Friday, October 27, 2017

NZ Bookshop Day 2017 Saturday 28 October.

NZ Bookshop Day 2017  'Bookshops are gateways to a thousand other worlds, ten thousand imaginations and a million possibilities,’ wrote Marcus Hobson in his winning Love Letter to your Bookshop entry last year.   Discover these worlds at your community bookshop this NZ Bookshop Day, no matter where you are in New Zealand on Saturday 28 October.

What's happening in Wellington

Unity Books, Wellington
Explore and win NZ books
Visit Unity Books Wellington on NZ Bookshop Day and take part in the 'Explore and win competition'.  You get to select your chosen NZ book title and author, your name and email address to go in the draw. This competition is open only on NZ Bookshop Day, and the draw will take place on  Tuesday, the 31st of October.
Also, Tom Scott will be in-store at 11am to celebrate NZ Bookshop Day. Get your copy of his fantastic new book Drawn Out, A Seriously Funny Memoir for Tom to sign and go into the draw to win a Tom Scott original drawing.

Vic Books, Kelburn
Storytime extravaganza
Vic books Kelburn are doing a storytime extravaganza with a specially constructed  theatre inside the store. There will be children's performances and a more performative version of Baz MacDonald's story time.


The Children's Bookshop, Kilbirnie 
Get to The Children's Bookshop at 11am for storytime for preschoolers up to age 7, featuring Sacha Cotter and Josh Morgan (Keys; The Marble Maker) and Ruth Paul (Dinosaur Dad, Stomp, My Meerkat Mum), as well as Sarah Grundy (The Curious Ar-chew).
From 5pm to 7pm they are hosting the book launch for How Not to Stop a Kidnap Plot by Suzanne Main, published by Scholastic NZ.
On Sunday 29 October at 10am, they will host the book launch for The Longest Breakfast, by Jenny Bornholdt and Sarah Davis.



Take Note, Tawa
Take Note Tawa is celebrating all month with 'Your Book Pick & Purchase Competition'. You can go into a draw to win by filling in an entry card telling us why you picked and purchased the book (one entry per book purchased). This will be drawn on Saturday 28th October at close of business. The competition runs along aside the 'Love Your Bookshop competition' at our store.
NZ Bookshop Day is also the Tawa community day, called Spring into Tawa 2017. Come in-store that day and chat to our staff, who will be celebrating all dressed up in book/character themes. We have a prize draw for correct entries, which must include at least one correct book or character.

Ekor Bookshop & Cafe
Ekor's staff will be treating their wonderful customers to a little day of Scandinavian wonders! Beautiful Scandinavian books (some Scandinavian books in their original languages) and food - including our ever popular Moomin range and traditional hot Danish pancakes made specially on the day by our resident Danish Ekorian, special cold Flat Whites on sale one day only from People's Coffee, with the best Swedish barista in town, Lars Bringzen serving up wonderful coffees all day, and gifts from all over Scandinavia!

Come and experience a little Scandinavian magic for NZ Bookshop Day at Ekor Bookshop & Cafe!

Millwood Gallery, Thorndon
An Afternoon with Stephen Daisley
Millwood Gallery is hosting Stephen Daisley at 3:30 pm, a special opportunity to hear the current Creative New Zealand Randell Cottage Writing Fellow read. In 2016 Stephen won the inaugural Ockham Book Award for Fiction with his novel Coming Rain and, in Australia, Stephen won the Prime Minister's Literary Award for Fiction for his first novel Traitor.

Other bookshops celebrating in Wellington include Marsden Books, Karori and Arty Bees Books Ltd, with event details to be confirmed.


Thursday, October 26, 2017

Fats Domino has died at 89 years old.

Fats Domino, one of the most influential rock and roll performers of the 1950s and 60s, has died aged 89.  The American rock and roll artist was best known for his songs Ain't That A Shame and Blueberry Hill. The New Orleans singer sold more than 65 million records, outselling every 1950s rock and roll act except Elvis Presley.

His million-selling debut single, The Fat Man, is credited by some as the first ever rock and roll record. An official from New Orleans coroner's office confirmed the death, which was earlier announced by Domino's daughter to a local television station.



Fats Domino - whose real name was Antoine Domino Jr - was one of the first rhythm and blues artists to gain popularity with a white audience and his music was most prolific in the 1950s.
Domino had a string of number ones and more than 30 top 40 hits.

His music is also credited as a key influence on artists during the 1960s and 70s.



