By Pete Clemons
Facebook can be the most strange of places and, at the same time, the most incredible of places. Where else can you hook up with someone you have never met before and yet can share a small amount of commonality?
I recently became ‘friends’ with a lady called Jackie who has lived the vast majority of her life in New Zealand. But Jackie had actually, been previously, within 100 yards of where I was born in Hipswell Highway. It is a certainty that we were close neighbours for a short while.
My knowledge of New Zealand’s music scene is extremely limited. I remember the obvious Split Enz and more recently Hayley Westenra. And I am aware of Dame Kiri Te Kanawa who once famously sang in Coventry Cathedral. But, other than that, I know little more.
Jackie thought she had left Coventry in 1963. However during a chat about The Rolling Stones - Jackie clearly remembered seeing them play at Coventry Theatre with The Ronettes as support - we established that it must have been during the early part of 1964.
And as it happened, one of the first bands Jackie saw in her newly adopted country was, once again, The Rolling Stones. And this love for The Rolling Stones and music in general,
appears to have paid a pivotal role in how Jackie’s live developed in New Zealand.
After settling in New Zealand Jackie became part of a band called Rodgers Dodgers who, as 13 year old’s, won a local talent quest playing mostly Beatles covers.
Bass player Roger Mclachlan was the founding member and he would join Little River Band as well as develop an impressive worldwide CV working with the likes of Cliff Richard and Shirley Bassey. Jackie would also carry on singing and worked with many other bands in New Zealand.
Rodgers Dodgers reformed for a reunion during 2008. The first time they had performed together in 40 years. And this love for music was certainly in the genes because joining Rodgers Dodgers onstage was Jackie’s daughter.
Shannon Cooper-Garland has been singing since she was 6 years old. She started with Kapa Haka, a Maori culture group, and as she got older moved on to a local covers group called C-Red and then a jazz band called Swing Street.
For several years Shannon was part of a duo with local musician Jason Schmidt. Together they were known as Jaysha who reached the finals of a New Zealand talent show in 1994.
Another band Shannon became associated with for several years were known as Pipeworkz. This highly original pipe band played pop covers and original music but drew it’s inspirations from the individual musicians diverse backgrounds. The result being a blend of Scottish, Maori and Pacific Islands sounds. Not only that but this band got to take their music to Australia, Papua New Guinea, Canada and Germany.
Since gaining international recognition Shannon has become hot property. To demonstrate
Another band who has just welcomed Shannon aboard is Danger Baby from Christchurch. The announcement on a news flash opened with the words ‘Kia ora koutou!’ which means ‘have life, be healthy’ went on to say ‘I kid you not when I say that this very talented wahine has got some serious pipes to go with her beautiful wairua and stage presence’.
During this extraordinary journey Shannon has taught herself to play Saxophone, lead guitar, bass guitar and keyboard. Occasionally she has got herself behind a drum kit. Not bad for a vocalist whose roots stretch right the way back to Wyken, Coventry.