DUETS: Steve and Ainsley

STEVE and AINSLEY APIRANA  

Steve Apirana is one of the finest gospel musicians currently working in Australasia. He is a gifted communicator, highly skilled guitarist and vocalist, with an extraordinary sense of humour. Specialising in blues and gospel, he has played alongside Daddy Cool, Black Sabbath, Split Ends, Osibisa, Fairport Convention and Average White Band, as part of the seventies band Butler. He was one of The Velvettes, sixties spoof rock band from Christchurch and has toured solo for more than twenty years as far afield as the UK, USA, and Europe. Steve captivates audiences in a way that very few can. His honesty, self - depreciating humour and excellent musicianship has audiences totally absorbed. He has released four albums over the 35 years of his career, the latest, This Wretched Man, in November 2011.

 Ainsley is mostly known from her performances with Steve but is herself a singer and songwriter. She recorded 12 of her own songs on an album called Autumn in 2001 and has just released a new album – Cappuccinos and Vanilla Squares. Ainsley joins Steve with vocals, guitar, whistles and flutes to bring you a collection of songs from their six albums and some of their favourite covers. Their mission is to encourage and uplift your spirit as they share their stories and songs and minister out of thirty years of life on the road, thirty years of marriage and all the triumphs and struggles they have met along the way.

 

Steve and Ainsley play regularly in churches, cafes, halls, prisons, schools, and homes, traveling anywhere they are invited. Catch snippets of them on www.apiranamusic.com .

For bookings write to Ainsley at: steveandainsleyapirana@gmail.com

 

Steve Apirana - Singer/Songwriter

Steve Apirana Steve Apirana is one of the finest musicians currently working in Australasia. He is a gifted communicator, highly skilled guitarist and vocalist with an extraordinary sense of humour. As a musician, Steve specialises in blues and gospel. His pedigree reaches back into the seventies, having played support for such luminaries as Daddy Cool, Black Sabbath, Split Ends, and Dragon. He was a member of the seventies band Butler and as well as doing much solo work he was involved with The Velvettes, a sixties spoof rock band. Equally at home with acoustic guitar or his trademark Fender Strat, Steve's playing is matched by his rich bluesy voice. Steve captivates audiences in a way that very few can. When performing, it's not long before his charm, honesty, self - depreciating humour and excellent musicianship has audiences totally absorbed. A former street kid, Steve found faith in Jesus Christ, graduated as a social worker, and then returned to the same streets, working with the Anglican City Mission to reach out to people in need. Steve's life and experiences have been a perfect grounding for a style of communication that doesn't threaten but dares to be honest. 

Dirt Floor Alliance - Steve, Jim, Mark and Ainsley

DIRT FLOOR Alliance July 2011 Tour Sparks will fly It's not all about the dust of the outback although one could be forgiven for thinking so when the words "dirt floor" get bandied about. And if not dust then sparks could fly when the bluegrass & blues-based Dirt Floor Alliance play their first Australian gigs in July. The dirt floor bit has to do with the music and poems we perform, says Steve Apirana from his home in Cooran on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. The music's a sort of bluegrass, country blues and folk mix based loosely on what gets called American roots music. My mate Jim Doak is a bluegrass player of some renown while Ainsley my wife sings heavenly Carter Family harmonies. Add Mark Raffill's performance poetry and my gospel blues background to the mix and you've got the dirt floor sound: an alliance of friends whose hearts beat to the same rhythm, you could say. The Dirt Floor Alliance is playing venues in Brisbane and on the Sunshine Coast during the latter half of July this year, the first time the group will have performed together in Australia. We've played four separate tours throughout New Zealand over the last three years or so, Steve explains. Jim and Mark live in Nelson and have organized the NZ gigs for the group with Ainsley and myself hopping on a plane to join them. This time the traveling roles will be reversed and it is Ainsley who has arranged this low key tour for us. Steve and Ainsley have performed solo and as a duo throughout Australia, New Zealand, North America and Europe. Between them they have released four albums.

