Saturday, November 22, 2014

Magic Tones - Together we shall overcome 45



This gorgeous sweet soul tune is one of my faves right now. Here's some of the story behind this record.

From Soulful Detroit: "The Magic Tones rejoined forces with Mike [Hanks] and resuscitated his MAH'S label with a breath of well-timed opportunism. Their song, "Together, We Shall Overcome," was uncannily recorded just before the tragic assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, in April 1968, and thus coincided with the sense of despair and outrage that swept across America and around the world.

It's difficult to ascertain just how many copies sold, but it was a lot. Even though it doesn't have the dubious distinction of making Billboard's chart it was a red-hot song and lead singer Calvin Stephenson told me about his group's claim to fame: "We cut it at Magic City (studio on Grand River Avenue) on four track.

"We'd finished working on the tune, and the next day, that's when Martin got killed. I called Mike Hanks and said, 'Look, man, we got the perfect record for this situation.' He sent me down to United Sound and I mastered it. At the time Archer on Davidson was pressing 'em. We put it out the next day and (record store owner) Coachman was the first one to play it on his amplification (system) on the street.

"That's how the record got going. He called Mike and said, 'Man, I'm selling 'em as fast as I can get 'em!' My understanding is it sold 100,000 in the Detroit metropolitan area. Mike was making money distributing them himself."



Mr. Ed Wingate, the wealthy owner of Ric-Tic Records, had the song re-pressed in the hope of making it an even bigger hit. But things didn't live up to expectations, chiefly because Mike didn't do the deal until a couple of months after Dr King's death, by which time the tune was effectively out-of-date.

The Ric-Tic distributed pressing has a different B-side to the poignant and beautiful balled, "Fun To Be Young," which has Calvin Stephenson leading soulfully on the deceivingly jaunty title. This second release has a Northern Soul flavored song - "It's Better To Love" - on the flip, and these two songs were originally released on each side of a Solid Hit label 45 in 1967: a super-rare piece of Detroit vinyl.

The Magictones on all these sessions were Calvin Stephenson - who later joined the Undisputed Truth, Tyrone Barkley - who went on to cut a thumping record on the local Midsong label, ex-Baron Tyrone Douglas and Paul Willis..."


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Ron Moody and the Centaurs - The New Breed 45



I recently picked up this great 45 and looked up the story behind it. It travelled from Richmond, Virginia to the northern soul scene... It marks the one and only vinyl recording officially released by this band, although they reportedly have unreleased live recordings.

Ron Moody interviewed by 60sgaragebands.com:

60s: Where and when was Ron Moody and the Centaurs formed?

Ron Moody: "The band was formed during the height of the British Invasion in 1964. We were junior high kids (now called middle school). We attended Brookland Junior High in Richmond, Virginia. The original members numbered five (no horns at the time). We were all classmates and neighborhood friends.

60s: What were the circumstances leading up to the recording of "If I Didn't Have A Dime"?

RM: "The great Gene Pitney originally recorded this song as a ballad. In the Southeast, there is a musical genre called "Beach Music". It is not to be confused with West Coast Surf Music. It is rooted in Rhythm and Blues and is indicative of Southern party bands in the 1960's (think of Animal House and that's the music we made!).

"There was a Carolina band called Bob Collins and The Fabulous Five who had reworked the song into more of a shuffle. We took that concept, changed it still more and added horns. By now we had a full blown horn section: sax, two trumpets and trombone.

"We picked an old obscure Jimmy Holiday tune called "The New Breed" for the B-side. The B-side is still a big song in England and is considered “Northern Soul", which is more or less the British counterpart of our "Beach Music".

"We borrowed $600 and found a studio outside of Baltimore. We drove up on a Sunday in March of 1969 and cut the two sides.

"The engineer was a young George Massenberg, who subsequently went on to worldwide fame as an engineer, audio equipment designer and producer.

"I remember being pretty much intimidated since this was my first attempt at recording under true professional circumstances. We were pleased with the results and proceeded home having no idea as to how the effort would be received."



from Mark Windle's It's Better To Cry blog:

Ron Moody: "New Breed was actually our choice for the A side, but Dime took off in the US. The Centaurs played all over south east US. We were still in high school and college for much of that period, so extensive travel was somewhat limited to the southern region, particularly Virginia and the Carolinas.

"Our first public appearance was as an opening act for Bill Deal and the Rhondels at college in Richmond, VA on January 15, 1965. We played every type of venue available, from outside festivals, big halls, private country club shows, high school proms, to college fraternity parties....and everything in between! We played with many of the area and regional bands of the day and opened for national acts including the Drifters, Jackie Wilson, the Impressions, Billy Stewart, and Percy Sledge. "

Ron himself has spent 35 years in sales and marketing with ABC/Dunhill, Polygram, and Universal. He also continues with his song writing and has produced material for several beach and soul acts including Paul Craver, the Holiday Band and Archie Bell. Ron Moody and the Centaurs continue to tour today."

Monday, November 17, 2014

Real Groovy turns thirty three and a third


"LP records spin at 33 1/3 rpm and on Saturday November 22nd Real Groovy turns 33 and a 1/3rd years old. In a year where the vinyl revival is stronger than ever we're celebrating our 33 1/3 rd birthday with a very special day in-store by:

1. Releasing A Day In My Mind's Mind, a double LP compilation of seminal NZ Pop/Psych from the late 60's, early 70's, all lovingly remastered for vinyl, in a gatefold sleeve with expansive liner notes detailing the time and place and history.

2. Presenting live in-store performances from four of the original vocalists featured on the album, backed by local retro rockers The Situations.

3. Offering on limited edition vinyl for the first time the chart-topping debut album We Rise from powerhouse Hamilton rock act, Devilskin, along with the new Live at the Powerstation CD+DVD set.

4. Welcoming Devilskin to perform a short live set.

5. Gathering together a handful of our favourite people to DJ and keep the party going.

Come out and see us on Saturday 22nd November at 438 Queen Street from 9am to 7pm and help us celebrate this numerical coincidence

Live Music Schedule
Starting at 2.00pm
Situations...Rock n Roll Jimbo (their new single)
Ray Woolf....Little Things That Happen
Gregg O'Donnell from The Music Convention...Belly Board Beat
Gregg O'Donnell from The Music Convention...Footprints On My Mind
John Ellis from The Spectres...Anything You Like
Glyn Tucker from The Gremlins...Blast Off 1970
Bill Ward from The Human Instinct....A Day In My Mind's Mind (with Ray Morgan from The Principals on flute)

Starting at 4.00pm - Devilskin

Guest DJs include:
12.00pm-1.00pm Jacinda Adern (MP)
1.00pm-2.00pm Paul Martin (Devilskin)
3.00pm-4.00pm Nathan Hickey (Beastwars)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Tuxedo just do it



Stonesthrow Records say: 'Tuxedo emerged last year with three tracks of smooth, synth-heavy, disco funk, and accompanied by no information whatsoever about the group except a greeting – "Tuxedo is here! Stay classy." Some speculate that this is the work of Mayer Hawthorne and Jake One. 

Judging by Hawthorne's cameo in this new video for "Do It" we might assume either that the rumors are correct, or that he has moved into the valet industry.'

There are a couple more tracks to listen to over on their website, tuxedofunk.com.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Secret stash o soul mix



I've been buying a bunch of 45s lately, so here's a wee mix of em. Some old 45s, and some brand new recordings from Minneapolis label Secret Stash, including a great cover of Sugarman by Sonny Knight and the Lakers, check em out. Enjoy!

Monday, November 10, 2014

RIP Soane

Soane Filitonga


Well known Auckland DJ Soane (aka Soane Filitonga) passed away at the weekend, of a heart attack. He was in his early 40s.

I first came across Soane when he was one of the doormen at Box/Cause Celebre in High St. He was one of the very cool Polynesian bros on the door there, as King Kapisi recalled... "I was brother B, Manuel Bundy was brother M, and he was brother S. Over 20 years ago, I arrived in Auckland and met one of the most nicest poly brothers on the door with Rosetti (rip), Siaosi Junior Tagaloa down at the box. All of my Gifted & Brown Welli family will always love our brother Soane, for all the good times, fond memories and solid "poly brothership" that we found from a young Tongan when we were so far from home."

Soane moved to Sydney in 1995 to pursue DJing, and returned in 97, taking up an influential DJ residency at Calibre, up on K Rd.

Audioculture's bio of Soane notes that "Born in the village of Vava'u in Tonga, Soane Filitonga was a pioneering DJ and dance producer based in Auckland who had substantial success both in New Zealand and in the UK dance scenes between 1998 and the mid-2000s.

A doorman at Roma [in the Civic theatre basement] and Box/Cause Celebre nightclubs in Auckland in the late 1980s and early 1990s, he was also spinning records as DJ Big Daddy by 1993 with a regular Sunday residency at Cause Celebre in 1994, having begun playing various parties around Auckland in 1989.