Elvis Presley referred to Fats Domino as "the real king of rock n roll" and Paul McCartney reportedly wrote the Beatles song Lady Madonna in emulation of his style.
In 1986 he was among the first inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but by his later life Domino would no longer leave his Louisiana hometown - not even to accept the award.
New Orleans-born musician and actor Harry Connick Jr is among those who have paid tribute to Domino on Twitter, saying he had "helped pave the way for New Orleans piano players".
Antoine "Fats" Domino Jr was born in New Orleans on 26 Feb 1928, the son of a violinist. His parents were of Creole origin, and French Creole was spoken in the family.
He was musically inclined from an early age and learned piano from his brother in law, the jazz banjo player, Harrison Verrett.

He was given his nickname by bandleader Bill Diamond for whom he was playing piano in honky-tonks as a teenager. He said the youngster's technique reminded him of two other great piano players, Fats Waller and Fats Pichon. Domino left school at the age of 14 to work in a bedspring factory by day, and play in bars by night. He was soon accompanying such New Orleans luminaries as Professor Longhair and Amos Milburn. In the mid-1940s, he joined trumpeter Dave Bartholomew's band, and the two co-wrote Domino's first hit The Fat Man. Suddenly, the New Orleans sound became popular nationwide.

The Groove Book Report: 'A Short History of New Zealand Wars' by Gordon McLauchlan Penguin, $29.95

Following the ongoing success of A Short History of New Zealand, Great Tales of New Zealand History and Great Tales of Rural New Zealand - all reprinted and still going strong - Gordon McLauchlan has turned his masterful storytelling skills to one of the most important periods in this country's history. Published to coincide with New Zealand's first national day commemorating the wars on 28 October, this insightful and accessible book will be of interest to New Zealanders wanting to find out more about the New Zealand wars and the Maori struggle over land and political power (rangatiratanga) and their consequences for our country without having to wade through heavy tomes

Gordon McLauchlan was born in Dunedin and is well known to many New Zealanders as a tv presenter, radio announcer, journalist and author.

His latest book, A Short History of New Zealand Wars, has also been published in time for October 28, the first annual day of commemoration of the New Zealand land wars. His book is an authentic but informal and personal history.

He acknowledges up front that many New Zealanders of his 'era' were almost totally unaware of the significant moments of our own history.  He also notes that while that was the case most school kids back then could tell you the origins of WWI and the order of kings of queens in the English monarchy.  Yet they had no clues about the battle of Gate Pa or the significance of the first use of trench in the battles around Ruapekapeka.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Kea wins Bird of the Year

The kea has been crowned New Zealand's Bird of the Year after two weeks of heated campaigning.

It is the first time the endangered, large, green mountain parrots which are known for their curiosity and intelligence, have won the competition.

The kererū came in second with 4572 votes, followed by the kākāpō with 2554 votes.

Team Kea co-campaigner Laura Young said: "We literally went out to every single person we knew and asked them to vote kea. We lobbied hard to get votes up on the first day, which I think made a big difference."

No captionThe kea has been crowned New Zealand's Bird of the Year. Photo: supply
She said the competition did not come without surprises for Team Kea, who were on the "campaign trail" while monitoring the birds in Kahurangi National Park, with no reception.

"One day we climbed to the top of Mt Patriarch to get reception and check in on the campaign. We saw that the Green Party had made an official announcement in support of the kererū, so we used what little phone battery we had left to hit back at them with a retaliation video."

"We're proud to say we ran a peaceful campaign compared to many other birds. There were no attack politics from Team Kea, we just did our own thing and went at it hard."

Team Kea hopes the Bird of the Year title will raise awareness for kea and all of New Zealand's birds, many of which are threatened with extinction.

There are only 3000 - 7000 kea remaining.

"Everyone needs to see how vulnerable kea are in the wild. We often hear of them hanging out in car parks, being cheeky and stealing things, but don't realise they are in decline. You can't not love them."

The competition raised over $10,000 in donations to help protect and restore New Zealand's wildlife and wild places and attracted over 50,000 votes from people who were asked to vote for their favourite species.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Nice Work NZ First! Congratulations to the Labour and Green Party's!

Most of us agree that we wake up this morning to a better future for New Zealand with Winston Peters and the NZ First party deciding to form a coalition government with Labour and the Greens.


Jacinda Adern is now our Prime Minister elect, our first Labour Prime minister in 9 years.
With a mix of policies from the 3 party's most Kiwi's will be better off financially, more people will be able to buy their own house, the environment will be better cared for and we'll be doing a bit more of our fair share towards slowing climate change...and lots more.

