Trouble on the Waterfront: Live

The Ruby Lounge, Bond Street, Wellington

17/02/2010 - 18/02/2010

NZ Fringe Festival 2010

Production Details

Trouble brewing on the Waterfront 

The 1951 Waterfront Dispute was a flash point in New Zealand’s history. Those turbulent times have been presented in song through Trouble on the Waterfront, an album the Sunday Star Times said: "If all history was taught in such a stylish way we wouldn’t be in such a state today."

Chris Prowse presents Trouble on the Waterfront: Live, a unique presentation of his album performed with the support of the The Waterfront Collective that surpasses traditional boundaries of live music performance.

Featuring in the 2010 New Zealand Fringe Festival, it will be held 17-18 February at The Ruby Lounge, a new music venue on Bond Street that will feature cabaret seating for only 150 people. Tickets on sale through Real Groovy Records, book now for this unique musical experience.

Trouble on the Waterfront: Live follows the successful release of the album which has been selected as a finalist for the ‘Best Folk Album for 2009’ Tui Award (the winner is announced on 31 January).

The Waterfront Collective performs music from the album with additional multimedia inserts to help tell the stories of this time. Appearing with the Collective are Andrew Delahunty (The Windy City Strugglers), Bill Hickman (The Shot Band), Dave Currie, Eva Prowse (Fly My Pretties), Murray Kilpatrick, Tessa Rain (Fly My Pretties), and Chris Prowse.

The 1951 waterfront dispute was a significant event in New Zealand history, polarising opinion and attitudes across the country in away never experienced before in New Zealand.

Not only was it a battle (often physical) between the left and the establishment, and a conflict between various forces within the union movement, but also it was a struggle that raised serious questions about the importance of civil liberties in a democracy during times of internal conflict.

Those times are explored through a blend of contemporary song and multi-media. The first half of the evening will feature solo performances by singer/songwriters Bill Hickman, Eva Prowse, and Tessa Rain. The Collective will then present Trouble on the Waterfront as the main act.

"It’s a fascinating piece of Kiwi history, presented in a uniquely Kiwi fashion." Marty Duda, Real Groove 4/5 stars 

"If all history was taught in such a stylish way we wouldn’t be in such a state today." James Belfield, Sunday Star Times 3.5/5 stars 

"This album is an important and enjoyable step in the right (more correctly, Left) direction." Graham Reid, Elsewhere

Trouble on the Waterfront: Live
February 17-18, 7.30pm
The Ruby Lounge, Bond St Wellington
Tickets $20 or $15 Fringe Addict Card holders
On sale now at Real Groovy Records

Evoking tingling connections to the past

Review by Maryanne Cathro 18th Feb 2010

Trouble on the Waterfront surprises me. Even though it has a musical element, I’d assumed it would be some kind of revue, as Theatreview had been asked to cover it. It isn’t however, it’s a live performance of the concept folk album by the same name from Chris Prowse and the Waterfront Collective. This album won the Tui Award for best folk album of 2009.
Now if there’s one thing I love more than theatre, it’s folk music in all its many forms, and this show is a real treat. The show comprises ten songs spun around the events of the 1951 waterfront dispute with radio broadcasts in between to give them context. These broadcasts recorded by Sharon Crosbie and Tom Frewen are so believably 1950s radio style, I would have thought they were real had the programme not said otherwise.

The Waterfront Collective is Chris Prowse (guitar), Andrew Delahunty (harmonica), Bill Hickman (guitar), Dave Currie (bass), Eva Prowse (fiddle, mandolin), Murray Kilpatrick (accordion, guitar) and Tessa Rain (guitar). Everyone provides vocals.

The music varies from blues to traditional folk styles, each piece resonating differently. Some songs pick up on the musical styles of an earlier era like ‘Our Mates from Australia’, about cold beer, which could have been plucked from the Great Australian Song Book, or ‘Freedom Radio’ with the evocative, intense harmonies of a southern Baptist hymn. Others like ‘Proclamation’ (Sid’s Song) captured the mood of the material, in this case in a night club bluesy style that is hilarious in its contrast with Sid Holland, the Prime Minister of the time. ‘Stand Side by Side’ is a love song from the wharfie’s wives to their husbands in a pacific calypso style reminiscent of ‘Pearly Shells’.

Together, the songs and broadcasts evoke tingling connections to the past without becoming overly political. There is no folksy earnestness here, no mighty wind. Chris Prowse lets his music convey the message for itself.

This show is the highlight of my Fringe experience to date by a landslide.
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