From school days to stage days

Hawke's Bay artists and performers return for festival

The Harcourt Hawke's Bay Arts Festival will be a homecoming for several musicians and artists returning to the region where their artistic passion flourished.

Troy Kingi went to boarding school Te Aute College and it was there that he discovered his love for music through kapa haka. "Kapa haka was my favourite part of school," Kingi said. "I loved rehearsing and performing down there in Hawke's Bay."


Troy Kingi

"Since then I have always loved to perform and have been doing it professionally for the past seven years."

This will be the first time he has taken part in the arts festival but he has previously played at the "funky" Common Room.

"I'm really looking forward to the festival."

Kingi and The Clutch will be performing The Ghost of Freddie Cesar. This is the award-winning musician's fourth instalment in his 10 10 10 series, where he is aiming to release 10 albums in 10 genres in 10 years. This latest album is inspired by memories of his father, who disappeared 15 years ago.

"The cool thing about this show is I will be stepping away from the guitar a bit. Scary for me — I tend to hide behind it but this time you will see more performing from me."

The Ghost of Freddie Cesar is on at Toitoi, Opera House on October 22, from 8pm.


Thomas Oliver

Thomas Oliver is a familiar name in Hawke's Bay music circles. His successful career has seen him performing worldwide. Oliver went to Havelock North High School and is now based in Berlin, Germany. At the moment he is spending half his time in Wellington and half in Havelock North and can't wait to get on the road to begin a 10-date tour which includes the art festival. His show Thomas Oliver The Brightest Light is his latest album, which has had 3.5 million plays on Spotify. Oliver says his love of music started at an early age when his father, Wyn Drabble, played the guitar to him and his brother before bedtime. 

"My real last name is Drabble but I use my middle name Oliver because it's a much better stage name," Oliver said.

"I love performing in Hawke's Bay. I have a very loud family and can always tell when they are in the audience," he said.

In 2017 he performed two sold-out shows in the spiegeltent at the Harcourt Hawke's Bay Festival.

"This year I am looking forward to playing in the Opera House. We are very lucky to have such a venue. It feels as if you are playing closer to the audience."

Thomas Oliver The Brightest Light is on at Toitoi, Opera House on October 15.



Anthony Stretch, who went to Dannevirke High school and is now based in Hawke's Bay, is another familiar face around the traps.

The musician performs under the name 'Stretch' and says back when he was at school he loved singing and music, but "in that era, you didn't really voice it".

"There were no music programmes, no provision to foster what I really wanted to do but didn't think I could.

"It wasn't until I moved to Wellington and started working in a record store that freed me up enough to think 'you are allowed to do this'."

He is excited about playing in the Toitoi, Opera House. "It is beautiful and grand. It's like an intimate room.

"I will be presenting a new sound that suits the venue — it's an entire new chapter for me."

He has "plotted out" a little four-show tour for November in the North Island and hopes to take it to the South Island next year.

Stretch says he feels lucky to be based here in this "creative region".

Our Dreams Are Changing - Stretch is on at Toitoi, Opera House on October 13.

samtruSam Trubridge went to Havelock North High School. He belongs to a talented and well known Bay family. His father, David, is a designer of lighting, furniture and jewellery while Sam loves to bring theatre to life with his set designs.

"I've always been creative and our parents inspired and encouraged us. I went to Elam School of Fine Arts and explored painting and sculpture but then while I was at a theatre show I was really taken by the set design. I loved how it was used to tell a story. I started working in theatre, exploring my interest as a visual artist. So rather than my work being in a gallery, it is on stage.

"I love creating a kind of physical experience for the audience."

Trubridge, based in Wellington, says he's been doing it for a long time now and is excited about bringing his work to Hawke's Bay.

Ecology in Fifths — the PlayGround has a spectacular performance design by Trubridge, the director of the show. Other Bay links to this performance are Sean MacDonald (the choreography) and dancer Hannah Tasker-Poland, who is based in Auckland but has family in the Bay.

Ecology in Fifths — the PlayGround is on at Toitoi, Functions on Hastings on October 22 and 23 and Guthrie-Smith Arboretum, Tutira, on October 25.

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