The final night of the Festival will be an opportunity to see a wealth of New Zealand talent brought together especially for this event. At the helm is Ben Throp, 25 years of performing and album release under his belt, and a knack for bringing together top talent to play his tunes as well as those of his influencers. Throp is thrilled to be playing with such immense talent and experience.
“I’m just absolutely stoked to be on stage with them,” he says. “This is a special event and it needs a special band, that’s why I’ve put this together.”
With musicians scattered around the country, rehearsal time has been condensed into a few very tight, intense sessions. The experience each musician brings means they’ve plugged into the band easily while retaining a raw appeal that ignites in front of an audience.
“I love taking risks because the rewards are way better. I don’t like doing mundane and ‘same old’,” Throp explains.
The musicians that make up this Festival’s Throp band come from a range of genre. John Rae is a jazz drummer, multi-award winning, internationally recognised and 2009 Composer in Residence at Victoria University. He and pianist Ben Wilcock play together in jazz trio The Jelly Rolls. Hannah Fraser on violin will also bring a jazz element to the stage. She most often plays with The Troubles. Scotty Smith is a “local legend” says Throp, this show will see him play mandolin. Also local is multi-talented, multi-instrumentalist Willie Devine who plays in a multitude of bands around Hawke’s Bay including Tropical Downbeat Orchestra and Revolutionary Arts Ensemble. Jeff Boyle completes the band. Boyle is a guitarist, most often seen playing with post-rock outfit Jakob.
Throp says he’s excited to be playing with the “textural soundscapes” Boyle brings to the sets.
“There are so many different flavours between the seven of us, there’s so many different directions we can go. It’s the jazziest group I’ve brought together and it’s super exciting. Choosing jazz musicians is deliberate, they know how to improvise and really go there,” Throp explains. “The rehearsals have been epic. From the first four bars I knew I’d made the right call with the musicians I had in the room.”
The show will be made up of both originals - many new to audiences and having their inaugural outing at the Festival finale - and covers of some of Throp’s biggest influencers. He doesn’t want to give anything away but Neil Young and Radiohead. Throp promises the show will be risky, edgy and a real Arts Festival happening.
“As a songwriter I’d like to think I’m getting better and bringing more creativity to my work,” says Throp. “Whenever I do a gig of this magnitude, I’ve come away knowing people have seen a Show, showmanship, and they feel they’ve been nourished.”
Throp recommends the show to anyone who loves listening to songs with substance. “Lyrically, musically – and anyone who loves watching high quality musicianship and hearing the stories of how songs are crafted.”
The last night of the Festival will bring together many elements of the Festival itself into a microcosm: collaboration across genre, intermeshing of talent and experience into new combinations, and a chance to witness genius in action.