencing health and wellbeing issues at incidence rates often far in excess of the general population:
Songwriters, composers and performers report having attempted suicide in their lifetime at a rate more than double that of the general population.[i]
Over a third of songwriters, composers and performers report having been diagnosed with a mental health disorder, almost double the incidence in the general population. [ii]
Songwriters and composers are two and a half times as likely to have been diagnosed with depression as the general population.[iii]
84% of all those who responded to the survey report experiencing stress in the last year that has impacted on their ability to function day to day.
Encouragingly, nearly two-thirds of those surveyed reported they would be likely to contact a service such as The New Zealand Music Foundation Wellbeing Service if they were experiencing difficulty.
General Manager, Peter Dickens, comments “We’ve worked hard to listen to the voices of those making their way in music in New Zealand. It’s a vibrant, vital and exciting industry and we’re very proud to be able to launch this service today . We hope it will further support kiwi music people to enjoy healthy, productive and fulfilling lives in their chosen careers.”
The New Zealand Music Foundation is a registered charity. To support the Wellbeing Service and the other work of the charity, please visit www.nzmusicfoundation.org.nz.
[i] (Ministry of Health. 2006. Te Rau Hinengaro: The NZ Mental Health Survey).
[ii] (Ministry of Health. 2015. Annual Update of Key Results 2014/15: New Zealand Health Survey.)
[iii] (Ministry of Health. 2015. Annual Update of Key Results 2014/15: New Zealand Health Survey.)
Steven Wilson will be making his New Zealand performance debut tonight at Auckland’s Powerstation. In addition to his solo work, Wilson is known for his band Porcupine Tree and also for his stellar 5.1 remixes for classic prog acts such as King Crimson and Yes. You can learn more about Steven Wilson by checking out The 13th Floor’s recent interview.
Win tickets to see the new documentary, Eight Days a Week! Just tell us what movie the song, “Eight Days a Week” was meant to be the title track for. We’ve got a double pass to give away to the first two correct answers!
Five top New Zealand artists and acts have made the shortlist for the 2016 APRA Silver Scroll Award, recognising excellence in songwriting.
The finalists and their songs represent an eclectic mix of genres and range from iconic names in Kiwi music, to up-and-comers making their mark in the industry. Continue reading
29 June 2016: This is the third and final part of the Parents Tour Diary – where the band play at Cry Me A River Fest and round off the tour with some sweet tattoos. Thanks to Jono Glenday for sending these updates.
We rose the next morning for the drive to Duisburg via Hamburg for a matinee at a small university venue. Many universities have these spaces – small DIY venues and art spaces that are student owned, run, and operated. We enjoyed a barbeque outside before the bands started, and enjoyed watching Lentic Waters and Svalbard kill it with their epic and dynamic sets. After the show we waited up until midnight for Will’s birthday and hung out with Patrick and Marta, who were generous hosts and got into the spirit with some peppermint liqueur.
Next up we drove to the Netherlands for a couple of days off in Aarlanderveen, a beautiful town half an hour away from Amsterdam. Here we relished the opportunity to wash our clothes, drink local beer, and watch the original Star Wars movies back to back. On Wednesday we picked things up with a show in Amsterdam, joining touring bands Cassus from the UK and Old Soul from the US who were also playing Cry Me A River Fest that weekend. The show was quiet but great, aside from two old dudes that got out of hand watching the bands and loudly offered Brent heroin after our set. Intense.
Leaving Amsterdam behind, we headed back into Germany for our next show in Münster – the Cry Me A River warm up which featured a group of international bands who would be playing the main festival. Arriving in the city we stopped at The Send – Münster’s biggest carnival and the oldest annual fair in the Münsterland. Immediately Simon peer pressured us into riding ‘The Breakdancer’, a chaotic ride composed of rapidly spinning seats on a turning base that left us reeling. This, combined with the brutal heat and humidity, made the show an arduous task and we spent the rest of the night recovering as a violent lightning storm raged in the distance.
