The Wellington Ukelele Orchestra, of which Bret is a member, has released an EP titled Heartache. Buy it online here . Price is NZ $
The Wellington Ukulele Orchestra performing Hey Ya. Bret can be spotted there somewhere.
I heard about Bret's latest venture a little while back. Intrigued by such snippets as 'Bret Mackenzie’s chance of stardom with his Ukulele bandits play NZ classics... hick stylz. Check out the new cool' I was hoping to hear more about it. So what did I do? Well, we to be exact. We prodded our very own Becks from the forum to go investigate early one morning recently. This is what she had to say about it....
Waking up at 7am is not an easy task for someone like me, whose average waking time is around 12pm. Nevertheless, I had an important mission to complete, and I was up early. Everything was timed perfectly this morning. My friend and I almost missed the bus, but thanks to quite a few passengers hopping on at our stop, we were able to make it in time.
Walking to the venue was an experience. After almost trampling on Blanket Man (Wellington's most famour street person), and seeing a guy running past us with two ukuleles in hand. Before we even stepped in the door of Cafe De Luxe, I could hear the band in full swing. We arrived to an orchestra of ukuleles, The Wellington Ukulele Orchestra to be exact, playing Johnny Cash's 'Folsom Prison Blues'. Now, a Ukulele Orchestra is exactly what it sounds like; about 12 ukuleles, and one double bass. I managed to get a good table, which looked at Bret from the side (those are some massive chops), while my friend ordered coffee.
The thing which I really liked about the whole experience was the atmosphere of the Cafe, very welcoming and relaxed. I could tell that almost everyone there were regulars on a Thursday morning, and although I did feel like an intruder at a family gathering, I was soon eased by the other patrons and the band, who gave us friendly smiles, and one woman boogie-ing in her seat asked if we wanted to dance too. The band was really accommodating and welcoming too, with Bret waving to people as they arrived and left.
I was put in charge of taking photos as I was in the best position. I did feel quite rude taking photos of the band, they seemed very aware of what I was doing. Hopefully I will be allowed back....
The music was amazing. The orchestra performed covers of many songs ranging from Angie, Dream a Little Dream of Me, and a number of New Zealand classics. The musicians themselves were very professional yet relaxed. When we arrived there were about 8 players, but as the morning progressed more people turned up with ukuleles. By the time they had finished they had me singing along and dancing in my seat. The sound which was actually produced by these tiny guitars was incredible. Both the singing and the ukuleles were really powerful. To technically look at their performance, they were very musically tight as a band, with vocal harmonies which were always on time and in tune.
To top the whole experience off, it was one audience member's birthday. The band sang happy birthday to him, along with the rest of the cafe!
If anyone gets the opportunity to go along and see them, do not pass it up. Not only does the music get you grooving, the regulars and the band just make you want to come back for more.
It looks like I'll be getting up at 7am more often...
Thanks muchly to Becks for getting up early, going along and enjoying herself and then sharing!
Other Bret news
Bret has spent some time in early 2006 with his band The Black Seeds touring Australia and New Zealand and recording a new album.
14 March 2008 - One By One video
14 January 2007 - On location with The Black Seeds
To fill in the idle hours spent waiting for more news, here are some pics of the man himself. Taken during SXSW in March 2006. Big thankyou to Shelly for the pictures. Please credit her if using the images elsewhere.
Black Seeds - Oooo a band! Yep, Bret was in one. Left in 2006 to pursue other projects.