Today we continue our New Zealand Music Month series showcasing the musicians in our midst—they are as diverse and inspiring as the ecosystems they help care for.
Ash & the Matadors: Simon Barr
Although solicitor Simon Barr does a stellar job for DOC, he is arguably better known as the former drummer for Dunedin band Ash & the Matadors.
The Mansion Tapes EP, its legendary launch party at Sammy’s in Dunedin (their biggest gig of the year), and seeing the album named “top seller” at Play-It-Again Records in Invercargill, were highlights of Simon’s time with the band.
Playing at a festival that was an organisational nightmare and steadily degenerated until the organiser got run over by the neighbour’s car as part of an ongoing feud, was undeniably a lowlight—“Sucky night that one.”
Watch Ash & the Matadors at Sammy’s supporting Jordan Luck:
Simon’s now jamming with two other guys doing solely covers—mainly 90’s grunge (i.e. “covers that we all actually like!”).
Rose and the Wooden Hearts: Nick Turoa
Nick Turoa, in his role as acting Pou Tairangahau for Tamaki Makaurau, helps build opportunities for Mana Whenua to be involved on public conservation land.
In another life, Nick is bass player for band Rose and the Wooden Hearts, an Auckland based trio offering a brand of alternative country with rock and pop undertones.
“Music is my creative outlet and keeps me young. I am a family man and I work hard, so the band gives me a small bit of time to hang out with my mates and make music,” says Nick.
“The way people interact with music is changing these days. People don’t see live music any more, they listen to it via the internet and social networks.
“Two things you can do to support local music: First, “Like” their pages online—funding for music these days is directly linked with how many views your YouTube videos have had, or how many Facebook “Likes” you have. Secondly, go to the pub, have a beer, listen to some new local music and get up and dance!!”
Watch Rose & The Wooden Hearts playing live on Kiwi FM:
The Westhighland Pipe Band: Rebecca Finlay
We know her as Rebecca Finlay, Business Service Ranger in DOC’s Kauri Coast Area Office, but to many she’s Pipe Sergeant Rebecca Finlay, with The Westhighland Pipe Band.
Playing original Scottish music (although ‘Poi E’ has been incorporated into its repertoire) the band, created by Rebecca’s father, has brought Rebecca “many tears, smiles, frustrations and happy times”. Competing in the Tauranga National Pipe Band contest and seeing the band’s tenor drummers come first in their grade, was a particularly special moment.
“When you have a passion for something (in my case music) then that filters through to your work. I have a passion for New Zealand—our land and our people. So to be working in an environment that harbours my passion, and surrounded by many other passionate people, is a reason to get out of bed and enjoy your work,” says Rebecca.
Olly Knox: Oliver Knox
It has been nearly 10 years since DOC’s Oliver Knox (a trainee ranger at the time) formed Olly Knox in Gisborne. Since then Olly has performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, reached number 11 in New Zealand Reverbnation charts and, most importantly, got a ranger job (Visitor and Historic Assets) at DOC!
Olly’s favourite New Zealand song is Shapeshifter’s “Voyager” but, when choosing his most inspiring New Zealand musician, Oliver goes with Warren Maxwell from Trinity Roots/Little Bushman/Fat Freddys Drop. “He is a diverse musician who has been involved in many projects and you can find truth in his music.”
Working at DOC allows Olly to get into nature and the wide open spaces where inspiration flows. “A lot of my songs have an element of nature and connection with the earth through consciousness and meditation,” says Olly.
Stay tuned for Part III of our New Zealand Music Month series, profiling the musicians in our midst, later in the week.