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A beat for every drum in Whanganui


JULY 2014

A beat for every drum in Whanganui

Whanganui’s music and entertainment scene beats to many different drums. Whether it’s jazz, opera, brass, or indie rock, chamber music or musicals, there’s a sound and venue for every taste.

Riverside Bar caters to an older crowd, and specialty music fans with live music five nights a week, open mike on Wednesday, jazz and blues, Thursday, bands Friday and Saturday and an acoustic show at dinnertime on Sunday. The bar opened four months ago in a historic building that backs onto the river. It hosts big names such as Little Bushman, Paul Ubana Jones, Hobnail and Wayne Mason.

“We put on a show.” Event manager, Fletch Christian says. “Live music is a huge draw card and people drive down from New Plymouth and Palmerston North.”

The Whanganui Musicians Club holds events on the first Friday of every month at the Savage Club Hall. Held at an historic venue this is one of the most unique nights you’ll ever experience. Music and camaraderie come first in the true tradition of the Savage Club. The Whanganui branch was established in 1891 and moved into the hall in 1929.

Musicians love the atmosphere and vibe of the place and this year has seen Billy TK Senior, Swamp Doctor, Phoebe Hurst, Uncle Dad and Ghosts of Electricity amongst local bands and others.

Underground music at Space Monster provides entertainment for a younger set, and for jazz enthusiasts the Wanganui Jazz Club hosts bands on the first Sunday of the month at the Wanganui RSA from 6.30pm. The Whanganui Regional Museum also holds a Jazz Night on a Friday once a month.

The Royal Wanganui Opera House despite its prestigious name is very much part of the music scene. Schools, dance studios and local performers, as well as big national and international acts stage their shows in a venue that has arguably the best acoustics of any opera house in the southern hemisphere.

People come from far and wide for shows here, says manager John Richardson. “Nine percent of our audience is international and national. Recording studios also come in because of the quality of sound here.”

Prices are very reasonable compared to those in larger cities but he advises people to book early to get the best seats. “People from out of town contact us early for shows like The Mikado (upcoming 23 August).”

Whanganui District Council’s Arts Facilitator, Deborah Kapohe, has her finger on the pulse of the music and entertainment life in the city. She says Whanganui has nurtured some of New Zealand’s most creative talent, such as the Solo Mio trio who attended the New Zealand Opera School, based in Whanganui.

“There’s a very strong arts and design community in Whanganui. Once you get a core group of people who are creative and skilled and knowledgable it acts as a magnet for others.”

Another draw card for talented, upcoming performers is the affordable housing and choice of studio space. “Even as an opera singer I’m careful about the neighbours and with drums you certainly need space. There are also a lot of recording studios here. That’s when you really get a good music scene – it’s not enough to be performed, it needs to be captured on a recording.”

Additional information:
http://whanganuimusiciansclub.co.nz/ http://www.wanganuijazzclub.org/

© Scoop Media

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