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.


In 1998 the Paua Fritters released their debut album "Paua to the People". The album was produced by Steve Garden and recorded at the "Garden Shed". The CD was released by Local Music.
The single "Her Story" was nominated for the 1998 APRA Silver Scroll Awards.
"Her Story" received good airplay throughout the country as did the video of the song. National Radio play listed four songs from the album.

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.

After 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".
Hilda McClutchie left the band to move to the South Island.

The 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.
In late 2000 the band decided to reduce the live work for a while. Penny spent time writing and demoing new material in the studio, this time with Bob Shepheard at his Serendipity Studios in Birkenhead. Then with Alice and Wendy they began to record the new album.
The band still did live work with a reduced line up, mainly at original music venues in Auckland - Café 223, the Temple and Kings Arms, often sharing the evening's line up with the Katy Soljak Band. The band also ventured regularly to Coromandel to play. John Thomson stepped in as the bass player over this time.

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.

Current Line Up
The current line up of the Paua Fritters is Penny, Alice and Wendy and two new members. Kararaina Pene on drums (formerly of the Katy Soljak band), and double bass player Hew Jenkins a new arrival from Britain who has added a wonderful new dimension to the sound.

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