When Sally Garner sat in the sun on Norfolk Island, toes tapping to the sounds of Dixie jazz, she didn't imagine that she'd be welcoming the Australian musicians to Tauranga a few months later.
Sally, who before moving to Tauranga was one of the main organisers of the Rotorua Blues Festival, was on Norfolk Island at the end of 2016 for the annual Norfolk Island Jazz Festival and in the relaxed island atmosphere she quickly got to know a number of the band members.
Then, last month, she got a phone call from Australia. The band – The Dixie Street All-Stars – was coming to New Zealand and their show in Hamilton had just fallen over. Would Sally help them find somewhere to play in Tauranga?
That phone call resulted in The Dixie Street All-Stars arranging a special afternoon concert in Tauranga on Saturday, August 5 at The Armitage Hotel, the second stop on a month-long tour which sees them performing at The Bay Of Islands Jazz and Blues Festival and throughout the North Island.
The Dixie Street All-Stars describe themselves as “a band of thoroughly decent, well-ripened larrikins”. They are an ensemble formed from some of the very best musicians from various states in Australia. While the band has several ‘leaders’, focus is often on trumpeter and saxophonist Brett Iggulden who founded the legendary Red Onion Band and who, during his long and distinguished musical career, has been described as one of the “hottest” players on the Australian jazz circuit. In 2002 he was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for services to music.
Other instruments include piano, sousaphone, banjo, drums, and various reeds (that's saxes and clarinets) and the band boasts a number of singers. The result is the nerves in your feet twitch while some rare musical gems simply grab your whole body and give it a good shake. The band is also famous for the ample quantities of good humour they bring to their shows, which overflows to their audiences, young and old. That was something Sally particularly noticed on Norfolk Island – the bond that the band formed with their audience and the fun that the musicians and crowd shared.
The Dixie Street All-Stars specialise in music from 1890 to 1940 – songs by Fats Waller, Jelly Roll Morton and many more. Their latest album features many pre-war love songs, from ‘Oh Marie’ and ‘Baby Won't You Please Come Home’ to ‘Honeysuckle Rose’.
Sally is delighted the band is able to come to town: “They gave us all such a good time on Norfolk Island – great musicians who really know how to entertain an audience. It's wonderful that they could come to Tauranga. Hamilton's loss is our gain!”
The Dixie Street All-Stars play in the Washington Room at The Hotel Armitage on Willow Street, 2pm, Saturday, August 5. Tickets are $22.50 from www.eventfinda.co.nz or on the door (if available). A full bar and tea and coffee will be available. Enquiries email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Weekend Sun has two double passes to The Dixie Street All-Stars at The Hotel Armitage on August 5 for two lucky readers.