.... Calibre was the club of the moment and Soane was quickly the club’s superstar DJ. He was taken under the wing of the visiting DJ/producers from Manchester’s very hip Paper Recordings and Blackpool’s Shaboom Records and encouraged to write and produce.

Soane would release three singles for the label over the next two years – ‘Go Master’, ‘Herringbone’ and ‘Saxy Beast’ (the last with Dick Johnson). Each entered the UK club charts.

Soane also released three singles as a member of Troffman, with Englishmen Ben Davis and Dick Johnson, for the UK label Shaboom including ‘Le Saucier’, a big British club hit in 2000, with a Greg Churchill and Peter Van der Fluit remix on the B-side.

Soane toured the UK and France in 1999 and again in 2000, still finding time to remix DLT, Che Fu and King Kapisi for single release in New Zealand.

A DJ mix album In Music released by the label of the same name in 2002 was followed two years later by Soane’s first full album New Zealand release Tongan Chic, released by In Music in 2004, and partially funded by Red Bull.

Co-produced by Luke Tomes and Dick Johnson, the album was critically well received and included the single ‘Where Do We Go?’ with vocals from Anthony Gold (Anthony Ioasa), a substantial Auckland club and radio hit that year. The album also included vocal contributions from Sisters Underground's Hassanah Iroegbu, Boh Runga and Tha Feelstyle."





In a 2004 interview with Stephen Jewell for NZ Musician, Soane said that "... the defining moment was when I was working the door of The Box / Cause Celebre and standing at the top or the bottom door between the two rooms.

"There would be this 'oomph oomph' coming out of The Box but every now and again, someone would walk out of Cause Celebre and they'd be tinges of jazz filtering through over the top of the 'oomph oomph.' I'd be like 'this is amazing!' I was exposed to some really great music and great musicians.

"I used to hang around in Celebre as well because I was friends with Nathan and that. I remember before samplers had come out, Nathan and I would go into the studio and make loops off records, put them onto DAT and take the DAT player down to the club. Manuel Bundy would be in the booth and I'd be sitting there with a DAT player. I'd play the DAT with the backing track and then the band would come out and jam over the top of it. Then Nathan would cut the backing track and the band would play on."

ADDED 
TVOne News: 'Founding father' of Auckland hip hop, dance scenes dies
NZ Herald: Veteran Auckland club DJ Soane mourned

Soane - All I Need, feat Tha Feelstyle, Boh Runga, and Manuel Bundy...




Soane interviewed for tv show Tagata Pasifika, 2002...






RayCalver: RIP Soane Filitonga. Legend of house music, master on the decks and a nice guy.

Soane with Dick Johnson
Soane with Dick Johnson. Photo: Ray Carver



From NZ Herald notices: "FILITONGA Watkins, Soane Maimiso (Soane) Born 24-02-1971. Passed away on 09-11-2014. Soane Maimiso Filitonga Watkins peacefully passed away on Sunday, November 9th, 2014 at his home in Takapuna, Auckland. Adored father of Sesilia, loved partner of Nikki, beloved son of the late Ana and Teluo Filitonga, cherished brother of Sesilia, Maimiso, Siaosi, Sharyn, Sameini, Yoko, Lisa, Mikio and Leiko and all the fanau. Much loved family member of Esther and the Watkins family. Funeral service will be at St Benedicts Church, 1 St Benedicts Street, Auckland on Friday 14th November 2014 at 1:30 pm...."
Published in The New Zealand Herald from Nov. 12 to Nov. 13, 2014

Fulgeance & DJ Scientist 7




Via First Word Records: "The debut 7" from Fulgeance & DJ Scientist is now shipping! We had a little delay with the manufacture but they will be winging their way out of FWHQ from Monday morning! You can pick up your copy right here.

For those that don't already know, Scientist is renowned as one of Germany's most prolific record collectors. Trawling through his extensive collection he dug out a haul of rare samples for Fulgeance, MPC virtuoso and one half of Souleance, who transformed the source material into one of the most exciting projects on our label so far.

The full album 'The Soviet Tape' is out in early December - until then, get a slice of Moscow Nightlife comrades!"

