‘Grease’ 2016 National Tour NZ

The tour is officially over and I have met some fantastic people, saw some new parts of the country and played almost every night for 6 weeks.

I had a blast playing in the show and since we were on stage at times, we had to be in costume and act a little bit too. It was great fun and brought a different dynamic to the show instead of being hidden away in the orchestra pit. I loved everyone I worked with too, everyone in the band gelled extremely well with each other. I was the only guitarist playing in the show, the other members were:

Musical Director: Laughton Kora

Musical Supervisor and Keys 1: Paul Barrett

Keys 2 and Saxophone: Jimmy Reiney

Bass: Sam Nash

Drums: Cameron Burnett

All of them are outstanding musicians, I have a lot of respect for them and to top it off, they were all awesome to hang out with when not playing (which is extremely important on tour!). Laughton did a great job with the feel/groove/style of the songs to give us all a little more freedom during the tour. It made it much more interesting as a musician to play rather than playing what’s written religiously every night for 6 weeks. I hope I get to work with them again at some stage in the future!

band-grease-tour-2016

Left to Right: Jimmy (Sax), Me, Paul (Keys), Sam (bass), Cam (drums), Laughton (MD)

The Performances

We performed all over New Zealand from KeriKeri all the way down to Invercargill. Like I mentioned before, during the performance we would be on show at certain points. For example at the dance scene at prom, we were acting as the live band ‘Johnny Casino and the Gamblers’. This made the show for us a lot more interesting each night rather than being in an orchestra pit. The actors would obviously change how they would interact with you each night which kept it fresh throughout the season! Here’s a few pictures of those scenes:

I also mention in the gear video (below) that there was a scene that we had to go out to the front of the stage. This was during ‘Those Magic Changes’ and we (Sam, Jimmy and me) would initially be playing the song underneath the set and around half way through the song, we would squeeze through some school locker doors and join everyone else on stage. Here’s a picture of us during that scene:

locker-scene-those-magic-changes

And here’s a short clip of one of the improvised solos I did during ‘Grease Lightning’:

Some venue highlights for me were definitely Dunedin (Regent Theatre), Christchurch (Isaac Theatre Royal) and Hamilton (Claudelands Arena). The Dunedin and Christchurch theatres were absolutely stunning and Hamilton brought in our largest crowd throughout the entire tour. Here are a couple shots of those theatres:

Hopefully at some point in the future I will get to work with everyone again… Here we all are at the end of our final night:

last-show-grease

Setup/Gear

(scroll down to view video)

Wireless

Sennheiser EK 300  (transmitter for in ear monitors)

Sennheiser SK 100 (transmitter for guitar)

IEM

Shure SE215

Amp

Blackstar Artist 15

Guitar

Fender Squier 1990 Japanese Stratocaster

Pedals

Keeley 4 knob compressor

Fulltone Fulldrive 3

Fulltone OCD

Line 6 M5

TC Electronic Polytune

Here’s a walkthrough of the stage setup:

Mamma Mia Regional Tour NZ 2016 Pictures and Video

Had a great time playing in Mamma Mia with fantastic cast/crew/musicians. The season flew past really quickly and really enjoyed playing through all the tracks every night. I managed to get a couple of pictures with the band mates and also put together a quick video (link under pictures) of the first act of the show, giving you an idea of what I had to play:

Mamma Mia First Act Guitar Orchestra Pit

Mamma Mia Regional Tour

In September (2016), I have been asked to play the Guitar 1 part in a regional tour of “Mamma Mia” in New Zealand.

Really looking forward to this one as Mamma Mia has been one of the shows I’ve been wanting to do for a while. Got the sheet music last week and decided to do a quick sight reading of the overture. Couple of slips in there, but did it for a bit of fun. Will also upload some GoPro footage when the time comes to playing in the show.

Check the sight reading video out:

New Video

I have been a fan of many different session guitar players like Tim Pierce and Brent Mason over the years, but discovered another player this year called Ryan Haberfield. He plays for Jessie J in her live shows and he also does a lot session work. Anyway, I seen him upload a video clip on Instagram of him playing a solo for Doug Harper (session drummer). I thought it sounded great and decided to try use my ear and pick up as much as I could from the video to try learn it. It’s not something I would usually play as it does have a bit of ‘shredding’ in it, but I always like to try keep my chops up in all genres. Ryan saw the video I uploaded and commented on it saying “Cheers man! Great Job”.

Here it is, testing out the new Japanese strat. Hope you enjoy:

 

Ryan’s comment below:

ryan haberfield comment

In other news, I have also been setting up a lovely 89 USA made Fender Strat for a friend. Almost there, just waiting on a new nut arriving that I ordered and it will be playing lovely! Here it is next to my 90 Japanese Strat:

usa and japanese strat

Short Update

I’ve recently got my hands on a GoPro Hero and been trying it out at rehearsals and gigs to be able to capture some live footage. It’s fantastic and the quality is amazing. This means I’ll finally be able to start uploading the videos I have been wanting to do for quite some time.

I also managed to get my hands on a Line 6 M5 which has came in handy for session gigs. Instead of having to keep a flanger, phaser, tremolo etc or any effects that I might not use often on the pedalboard, I can just keep the Line 6 on there for when the time calls for one of those effects. For those who aren’t sure of this pedal, definitely check it out, it’s a real ‘Swiss army knife’ of pedals:

Line 6 mM5

The last thing I’ve managed to acquire recently is a 26 year old Made in Japan Squier Stratocaster. It plays great and almost plays as well as my American strat and was only about 10% of the American’s price! Anyway, here’s a picture of it and really short video of me testing out the sustain at my first rehearsal with it:

Japanese squier stratocaster

 
https://www.instagram.com/p/BFRArfEDzf5/?taken-by=grahambellmusician%20
 

 

Recent Performances

So in the last month, I’ve had some pretty fun gigs with a couple of different artists’ and getting travel around in the process.

Jazzi Axton

At the start of March I played with Jazzi Axton at an outdoor event. It was an extremely hot day which I thought would actually put people off from coming, but there was a great turn out in the end. Here’s a picture taken of us playing:

jazzioutdoorgig

Jody Direen

I then got to play with New Zealand’s country artist Jody Direen down in the South Island. Since it was down in the South Island I wouldn’t get a chance to rehearse with her and I only had about 5 days to learn 2 and a half hours worth of music by ear. It was a great challenge, especially with other musical commitments like rehearsals etc, but in the end it went really well and I loved working Jody and her other guitarist Arun. The gig itself was held in a barn in the outback where a stage was built for us – wasn’t like any gig I’ve really done before. Since it was so far out though, I got to see a bit of the South Island as we drove around. I flew into Queenstown (which was absolutely beautiful) and then drove to Wanaka. From then we drove about another 2-3 hours out towards Fairlie. The next day I had a bit of time to see Jody and her band do their sound check for a rodeo they were playing at. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see them play as I had to catch a flight back up north.

Since there was a lot to do and think about I didn’t manage to get any pictures on the night that I played, but took a photo of the band doing their sound check the next day:

Jody Direen

More FM Radio

Happy New Year all!

I’m hopefully going to try upload smaller ‘news’ posts more often rather than just uploading large updates to catch up with everything after a long period of time.

Here is a little video I recorded a couple of months ago for some fun. It’s the solo from ‘Dancing in the Moonlight’ by Thin Lizzy. A simple little solo, but has a great groove to it:


I also recently played at the More FM radio station with Jazzi Axton, which was a lot of fun! We played a mashup of “Why Don’t You Love Me” and “Bust Your Windows” as part of the breakfast show. You can see the full performance below: