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Warning To Do With The Great Northern Debate

At The Great Northern Debate there will also be a supporting act, The Two Piece Big Band.

The Two Piece Big Band was formed early in 2000. To provide top quality music at a reasonable price to venues in the Far North and at the request of the owners of the Waterfront Café in Mangonui, Bridgitte and Ian, who wanted to offer a dinner music night and needed a quality band to perform.

“We thought if they were brave enough to attempt a midwinter function in Mangonui, then we were prepared to support them,” said Ray Woolf, one of the two behind the Two Piece Big Band. “It was very successful and has become a regular gig.”

Billy Kristian is the other half of the band. Billy began his career as bass player with Max Merrit and the Meteors in Christchurch in the late fifties, and then joined Ray Columbus and the Invaders through their heyday touring Australia and New Zealand as a support act for the Rolling Stones, Roy Orbison and many others. They were so popular they soon headlined their own tours through both countries.

Billy then travelled extensively through the U.K. and Europe and was part of a very successful band called ‘Nite’. Along with Chris Thompson of Manfred Mann fame he toured the States with major bands like the Doobie Brothers.

Billy returned home in the early 1980s and began record producing, almost immediately a Herbs album, movie soundtracks, commercials and TV work including ‘The NZ Wars’ last year. He still found time to be part of top bands such as the late Tommy Adderly’s ‘Headband’ with great songs like ‘Good Morning Mr Rock’n’Roll’.

Today Billy is a much sought after music producer and musician working regularly with the likes of John Rowles, Sir Howard Morrison and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Suzanne, Ray Columbus and Ray Woolf.

Billy has been living in the Far North for the last four years.

The other half of the band is Ray Woolf. Ray came to New Zealand from the United Kingdom in 1962 and has been one of our top entertainers ever since. TV credits are just to numerous to mention, but you may remember TV programmes such as C’mon, Happen Inn, Play School and Two on One. Then there was the Ray Woolf Show, New Ray Woolf Show, Marlin Bay, Hercules, Zena, Young Hercules, Montana Sunday Theatre… Stage musicals include Hans Christian Anderson, The Music Man, Sound of Music, The New Rocky Horror Show and West Side Story.

Since moving to the Far North in 1980 Ray has worked to enhance and encourage local musicians and the local music scene. Woolfie’s Night Club introduced regular music nights and very soon afterwards other local venues followed suit notably the Mangonui Hotel began live music every Friday night and Collards began presenting live music on a regular basis.

In 1991 and 1992 Ray ran three music courses at Taipa. These proved very popular and are still talked about to this day. As Millennium co-ordinator for events in the Far North in 1999 Ray was again working to get the Far North entertainers, musicians and promoters working.

The Flood Relief Concert in 1999 saw the likes of Temuera Morrison, Liz Gunn, Tom Sharplin, Roy Phillips, Suzanne and even Tim Shadbolt turning up at the Kaitaia Community Centre at Ray’s request to help out.

And now The Two Piece Big Band is hopefully bringing something a little different – playing a wide range of music from jazz standards, rock classic and modern music, Ray and Billy are looking forward to appearing in Russell and hope that everyone will have a great night at The Great Northern Debate… raising funds for local groups.

Be warned that tickets are limited and this is going to be a great night, Town Hall, Saturday, 23 September!

© Scoop Media

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