We spent the next morning in Münster, a highlight being St Lambert Church where three 16th century execution cages are hanging near its tower. Earlier in the trip I had listened to a five-hour Hardcore History podcast where the climax was the use of these three cages – it’s worth listening to and it was strange to see them still suspended in the air.
Shortly after we made the drive to Versmold, a small town where Cry Me A River Fest is held. This festival was essentially the reason we came to Europe and we were excited to see the amazing bands that pioneered, and keep pushing the sound Parents is built on – bands such as Svffer, Jungbluth, Amygdala, and the mighty June Paik. No band disappointed and the sense of community at the festival was incredible, the highlights being playing a tight set (and selling the last of our records) as well as the antics and crowd surfing during June Paik who closed the festival. Simon and Will each got band tattoos from Spence who did a great job recreating the artwork of our first album cover. It was a beautiful weekend and a perfect end to our tour.
Touring Europe is a transformative and indescribable experience for a band. The level of hospitality, collaboration, and joy within the cities and scenes we played are inspiring and we are so thankful to everyone who made this possible.
The 13th Floor’s Tim Gruar talks to Karl du Fresne about his new book:
“I received my first lesson in American geography from Perry Como when I was about 8 or 9 years old,” writes Karl du Fresne, in the introduction to his book A Road Tour of American Song Titles – from Mendocino to Memphis. Over three unique road trips, accompanied by his wife Jolanta, du Fresne navigated the American heartland in search of the towns that featured in iconic songs like Wichita Linemen (Glen Campbell), El Paso (Marty Robbins) and Okie From Muskogee. Along the way he explores the rich musical connections of cities such as New Orleans, Memphis, Nashville, San Jose, Las Vegas and Detroit and describes detours to some of-tracks locations like the gospel church in the Louisiana Delta where Jerry Lee Lewis first performed; or the location of the Tallahatchie bridge, made famous by Bobbie Gentry in Ode to Billie Joe or the Mississippi graveyard where Robert Johnson is argued to be lying under a pecan tree. Whilst a personal journey of indulgence, du Fresne couldn’t help embellishing his new travel book with musical history and trivia.
As one often does when testing the levels on the equipment at the start of an interview I make small talk while I fiddle with the equalizer on my smart phone recorder. “You’ve got a voice for radio.” “I’ve got a face for it, too. Actually that’s my brother Justin, who’s the radio announcer. Although, I’m gaining on him.” Quite true, writer Karl du Fresne will be well known to Dominion Post and Listener readers as the former editor of the former and a contributing freelance writer on the latter. He’s also penned The New Zealand Wine-Lover’s Companion, The Right to Know: News Media Freedom in New Zealand and a history of the Dominion and Evening Post (2007). He’s still at it, too, writing a number of regular columns for various national papers. du Fresne was one of the original ‘grumpy old men’, offering opinion pieces on issues of the day. He still proffers these from time to time but with the plethora of experts gobbling up column inches these days he reckons he’s just “one voice amongst many.” Mind you, he adds, print and online journalism is his day job. “This book’s been a bit of a self-indulgence – an opportunity to travel and explore the imaginary places of my youth as well.”
Ok, so road trips to the soul of American music, or any music, are not original. Most famously, U2 featured the experience their movie Rattle and Hum; Jack Kerouac (On The Road) wrote his classic account of the Beat movement against a backdrop of jazz, poetry and drugs; Billy Connoly has made a TV show; Chuck Klosterman (Killing Yourself To Live) took a ‘semi-true’ discovery adventure to the work places of Buddy Holly, Kurt Cobain and many others; or London based Kiwi Garth Cartwright’s Greyhound bus odyssey into the American blues heartland More Miles Than Money. du Fresne’s book is more like Bill Bryson’s The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America – an irreverent collection of wanderings and musings, held together by a lose plan and a good eye for obscure details. None of which du Fresne has ever read, he says. “Which is a good thing because I got to approach it as a blank canvas.” We both agree that given the format and approach, this would make a great documentary series, NZ On Air Are you listening? It’s a slightly rambling fact filled trip with a few good meals and a coupla excellent craft beers to wash them down.