A reminder to anyone worried about the change: Last time they were in power, Labour made a surplus every one of the 9 years in Goverment apart from the year they took power whereas National has had a deficit for each of the 9 years they were in power except 2017.

A final thought: In NZ in the end, lying still doesn't pay.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

WOMAD 2018 LINE-UP ANNOUNCEMENT


Tonight, Wednesday October 18, at an esteemed event at The Grand Hall in Wellington's Parliament Buildings, surrounded by international delegates and WOMAD advocates, WOMAD NZ announce the 2018 artist line-up.


The internationally established three day world music, arts and dance festival is known for its exciting and diverse line-up and next year’s event is no exception.

WOMAD NZ 2018 is a melting pot of folk, afro-funk, hip hop, classical, jazz and punk rock performed on violins, ouds, koras and squeeze boxes. With artists from countries as varied as Canada, Chile, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon and Mauritania delivering a blend of traditional and modern performances; expect diverse languages, cultures, harmonies and rhythms from the big names and to discover glorious artists you’ve never heard of.

Announced this evening are familiar festival favourites; the pioneer of bass-dominant, dub flavoured dance tunes, UK’s Adrian Sherwood, the heavy metal inspired acoustic guitar duo from Mexico, Rodrigo y Gabriela and Washington D.C. based DJ collective, the uniquely diverse dub inspired Thievery Corporation.

Over the weekend Brooklands Park will ring with sounds from Brazilian 10 piece, Bixiga 70 and their dizzying heights of progressive Afrobeat, Tinariwen's scorching Mali desert blues and Havana Meets Kingston's sound-clash of reggae, dub and dancehall with salsa and rumba.

Lebanon’s soulful classically trained Ghada Shbeir and Israel’s vocal hip hop star Victoria Hanna will deliver tales from ancient texts and stories of current social injustices. Chilean political-punk-poet Nano Stern and Ghanaian Jojo Abot who seamlessly blends electronica, indie-soul, reggae and hip hop will be  part of a growing global conversation with audiences.

Always a highlight of WOMAD are the talents of local artists and 2018 looks to be one of the most exciting yet with the “toweringly talented song writer” Aldous Harding and Auckland city’s Hopetoun Brown, who will stomp and parp their way into audience hearts with nothing but brass, a bass clarinet, two sets of tambourines and tonsils. West Auckland newcomers, The Miltones will deliver some excellent knee slappin’, foot stompin’ and booty shakin’ and from Taranaki, The Slacks will bring home some classic kiwi messages of unity, aroha, and community.

Previously announced; Los Angeles saxophonist, composer and jazz superstar Kamasi Washington, the Indian classical and progressive sitar virtuoso Anoushka Shankar and classic Kiwi band Dragon complete the 29 exciting and eclectic artists from across the globe who will be performing at WOMAD 2018.

“WOMAD 2018 is a fantastic representation of World music of today and continues supporting diverse voices on stages. An incredible weekend of musical discovery with artists from around the globe.” - Emere Wano, WOMAD Event Director & NZ Programme Manager.
Artists appearing at WOMAD 2018 in alphabetical order:

ADRIAN SHERWOOD (UK), ALDOUS HARDING (Aotearoa), ANOUSHKA SHANKAR (India/UK), BIXIGA 70 (Brazil), CHICO TRUJILLO (Chile), CONSTANTINOPLE (Canada), DAYMÉ AROCENA (Cuba), DRAGON (Aotearoa), GHADA SHBEIR (Lebanon), HAVANA MEETS KINGSTON (Jamaica / Cuba), HOPETOUN BROWN (Aotearoa), JAMIE MCDOWELL & TOM THUM (Australia), JOJO ABOT (Ghana / USA), KAMASI WASHINGTON (USA), LEMON BUCKET ORKESTRA (Canada), LE VENT DU NORD (Canada), MY BUBBA (Sweden/ Iceland), NANO STERN (Chile), NOURA MINT SEYMALI (Mauritania), PAT THOMAS & KWASHIBU AREA BAND (Ghana), RAHIM ALHAJ TRIO (Iraq), RODRIGO Y GABRIELA (Mexico), SPOOKY MEN'S CHORALE (Australia), THE MILTONES (Aotearoa), THE SLACKS (Aotearoa), THIEVERY CORPORATION (USA), TINARIWEN (Mali), VICTORIA HANNA (Israel), VIOLONS BARBARES (France/Mongolia/Bulgaria)

FROM SWAN LAKE TO STAR WARS: 2018 NEW ZEALAND FESTIVAL LINE-UP REVEALED


New Zealand Festival Artistic Director Shelagh Magadza has announced the New Zealand Festival’s programme, which takes place in Wellington over three weeks from 23 February – 18 March 2018. New Zealand Festival is Aotearoa’s largest celebration of cutting-edge arts and culture. One of the five biggest festivals in Australasia, it has sold over two million tickets to an audience of more than five million since it began 1986.

