Will Wood: Magpie Brain & Other Stories

Aucklander Will Wood is a country/folk storyteller who has been writing about his life and loves for a few years now. ‘ Magpie Brain & Other Stories ‘ is his sophomore album, following up on the 2014 debut ‘Broken Man’. Folk music’s tradition of telling tales fills this with heart and humour, while an ode to his father in For The Old Man puts his familial heart on his sleeve. Stories of his travels are an entertaining highlight, with New York a vibrantly detailed account of a stay in the city that never sleeps, while dark reminiscences of lost love are accompanied by southern gothic guitars on Drown Drown Drown. With recording done at The Sitting Room in Lyttelton, Will Wood’s fine storytelling and multi-instrumental skills are accompanied by some exceptional performances from the ubiquitous Dave Khan, Jono Hopley on upright bass and Tom Landon-Lane playing bass, lap steel and slide guitars. Reb Fountain’s winsome voice is a perfect counterpoint to Wood’s nuanced vocal treatments. Dedicated to the late, this is a charming set of tales from a writer and performer whose yarn-spinning is both sincere and compelling. • Amanda Mills

August 2016 Is Māori Music Month

From this year onwards, August will turn into Te Marama Pūoro Waiata Māori Māori Music Month.

The new celebration and awareness month was initiated by Ellison Huata,  the executive director of the Waiata Māori Music Awards.

Huata hopes Māori Music Month will generate activity for artists in August each year, and bridge the gap between NZ Music Month in May, Matariki & Te Wiki o Te Reo Maori in June/July, and the Waiata Māori Awards in September.

During Māori Music Month young performers will be mentored by established artists through events in Wellington, Auckland, Waikato the Gold Coast, Australia, which will last one week at each location.

Ambassadors include Maisey Rika, Rob Ruha, Tama Waipara and Taisha Tari, who will conduct workshops in schools, focusing on taonga pūoro, song writing, song composition and vocal training.

Māori Music Month will launch at the National Secondary Schools’ Kapa Haka competition in Hawke’s Bay on July 28.

Waiata Māori Music Expo 2017

September 9, 9am to 2pm,  Hawke’s Bay Opera House Plaza, Hastings

Waiata Māori Music Awards 2017

September 9, 6pm, Hastings Sports Arena, Hastings

Niue Ukulele Festival Announced

The inaugural Niue ukulele festival, NiueKulele, will be staged on the island in October this year.

The name is irresistible, and NiueKulele will feature workshops, concerts and instructional sessions by panels of leading Pacific ukulele exponents, including players from Hawaii, Cook Islands, Samoa, New Zealander Paul Jonson and Niue’s own maestro Sani Hekesi.

Around 50 ukulele aficionados from the region are expected to attend NiueKulele which will include an auction of ukuleles hand-painted by well-known figures such as Niue’s internationally recognised artist John Pule. Proceeds will to go to the ongoing conservation and protection of the humpback whales – Niue is an international whale sanctuary.

The island has a resident Niuean population of around 1200 people.

NiueKulele Music Festival 2016
October 21-24

Murray McNabb: The Way In Is The Way Out

I have to preface this review by stating that I’m a huge fan of Murray McNabb, and I was ecstatic when I heard that Sarang Bang Records were going to release a tribute to his music.

‘The Way In Is The Way Out: The Music of Murray McNabb’ is a sumptuous album presented in several mediums from digital files to limited edition vinyl, curated by McNabb’s friend and collaborator Gianmarco Liguori. Excitingly it features mostly previously unreleased music (all but three tracks are unreleased). Darren McShane of Earwig Studios mastered the album, and as usual his work is excellent.

What I’m reviewing is the limited edition two LP set, the cover of which features one of McNabb’s paintings and photos of him. The album avoids traditional liner notes, instead features a short introduction by Liguori, an interview with McNabb from just before his death in 2013, and a wealth of quotes from four different interviews. The first LP features McNabb’s contributions to jazz in both his own and other groups. This disc includes collaborations between 1980s jazz supergroup Space Case with the equally awesome Auckland Neophonic Orchestra (which begs the question – why were these tracks never released? They’re amazing!), and work from the groups Dr Tree, Modern Times, Hard Jazz, McNabb’s trio and sextet from the 1970s and 1990s.

The second LP features his more experimental work, primarily on solo piano or keyboards/synthesisers and in the realm of electronic music with only one group track from Salon Kingsadore. It’s fascinating to hear the directions he was exploring that were so different from his commercial work, and in some cases so different from his work in jazz.

The music throughout the album is frankly awesome, a tribute not only to McNabb but also to all the great musicians that he worked with. Many of the tracks selected for this tribute album are from the 1970s and 1980s and they sound just as fresh, original, and modern today as they did 30 or 40 years ago when they were composed and recorded. It’s music that has not dated and would easily fit in with the best of current New Zealand jazz. It’s also a historically important album documenting collaborations and recordings that new audiences would otherwise not know existed. This album is an absolute must have for any New Zealand music fan, and an important addition to collections of anyone who is a fan of New Zealand jazz.

• Aleisha Ward

What Can The Music Industry Learn From Pokemon Go?

Over at Hypebot.comGeorge Howard, an Associate Professor of Music Business/Management at Berklee College of Music, has presented the idea of Pokemon Go ’s success being attributed to its social, fun, and competitive (SFC) framework. According to Howard, this SFC formula could be indicative of a breakthrough in regards to making a product internationally successful and recognised. Pokemon Go’s huge success he posits, may present a golden opportunity for the music industry to hop on this SFC bandwagon and create a music-related product that could take the world by storm.

“Even while I’m delighted to watch this articulation of my SFC theory taking over the world, I’m equally distressed by the fact… we really have not seen a music-related product truly explode in this manner. Objectively, we should have. In other words, where has our Pokémon GO for music been, and/or when will our Pokémon GO for music emerge?” he asks in an article published on Hypebot.

Aside from his Berklee position Howard is a co-founder of Music Audience Exchange,  and a firm believer in a product’s success being determined by its ability to  cater towards the three elements of his SFC theory.  “…If I can’t quickly determine that a product passes the “Social, Fun, and Competitive Test,” I’m not interested.”

Howard’s article goes on to discuss the potential for the music industry to implement his SFC formula, in order to create a new and current music-related product that will not only attain success, but longevity.

“…If some music-related product does not emerge and capture the world’s attention – even if only a fraction of the attention that Pokemon Go – via an artful Social, Fun, and Competitive implementation – that presents a problem…My sense, however, is that we are approaching some degree of breakthrough.”

It’s an interesting theory: after all, in our ever-advancing technological world, paying attention to trends with apps and products is highly important in order to gauge what will be successful in today’s digital society.

Read the full article here.