Gig of the Week: Hopetoun Brown and The Genius of Finn Scholes

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An Auckland band are hoping to evoke the spirit of New Orleans’ Mardi Gras at their Queenstown gig.

Hopetoun Brown and The Genius of Finn Scholes perform an eclectic mix of jazz, blues and a touch of rock and roll with a pinch of country.

They’re bringing their set to The Sherwood for the next two Sundays.

Although the band’s clarinet player, Nick Atkinson, can’t really pinpoint the exact genre they fall into, he says they’re in the blues section of iTunes “but that’s a bit of a catch-all”.

Atkinson also jams out on the tenor saxophone and throws in some back-up vocals.

Of the Queenstown gig he says: “We’ll spend a bit of time walking round the room so we can evoke the spirit of the New Orleans Mardi Gras in a small way — with three white guys.”

Atkinson’s joined by singer Tim Stewart who also stomps, plays percussion, trumpet and trombone.

Together the pair make up Hopetoun Brown.

Finn Scholes is someone they sporadically play with.

He’s actually a trumpet player in Neil Finn’s band, as well as a few others — this weekend he may also bring his tuba and play  the keys.

Atkinson: “When Finn comes along with us it sort of triples our sound.”

They’re technically an acoustic band, as microphones are the only electrical piece of equipment they use to perform.

Atkinson reckons this gives Stewart the chance to let rip on the vocals without being “drowned out”.

Hopetoun have released two short albums, the most recent in October last year called Look So Good, on which Scholes played a few tracks.

Most of the tunes they’ll swing out this weekend will be original music.

But Atkinson assures there will also be some  “quite bizarre, hopefully enjoyable, covers”.

Atkinson and Stewart came together in the early 2000s, when they were the horn section for another band and needed to practise together.

It was then that they decided they’d sort out their own repertoire.

But it wasn’t until a few years back that Stewart decided he would put lyrics over the top of the clarinet and things really took off.

By 2015 they’d created their first album called Burning Fuse.

The duo have just been shortlisted for the prestigious Tait Music Prize for their most recent album — previously won by the likes of Lorde, Ladi6 and Lawrence Arabia.

They’ve already managed to pip a few well-known Kiwi musos at the post including Dave Dobbyn, Broods and Ladyhawke who didn’t make it off this year’s long-list.

“We were really surprised and quite humbled,” Atkinson says.

Because they’re playing The Sherwood on two back-to-back Sundays they’re making the most of their time across the Cook Strait by doing a mini lower South Island tour.

They’re even hoping to catch a glimpse of a white heron somewhere along the way.

Hopetoun Brown and The Genius of Finn Scholes are playing The Sherwood this Sunday and April 9, 8pm, tickets $10 or watch for free if eating at the restaurant

mandy.cooper@scene.co.nz