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Ring The Alarm playlist, Nov 8



John Gibbs and the US Steel Orchestra - J'Ouvert - Lord Echo Re-edit
James White and the Blacks - Contort yourself - August Darnell remix
ESG  - Moody (spaced out)
Kid Creole and the coconuts - I'm a wonderful thing baby
Gwen Guthrie - Seventh heaven
Myron and E - Do it disco - Tom Noble remix
Rare earth - Big John is my name
The Pharaohs -The Pharaohs love y'all
Magic tones - Together we shall overcome
Isley Bros - Behind the painted smile
Len Barry - Bullseye
Impressions - Taking bout my baby
Bobby Moore - Hey Mr DJ
Linda Jones - Just can't live my life
Ron Moody and the centaurs - The new breed
David T Walker - Lay lady lay
Third coast kings - High tops
Bergendy - Tramp - Peter Mac edit
Bullwackies allstars - Boma ye dub
Prince Douglas - Jam love dub
Big Youth - Jim screechy - Smith and Mighty remix
Born Jamericans - Yardcore
DLT - Poison - Mario C remix inst
Tiger - Who planned it
Mo kolours - Little brown dog
Mandrill - Ali bombaye I & II
Candido - Candido's funk
Collie Buddz - Hustle
Bitty Maclean - Single barrel
Dream warriors - Wash your face in my sink
Quincy Jones - Soul bossa nova

Thursday, November 06, 2014

J-Star goodie bag



Wee sonic goodie bag from UK's J-Star, heading our way in early 2015 as part of the lineup for Splore. Check his Tooting Gangsta mashup, still good.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Funk, Soul and Afro Rarities : An Introduction to ATA Records



Go have a listen to the 5 preview tracks up online now, astonishingly funky UK bizznizz...

"With The Harmony Society's sleaze funk, The Lamplighters sounding like a cross between Isaac Hayes and Roy Budd, The Mandatory Eight with their Kool And The Gang horns and The Sorcerers amazingly sounding like Ethiopian Jazz, all very much ahead of its time. Plus throw sitar into the equation and just about all funk boxes are ticked.... 

...The story of this label  is set in the heart of the North of England, in the Yorkshire city of Leeds, where ATA's boutique analog studio spent years developing it's sound to create a vast, rich catalog of soulful music which utilised the handsome wealth of local musical talent and boasted a recording output to rival that of it's New York and Detroit contemporaries

The 12 recordings on this compilation encapsulate the high quality playing, performing and production which sealed the burgeoning reputation that ATA was gaining within Leeds and wets the appetite as to what the label could have achieved in the greater musical landscape of that period, both domestically and internationally.

Here & Now Recordings are overwhelmingly humbled to be able to share such a rich slice of UK Funk and Soul history with you where a commitment to carefully restore the material with similar 1960s and 1970s analog instruments and equipment was both a logical duty and personal pleasure."

Out Nov 10 on vinyl/CD/digital thru Here & Now Recordings

Mr Scruff - Ninja Tune "A really good, sleazy collection. The Reverend Barrington is a particular favourite, a slinky & sleazy monster, like a slightly wrigglier JBs"

Quinton Scott - Strut Records "Sounds great. Love the Sorcerers Ethio vibes !"

Kon - BBE "Sounding like Mulatu meets David axelrod... heavy !"

Monday, November 03, 2014

Māori HiFi drop compilation



Features Mara TK (Electric Wire Hustle), B-Haru  (Ladi6, @Peace), Morning Steppa, Choice Vaughn, DJ Spell, TDK... name your price.

"The Maori HiFi is a collective of like-minded DJs who have come together to tautoko (support) each-other in their individual endeavours."

Friday, October 31, 2014

Top ten kiwi post-run craft beers



Here's a guest post from Vera Alves, who blogs about running at Super Generic Girl and keeps track of her craft beer addiction enthusiasm over at Untappd. Here are her top ten kiwi post-run (and pre-run and - sure, why not? - mid-run) craft beers.

"I first discovered that beer was my favourite post-run beverage when I started running the Xterra races and getting the free Speights at the end of each of them. I’m pretty sure the beer sped up muscle recovery and all that other stuff.

(This is probably a good time to let you know I’m not a doctor.)

Fast forward to the beginning of this year when, while catching up with a fellow trail runner and beer lover over a bottle or three, I downloaded a smartphone app called Untappd. 

From that day onwards, I’ve made it my mission to try as many delicious craft beers as I can. I’ve been dedicating far too many hours to this new, hmm, “skill”, which I’m hoping one day will be more valuable than my education (that’s not saying much - I’ve got a journalism degree).

Last week, while in Wellington to speak at a kickass running event, I took the opportunity to visit a few craft beer spots I keep hearing about. There, I hit my 500th distinct beer tried this year, with many of them having been celebratory beers after particularly good runs (or particularly bad runs or, you know, just any run).

My running stats will never look as good as my beer drinking stats but you take what you can get.

It wasn’t until I discovered Untappd and turned my phone into my Untappd device which occasionally receives calls (but please don’t call me - it wastes battery that could otherwise be used to log beers) that I left the realms of mass produced cheap chemical stuff and entered the beautiful naturally-flavoured universe of craft beer. 

