Strike: New Zealand Percussion Music – free online New Zealand music

Today we bring you Strike: New Zealand Percussion Music which won the 2001 Tui for best classical CD at the New Zealand Music Awards.

Strike are a high-energy drumming group whose flexible line-up is drawn from amongst New Zealand’s most outstanding percussionists. Founded in 1993, Strike began as a classically-trained percussion ensemble and has evolved and incorporated influences from a large range of different genres. The ensemble has ventured into exploration of the theatrical and physical aspects of percussion.

Includes music by David Downes, Gareth Farr, Ross Harris, Murray Hickman, Don McGlashan and Miriama Young.

This album (and over 52,000 more) is available online for free from anywhere with your library card number and PIN.

For New Zealand Music Month we are featuring a daily dose of free online New Zealand music from Naxos Music Library and the Source.

Sylvie Simmons and Don McGlashan and Leonard Cohen: “at the unpopular edge of pop music … where the most interesting stuff is”.

Last night Sylvie Simmons, Leonard Cohen’s biographer, and the awesome Don McGlashan joined forces. They sang their songs – and a few Cohen numbers. Sylvie played ukulele and Don the guitar, and they were introduced by music journalist Nick Bollinger.

In between the songs was discussion on Cohen, songwriting, and White Valiant for you McGlashanites. Don admitted he doesn’t usually like rock biographies as the are all “and then there was another amazing party and you weren’t invited”.

Highlights of this rather chilled out and beautiful evening:

  • Don enjoying doing an unplugged gig: “I normally wouldn’t tell that story, because there’d be a drummer behind me saying FFS.”
  • On Keith Richards writing Satisfaction after a dream, Sylvie said wryly: “I haven’t woken up to satisfaction for a long time”.
  • Sylvie on Leonard’s songcraft and constant honing of his songs: “He will just be perfectionist for ever and eternity”.
  • Leonard Cohen reading lyrics to Suzanne Vega, women on sun loungers moving closer to hear.
  • Don explaining White Valiant, and saying “I am at the unpopular edge of pop music … where the most interesting stuff is”.
  • Don playing the euphonium (not, as I suggested “blowing into an upside down tuba”). I think this was done on a verse of Famous blue raincoat, but correct me if you were there …
  • Don’s song Marvellous year. I am a huge fan of songs with lists (a la We didn’t start the fire by Billy Joel), and this is up there:

    We had Democracy, Dentistry, Waist-band elastic, Rhythmic Gymnastics, The Rule Of Law, The Rule Of Thumb, Fire, The Wheel, Rugby Union, The Petrol Engine, The Old-Age Pension, The Fire Of Hades, The Briscoes Lady, Dental Floss, Motorcross, The Koran, The Torah, Interflora

  • Don giving his guitar some astonishing effect pedal action on Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne.

Set list:

  • This is London (Don)
  • Midnight Cowboy (Sylvie)
  • Sisters of Mercy (Leonard Cohen)
  • The Captain (Leonard Cohen)
  • Famous blue raincoat (Leonard Cohen)
  • Queen of the Night (Don)
  • A hard act to follow (Sylvie)
  • Marvellous year (Don)
  • Who knows where the time goes when it flies (Sylvie)
  • Suzanne (Leonard Cohen)

Auckland Writers and Readers Festival – Anticipated highlights # 1

Now that I know I am really going to the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival, the time has come for a detailed examination of theCover: I'm Your Man programme while wielding a fluorescent marker. They don’t call them highlighter pens for nothing;  highlighting my anticipated highlights is in itself a highlight for me. Tragic.

Number one on my giddying up list is Don McGlashan and Sylvie Simmons singing their own songs and the songs of Mr Leonard Cohen. I am not familiar with Simmons’ work, as I still languish low on the holds list for I’m Your Man, but the combination of Cohen and McGlashan is unmissable.

Are you going to the Festival? What are your anticipated highlights?

Remembrance of festivals past

Christchurch Writers Festival 2012 logoIn the city of memories it’s hard to resist looking back. When was the first Christchurch Writers Festival I attended? I used to have a full collection of programmes so I could have checked, but not any more.

It was certainly held in the Arts Centre in the winter, because I remember the fire burning in the Great Hall. There have been so many great writers over the years; who stands out? In a quietly powerful  New Zealand way Noel Virtue and Beryl Fletcher. In a “hairs standing up on the back of your neck I can’t believe what I’m seeing here” sort of way Tusiata Avia. In a “this guy wrote a book that was made into a movie by Steven Spielberg” way Tom Keneally.

Margaret Mahy, mesmerising on the stage and asking the most amazing questions from the floor.  And Don McGlashan with the Seven Sisters in the Town Hall.

