A genius collaboration

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MASSAV Productions, in association with Arts on Tour, presents Hopetoun Brown and the Genius of Finn Scholes next weekend as part of this year’s Southland Arts Festival.

Promising a boot-load of exotic instruments and an expansive repertoire, reporter AMY JOHNSTONE asked Hopetoun Brown’s Nick Atkinson a few questions to find out more about the gig.

AS the horn section and founding members of funky Kiwi band Supergroove, many Southlanders will know your music well. Tell us about how the Hopetoun Brown collaboration began…

Tim Stewart and I started playing together in the blues band that eventually became Supergroove when we were 13. We’d already been friends for five years by then. A horn section is like a band within a band. You have your own thing going on right from the start. We just didn’t stop…

Where does the name Hopetoun Brown originate from?

When Tim and I started writing material for this duo I was living on Hopetoun St and Tim was on Brown St. Both of these roads come off Ponsonby Rd and we’d always ask each other, where should we rehearse…? Hopetoun… or Brown?

What kind of music is in your repertoire?

Blues, soul, stomp and plenty of shrieking horns playing funky licks all night long. It’s a trip and we bug out on the wild rhythm of the night. It’s like James Brown and Van Morrison listening to blues records.

Along with the trumpet and saxophone, what other instruments will you be showcasing?

We do indeed have a pair of trumpets and a tenor saxophone, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Our ridiculously talented friend Finn Scholes has packed a full size, big bore tuba, a Rhodes electric piano (think of Ray Charles’ main axe), hand percussion and an orchestral vibraphone, which is a massive instrument that gets wheeled in on a trolley. Tim also has trombone and a frankly intimidating pair of stomping boots that he imported from a Portland motorcycle shop. As well as my tenor I’ve got a bass clarinet, which you’ll hear more than any other instrument during the show.

Finn Scholes performed in Southland two years ago with his band Carnivorous Plant Society. What made you team up for this tour?

Finn’s band was how I came to meet this unique and captivating musician. He’s right next to me now in the motel animating a music video for a Melbourne band who love his art. He’s constantly in motion and a joy to watch. We’re very lucky to have him on the road with us for this 36-date odyssey around the country. He’s quite simply one of the finest improvisers I’ve ever seen, probably the best trumpet player in the country and he’s outstanding on keys and the vibes. You’ve just gotta hear this guy play!

What can the Southland audience expect from the gig?

We’re playing repertoire from our three Hopetoun Brown albums and a smattering of rarities from some unexpected corners of music. We’re also playing a song usually performed by Carnivorous Plant Society, so there are deep jazz moments and heavy funk sessions that reach into dance music territory, too. It’s a journey from antique blues to the future of funk.

Hopetoun Brown and the Genius of Finn Scholes, Repertory House, Invercargill, Saturday, May 12, 8pm. Tickets from TicketDirect

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