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Strange Caravan National Tour Announced Feat. Bret McKenzie

Strange Caravan National Tour Announced Feat. Bret McKenzie

Friday 7th September, 2018 8:33AM

Wellington musical superstars Bret McKenzie (Flight Of The Conchords), Age Pryor (Fly My Pretties), Justin Firefly (Fly My Pretties), Nigel Collins (Wellington Ukulele Orchestra) and Ben Lemi (Trinity Roots, Dawn Diver) are banding together as Congress of Animals for the Strange Caravan tour, playing throughout Aotearoa this November and December. Over two years in the making, the five-strong ensemble promise "new songs, fresh energy and a healthy amount of contrast" for their extensive run of shows. Check out the tour details, read Ben Lemi's words on origins of the project, and listen to Justin Firefly's brand new single with Congress of Animals 'Astral Tumbleweed' below...

UPDATE 14/09/18: an extra Napier show at Haumoana Hall has been announced due to popular demand, here are the updated details...

UPDATE: 25/09/18: a Dunedin show has been announced for Captain Cook Tavern....

Congress of Animals and Undertheradar proudly presents...

Strange Caravan Tour
Featuring... Bret McKenzie, Age Pryor, Justin Firefly, Nigel Collins, Ben Lemi

Thursday 15th November - Christchurch, Blue Smoke
Friday 16th November - Dunedin, Captain Cook Tavern
Saturday 17th November - Queenstown, Sherwood
Sunday 18th November - Queenstown, Sherwood
Thursday 22nd November - 
Napier, Haumoana Hall - new show added
Friday 23rd November - Napier, Haumoana Hall (sold out)
Saturday 24th November - Wellington, Meow
Thursday 29th November - Tauranga, Totara St.
Friday 30th November - Auckland, Hollywood Cinema
Saturday 1st December - Leigh, Leigh Sawmill Cafe

Tickets available HERE via UTR

Ben Lemi generously took time out to shed light on the origins of the Strange Caravan tour...

"For me it started with a Jug Band gig up at the Houghton Valley School Fair back in 2015 when Justin, Bret, and Nigel invited me along to play Bass in the group. A repertoire of old time blues and field hollering was definitely a great place to start to get an idea of group cohesion. We all had original material that we wanted to develop so a progression from the Jug Band seemed inevitable. Bret and Nigel had worked with Age a fair amount in the past with other bands, so in May 2016 we entered the recording studio as five songwriters with new sketches and compositions in tow.

We all have different voices both as vocalists and songwriters so I feel like we’ll be showcasing a decent range of colours and influences between the five of us. The time spent recording the parts, playing producer roles for each others songs, and employing an “all-in” approach with shaping arrangements has been an important step towards achieving the group ‘sound’, and the Strange Caravan tour will be another step in the evolution of the project. I for one am very curious to see out how the music will resonate with audiences in a range of different spaces from dedicated music venues to beautiful old halls and theatres.

It has taken well over two years to get the songs together, and a lot of deliberation this year to get to the point where we feel ready to commit to hitting the road as a band. Being spread across the country on differing schedules hasn’t been as much of an obstacle for productivity as you might expect, in fact it has resulted in more a of a ‘pressure cooker’ scenario where the five of us are doing our best to add the right ingredients. The privilege of working with Maestro Lee Prebble at Surgery Studios was never something to take for granted, and time is precious so we’ve all had to assume a very focused mindset for the sessions. I think it’s fair to say that the time spent tracking and mixing over the last two years has been necessary to allow for gestation on a few levels and it has been in the studio where we’ve learned a lot about each others qualities and quirks. ‘Cogs’ are being added to the machine all the time, and as the Strange Caravan starts to warm up for the road, we’re very excited to get the wheels in motion."

Stream Justin Firefly with Congress of Animals' new single 'Astral Tumbleweed'...

Here's an excellent recent track from Ben Lemi's group Dawn Diver...

Press release:

A Strange Caravan travels its way around New Zealand this spring.

A collective of renowned kiwi songwriters and solo artists, tracing lineage to many of NZ’s most loved bands, join forces this spring to bring you The Strange Caravan Tour.

The tour features Bret McKenzie, Age Pryor, Justin Firefly, Nigel Collins and Ben Lemi, whose musical projects include Fly My Pretties, Trinity Roots and Flight of the Conchords to name but a few. This five piece ensemble now congregate to showcase new original songs in intimate live settings across the country this November and December.

Starting as a series of jam sessions between old friends, the group of songsmiths has blossomed from an ad hoc hangout to full musical partnership over the last eighteen months.

Age Pryor explains;Justin, Nigel and Bret were getting together to try out tunes, and I joined when I happened to be in Wellington - Justin and I had done the same thing before, in jams that became the Woolshed Sessions album. The multi-talented Ben Lemi was the last to join the group, and turned out to be the missing piece of the evolving jigsaw.”

These 5 musicians will be hitching their wagon and travelling the length and breadth of New Zealand for the very special Strange Caravan tour.


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Congress of Animals - Strange Caravan Tour
Thu 15th Nov 7:30pm
Cassels Blue Smoke, Christchurch
Congress of Animals - Strange Caravan Tour
Fri 16th Nov 8:00pm
Captain Cook, Dunedin
Congress of Animals - Strange Caravan Tour
Sat 17th Nov 9:00pm
Sherwood, Queenstown
Congress of Animals - Strange Caravan Tour
Sun 18th Nov 9:00pm
Sherwood, Queenstown
Congress of Animals - Strange Caravan Tour
Fri 23rd Nov 7:30pm
Haumoana Hall, Hastings
Congress of Animals - Strange Caravan Tour
Sat 24th Nov 9:00pm
Meow, Wellington
Congress of Animals - Strange Caravan Tour
Thu 29th Nov 7:30pm
Totara St., Tauranga
Congress of Animals - Strange Caravan Tour
Fri 30th Nov 7:30pm
Hollywood Cinema, Auckland
Congress of Animals - Strange Caravan Tour
Sat 1st Dec 9:00pm
Leigh Sawmill Cafe, Leigh