Artistic Director Shelagh Magadza said, “After marking a major milestone in 2016 with our 30th anniversary, the 2018 programme looks to the future – inviting audiences to explore ground-breaking arts experiences made by some of the world’s most inventive artists. Opening with the free harbour spectacular A Waka Odyssey, in Wellington on 23 February, the themes of that event echo through the rest of the programme: epic journeys; a sense of discovery; home, and belonging – themes that are universal to all cultures, but it is wonderful to be able to use our own Pacific story as the starting point for connecting with the rest of the world.”

A headline series of what Shelagh calls ‘must-see’ theatre and dance leads the 2018 line-up.  The Select, an ingenious, riotous, stage adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises is brought to the Festival by New York theatre company Elevator Repair Service, famous for their riveting live productions of the texts of great American novels. Straight from a sell-out season at London’s National Theatre is the five-star musical Barber Shop Chronicles by writer-of-the-moment Inua Ellams – in which the audience is privy to the confessions made from the barber’s chair. Festival favourite and top choreographer Michael Keegan-Dolan returns, this time with his award-winning take on the ballet classic Swan Lake – a contemporary version mixing dance and theatre, filled with pathos, joy and plenty of feathers; while audiences will be captivated by Betroffenheit, a hybrid of theatre and dance that meditates on the aftermath of unexpected trauma, and ultimately searches out a place of comfort.

Barbershop Chronicles
And for something completely different, audiences can wash away the cares of the day with the mesmerizing movement and rumbling taiko drums in Beyond Time from Taiwan, a fusion of martial-arts inspired choreography and percussion, against a backdrop of stunning visual projections.

In music the Festival welcomes a roll-call of icons of today and tomorrow.  Opera star Anne Sofie von Otter and early music master Jordi Savall both have exclusive one-night-only concerts in Wellington, while indie rock band Grizzly Bear will play two shows at The Opera House.  One of the highlights of the 2016 New Zealand Festival was a series of sell-out gigs by Wynton Marsalis, so it was natural to invite his protegee and one of the biggest names in jazz right now, Cecile McLorin Salvant, for a Michael Fowler Centre one-nighter. Outside the concert hall is a three-week line-up of gigs, cabaret and circus in the Festival Club partnered by award-winning craft beer impresarios Garage Project; as well as a series of chamber music with works by Orava Quartet, Stephen de Pledge, Dylan Lardelli, Rob Thorne & New Zealand String Quartet in the stunning surrounds of the newly renovated St Mary of the Angels church.

For an extraordinary passion project which has been years in the planning, an ancient icon – the god Orpheus – is celebrated by New Zealand’s own icon of dance, arts laureate Michael Parmenter. The result is a new dance opera, OrphEus, performed by New Zealand Dance Company with live music from Latitude 37 and Grammy Award-winning American tenor Aaron Sheehan.

Furure Playground
Future Playground is an arts exhibition with a difference, where ‘Do Not Touch’ signs are nowhere to be seen, and everything is playable. Shelagh says, “We had great success with walk-through, immersive arts experiences like Power Plant at the Botanic Gardens and For the Birds out at Otari-Wilton’s Bush. Future Playground will be just as enchanting. Bring the kids or head to it for a fun night out with friends; you’ll encounter the creations of some of the world’s most imaginative artists who have crafted a wonderland of pure artful inspiration, where you make the magic.”

There’s plenty to keep the family entertained this Festival, with delightful circus from Vietnam, À Ố Làng Phố where woven baskets become trampolines and bamboo poles create a playground for daring acrobatics, and Star Wars fans will be out in force when New Zealand Symphony Orchestra perform legendary composer John Williams’ extraordinary film score to Star Wars: A New Hope alongside the movie, in a once-in-a-lifetime treat for New Zealand audiences.

David Byrne
Visit festival.co.nz to see the full programme.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Victoria Uni will host the 2016 Venice Bienniale installation at its art gallery.


Future Islands exhibition installed in Palazzo Bollani, Venice 2016,
Photo: David St George
Wellingtonians have their first opportunity to view the New Zealand exhibition from the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale when the Adam Art Gallery launches its final shows for the year on Friday.

It will be only the second time the installation Future Islands has been on public display in New Zealand since its premiere at the world-leading architectural event in Italy.