I’m now one of those snobs who wouldn’t be caught dead with a bottle of Heineken (unless it’s free because I’m a freelancer and can’t afford higher standards).

I’m pretty sure beer is the perfect recovery drink after a long run. If you don’t believe me (and you probably shouldn’t), believe science. A number of studies have shown the same thing. Beer has electrolytes, carbs and deliciousness - everything you need to recover from a strenuous workout. Sure, alcohol dehydrates you a bit and slows down the recovery time - but at least you’re recovering with a beer. (Again, remember how I’m not a doctor?)



If, like me, you love both beer and running, you might also be always on the lookout for a new post-run beverage to try. There’s some seriously good stuff out there and you don’t even need to look further than New Zealand craft breweries to find some pretty perfect post-run beers.
In no particular order, because I love them all probably more than I should, these are my current top ten kiwi craft beers to enjoy after a long run:


Epic Hop Zombie
The Epic Pale Ale was my first craft beer so I have a soft spot for any Epic beers. It helps that they’re all delicious. I wouldn’t recommend some of their stronger ones straight after a run but if you haven’t had an Epic Imperium, you have not lived.

Hallertau #2 - Statesman
The Statesman is my favourite Hallertau post-run beer because it’s really (dangerously) easy to drink. Hallertau gets bonus points for having the brewery located right near Riverhead Forest, one of the best places to run in the universe. And they know that beer and running are a match made in heaven, which is why they sponsor local trail running event Riverhead Rampage.

Liberty C!tra

The good folk at Liberty Brewing are yet to release a beer I haven’t loved. This Imperial IPA is a 5-star beer with lots going on. The citrus aroma could almost fool you into thinking you’re rehydrating with fruit juice but then the explosion of hops kicks you in the gut and reminds you that nope, there’s no juice here. Just a damn fine beer.

Tuatara APA

I’m getting really thirsty writing up this list. Tuatara is another one of those reliable kiwi breweries. You can pick up any of their bottles and be sure you’ll be adding another beverage to your list of favourites. Their Double Trouble is a 5-star beer but too strong as a running beer so I’m going to recommend the APA because you should drink their APA, before and after any workout. And even if you don’t work out at all.

Garage Project Texas Tea

There’s a special place in heaven for the people who started Garage Project. I actually just want to tell you to drink all of their beers because they’re all amazing but, since I have to choose one, I’m going to go with Texas Tea. I tried it recently and was amazed by the subtlety of flavours that you never even expect to be subtle (stuff like habanero chilli and pears). It comes in a can so gets extra cool points for that. But, seriously, drink all their beers. Drink them now.

Croucher ANZUS IPA Nuclear Free

Croucher Brewing always brings back memories of training for the Tarawera Ultramarathon in Rotorua and heading to the pub down there for a few locally brewed drinks. Their ANZUS IPA is, by far, my absolute favourite, brewed with New Zealand, American and Australian hops - a beer to unite us all. Cheers to that.

Yeastie Boys Digital IPA

Ah, Yeastie Boys, where do I start with these guys? Their name takes me back to teenage years (I can’t be the only one who gets “Intergalactic” stuck in her head when she sees their name). It is a seriously good combination of all the right malts and hops (by now you’ve realised I’m partial to IPAs) and, bonus, it’s a beer that these fine people dedicated to Joseph Wood from Liberty Brewing. I love that shit. And, like with everything else, I think this is where craft beer and trail running have a lot of crossover - everyone in the area helping each other, regardless of competition. I’ll drink to that any day.

Panhead Supercharger APA
Back when I ran my first ultramarathon earlier this year, I asked Nick at Brothers Beer to suggest an appropriate beer to drink at the finish line of the event. He told me to drink a Panhead Port Road Pilsner and that started my love affair with this brewery. None of their beers have disappointed me since then (go try a Black Sabbath right now and then come back and tell me if I’m not right in my love for them). Their Supercharger is definitely one of those how-can-anyone-not-love-it brews.

Mata Manuka

The only golden ale to make the list is another one of those really good session beers that won’t knock you out. The manuka flavour makes it slightly sweeter than your average ale and makes for a super smooth easy-drinking beer.

Behemoth Chur!
Chur! is another one of those trustworthy beers you can drink without fear. It’s got just the right amount of hops to be the perfect session beer and enough fruitiness to make it interesting. If you finish your run at a pub that stocks Chur!, order it. Actually, order two.

There are so many amazing kiwi craft beers out there, sticking to ten is really difficult and I’m sure I’ll be wanting to update this list very soon.

