Paua Fritters - The Uncut Version!!
The Paua Fritters formed in 1991.
They started out as a busking trio -Alice McKenzie, Penny Laybourn and Hilda McClutchie. The three friends had spent much of the previous decade travelling the world with their guitars and backpacks. Soon they had an additional band member, Erwin van Asbeck, who joined as their percussionist.
Before long they were regulars at Victoria Market where they were paid by the market to perform and were also playing "unplugged" in local cafes, festivals and shopping malls. They presented an often amusing lively performance, specialising in vocal harmonies. The crowd favorites at the time were "Rawhide" and "Ghostriders in the Sky"!
Gradually the focus of the band moved towards performing more of their own material, songs that did not always fit the "busking" format and they started performing in bars, cafes, local festivals and orientation gigs at Auckland and Wellington Technical Institute.
In January 1993 the Paua Fritters were invited to join "The Great NZ Beach Tour" in association with Greenpeace. The three week tour spanned the upper North Island beach towns. They played evening gigs at pubs and did daily outdoor concerts for Greenpeace.
This was followed by the bands first excursion to Wellington to play at the Wellington Technical Institute, Trekkers Hotel and Bar Bodega.
The next step was of course to record some of their music. A live recording session in the studio allowed the Paua Fritters to release their first 7 track cassingle. It featured 4 originals written by Penny Laybourn and included the classic "Ghostriders in the Sky".
1995 saw QE11 Arts Council funding for a 3 track EP called 'Harbour'. The recording was done at Montage Studios, produced by Rob Gelley. The EP was released by Sun Pacific Music. It contained three songs written by Penny, "Harbour", "Hit and Run" and "Is this the Life".
The next couple of years the band had a busy live schedule. Playing in bars in Auckland, Hamilton and Raglan, they also were in demand for private functions. Other live work included outdoor events like Womad, Pasifika, Devonport Festival, Grey Lynn Festival, the Auckland Summer City concerts and a large number of smaller local events.
Over this time they were joined by bass player, vocalist and songwriter Robyn Sutherland. Robyn had played bass for a variety of people including Midge Marsden and Rick Bryant.
The NZ Herald said "The album comes wrapped in a big production and is full of smart vocal harmonies and deliciously addictive songs". The album received a lot of good press and reviews.
The song "Pretty Little Moon" was included on the CD - Womad 99 Southern Hemisphere.
the album release the numbers in the band changed once again with two
new members. They were drummer Tony Bouwmeester (formerly of Satellite
Spies) and guitarist Wendy Kjestrup. Wendy an old school mate of Penny
and Alice's had just returned to New Zealand from London where she had
been playing with her bands "Dead Famous People", "The
Brendas" and a country band "The Sierra Nevadas".
band set about promoting the album with the new lineup, initially locally
in Auckland and then in early 1999 they embarked on a National Tour. The
tour began with Sweetwaters (unpaid but fantastic), then moved to the
South Island for two weeks before returning to the North Island. The tour
finished with a performance at the International Womad 99 Festival in
Auckland. It continued to be a fairly hectic time for the band promoting
the album, including a regular fun gig entertaining the Friday night crowds
on the Kestrel Ferry.
The second album Cruiseville was released in 2002, an album of strong melodic pop songs still with the distinctive vocal arrangements. The sound of the Paua Fritters had definitely mellowed since the busking days! The band is currently promoting the album, playing at small venues in and around Auckland, concentrating on outdoor summer afternoon gigs at bar/cafes.