Tag Archives: music

Shayne Carter and Peter Jefferies

Indie NZ Music – Live and Raw

- By Diane McAllen (Senior Outreach Curator – Kaitoko Kaupapa Torotoronga ā-Iwi, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

There is something special about recordings of live music events, they capture forever an ephemeral moment, and for music historians, documentary filmmakers of the future and the merely nostalgic, such recordings can be gold – treasured mementos waiting to be revealed to a new audience.

Recently I watched Ron Howard’s Eight Days a Week DVD box-set which includes delicious digitally enhanced live footage of the fab four performing to screaming teenage girls – you know the footage. Imagine if those fans had smartphones in their hands? I began to reflect on some recordings of live music that I have personally deposited into the care of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision.

During the late 1990s, my then-partner Campbell Walker and I filmed various live gigs, including a project to make a documentary about the work of Peter Jefferies. Peter had been part of legendary underground bands Nocturnal Projections and This Kind of Punishment, before enjoying a substantial solo career, and he was returning to his home-town of Stratford. There is a fantastic interview with Peter on AudioCulture here

Peter_Jefferies
Peter Jefferies at the Wild Horse, Palmerston North

Peter had returned to New Zealand to spend some time with his mother and was touring New Zealand as a one man band. He had developed a technique for drumming and playing the piano at the same time.

We were both keen fans of all of Peter’s work (later naming our first feature length film Uncomfortable Comfortable from one of his song lyrics) and took time out to travel with him on his nationwide tour. Although the documentary project was left uncompleted, over twenty hours of material was filmed.

Recording live music gigs – in my experience – is like filming a ‘fly-on-the-wall’ documentary. The main purpose of the camera is there to record the event. Frustratingly, you will have little control over lighting, sound or even physical movements of the musicians or members of the audience. Being flexible is definitely an advantage.

Dimmer_Set_800dpi
An audience member throws her beer over me and the camera at the Peter Jefferies and Shayne Carter gig.

We had an old Panasonic SVHS camera. Anybody remember those? This was one of those chunky style camcorders that you could easily rest on your shoulder for stability. I used to heavily manipulate the manual zoom and focus rings – I guess that became my “signature style”, a style mostly created to deal with the low light conditions, and my dislike of tripods and automatic settings.

Image of Panasonic Video Camera
Image from Media College

One of the highlights of the tour was being there to film the supporting performance by Michael Morley (like Peter, a stalwart of the Xpressway record label and band member of The Dead C) at Gate in Timaru.

There had been some miscommunication and the event had not been publicised, resulting in an audience of one who had seen Peter the night before in Dunedin and followed us up. In the spirit of “the show must go on” the performance continued regardless. In true noise-musician style Morley made good use of the squeaky metal framed chair that he was sitting on to augment the sound-scape, the film thereby capturing a unique musical moment.

Michael Morley at Empire Hotel in Timaru, 1998, Ref. F84829
Michael Morley at Empire Hotel in Timaru, 1998, Ref. F84829

For a period I’d often find myself behind the camera filming gigs for friends in the independent music scene. Recording almost anything at the ‘old’ Bar Bodega in Willis Street, Wellington always presented a challenge. Bodega was the back room of an old villa and had one corner of the room dedicated to a small stage. Here, recording a performance by American musician Will Oldham (Bonnie Prince Billy) playing with local alt-country band, The Renderers, proved a challenge.

I was off-stage and there were around six people plus equipment on stage. The room was packed with audience members and it was very difficult to get any sight-lines – everything was close, murky, sticky with sweat and the sound distorted to hell. All this comes through on the audience point-of-view film, capturing an essence of the place, band and time.

At other times, because of the throng of the crowd the best angle was achieved by being snuggled right in on the stage with the band. This was the case with the recording of Roy Montgomery (Dadamah, Pin Group), Peter Jefferies and Bruce Russell (former head of RNZ Sound Archives, Xpressway Records and member of The Dead C) at the old Dux de Lux venue in Christchurch. The sound was usually fairly distorted as you’d be practically sitting on a large speaker. When forced to a position on stage you unconsciously became part of the performance – who was that chick on stage with a camera?

Looking back over the footage, it’s a pity we didn’t get more shots of the crowd, but the low-light conditions would have made that difficult. The sound quality is not great either, because of the challenges with relying on the in-camera microphone. However, there is something unique captured by the rawness of the footage, the thrill of the event and the magic of the on-stage performance.

This clip shows a trippy variation of the Dimmer single Evolution with Shayne Carter and Peter Jefferies at the legendary Auckland Venue, Luna

Happy 70th NZSO

The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra turns 70 this week, marking the anniversary of its first public performance in the Wellington Town Hall, on 6 March 1947. Extensive recordings from the orchestra’s early years are held in Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision’s sound collection, and RNZ Concert have drawn upon this archival audio to produce a series of programmes marking the event.

