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Smokey Blokes win Smokefreerockquest final

Press Release – Smokefreerockquest

The stand out sound of synth-pop band Smokey Blokes took them to first place at this year’s Wellington-Hutt Smokefreerockquest final at Sacred Heart College on Friday night.

The four-piece band has members from St Oran’s College, Chilton St James School and Hutt Valley High School. Grace Ashworth-Lawson, the singer and synth player, said she thought their style stood out as it was quite different to everyone else.

“I was really worried and overthinking when we were on stage so I made sure that I just let go and made it happen,’ she said. “I was so nervous because it is my last Smokefreerockquest, but I was really feeling the love from all of our supporters and all of the other bands were really encouraging. I’m so happy that there is this competition to give me an outlet for what I love to do.”

The other members of Smokey Blues, comprised of Year 12 and 13 students, are Oscar Hazlewood (bass), Simon Buxton (drums), and Yuwei Shen (keyboard).

Second place in the band category went to rock band JetFuel from Hutt Valley High School. The members are Ben Doornbos (vocals, guitar), Tom Mingins (drums), William Thompson (bass), and Zane Green (guitar).

These two acts win musical gear from associate sponsors NZ Rockshops, and join solo-duo winners for Wellington-Hutt Debbie Annalee Brown, Porirua College (first) and Samantha Romijn, Wellington Girls’ College (2nd) in the opportunity to gain selection for the national final in September.

Smokefreerockquest Founder and director Glenn Common says there are more bands than ever before reaching the high standard required from national finalists.

“This means that real dedication is required to achieve the ‘stand out quality’ that the judges will be looking for,” he said. “They have to capture 15 minutes of their original material on video for selection as national finalists. It’s a process that demands creativity and musical ability, being able to work together as a group and having good organisational skills. What separates them out is perseverance – industry success seldom happens overnight.”

And Common encouraged those who didn’t make it through to stick with their music.

“Some bands and soloists will no doubt go on to success in the Kiwi music industry like SFRQ alumnae Kimbra, Marlon Williams and Shapeshifter, but for most of the young musicians SFRQ is about the experience of performing live on stage in a professional set up, meeting others who share their passion for music, and getting constructive and impartial feedback from more experienced musicians who are our judges and mentors.”

The full list of awards for Wellington-Hutt is:

Band 1: Smokey Blokes, St Oran’s College, Chilton St James School, Hutt Valley High School

Band 2: JetFuel, Hutt Valley High School

Band 3: Alexis Texas, Hutt Valley High School

Solo/Duo 1: Debbie Annalee Brown, Porirua College

Solo/Duo 2: Samantha Romijn, Wellington Girls’ College

Smokefree Tangata Beats Award: KOA, Aotea College

ZM People’s Choice: Right Seater, Raphael House, Scots College

Smokefree Best Vocals: Luciana Kaya from Violet., Hutt Valley High School

MAINZ Musicianship: Sarah Benge (Alexis Texas), Hutt Valley High School

Best Song: By Friday, Hutt Valley High School, Sacred Heart College, Hutt International Boys’ School

Fatboy Style Award: Vocalists from Porirua Beats, Mana College

APRA Lyric Writers’ Award: Catherine Bullock, Wellington Girls’ College

The top regional bands and solo/duos submit footage for selection as finalists to play off at the Smokefreerockquest national final on Saturday September 22 at the Dorothy Winstone Centre in Auckland, preceded by the Smokefree Tangata Beats national final on Friday September 21.

The live events run from May 5 until July 6, and most regions are also being filmed for the hugely popular SFRQ webisodes (sfrq.nz), fronted this year by NZ’s ‘First Bloke’ Clarke Gayford.

Smokefreerockquest, powered by Rockshop, has national winners’ prize packages for bands and solo/duo winners that includes $22,000 in Rockshop vouchers, $16,000 NZ On Air recording, video and promo package, a photo shoot and branding package from Imaginary Friends. There is also the Musicianship Award, the APRA (Australasian Performing Right Association) Lyric Award, Best Song Award, Smokefree Vocals Award, Fatboy Style Award, and the ZM People’s Choice.

Musical successes from Smokefreerockquest over its 30-year history include Broods, Leroy Clampitt, Kimbra, Aaradhna, Opshop, Evermore, Ladyhawke, Kids of 88, Die!Die!Die!, Joel Little, Tiny Ruins, Marlon Williams, Brooke Fraser, Anika Moa, Chelsea Jade, Nadia Reid, Aldous Harding, Steriogram, Phoenix Foundation, Devilskin, The Black Seeds, Bic Runga, and The Naked and Famous. Smokefree Tangata Beats standout successes include Alien Weaponry, Strangely Arousing Nesian Mystik, the only New Zealand band to ever have ten singles all certified gold or platinum.

PhotoL Smokey Blokes from left Simon Buxton (drums), Grace Ashworth-Lawson (vocals, synth), Yuwei Shen (keyboards), Oscar Hazlewood (bass).

Smokefreerockquest – 30 years of musical success: New Zealand’s nationwide, live, original music, youth event stages over 30 events giving young musicians the opportunity to perform live in a professional setting, in venues from Whangarei to Invercargill. Smokefreerockquest 2018, powered by Rockshop, aims to motivate young musicians to strive for success, to realise the opportunities available in music careers, and to encourage their peers to support original New Zealand music. The founders Glenn Common and Pete Rainey were honoured with the MNZM in 2013, and continue to lead the team that now runs this New Zealand institution. For more information visit www.sfrq.nz

Smokefree Tangata Beats recognises and reflects the unique cultural identity of Aotearoa New Zealand and the Pacific. Participants must incorporate Te Reo Maori or a Polynesian language, instruments, dance or movement in their performance. The event motivates young musicians to express themselves with cultural relevance, and to encourage their peers to support original Aotearoa Kiwi music. For more information go to www.sftb.nz

Smokefree has been supporting young Kiwis to showcase their passions for music for close to three decades. Thousands of musicians have hit the stage and many have gone onto to do epic things on national and global levels. Being the naming right sponsor of Smokefreerockquest gives another platform to show the benefits of a smokefree lifestyle and how smoking really doesn’t have a place in young people’s bands or their world. Smokefree recognises that today’s musicians and artists will play a huge role in shaping New Zealand’s future as we head towards the goal of Smokefree 2025.

Rockquest Promotions: In 1989 Glenn Common and Pete Rainey picked up a radio station school music contest in Christchurch. The event went nationwide in 1990, and in ’91 Smokefree became the main sponsor. SFRQ founders Glenn and Pete were honoured with the MNZM for Services to Music in 2013, and continue to lead the team that now runs this New Zealand institution, from offices in Nelson and Auckland. From 2018 Rockquest Promotions is also producing the dance and drama event Showquest in ten regions. For more information visit www.showquest.nz

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