When’s the Kiwi version of this book coming out, I ask? “Funny you ask. I’ve had various exchanges with Max Cryer about this very thing. I’d written a piece for the Listener about my book and he got in touch. There’s indications he may be doing this. There are classics like the Mutton Bird’s Dominion Rd.; Otaki By the Falls; I’ve Been Every Where, Man (John Hore Grenell’s version), Taumaranui by the May Trunk Line; and so on. Of, course with a New Zealand book it doesn’t have those romantic mythological associations that America has.” So that was the appeal for du Fresne. So with the exception of Dwight Yokam’s Streets of Bakersfield (1988), which only made it because it was on the way to the next location, most of these songs come from the era of Rock’n’Roll – the 1950’s and 60’s. “Well that was my era. I heard it once that the songs you hear in your youth are what you’ll grow up with thinking are the greatest songs – ever. I think that’s pretty true. I think the 50’s was the best era of music. But someone growing up in the post-punk 80’s would say the same thing of Flying Nun, or disco. It’s what you heard at that time of your life. Everything’s very vivid at that time of your life.” du Fresne grew up in Hawke’s Bay, ears glued to the radio. He’d tune in to the Lever Brothers Hit Parade and the Sunday request session on Station 2ZC. At a tender young age he first heard Perry Como’s “excruciatingly bad puns” on the song Delaware (1959):
‘Oh, what did Delaware boy what did Delaware?
What did Delaware boy, what did Delaware?
She wore a brand New Jersey, she wore a brand New Jersey
She wore a brand New Jersey, that’s what she did wear ‘
“It was a pretty awful song, typical of the kind of song at the time. Cheesy and cheerful. But it got me thinking about somewhere outside my own gate. It kind of melted into the memory.” A few years back that Como song inspired du Fresne to think about the other great American place-name songs – Jackson, By the Time I Get to Phoenix, Do You know the Way to San Jose’, 24 Hours to Tulsa, Bowling Green – and what those places were really like. I had pictures in my head. I wanted to hold up those imagined post cards and see if they were true.” It was that desire that eventually became the three trips that he lays out in his ” travel book about music and a musical book about travel”.
Each chapter is devoted to a specific hit song and the town that inspired it. Songs like Fat’s Domino’s Walking to New Orleans (1960) or Glenn Cambell’s Galveston, home of the song’s writer Jimmy Webb. du Fresne describes the town, as he does for many on the trip from a dashboard point of view. They roll in to town in a rented Winnebago past the 1900 Galveston Hurricane memorial and the 5.2-metre-high sea wall which protects the city from future disasters.
Galveston never fully recovered from the natural disasters of the early 20th century and was further hurt by the port built at Houston that took away much of its freight business. It’s the kind of insight that paints a backdrop to the song and explains it’s mood and atmosphere perfectly, du Fresne explains. “It takes on a different life when you know more about the town.”
On Marty Robbin’s El Paso, which he also visits, describing the contrast between a sleepy boarder town and the former Mexican murder capital, Ciudad Juárez, just across the tracks, there’s talk of a cantina – Rosa’s. du Fresne actually ate there. His photo shows an archetypical run down shack, exactly as you’d picture it in the song. But, he notes, behind the façade it’s classier. Good food, too. “Mexican, is delicious, very healthy. I loved it. Not grungy like those old CC’s adverts on the telly.” Apparently writer Marty Robbins was on a bus passing through the town when he was writing the song. He was struggling for a place to position his main character when he saw the cantina out of the window and hit upon the concept. “An Rosa’s was put down in history:
‘Out in the West Texas town of El Paso
I fell in love with a Mexican girl
Night-time would find me in Rosa’s cantina
Music would play and Felina would whirl’ “
Interestingly, du Fresne points out, that not many great songs came out of places like Pennsylvania, Minnesota or Indiana. It all seems to have originated from the South in the 50’s. The discovery of black music by white people. “Mississippi, Louisiana, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas – they are incredibly musical states. You can’t go there and not be aware of how important music is.”
du Fresne went through New Orleans not long after the recovery from Katrina got started. His observations in his three days tell you much about a city that’s trying to rebuild itself – much like many parts of America. Given the racial issue in today’s new coming out of the states he visited I have to ask if it was noticeable to him as a traveler.