You can listen to them at the links below:

National Orchestra of the New Zealand Broadcasting Service: First season ... 1947. Wellington inaugural concert, Town Hall. Thursday March 6th. Souvenir programme. Ref: Eph-B-MUSIC-NO-1947-01-title. Alexander Turnbull Library http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23040179
National Orchestra of the New Zealand Broadcasting Service: First season … 1947. Wellington inaugural concert, Town Hall. Thursday March 6th. Souvenir programme. Ref: Eph-B-MUSIC-NO-1947-01-title. Alexander Turnbull Library http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23040179
HowBizarre

“How Bizarre” Turns 21

“How Bizarre,” the catchy hit by OMC (Otara Millionaires Club), was released 21 years ago today, on 15 December 1995.

“How Bizarre” reached the number one spot in New Zealand, Australia, Austria, Canada, Ireland, and South Africa, was on the US Billboard Mainstream Top 40 for 36 weeks, and won Single of the Year at the 1996 New Zealand Music Awards.

Master copies of the music video are preserved in the collections of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision.

Watch the music video and sing along:

Video courtesy of umusic NZ.

References

NZHistory, “OMC Release ‘How Bizarre’”

Serpentine

Moving Pictures Arrive in New Zealand

120 years ago, on 13 October 1896, New Zealanders first got their chance to see moving pictures, when the first film was played to an audience at the Opera House in Auckland. Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision is marking this anniversary with a series of screenings of a selection of Films that Shaped New Zealand in Wellington over the next 10 days – and we will be preceding each of these screenings by showing either Sandow the Strong Man or The Serpentine Dance before each feature. These were two of the first films ever watched by New Zealand audiences back in 1896.

 

Eugen Sandow in the film Sandow the Strongman (Edison Studios, 1894, directed by William K.L. Dickson).

 

The inaugural screening of moving pictures in New Zealand was as part of a vaudeville programme by Charles Godfrey’s Vaudeville Company.  The “kinematograph” screenings were part of the show’s line-up, along with singers and musical items. After the first performances in Auckland, the show moved to Thames, Paeroa and Wellington later in October 1896, before further screenings in Christchurch and Dunedin in November that year.

 

A preview of the first motion picture screening in New Zealand, "New Zealand Herald," 13 October 1896 (courtesy of Papers Past)
A preview of the first motion picture screening in New Zealand, “New Zealand Herald,” 13 October 1896 (courtesy of Papers Past)

 

Annabelle Whitford in the film The Serpentine Dance (Edison Manufacturing Co., 1895, directed by William K.L. Dickson and William Heise)

 

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Audio Curios: Notes of Appreciation

- By Gareth Watkins (Radio Collection Developer, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

Recently Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision acquired a set of very special discs from violinist Vince Aspey. The discs not only give a glimpse into Vince’s and his father Vincent Aspey’s distinguished musical careers, they also capture some of the early moments of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra – back then known as the National Orchestra.

Six years before the National Orchestra’s formation in 1946, an orchestra had been established for the nation’s centennial celebrations. In this recording from 1940, the legendary British conductor Sir Thomas Beecham  – passing through Auckland on his way to Sydney – introduces and then conducts the Centennial Festival Orchestra and Heddle Nash and Isobel Baillie in the garden scene from Faust.

 

Sir Thomas Beecham (1940, National Broadcasting Service)

 

It wasn’t until after the war that a permanent national orchestra was established. Andersen Tyrer was appointed conductor and Vincent Aspey orchestra leader.  As noted on NZ History Aspey had never heard a major orchestra play, but his experience leading orchestras in Auckland, Sydney and Wellington made him an obvious choice for leader.

 

Vincent Aspey playing the violin, Wellington Town Hall [1955]. New Zealand Free Lance : Photographic prints and negatives. Ref: 1/2-146976-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22914998
Vincent Aspey playing the violin, Wellington Town Hall [1955]. New Zealand Free Lance : Photographic prints and negatives. Ref: 1/2-146976-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22914998
 

During those early orchestral rehearsals in 1946, Vincent Aspey’s son Vince recalls standing in the control room at the Waring Taylor Street studios watching his father perform. From one of those first rehearsals comes this recording of soloist Vincent Aspey and the National Orchestra.

 

Vincent Aspey and the National Orchestra in rehearsal (1946)

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Esme Stephens.

All the Hits and More – Part 2

Broadcaster and historian Peter Downes wrote to us in response to a recent blog entry about the history of popular music charts in New Zealand, with this fascinating behind-the-scenes background on music hits shows in New Zealand during the 1950s.

Peter Downes.
Peter Downes (courtesy of Peter Downes / Dave Smith).

 

I was pleased to see you’ve included the N.Z. Hit Parade (1952) on your blog.

It so happens that this was yet another of my “babies” and I thought you might like to have some background to it. In those days, apart from some radio drama, New Zealand Broadcasting Service producers were not allowed to be credited.

