For New Zealand to become the greatest living space on Earth (DOC’s vision) we need to look after and support the things that make us great. For me, that includes our special places, plants and animals—and our music. Now that’s obviously not an exclusive list but, unarguably, we wouldn’t be the same without them.
So today, as we wrap up our New Zealand Music Month series profiling DOC musicians, have a think about what you could do to help support New Zealand to become the coolest little country in the world. I’d be keen to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
What’s wrong with Wednesday? and The Sunday Jam Band: Jeffrey Cornwell
Jeffrey works for DOC as a business architect, bringing a design approach to common business processes and models. His skills don’t stop there though. Jeffrey’s also handy on the guitar and lends his talents to several Wellington bands.
What’s wrong with Wednesday? came together in February as part of the MusicWorks Weekend Warriors programme, which throws random musicians together for two hours per week, over eight weeks, to assemble a set of 6–10 songs to perform at a live gig.
“It’s an interesting thing to be involved in because it’s not just about learning your parts. It can be challenging to get a diverse group of strangers together, to agree on tunes that you all are willing to perform, to learn your parts and then bring it together ‘gig ready’ in a relatively short period of time,” says Jeffrey.
“We’ve stuck together and are currently rehearsing on Wednesday nights in our drummer’s garage.”
At their last gig What’s wrong with Wednesday? performed nine covers, including tunes by the Black Keys, The Clash, Billy Talent, the Offspring, Rolling Stones, Nirvana and Kings of Leon amongst others. Their biggest moment to date has been playing a gig at Wellington’s Bar Bodega, New Zealand’s longest running music venue.
Jeffrey’s also a core member of The Sunday Jam Band, providing consistency to a revolving door of musicians and playing tunes that “lean more towards classic rock from the 70s, mixed up with some electric blues”.
Blue Highways: Jim Nicolson
What do Blue Highways (R&B/Americana), Klezmer Rebels (Jewish and Eastern European gipsy jazz), and Off Tops the Head (psychobilly with a hint of Captain Beefheart) have in common? Let me tell you—DOC Policy Manager Jim Nicolson, that’s what—or should I say who? I would’ve never guessed that, over the years, Jim has contributed his bass, guitar, and vocal skills to so many bands.
Watch Jim performing on Good Morning with Carol Bean and Blue Highways:
While I know Jim’s role, managing DOC’s policy team, gives him many memorable moments, some of his big band moments include: playing to a full crowd at the Bristol dancing (Blue Highways), being escorted by police onto the stage at the soundshell in the Wellington Botanic gardens following anti-Jewish protests (Klezmer Rebels) and escaping the angry crowd at Blackball (Off Tops the Head). Yes, I know, I’d like more information about that last one too—but no time today…
Cute: Serge Kramar
DOC Test and Support Analyst, Serge Kramar, spent many years performing with German band Cute at functions all over southern Germany before coming to New Zealand a decade ago.
Winning the Southern Germany Band Shootout Competition—which scored them a cheque and recording contract—was an obvious highlight for Serge. This was, however, superseded shortly thereafter by his girlfriend getting pregnant and his subsequent move to New Zealand to look after his son.
Today Serge is a freelance musician. He sings in Te Reo, German, English, Russian, Estonian, Italian and Spanish—he has performed at events like the Te Aro Fair and at places such as Te Papa and the Wellington Town Hall.
Serge also participates in Tinkus dancing, a Bolivian encounter dance in which the dancers perform with combat like movements, following the heavy beat of the drum. Watch Serge Tinkus dancing in this video.
Rural Delivery: Russell George
Music has been a part of Russell George’s life for the past 38 years and it’s difficult for him to think of life without it. Playing five string banjo or mandolin, and singing for Christchurch based bluegrass/country band Rural Delivery has been a secure, psychological safe haven to go to in the aftermath of the earthquakes.
“We tend to get together to play music for our own satisfaction, rather than playing a lot of gigs, so we call our practices ‘mental health nights’ instead,” says Russell.
Russell names Dave Dobbyn’s Slice of Heaven as a favourite ‘song of New Zealand’. And, through both his music and his work at DOC—involving everything from dealing with finance and building issues to changing towels and cleaning toilets—Russell’s certainly doing his bit to help New Zealand to become the greatest living space on Earth—a true Slice of Heaven.