Hard News by Russell Brown


Friday Music: Why Soulfest was really cancelled – a moral lesson

When the second Soulfest concert at Western Springs was cancelled only two weeks before show day in 2015, fans who'd been looking forward to seeing Mary J Blige, Lauryn Hill and De la Soul were told a story. Ticket sales had been so poor that going ahead with the show would have caused a "devastating" financial loss for the promoters, a statement said. There was speculation that local sales hadn't been so bad and the real problem was with the Australian Soulfest dates.

An Australian federal court judgement last week made it clear the whole statement was a lie. Soulfest 2015 was cancelled not because of poor ticket sales, but because Apra won an injunction against the promoter John Dion (alias John Denison). Dion had not only failed to honour a licence agreement with Apra for Soulfest 2014, he had faked a receipt to falsely claim he had paid his licence fee in advance, as promised.

Apra had stll not received any payment for 2014 by the time the 2015 show rolled around. Nonetheless, Apra granted him a fresh licence on condition of advance payment. Again, the payment was not made. So Apra got its injunction and the shows could not go ahead.

The compensation awarded by the court, in reflection of Apra's unpaid public performance fees from 2014, was quite modest in the context of a multi-date festival budget: $A34,822. But the court awarded further damages of $400,000 because of Dion's "scandalous" dishonesty in providing the fake receipt to Apra and his subsequent conduct, including lying to the public about why his festival was cancelled.

Concert promotion is a risky gig, festival promotion more so. It's easy to lose a lot of money if things go wrong. But when an arsehole like Dion simply refuses to meet basic obligations – Apra fees apply to all such events and they go to the composers of the works performed – it makes it just that bit harder for all the good people.


Speaking of good people, I'm delighted to welcome our new Music Post sponsor: Songbroker. They have big plans.


Splore has released its schedule for next weekend. The Morcheeba folks and Blackalicious headline the main stage on Friday, with Pitch Black playing deep, deep into the night. On Saturday, Dub Pistols return in the main stage party slot, but what I'm most excited about is Tall Black Guy and John Morales at the DJ Stage. That's more than a little bit of disco heaven. And, of course, Fat Freddy's Drop hold down the much-loved Sunday role on the main stage, from 1-3pm.

I'm there too. The Listening Lounge returns on the Saturday morning and the headline act is an onstage interview with Mt Albert by-election rivals Jacinda Ardern and Julie Anne Genter.

This is going to be fun.


And as you've doubtless heard from everyone else, the new Auckland Laneway site in and around Albert Park was an absolute winner. Show day was a hot one this year and it would have been punishing at the old Silo Park site. But the park was full of shade.

There was also a bonus in the need to move away from twin stages: the relative quiet. It was nice to have parts of the site go silent between sets. People could move on to another stage as each set ended, or just sit still and hang out.

Here's a tune from one of the early sets, by Bob Moses. I had no idea they were as popular as they turned out to be ...


If you haven't been through the Auckland Museum exhibition Volume: Making Music in Aotearoa, you oughta, and you have until May 21 to do so.

But there's more: I gather there have been preliminary talks about bringing Volume to Christchurch. Not this year, but maybe next year or 2019.


At last year's WORD Christchurch Flying Nun event, David Pine revealed (from the front row of the audience) that he and his bandmates in Sneaky Feelings have been quietly getting together and recording new material for the past couple of years. And it now looks like it's going to get a Flying Nun release at some point. Stay tuned.


Speaking of WORD: its creative director Rachael King was, 30-odd years ago, in a high school band balled The Battling Strings with David Saunders (later of the 3Ds) and my buddy Andrew Moore. Andrew has been digitising some ancient tapes – and they sound like this:

Meanwhile, Andrew's playing in Psychic Maps, along with the Fuzzies, George Hnderson and Blue Cheese at UFO in New Lynn tomorrow night.


The new Lawrence Arabia video, for 'The Palest of Them All', is set in Christchurch's ironically iconic airport hotel, the Commodore:

Lawrence Arabia also performs at the Nostalgia Festival in Christchurch on March 4 and at the Leigh Sawmill Cafe on March 24.


So who got the good memorabilia at the Sammy's closing down sale in Dunedin this week?

And on a very different musical tip, Dunedinites get a rare chance to hear the legendary NZ techno producer son.sine (aka Epsilon Blue and Leyton Glen) on March 18 as part of the Dunedin Fringe Festival.



The indie is strong this week, with a new tune from Kane Strang:

And one by Fazerdaze!

And not-quite-brand-new, this first taste of the new Nadia Reid album, Preservation, which is out on March 4. Bring it on, I say.

And on the kitchen-disco tip, allow me to recommend this beefed-up edit of Arthur Adams' 'You Got the Floor' (reasonably painless free download). Dance like the neighbours can see you through the window but you don't even care.


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