In the early 1950s most of the so-called “local” radio stations, that is those with a YX call sign, were running their own Hit Parades, with results taken from sales in their town’s record shops. I was a producer at 2YA in Wellington, and it occurred to me that if these results could be combined we would have a near enough to true measure of the most popular songs in New Zealand for that week. In fact it would create a N.Z. Hit Parade. My boss was enthusiastic, and the stations thought it was a good idea and willingly co-operated by sending me their weekly “charts.”

This was in contrast to commercial radio’s Lifebuoy Hit Parade, whose results were based mainly on charts in Billboard (USA) and later in The New Musical Express (UK). The Lifebuoy show was presented by 2ZB’s Rex Walden (pictured in the window display), who had a deep, dark chocolatey BBC type voice.

An advert in a shop window for the Lifebuoy Hit Parade, 1946 (Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision Documentation Collection).
An advert in a shop window for the Lifebuoy Hit Parade, 1946 (Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision Documentation Collection).

 

Rex Walden introducing the Lifebuoy Hit Parade, c.1946

 

We couldn’t hope, nor did we try, to compete with the Lifebuoy show, but we had the advantage of being able to include songs recorded by New Zealand performers when they became bestsellers here but who would never have made the overseas charts.

Esme Stephens.
Esme Stephens (photo courtesy of AudioCulture).

An outstanding example of this was Between Two Trees, in the number two position for the year 1952. This American song had been recorded by the Andrews Sisters in the USA, but was only a minor success. However, a cover version recorded for the New Zealand Stebbing Recording label by Auckland singer Esme Stephens went viral (as they say) in her homeland. It reportedly sold well over 7,000 copies – quite remarkable for that time. It was accompanied by “the guitars of Buddy Kane”.

 

“Between Two Trees,” by Esme Stephens, courtesy of Stebbing Recording. A large back catalogue of early New Zealand recordings has been remastered and is available on the Stebbing Recording website. Continue reading

An example of part of a National Sales Chart, 9 August 1987 (Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision collection).

All the Hits and More

By Gareth Watkins (Radio Collection Developer, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision has recently acquired from RNZ popular music charts dating from 1956 – 1998. Sales and popularity data have long been used to create various music chart programmes, with the first “Hit Parade” broadcasting in 1946.

An advert in a shop window for the Lifebuoy Hit Parade, 1946 (Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision Documentation Collection).
An advert in a shop window for the Lifebuoy Hit Parade, 1946 (Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision collection).

The “Lifebuoy Hit Parade” began broadcasting nationally in 1946 on ZB stations each week. Records were selected from the USA and UK music charts, plus recent music releases.

Listen to an unidentified announcer advertising Lifebuoy soap during the “Lifebuoy Hit Parade,” 1947:

 

“Lifebuoy Hit Parade,” 1947

 

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Basil Clarke (Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision collection).

Audio Curios: The Last Post

Bugler Trevor Bremner and producer Shelley Wilkinson discuss the various bugle calls that make up the “Last Post” (“Bugle Stories,” RNZ Concert, 25 April 2015).

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision Radio Collection, all rights reserved. To enquire about re-use of this item please contact sound@ngataonga.org.nz

 

You can hear the full series of six “Bugle Stories” here.

 

This post is part of the Audio Curios series. Radio Collection Developer Gareth Watkins regularly comes across interesting, unique, and sometimes downright puzzling bits of audio during his accessioning work. He’s going to share some of these audio treasures with you in the Audio Curios series, which will be posted here on the Gauge blog frequently.

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New Zealand’s Famous Dolphins

Did you know chocolate fish were originally called “Pelorus Jacks”? Earlier this week Sarah Johnston (our Client Services Co-ordinator – Radio) chatted to RNZ’s Jesse Mulligan about recordings in Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision’s Sound Collection on famous New Zealand dolphins – like Pelorus Jack and Opo.

Listen here:

Lee-Johnson, Eric Albert, 1908-1993. Woman with Opo the dolphin, at Opononi - Photograph taken by Eric Lee-Johnson. Scott, Thomas Henry, 1918-1960 :Photographs. Ref: PAColl-5849-3-001. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22831745
Lee-Johnson, Eric Albert, 1908-1993. Woman with Opo the dolphin, at Opononi – Photograph taken by Eric Lee-Johnson. Scott, Thomas Henry, 1918-1960 : Photographs. Ref: PAColl-5849-3-001. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22831745
Basil Clarke (Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision collection).

Audio Curios: Key’d In

Max Key has just released his first single and has started DJ’ing on George FM. This recording has edited excerpts from an interview he did the next morning on George Breakfast with Thane & Kara, where he talks about negative social media reaction and being the son of Prime Minister John Key.

George FM, 17 February 2016

 

This post is part of the Audio Curios series. Radio Collection Developer Gareth Watkins regularly comes across interesting, unique, and sometimes downright puzzling bits of audio during his accessioning work. He’s going to share some of these audio treasures with you in the Audio Curios series, which will be posted here on the Gauge blog frequently.

Audio clip from Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision Radio Collection, all rights reserved. To enquire about re-use of this item please contact sound@ngataonga.org.nz