Gallery curator Stephen Cleland says exhibiting Future Islands is a “major coup” for the Victoria University of Wellington art gallery.

“Future Islands was designed specifically to showcase the depth of our national architectural scene at what has been described as ‘the Olympics of architecture’. As Wellington’s sole venue for this touring exhibition, it’s a fantastic opportunity for us to celebrate and share with visitors the best of contemporary New Zealand architecture.”

WOMAD NZ wins ‘Best National Event of the Year’ at the 2017 New Zealand Event Awards

WOMAD NZ has won the prestigious National Event of the Year’ at the inaugural 2017 New Zealand Event Awards presented last night at a gala ceremony at Sky City in Auckland.  They were nominated finalists for ‘Best National Event of the Year’ and the the public voted ‘Eventfinda / New Zealand’s Favourite Event of the Year’.

The Awards are hosted by the New Zealand Events Association (NZCEA) who was set up provide leadership and representation to inspire a world class events industry.  Nominees covered a wide range of different events from the Farmers Christmas parade to Lantern festivals to Shearing competitions to the World Masters games.  You can read all about the nominees and see a full list of winners on their website: https://nzea.co/awards/

WOMAD NZ’s Marketing and Communications Manager, Cleopatra Wood, was also named as a finalist in the ‘Emerging Event Professional’ category.  WOMAD is hosted by the Taranaki Arts Festival (TAFT). Their CEO Suzanne Porter said of this nomination “We are incredibly proud of our marketing manager, Cleopatra Wood, for her nomination. The calibre of finalists is a true testament to her great achievements working on WOMAD”. TAFT have been responsible for producing WOMAD at New Plymouth for 13 years.  The launch of the 2018 Festival programme will be at a special event to be held in Parliament next week. Previously announced artists for the 2018 festival include Los Angeles saxophonist, composer and jazz superstar KAMASI WASHINGTON, the Indian classical and progressive sitar virtuoso ANOUSHKA SHANKAR and classic Kiwi band DRAGON who will be joined by many more exciting and eclectic artists from across the globe.

Originally founded by Peter Gabriel, and now held at a number of locations around the planet, WOMAD is an internationally established three day festival brings together international artists to celebrate the world’s many forms of music, arts and dance. The New Zealand event is in the stunning 55-acre Brooklands Park and TSB Bowl of Brooklands, New Plymouth, WOMAD NZ has rightfully gained a reputation as one of the most beautiful outdoor festivals in the world.

WOMAD New Zealand 2018 is on at Brooklands Park, New Plymouth, from March 16 to 18. Tickets on sale from womad.co.nz

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Nobel prize in literature 2017: Kazuo Ishiguro

The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2017 is awarded to the English author Kazuo Ishiguro

"who, in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world".

Japan-born Ishiguro won the Man Booker Prize for the 1989 novel that was made into an Oscar-nominated movie. The Swedish Academy hailed his ability to reveal “the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world”.

Kazuo Ishiguro OBE FRSA FRSL (石黒 一雄; born 8 November 1954) is a Nobel Prize winning British novelist, screenwriter and short story writer. He was born in Nagasaki, Japan; his family moved to England in 1960 when he was five. Ishiguro graduated from the University of Kent with a bachelor's degree in English and Philosophy in 1978 and gained his master's from the University of East Anglia's creative writing course in 1980.



Ishiguro is considered one of the most celebrated contemporary fiction authors in the English-speaking world, having received four Man Booker Prize nominations and winning the 1989 award for his novel The Remains of the Day. His 2005 novel, Never Let Me Go, was named by Time as the best novel of 2005 and included in its list of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005. His seventh novel, The Buried Giant, was published in 2015. Growing up in a Japanese family in the UK was crucial to his writing, as he says, enabling him to see things from a different perspective to many of his British peers.

In 2017, the Swedish Academy awarded him the Nobel Prize in Literature, describing him in its citation as a writer "who, in novels of great emotional force, has uncovered the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world".

The works of Ishiguro, who moved to Britain as a young child, often touch on memory, time and self-delusion, the Academy said.

“He is a little bit like a mix of Jane Austen, comedy of manners and Franz Kafka. If you mix this a little, not too much, you get Ishiguro in a nutshell,” said Sara Danius, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy.

Ishiguro began to gain attention in the 1980s for works such as “A Pale View of the Hills” and won global fame for “The Remains of the Day,” a story of a fastidious and repressed butler in postwar Britain. The movie version starred Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson.

Ishiguro takes his place beside Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Doris Lessing and Ernest Hemingway as winner of the world’s most prestigious literary award.