Cover: GoldEnough looking back, it’s time for some new memories and not long to wait for The Press Christchurch Writers Festival 2012. On my most likely to be memorable list are Emily Perkins, John Lanchester, Chris Cleave, Michael Smythe, Joanne Drayton.

Who am I kidding? I’m looking forward to all the writers. I’ll be at every session humanly possible. I won’t be in a Great or a Town Hall, but in two years’ time I might be blogging about how the Geo Dome was the most memorable of all.

What memories do you have of past writers festivals? And who are you looking forward to this time?

Don McGlashan: On the unpopular edges of a popular field

Don McGlashan, who played North Hagley Park on Saturday, is one of New Zealand’s foremost songwriters. His name appears four times in the APRA Top 100 songs of all time – with Blam, Blam, Blam, The Front Lawn and The Muttonbirds.

This eight-minute interview was  an opportunist one – after his songwriting session at the Auckland Readers and Writers Festival he generously agreed to answer a few questions.

Fascinating to talk to, McGlashan shared his love of “Dickens with cannons”, which Roger Hall put him on to; his belief that he is on the unpopular edges of a popular field; details of his 1930s cowboy guitar which he bought in Christchurch; and some of the  literary-style techniques that he uses in his songwriting.

The book that McGlashan talks about in the first part of the interview is Bounty, by Caroline Alexander.

Did you see Don at Sounday? And what’s your favourite song of his? Or is his style too much for you?

Talking and singing – Songwriters at the festival

I have to admit that it was a conscious decision to make the final session that I attended at the recent Auckland Writers and Readers Festival what I hoped would be light relief. After the density of discussion in other parts of the programme I did hope that I might be able to turn my tired brain off for a bit in Songwriting with Don McGlashan and Jason Kerrison but that just didn’t turn out to be the case.

Maybe I thought rock stars would be a little less articulate, intelligent or engaging than other speakers had been. What a stupid thing to think that was. Don McGlashan is no dummy. He’s one of the sharpest songwriters that this country has produced and though Kerrison’s back-catalogue isn’t as extensive it turned out he is a pretty sharp tack too.

My colleague Robyn also attended this session but was so overwhelmed by the proximity of the legendary Mr McGlashan that she claims not be able to say anything intelligent about it (to hear what she did think you could listen to our final festival wrap-up).

The chair for the session was another legend of Kiwi music Mike Chunn who, I was informed, chaired the same session at 2008’s festival. Obligatory introductions were made which McGlashan didn’t really need, pretty much everyone being familiar with his Blam, Blam, Blam/The Front Lawn/Muttonbirds whakapapa. Although I knew that Opshop frontman Kerrison was from Christchurch it was news to me that he was formerly a “Bede-ian” and that he was in Christchurch bands GST (Goldfish Supermarket Trolley) and Gorilla Biscuit.

Quite a lot was discussed over the course of the next hour with each songwriter describing the different processes involved in getting these songs, this “cerebral vomit from the self-conscious” out into the world. Both musicians sang one song using a guitar Don purchased in a Christchurch music shop which had originally come from a 1930s Montgomery Ward catalogue. This spare, minimal accompaniment really showcased their great voices and strong songwriting ability. I for one was rapt, leaning forward with chin on hands during both performances.

McGlashan’s choice of song was “While you sleep” and explained that when he wrote it he had been listening to the song “Maggie May” a lot and liked the idea of someone looking back on a wonderful time in their lives, of “shining a light on a part of your life to understand it better” and that he wanted to write a song that had the word “flat” in it.

Kerrison discussed the genesis of his song “One day” which has featured in NZ Post ads, explaining that he wrote it immediately after having a fight with his wife and that writing the song was a way of “getting over myself”. He also said that sometimes performing personal songs “takes you back into that room” making you relive that moment which is something that you don’t always want to do.

Kerrison also repeated an idea that had come up amongst the authors at the opening night talk, that of the tyranny of a blank page. It reminded me of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s comment from opening night that all the prizes in the world don’t make a bit of different when you’re sitting there at a keyboard trying to write (or words to that effect). It doesn’t matter what kind of writer or creator you are, it seems that that blank slate, page, or computer screen is a thing universally feared.

Of course even if you manage to write a song, not every one is a success. Kerrison admitted that he had “boxes and boxes of duds”, McGlashan reflected that rather than hoarding his dud songs that he “foists them on the paying public” which is rather more self-deprecating than was strictly necessary. The guy’s a genius songwriter, after all.

And to sum up I think I will leave you with an interesting quote from the very talented Mr McGlashan on the role of songwriters. Take it away, Don…

Your job is to be a witness to the world. We are among the people who will stand up and say “this is what the world looks like from where I am”, and that is a good enough reason to do it.