Do you have a favourite New Zealand craft beer I should try? TELL ME! And are you running the Auckland Marathon this weekend and celebrating with a beer? You should. Also, if that’s the case, good luck, you badass mofo."

Early Clover & The Georgia Soul Drifters

Early Clover and the Georgia Soul Drifters

"Record Kicks proudly presents 2 incredibly hard to find and super hot deep funk & cross-over soul pearls out of Macon, Georgia on a super limited edition 45.

Recorded at Phil and Alan Walden's Capricorn Studios and produced by Tad Bush, "Freedom" and "Think it Over" by Early Clover & The Georgia Soul Drifters were originally released in 1977 on a super scarce 45 by legendary "northern soul" label Dove Records.

The original 45 is simply impossible to find and currently is a super in-demand spin on both rare soul and funk dancefloors. 

Born in 1953 in Dublin Georgia, Early Clover formed his band at the age of 16 and later went on to become the opening act for some of the hottest names in the south of USA, such as Betty Wright, The Temptations, The Marvellettes and Tyrone Davis. 

In the 70s became the road band and back up for William Bell, Rufus Thomas, and Joe Simon to name a few and collaborated with James Brown in writing techniques of songs. Currently relocated in Las Vegas, Early Clover is still very active. This is a strictly limited to 600 Copies so don't sleep on it... essential spin!" 

Out November 10 on 45/digital, preview below...


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Soulfest snapped

I arrived at Soulfest at Western Springs Stadium last Sunday (Oct 26) to the sounds of Wellington's Bella Kalolo, and managed to catch the last half of her set. She was in fine voice and her band was tight - in short, she killed it. She told the crowd how happy she was to be there - "I'm so excited to see the other people! I see myself every day, y'know, so that's not so exciting!"

Soulfest. Photo: Grant Apiata. Click on photo to enlarge

DJ TDK stepped up to play some tunes, then Aaradhna and her band took to the stage. She chose to start with a slow ballad, which sapped some energy from proceedings. Then she introduced the song 'Downtown', saying she put it out when she was real young, like 19. She said "If you know the words, sing along, and if you don't just pretend, you do!"

She covered Take another little piece of my heart (Janis Joplin) and funked it up - it grooved, in  a pleasant enough way. And then her band flipped it to a reggae skank - clever move. Aaradhna closed with Wake up, her band rendered P-Money's crisp production into something a bit bland, really. Then they skank it up at the end.

DJ LoKey steps up and gets on the mic and tells the crowd he's gonna play some of his favourite soul records from his collection, and drops Sade - Love is stronger than pride. Nice one, bro!

Musiq Soulchild, Soulfest. Photo:Grant Apiata

Musiq Soulchild and his band hit the stage, ten minutes later than the scheduled time. The key thing I got from his set was how much he got the crowd to sing his songs for him. He even started one song and got the crowd to sing most of the first verse. Do some work, bro!

He used his own music videos as a visual backdrop on the video wall at the back of  the stage. He ripped into some long, sustained, soulful notes mid-set, incredible range. He picked up the tempo late set and raised the energy. The crowd loved him.

A word about the crowd - everyone there seemed really happy to be there, to get to see their favourite artists. I didn't see any aggro all day, everyone was super excited. It was an excellent vibe.

DJ Reminisce cut and scratched up a storm, the crowd dug him A LOT. KC and the Sunshine Band, George Benson, Billie Jean, Midas Touch, all the jams.

Angie Stone, Soulfest. Photo: Grant Apiata. Click on photo to enlarge

I was really looking forward to seeing Angie Stone, and she did not disappoint. She arrived seven minutes late (none of the international acts hit the stage at their scheduled time), and played I want to thank ya, and then she started rapping! Damn, Angie B! Then she went to a break down, with some mad funky keyboard bassline, a la P-Funk.

She played a song off her latest album, for the 1st time on this tour, called Guilty. Both her female backing vocalists (Paula Champion and Shameia Crawford) took solo spots and were amazing. She dedicates a song for all the brothers, and thanks the kings (Maxwell, D'Angelo, Common, etc) sharing the tour with her.

Stone closes with I wish I didn't miss you - she starts the song, then tells her band to hold up, and says she met this young woman backstage (Pani), who was crying, as she was supposed to sing backing vocals for one of the earlier local groups, and she'd arrived late, so Angie said "Let's bring her on out. In fact bring the other girls too."

So, Pani, Bella Kalolo, and Aaradhana, all join Angie Stone onstage and gather round a mic, doing extra BVs. Angie then beckoned them to join her centre stage. She then told off Radz and Bella for taking selfies while up there.