Critics said the decision to give last year’s prize to Dylan was a snub to more deserving candidates and strayed beyond what is traditionally deemed literature.

The prize is named after dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel and has been awarded since 1901 for achievements in science, literature and peace in accordance with his will.

https://twitter.com/NobelPrize



Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Groove Books - Three great books from Publishers Austin MacCauley

The wonderful people at  Austin MacCauley have sent me three books to review.

An Artifact of Interest by Steve Rogers

The ploy on this one is fast and furious, perfect for a long train ride or a plane trip.  Summer hols are coming so get this one on your readership list.

The body of a young female anthropologist is found in the Australian outback.  Initially it was thought that it was an accident but it's not long before suspicions are aroused.  A murder investigation ensues and it transpires that the scientist has come across a mysterious artefact, on the evening before her death.  Could this item be the fatal cause? Because of the cleverly interwoven story, it would be unfair to break out the plot synopsis.  Spoilers are never tolerated.   But let's just say that  the twists and turns in this one are a little different to your average PD James.

This is not an Indiana Jones movie book.  On the surface, it does all seems like a Lara Croft game plot but I have to admit Rogers can really suck you in.  And so I must agree with others when I say this is a  'can't put down' read.  I was held to attention, just like an epic film until the last pages.


Click below for more and reviews on 'Praying For Strawberries' by Gail Simpkins and 'Downside Up' by Ron Prehn Palmer.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

The Groove Book Report - Two Steps Forward - By Graeme Simsion & Anne Buist Text Publishing $29.99

After hiking 2038 kilometres in 87 days in 2011, Anne Buist made a decision to worry less, write more.  Graeme Simsion picked up an abandoned screen script that became The Rosie Project, the international bestseller of late-blooming first love.  Six years later their path to personal reinvention has resulted in a collaboration, Two Steps Forward, a novel of mature love and self discovery set against the scenic backdrop of the pilgrims' walk.

If you hit Google, you'll bring up a pretty healthy list of literary couples.  You've got Percy and Mary Shelley; Virginia and Leonard Woolf; Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald and maybe even Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre. Of Course, we also have Katherine Mansfield and John Middleton.  But, curiously, none of these duos ever wrote and published a book together. Whether that was due to differing writing styles or maybe just too much ego in the room, either way cohabitation and co-writing is a pretty rare thing to find.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Graeme Simsion a few year's ago for Groove.  He is the internationally bestselling author of The Rosie Project, The Rosie Effect and The Best of Adam Sharp.  His partner, Anne Buist, is also an author (writing the Natalie King thriller series) - Both are published by Text. They live together in Melbourne.  Two Steps Forward is their first published collaboration.

The novel is structured into short, first-person chapters: the initial strand, entitled “Zoe”, is written by Buist, the second, entitled “Martin”, is written by Simsion. The two narrators alternate to tell the story of two middle-aged, middle-class strangers who embark on the 2000km pilgrimage — called the Camino — from Cluny in France to Santiago de Com­postela in Spain.

In 2010 The Way (an American drama film directed, produced and written by Emilio Estevez) was released starring his father Martin Sheen, Deborah Kara Unger, James Nesbitt, Yorick van Wageningen, and Renée Estevez.  It honoured the Camino de Santiago and promoted the traditional pilgrimage.  It was hugely popuar and inspired a great deal of 'walking' tourism in the region.  It has been said for centuries that walking “The Way’’ brings great positive, personal changes and an opportunity to reinvent oneself.
But for Biust's character, Zoe and Simsion's character, Martin walking is a personal and not so united experience.  She is grieving for her husband, who died only three weeks earlier.  Whilst he is recovering from a messy divorce and a strained relationship with his teenage daughter.

Martin is also motivated by another reason: he's engineered a prototype of a buggy designed specifically for long-distance walkers and plans to sell it to a German company. The 85 day/three-month journey is designed, in his mind at least, to test the efficacy of the buggy over rough terrain.

Right from the get-go it’s obvious that our two pilgrims are not the best matches - always the plot of the best RomCom's.  Zoe is a loud, upfront American (aren't they always?).  Martin is a reserved English gent.  She's a bit hippy-trippy and unsure if she truly wants to walk this trail.  Martin, on the other hand is an obsessive, over-prepared - he's even marked out his route on a GPS.  Zoe's on a limited budget and (at one point) must give massages to tourists to pay her way. He, on the other hand can afford fancy hotels and the best restaurants.  Like I said - perfect RomCom material.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Post Modern Jukebox – Wellington Opera House – 3 October 2017

On Tuesday night internet retro-sensations Post Modern Jukebox wrapped up their all singing-all dancing glittering showcase in the Capital to a maximum house and rapturous applause.  The well dressed, well-heeled mixed age crowd had really taken to he event, dressing in their best 1940's frocks and hairdos; some in twinset and pearls; some in tweed jackets; others in waistcoats and silk ties.  There were even a few highly waxed moustaches to be seen.   The place was packed, right up to the ‘Gods’, with nary a seat to be found.  Not that many were to stay in those seats for long.

