Ukes, blues, Hekapa and ‘Garage Fuzz’...

Music Plus
with Winston Watusi

It seems my tidy plan for New Zealand Music Month has descended into chaos. C’est la vie.

And though it’s all over now, it seems the sudden glut of local music releases continues unabated. It’s a little unexpected for Tauranga.

Unfortunately, I had this week set aside to tell you all about a lineup of really interesting concerts coming up on the weekend of June 14.

Tangentially, let me mention for lexical enthusiasts that ‘lineup’ is indeed the collective noun for concerts. Incidentally, a series of festivals is called a ‘calendar’ of festivals.

What’s piling up are new albums from The Whittakers, Ben Lloyd and Janne Izett. And the first single, ‘Luv Game’, from ex-Auckland rocker Gary Harvey’s new album is out now.

Unit 51.

There’s also the release of ‘Garage Fuzz’; the first single from ex-Tauranga Boys’ College rock band Unit 51, who took third place in the 2023 National Smokefreerockquest. The band comprises Otto Blake-Palmer on bass, Aaron McDaniel on drums and Daniel Leabourn, who also won the Musicianship Award, on vocals and guitar.

‘Garage Fuzz’

Garage Fuzz is an impressive first outing. Mainly written by Daniel, it’s big-riff rock with an articulate lyric and groovy guitar solo. And cowbell. It really is something – another splendid production job from Evan Pope at the Mount’s Studio 11b.

Kudos to the band for continuing, not easy when Daniel and Otto are in their final year at Tauranga Boys’ and Aaron in his first year studying music at Victoria University.

Currently they’re focusing on songwriting and planning to gig when Aaron returns for holidays. Expect a headlining slot at The Jam Factory later this year.

On to those gigs: June 14 has a couple of killers.

The first is at The Jam Factory and is a feast for ukulele lovers. Yes, I know. Not all are. Someone emailed me a joke that goes ‘What’s the difference between a ukulele and a banjo?’

The Nukes.

Auckland trio The Nukes, always entertaining and the country’s leading uke exponents, have Australian Tyrone with them. Tyrone, one half of award-winners Tyrone and Lesley, is a ukulele maestro in demand from the Sydney Opera House to worldwide festivals. This will be a fabulous show. Oh, and that joke: a ukulele burns faster.


The other gig? Totara Street is celebrating Matariki with sensational local band Hekapa, comprising Jason Crawford, TJ Faaosofia, Tia Drumma, Ara Adams-tamatea and Wills Lokeni, who play an impassioned hi-energy blend of funk, soul, R ‘n’ B and rock.

They are joined by Matty Buxton and the Buxtones with his very appealing melodic funky soulful hip-pop, as well as a real treat for blues and guitar enthusiasts: L.A.B’s Joel Shadbolt and friends playing a bunch of electric blues under the name Shaddy Plays Blues.

Then on Sunday, June 15, there’s blues from Mike Garner and Robbie Laven at The Barrel Room; most excellent looped folk music from Graeme James at The Jam Factory; and the Abbey Road Beatles tribute at Jack Dusty’s. Busy weekend.

Hear this week’s Playlist:

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