Angie says shes going on vacation, and asks the crowd and Radz and co if they want to come? Cos she's going right now! So Angie says we're off to Jamaica, and her band slip into a reggae skank, while Angie sings "Me can't sleep, me can't eat anymore..." So dope.

Next vacation destination, says Angie, is... Puerto Rico...and then her band salsa it up, which inspires some great spontaneous dancing from Pani, see the clip below... incredible set.





DJ09 followed, and then we got Anthony Hamilton and his band (15 minutes late). He had a hard act to follow, as his three backing vocalists ran onstage, hyping the crowd. The first 30 seconds only had the onstage sound, til someone turned on the PA out front.

The first couple of songs were high energy, lots of super cool choreographed stage moves from Hamilton and nearly all his band. They were hugely entertaining.

Hamilton wrapped up with a stomping uptempo gospel number, featuring stunning solos from his backing vocalists, and extra tambourines from Angie Stone and band, watch below.





Hamilton thanked the crowd and makes his exit, then the band wrap up the song, and stay onstage, looking at each other. Hamilton comes back out - turns out he had time for one more song. He and his band had such great energy, they were a joy to watch. True showmen.

DJ's Hudge and T-Rice filled the next DJ slot, while we waited for Yasiin Bey aka Mos Def. His stage set took hardly any time to set up - two DJs - but he still arrived 15 minutes late.

While his DJs played a funky afrobeat tune, Mos Def casually strolled onstage scattering red and white rose petals onto the stage, from out of his hat. Freaky.

He rapped, sang, and crooned, and used the video wall to show the classic hiphop film Wildstyle. He played Ms Fat Booty, Travellin Man and Umi Says, and even threw in some Biggie. Not particularly engaging as a performer, but the fans in the crowd loved him. He closed by coming back out with bunches of roses to throw to the crowd. Flower power.

DJ Manuel Bundy played next, and did a utterly superb job holding it down between these two hiphop heavyweights. Respect to the don.


Common, in the middle of the crowd, Soulfest. Photo: Grant Apiata. Click on photo to enlarge

Common came running out, spitting rhymes as if his life depended on it. Dude meant business. He was joined by two DJs, a female backing singer, and a keys player.

He told the crowd he was very glad to be here, and it was his first time in New Zealand. Ah, hang on bro, I saw you at the Big Day Out back in January 2006, you even did some breaking and pulled off with a backspin. But the BDO organisers did put you on mid afternoon, so no surprise you may have forgotten it [Fat Freddys Drop came on after].

What about your surprise guest spot with Kanye West in March 2006 at the St James, ring any bells? Nope? Ah well... good to have you back, bro.

He jumped into the crowd, climbed up on the barrier, he was into it. Then he called a young lady named Talita out of the audience up onto the stage and sat her on a stool  and leaned in and sang Come Close to her, while every female in the crowd shot daggers at her. Then he danced with her. She swooned.

His set took in The Corner, Go, The Light, and he brings out Anthony Hamilton for a few songs. I spied Mos Def watching Common's set from the DJ booth, standing by Che Fu, who was readying himself for his DJ set.

Then next thing, Mos Def casually strolls onstage, and starts rhyming with Common. Damn, it was good. Mos Def seemed more lively than during his own set, like having another rapper to work off energised him - his own set never got past laidback, energy-wise. Then Common drops a freestyle, and manages to mention Queen st and K Rd, and Soulfest approves, loudly.

Common, Soulfest. Photo: Grant Apiata

Common tells the crowd "It all started with the DJ, the DJ..." and gives his two DJs their own spot, to cut and scratch up a storm, on Billie Jean, and then Ten Crack Commandments.

He wraps up his set by introducing each band member, as they then exit the stage, preceded by an elaborate handshake with Common. Then it's just Common and the backing beats, and that abruptly gets cut off. How rude. He tells the crowd "Even tho they cut our music off, you can never turn off the music in our hearts. Thank you."

Then as he exits, I see him walk back out, grab a mic stand and turn round, and it gets heated side of stage for a second, terse words appear to be exchanged, before Common's crew hustle him away from the stage crew giving him heat. He may have finished 25 mins late, but cutting his music off was disrespectful.

Che Fu DJed next, playing Team Dynamite's Coconut Lime, and singing his part too. He dropped Dam Native's The Son (and sang that), and Chains (sang that). Great songs, great singer. Shot, Che! Shame you had to listen to D'Angelo's drummer soundcheck over your set.