"Wellington, How Ya Doin'" Shouted out the tall and very present Lavance Colley, who had settled himself in as compared for the night.  Right of the bat he introduces PMJ's 'heart throb', Vance Smith, who croons Broadway-style through a very sweet swing-version of Carly Rae Jepson's Call Me, Maybe.  Dressed in a skivvy, braces, tight trousers and a boater hat, all that was missing from his Mississippi Riverboat Showman garb was a striped blazer and cane.  He later gave us a fully theatrical version of Justin Timberlake's Cry Me A River, complete with falsettos, multiple octave changes and other theatrical twee embellishments.

The very suave Ms Sarah Niemietz may be the youngest and newest cast member (the longest serving being the fabulous Maiya Sykes, who's toured here four times, previously) but that didn't stop her belting out a fantastic version of Gloria Gaynor's 1978 disco hit I Will Survive - only the gal made it into a 1930's torch song dripping with sultry innuendos.  Marlene Dietrich would have been proud.  Her powerful, husky alto voice was absolutely stunning, and downright sexy to boot.  Dressed in flapper dress, short bob haircut and with gams the just won't quit she was the real deal!
Also on fire tonight was the show's spectacular tap dancer, Sara Reich.  Tap is a talent that pretty much goes under the radar, these days.  Ridiculed as something only the uncool kids do, Reichstag put on a show that proved she was certainly no geek.  The best part was her 'beats battle' with drummer Dave Tedeschi, who played out a number of d'n'b tattoos on Reich's tap-board and 'attempted' a few amateur stunts. Of his own  One of them almost ended in a disastrous crash into the front row.  In reply Reich tapped up a storm in reply, mixed with a bit of hip-hop and traditional tap dancing.  It's hard to really capture it all accurately on paper but suffice to say she was definitely one of the highlights of tonight! 

Lavance Colley/ Sarah Reich
Tap dancers are all part of the great PMJ show experience but I wonder what else they can bring to the stage.  Last year we had a really entertaining performance with Casey Abrams and Adam Kubota simultaneously playing the double bass during PMJ's signature covers tune All About The Bass.(Meghan Trainor).  Later, Abrams did a few tricks with an ironing board and a beer, purloined from the front of house bar. Perhaps future shows could include more of that zaniness, or maybe a few some jugglers and conjurers.  That would really liven things up.

I was very happy to see Maiya Sykes back.  This strong, soulful black female has an amazing range, almost overwhelming at times.  If she ever performed on one of those TV shows like The Voice the rest of the contestants would most likely quit in defeat.  Her intense rendition of Radiohead's Creep was simply sublime, scaling at least four octaves at times but full of pure, raw energy.  Spine-tingling.  That said, nothing can compare to her 'jazz' interpretation of a medley of Biggie Smalls' tunes (most notably Juicy) sung in the style of Ella Fitzgerald and Cassandra Wilson, complete with scat and yet more octave-defying gymnastics.

Also back is Hannah Gill.  She did a few numbers but most memorable was an upbeat swing version of Gotye's Somebody I Used To Know.  She delivered it with such confidence and passion that Kimbra would most definitely be rethinking her own version in a live act!

Hannah Gill
Perhaps less featured this time was our old friend Lavance Colley, who was happy to let the others do the bulk of the material by he did give us some gloriously camp falsettos on Adele's Halo.  This is a song that I Once had appreciated as a Pretty good pop tune but done Colley's way you can well imagine it being used in a remake of Pricilla Queen of the Desert.  Another highlight for me.
When I recently talked to Scott Bradlee in an interview, he confided that he doesn't like to tour, instead preferring to stay in LA, reworking the latest tunes and making YouTube clips.  Many of the performers featured end up going on tour.  At present, there are three tours in full swing - A European tour, a North American tour and an Asian Australasian tour, which was just winding up.  To fill in for Bradlee on that leg Logan Thomas took over the keys.  Like Bradlee himself, he's a quiet but exceptionally capable player who communicates mainly with dry quips, nods and the occasional facial expression.  He's part of the main team with musical director Adam Kubota ("The Bass Whisperer") and enfant terrible Dave Tedeschi (drums and misguided stunts).  Also helping out, a small brass section - Nick ("The Shark") Finzer on trombone and Chloe Feoranzo on sax and clarinet.  She also came down to the front to give us another Radiohead's tune and No Alarms No Surprises.  The surprise was her huge voice - coming as it was from her small, petite stature. 
Post Modern Jukebox are already an institution on the web.  They've built up a reputation of shows that showcase exceptional talent, performed in the tradition of those old-time variety musical shows - but with modern music.  

