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This week's column comes in two sections; there is no segue.

The reason is that I've spent the week listening to one of the most remarkable local music projects I've heard in some time. It comes from Eugene O'Reilly, once to be found working at Bay MusicWorks and playing guitar and singing in various Tauranga bands.

A few years back Eugene decamped to a small hall between Matamata and Te Aroha. And he's been working on Volume 1 of The Hallstars, a first collection of his original songs, recorded by Eugene and a cast of thousands, many of them from the Tauranga music scene.

The album, complete with songbook he has emerged with, is simply astounding, absolutely international quality, and dammit I still can't get the first song out of my head, which after three days is getting a bit irritating.

And Eugene is coming to town. Next Saturday he will be based at MusicWorks Tauranga, 132 Devonport Rd from 12.00 – 2.30pm for anyone who would like to come and purchase an album/ songbook, have a chat about the project, or just have a catch-up with him. He would love to see some customers and friends from the past.

I'll be reviewing The Hallstars next week. It really is sensational stuff so if you know or remember Eugene, or just want to check out some exciting new music, catch up with him next weekend.

Nana

Now the reason I'm cutting Eugene short is that one of Tauranga's most colourful local characters has died. She was a big part of the music scene here, a great friend to many a musician and a constant presence on any available dance-floor. So the least I can do is give Nana Holland a little space here as a farewell.

I suspect anyone who has ever been to a show in Tauranga where people danced, has seen Nana. Her real name was Willy Johanna van Bavel, 86; she immigrated to New Zealand from Holland aged 21.

And the best thing I can do is to turn the rest of this column over to her. The following is adapted from Nana's book about her life, which she wrote with the help of Waipuna Hospice.

Her own words

The first time I was christened Nana Holland was on New Year's Eve at the Crown & Badger about 12 years ago. That was by Colin Williams, lead singer of the band 111. He said “you danced all night when most girls dance to one number and then sit down again”.

I attended the Tauranga Jazz Festival for 15 years and danced like no-one was watching - but of course they were! Right up until the COVID pandemic started in mid-March I danced my heart out at the monthly Blues Jam at 'Dusty Jacks' (this is what I call it. It sounds better...), then Friday and Saturday nights wherever there was a live gig featuring my favourite Tauranga musos - Shabang, Grant Haua, Brilleaux, Mike Garner, 111 and Piston Broke.

And if their gigs finished early then I would go down the Strand to the Crown & Badger and dance til closing. I was greedy for dancing! I must have been pretty fit probably because of the fifteen years I had attended Body Attack fitness classes.

I am a lifelong enthusiastic follower of Dixie music and in 1999 at age 65 I went to New Orleans with the Dr Jaz tour. I loved this tour and immersed myself in the experience.

Brian Franks and Nana Holland.

I booked Brilleaux to play at my 80 birthday party at Drivers Bar and was thrilled when they named me "Dancing Queen". At my 85 party I had Brilleaux and Shabang play and when some of the band members came out on the dance-floor to groove with me I loved it! Brian Franks, the bass player for Brilleaux and Hurrican Eli, is a great friend of mine and we have shared a very special friendship over the years.

At the Hop House they always have a table reserved for me right next to the dance floor.

Farewell Nana, you are already missed – WW.

Winston Watusi
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