“Yes, and no he replies. You expect plenty of crazies and extremes in America because that’ what you see on TV. But on the whole everyone was so helpful, gentle and kind. I didn’t see any racial riots or issues like that. On the other side though there are big suburbs in Louisiana with grand old ladies (houses) on one side, in leafy streets, and ghettos and shacks downtown. Who lives there is pretty clear, so the problems are there.”
Given that many of the towns he visited were in the ‘armpit of America’, as a glamorous lady on his plane described it as, and way off the tourist track did he find any places that delivered something considerably different to his expectations?
“Yes. One of the songs was Everly Brothers’ Bowling Green, a bit of a flop for them, I think. It’s in Kentucky. I had this really idyllic picture in my mind of that town…many, like you say were like the set of The Dukes of Hazard, with a green square in the middle, white courthouse, malt shop, band rotunda in the middle…we saw plenty of those town … I went with high hopes but found that it really wasn’t anything like what I’d imagined.” In fact, he noted that this was a town dying fast. “Everything was pleasant in its decay”.
On the other hand, Mendocino, (North California) as recorded in the song by Sir Douglas Quintet (1969) was “like a movie set: The Northern California coast is very rugged, wild seas and sheer cliffs, as well as forested mountains behind. And there’s a tiny town (Mendocino) clinging to the cliffs. It was a hippy retreat in the early 1960s.” The song’s composer Doug Sahm was there at the time and was inspired by the location. to wrote the song, got to know the place.”
Of course not all the song titles were inspired by actual people place or events. Jackson, made famous by Johnny Cash(1967) and later Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood (1967), was simply a good name for the feeling, apparently. As was the 24 Hours From Tulsa, which could have been 24 hours from any town, really. But it didn’t stop du Fresne having a peek anyway.
Finally, I have to as if they, as a pair of Kiwi travellers off the main trail caused any stirs. “We got to the information office in Saginaw, Michigan (from the song by Lefty Frizzell -1964). The lady behind counter was floored – we were probably the first people she’d seen there for months, if not years. Apparently, none there and she was astonished that someone from the other side of the globe was standing in front of her.” Ah, travel – and music – broadens the mind. “You should try it sometime.” I might just do that. Although I think it’ll be with Grunge and Hard-core as my guiding map. “You’re welcome to that. Give me rock’n’roll any day!”
- A Road Trip of American Songs is published by Bateman on 15 July 2016, RRP $39.99.
P-Funkster Bernie Worrell has passed away after battling lung cancer. He was 72. Along with George Clinton, Bootsy Collins and Eddie Hazel, Bernie Worrell was one of the architects for the Parliament-Funkadelic sound contributing his keyboard playing and songwriting skills to albums like Maggot Brain, America Eats Its Young and Mothership Connection. He also played with Booty’s Rubber Band, Fred Wesley’s Horny Horns and, most notably, Talking Heads.
Click here to listen to Cosmic Slop from the 1973 Funkadelic album of the same name:
What do we expect from a new Red Hot Chili Peppers album? Boundless jumpy energy, heavy funk rock, with a beat you can mosh too? Well, if those are your expectations, then your frame of reference for RHCP is at least ten years out of date. Consider the following: The median age of a Red Hot Chili Pepper is 53. Guitar freak John Frusciante bowed out of the band over five years ago. Loudness producer Rick Rubin has been replaced by coolness producer Danger Mouse. Did you really expect their new material to be a harkening back to Blood Sugar Sex Magik? Continue reading
The 13th Floor’s Kate Powell goes over to the dark side…
One of the things that pisses me off about music journalism is when the writer in question pretends to intimately know subgenres. It makes their writing hollow and trite, whilst completely disrespecting the music in question. So I will prefix this review by saying that I do not actively listen to extreme metal, and what limited knowledge I have of the genre arises purely from some kind acquaintances within the scene. Continue reading