Hannah Gill / Maiya Sykes / Sarah Niemietz
There's something uniquely 'American' about their delivery.  So, I was surprised to see no mention of or references to the recent tragic events in Los Vegas or the passing of Tom Petty. PMJ's agenda chooses to transcend reality and their motives are pure and simple: to put of a show that will knock your socks off!  There are many artists that would have chosen to dwell on recent happenings but PMJ chose to remain timeless.  They wanted to bring hope and joy so if you look at it this was then their finale version of Taylor Swift's Shake It Off spoke volumes. 


PMJ's final encore number, Such Great Heights (The Postal Service) came with many bows, cheers and a mass group selfie that involved all the road crew and theatre personnel as well on the stage.  Once again, PMJ had delivered a night to remember.  Wrapping up, Colley promised that they'd be back again.  Here's hoping they will.

All photos by LeVic Visual / Ambient Light - http://www.ambientlightblog.com/


Monday, October 02, 2017

The Groove Book Review - Big Data: How The Information Revolution is Transforming Our Lives - By Brian Clegg (Allen & Unwin $22.99)

Big Data - Brian Clegg
It's hard to avoid 'big data' - but we've lived in an information age for decades. What's changed?

An easy to absorb tour of this transformative technology, finding out how big data enables Netflix to forecast a hit, CERN to find the Higgs boson and medics to discover if red wine really is good for you.

Less positively, we explore how companies are using big data to benefit from smart meters, use advertising that spies on you, and develop the gig economy, where workers are managed at the whim of an algorithm.

Is the Brexit vote successful big data politics or the end of democracy? Why do airlines overbook, and why do banks get it wrong so often? With big data unquestionably here to stay, a bright future beckons if we can embrace its good side while guarding against its bad. This book reveals how.

The first time I heard the term 'big data' was at an exhibition of ESRI GIS data whilst working at the Ministry for Environment on a Climate Change Project.  Large amounts of data was used not only to map the change of tree growth but also to map the change of land use over an entire country (NZ) for 150 years starting from the earliest survey results right up to measurements taken from satellites and drones only 3 weeks prior to the modelling exercise.  All big data, my friends.

Data has been with us since we first made marks on clay tablets, but big data takes information technology - and its impact on our lives - to a whole new level. The combination of four key pieces of tech - the internet, advanced computers, smartphones and sophisticated algorithms that manage and interpret huge flows of data has made our systems worryingly powerful.

The Groove Book Report - The Library - A Catalogue of Wonders - by Stuart Kells (The Text Publishing Company) $40.00

The Library - A Catalogue of Wonders
 - by Stuart Kells
Libraries are filled with magic. From the Bodleian, the Folger and the Smithsonian to the fabled libraries of middle earth, Umberto Eco’s medieval library labyrinth and libraries dreamed up by John Donne, Jorge Luis Borges and Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Stuart Kells explores the bookish places, real and fictitious, that continue to capture our imaginations.

This is a fascinating, engaging and really enjoyable exploration of libraries as places of beauty and wonder. It’s a celebration of books as objects and an account of the deeply personal nature of these hallowed spaces by one of Australia’s leading bibliophiles.

My 8 year old daughter thinks that Kells, She is herself, a book worm.  Her library is already threatening to eat our house.  My collection nearly has!  A leading Australian bibliophile, has THE DREAM JOB.  Starting at a young age he buys and sells rare books and first editions.  His collection puts him in touch with some of the most fascinating libraries, book shops and traders in the world.

For this book Kells goes on a tour of thousands of libraries. The result isn’t a punchline but in fact a book that mixes love with history and facts.  This volume draws together his scholarly essays on a range of different topics related to the storage of books, reading in general and different methods of communication through history and is an intriguing skip through the history books.  Along the way we discover places that are so much more than a mere storeroom.  They are shrines to the written word and publishing.  For many people libraries possess a heart and soul and are a delightful sanctuary, a solace and comfort.  They ARE civilization.

I always find it fascinating that despite the presence of Google and the internet Libraries and books still rock on.