Steve Apirana: his story, told by Ainsley

Steve Apirana Steve Apirana is a gospel singer a songwriter and a guitarist who uses many different styles of music in his songs but leans heavily towards the blues. Since I first heard him sing in the 70's he has been my favourite singer. He has a voice like gold and I have watched him grow as a musician and performer over the last thirty years into a highly regarded and well respected musician. He is known not only for his songs and for his guitar playing but also for his humour. He has an amazing ability to build rapport with any crowd from young to old and across all social boundaries. I have seen him perform for children, prisoners, gang members, church and festival audiences and capture a crowd with his expertise on the guitar, his amazing voice and his self abasing humour: the people always go away smiling. To me he is one of the best: he knows how to show case his excellence as a musician, how to get the crowds attention and keep it and he knows how to make very poignant statements without offending anyone. He has an amazing way of making people feel like they are special and capable of doing anything - a great encourager. I have seen him take the rebellious child in a class and make him the centre of attention quelling the child's need to misbehave and distract the whole class. He has taught many, young and old, to play the guitar and has encouraged many guitarists, harmonica players and singers in their musical pursuits. I will always have a high regard for him as a musician and as a person. Here is his story from my perspective: Steve Apirana was born in 1952, in the town of Rotorua, where he lived with his three brothers, his three sisters, his Mum and his Dad, in a three bedroom house. Today success is judged by many different things. Steve Apirana may not be a name that everyone knows but I would like to say that his career as a musician has been more than successful - for three reasons: His career has spanned more than 30 years, he has released only three albums but they have never stopped selling since they were released and he still manages to make an income from tours which are organised by invitation not by our request, even after being out of the music scene for two years. We recently found a website with a record review of his second album on it: “Blues as deep as the Grand Canyon and satisfying as an icecream on a hot day, the scorching opener That Same Old Road with it's liquid Hammond and achingly fluid guitar is as good as gospel blues gets. Elsewhere No Turning Back ranges from Hear Me Knocking, recycling Elmore James riffs to produce a socking rendition of Revelation 3:20 and the delicate accoustic ballad I Choose to Follow which has harmonies a ringer for all those soft rock groups out in the 70's California. Steve's natural musical eclecticism may deter album purchasers, but the eight tracks here ( fear not, you still get 46 minutes of music ) have the fluid ambience of a master musician. A fine Album. This review is written by Tony Cummings in the United Kingdom (you can google Cross Rhythms - click on Steve Apirana then click on No Turning Back - to find it). Steve has done several tours in the UK, Europe and the States over the years and was popular everywhere he sang. His record No Turning Back was distributed by Alliance Music through Europe and the UK for a while, when he was spending a bit of time there. Going back to the beginning: His start in the music business was with a band called Butler. Back in the 70's, he and his mates were what is today called Street Kids. They left home to find adventure and found themselves in Christchurch where they knew no one. They found places to sleep in cars and under bridges till they got themselves established and made a bit of money getting jobs here and there, getting into trouble and out of it. They began to frequent the large Anglican Cathedral in Latimar square on a Sunday night because if you stayed through the service you got to eat toasted sandwhiches and coffee for free afterwards, and the preacher let you go out for a smoke half way through the sermon. The young minister's son was interested in these young boys aptitude for music and arranged for them to use the churches band equipment to start a band and use the church hall to practise in . Very soon they were writing their own songs and Andy, seeing their potential became their manager and Butler was born. They toured for the next three years across New Zealand playing with such bands as Daddy Cool, Black Sabbath, Split Ends and Dragon. They became one of New Zealands most sort after bands. Things all changed dramatically when they were asked to be support act for Joe Cocker. The unanimous decision was that they should turn it down. The four boys had all just recently become Christians. Let me digress for a minute. In Steve's words, he realized that being a christian was more than being born in a christian country and believing in God. You had to do something about it. You had to make a decision to go His way, not yours. So that's what they'd done and when this invitation to play at the Joe Cocker concert came they all felt they had to turn it down because it clashed with their bible study night. They told the organisers they couldn't do it and Dragon did the concert instead. And we all know what happened to Dragon they came to Australia and got famous. So they lived to regret this decision but never once have changed their minds about it being the right decision. Their lives were actually pretty messed up with broken relationships etc. And looking back they all say in the end they got the better deal. Butler did not last very long after this. The boys decided they needed to get their lives on track and went their separate ways. For Steve, within the next few years there was to be a new wife, a new band, a new album and a whole new direction. In 1992 he moved from Christchurch with a family of his own and settled on the Sunshine Coast in the small country town of Cooran. It took six months before Steve wouldn't have time to unpack his bags before he was off again. The decision to move to Australia came when he was invited to tour with Don Francisco around Australia. He was worried the Aussi's wouldn't like him but they loved him, in fact their response was overwhelming. And from this tour came a never ending stream of invitations to play across Australia and eventually across the world. In 1994 he was asked to sing on a recording being done by Maranatha Music in Los Angeles and in 1998 He was offered a management deal in the States, but turned it down - for personal reasons (a move to USA didn't seem like something that he wanted for his family). He felt it was better to stay in Australia, keep the family settled and travel to the States from time to time when he was invited. Over the last 20 years he has played at festivals around the world - Greenbelt in England, Flavo in Holland, Australian Gospel Music festival here in Toowoomba and Parachute in New Zealand. He has played in schools across Europe, Prisons across New Zealand and churches all over the world. Three years ago he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and ended up in hospital with two broken legs and smashed feet. It took him the most part of those three years to recover but he has done extremely well with the help of a lot of very kind and generous people and he is now travelling again singing and playing guitar, bringing his unique form of song and humour to audiences again. And his three albums still sell at concerts like hot cakes. For the future he wants to make more albums.He wants to keep touring at a more relaxed pace and in his spare time encourage the next generation of budding musicians to get out there and have a go. Ainsley Apirana 20th April,2007

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