D'Angelo, with Jesse Johnson far left, Soulfest. Photo:Grant Apiata

D'Angelo's band started 27 minutes late - his crew seemed to take a long time soundchecking all the mics. D'Angelo entered and went and sat at a keyboard at the back of the stage, and sang into a mic that wasn't working. The sound eventually came right, and he hooked into some jazzy, soulful numbers, after a dreadful sludge psychedelic rock workout, featuring his guitarist, Jesse Johnson (The Time).

He played Left & Right and One Mo Gin, and finished the set, then came back out fro a brilliant version Untitled - How Does It Feel, with band members exiting one by one and D'Angelo back behind the keys, playing, not singing, as the BVs carried the song.

Finally it was just D'Angelo and his bass player Pino Palladino left onstage (shout out to my bass don dadas who went to Soulfest just to see Pino), and then Pino exited and it was just D'Angelo, who then sang a few more lines, and said good night (see 2nd clip below for how that unfolds  I found two clips but both have been taken down by Sony). It was a stunningly intimate moment for such a big scale event. And he pulled it off.

D'Angleo finished at 9.29, one minute before Maxwell was scheduled to play. He hit the stage at 10. DJ Reminisce was due to play after D'Angelo and was standing behind the turntable ready to go, but the organisers left the bro hanging, choosing instead to play some piped low volume, low energy dirge music thru the PA, which killed the vibe a bit. Bad call.

Maxwell hit the stage, coming on after a remix of Aint No Sunshine from Bill Withers played out over the PA. He was super slick, in his sharp white suit. The rain that had been threatening all day finally made an appearance, and started a light drizzle.

I managed 4 songs, then took that rain as my cue to bail. Hard to top D'Angelo, really. Saw a clip of Maxwell telling the crowd at the close of the set, "I really liked being down under ... It doesn't smell as bad as I thought it might!" Cheeky sod.

It had been a great day. Thanks, Soulfest. Let's do that again next year! The food selection was good and quick, the bar queues were long but seemed to move reasonably quickly, and the venue wasn't oversold.

For a first time, it worked pretty well. Apart from the problematic timing/scheduling issues, with acts starting late. That needs addressing. Feeling like you are missing out your fave songs by an artist cos it's running late is a bit crap. And no sign of the free CBD buses, despite a large sign outside the venue pointing to where they were supposed to be. Just a line of taxis, blocking the road.


General feedback I saw on Twitter and Facebook after the event seemed overwhelmingly positive, with many folks raving about what a great day it was (unlike the Australian shows, which attracted a raft of criticism online from attendees). And this person...


Good news - her Dad let her go to Soulfest. Winning!


I was standing not far behind this girl with her sign, but only ever saw the back of it. Turns out the front said this...

photo: Mya

Via MiaFM, from the end of Soulfest: "Watch as Stan Walker, Wairangi Koopu, Ria Hall and more come together backstage with a haka for Angie Stone, Anthony Hamilton, Mos Def, D'Angelo, Maxwell, and Common." Apparently Stan Walker later admitted that he split his trousers during this, and was going commando at the time. Doh.




MORE: 
Smooth premiere for Auckland's Soulfest - Stuff.co.nz review by Shabnam Dastgheib
Concert review: SoulFest, Western Springs - NZ Herald review by Lydia Jenkin
Soulfest: ayebro.co.nz review
Soulfest: thewireless.co.nz review


Both NZH and Stuff reviewers commented on Common's set getting cut short, and on D'Angelo's physical appearance.

The Stuff reviewer also apparently didn't read the schedule, failing to notice there were DJs between acts, claiming there were "such long and silent set changes between a few of the acts ... A lack of MCing between artists left the crowd to entertain themselves - it would have been good to see some music or some activity on the stage during the set-ups to keep the energy going." UM, WHAT? 

I heard DJ LoKey on the mic several times, an MC from MaiFm came onstage to do some giveaways to the crowd at one point, and Che Fu was on the mic during his DJ set. Maybe the reviewer was too far away from the stage to see the DJs?

From Australia, a report on the chequered history of Soulfest's Australian promoter, John Denison. 


I pulled together a playlist of Soulfest Akld live clips...  enjoy!

Nathan Haines x P-Money



Nathan Haines drops a new album 5 A Day, on November 28. This tune is a P-Money beat. Other producers on the album include Marc Mac (4Hero) and Mike Patto. Guest vocalists include Vanessa Freeman, Tama Waipara and Kevin Mark Trail.

5 A Day will be available on CD, vinyl and digital. Haines will be playing the album live at The Tuning Fork in Auckland on Thursday, December 4.