The Longest Grand Piano in the World!

We’re continuing on this amazing South Island tour and in Dunedin I was thrilled to go to the Alexander Pianos Workshop which houses the longest grand piano in the world. Utterly extraordinary that Adrian Mann started making this instrument when he was 16 years old, and completed it in four and a half years.

A full size grand piano is 9 feet, but this one is twice as long, at 18 feet. It’s an incredible feat to have made it, no-one else in the world has done it, and I was so lucky the workshop was open as we were passing through Dunedin.

Here’s clip of me playing it –  and if you want to see a short interview with Adrian as well ,go to here.

Our shows this week are over the mountains to Te Anau, Invercargill, Tarras  and  Kinross Winery  in the Gibbston Valley, then next week we finally arrive in my beloved West Coast for shows in Okarito, Greymouth,and  Hokitika, then 2 shows in Christchurch. Full show details are on my website.here.

With numbers restrictions easing even further, I heartily invite you to come along and laugh, cry, clap, sing (but alas no dancing) as I take you on my musical journey.

Finding a Piano…..

So here we are having played one week of our South Island Tour. Huge thanks to the kind and hearty people of Motueka, Picton, Nelson and Murchison for being such amazing audiences. All those things that are said of South Islanders (friendly generous stoic etc) really are true.

And I found a piano!

On the one main street of Reefton (population 927) I found a real working piano. Paula who has the Reefton Art Gallery brings it out every day onto the footpath outside.

So of course I played it, and here is proof in the form of a Youtube clip. Check it out, almost all the keys make a sound!

https://youtu.be/FsuGcHQFLZE

We’re playing tonight here in Reefton, tomorrow the beautiful French-settled town of Akaroa, then Timaru, Dunedin and Kakanui.  Next week we move even further South to Te Anau, Invercargill, Tarras and Gibbston, before shooting back up to the beloved West Coast and Christchurch the week after.

Taking Winnie to Brizzie!

Hello Boogie friends,

Mike and I beat a hasty retreat from Sydney in the nick of time several weeks ago which means our upcoming concert in Brisbane is not cancelled (like all those in NSW) and will go ahead on
SAT JULY 24TH @ 6pm at the DONALD SIMPSON CENTRE in Cleveland.

And even more exciting than that, it will be the first time in a very long while that we will be presenting our show about Honky Tonk piano queen Winifred Atwell –  WONDERFUL WINNIE!

Come along and hear my trio and I play boogie and ragtime hits such as The Black and White Rag and Bumbleboogie, whilst I narrate Winnie Atwell’s fascinating life story together with extraordinary images from her life in Australia during her heyday in the 1950s and 60s.

All Queenslanders are welcome (as well as anyone else Annastacia will let in!) but it’s best to book  as we have limited seating.

Cheers, stay safe, keep wearing your masks as are we……

Jan

MayDay in Sydney!

Hello boogie friends,

We’re very excited to be launching the new CD “Piano Boogie Woman” next Sat night May 1st at the Leichhardt Bowling Club in Sydney’s inner west.

The club has a lovely concert/stage area with a great sound system and an old lady friend in the form of an English Grand piano I will be featuring, along with historical photos and information about the club, which was a vibrant dance hall/big band venue back in the day.

We’ll be coming from down the coast with a huge “thank you” to all the wonderful fans who came out to our shows at Merimbula, Moruya and Tathra. An added bonus is to be hosted in extraordinary country houses in Tathra (thanks Cliff and Sayaka) and Nelligen, where we played a memorable house concert for filmmaker Robynne Murphy’s birthday. (The moment in the cake room with the piano and washboard will be remembered and recounted as an outstanding piece of musical folklore for a long time to come!)

Btw, the Covid restrictions at Leichhardt Bowling Club are minimal, but it’s best to make a booking.

And on that subject, Mike and I are grateful to have had our first Astra Zenica shots with no symptoms so far!

Yours in boogie,

Jan

Sydney at last… and the South Coast!

Hello boogie friends,

Mike and I are finally emerging to play a special concert in our hometown on May 1st at the Leichhardt Bowling Club. This is the long awaited Sydney launch of my new CD “Piano Boogie Woman” and I so hope you can make it along to hear the new material (and some old) which I’m busting to perform.

Better still I have discovered a grand piano at the club; I’d love to know the story of how such a fabulous instrument ended up there. It will be brought out of retirement into the spotlight for our boogie concert, when we’ll be joined by the fabulous Jess Dunn on acoustic bass.

But before that we are playing some shows down the coast at Merimbula, Moruya and Tathra, with one special performance of the Australian Silent Movie Classic, The Kid Stakes.

I can visualise people singing (yes singing!), even dancing, all glammed up and maskless just like in the old days. Ah, ecstasy!

Yours in boogie and blues,

Jan

New Film Clip and Live Shows!

We are revving up for 2021 at last!

There’s a totally fabulous new film clip for “The Boogie Woman” as well as concerts coming up on the Gold Coast and in Canberra.
We shot the clip at a studio in Auckland last year.
Big thanks to the young cinematographer Jared Jones who filmed it under pressure of time, ably assisted by my awesome friend Rae Dumbleton.
I think it looks and sounds great; you be the judge!
https://youtu.be/YG0hPpkIuKg

Our first live show for this year is at the wonderful Lakeside Room of HOTA
(GC Arts Centre) on WED MARCH 3rd  7.30pm, presented by the GC Jazz and Blues Society.
Please book early as numbers are (still) somewhat limited.
https://hota.com.au/music/gold-coast-jazz-blues-jan-preston-88-pianos-honky-tonk-town/

We next go to the fantastic Street Theatre in Canberra for one show playing their delicious 9 foot grand piano on SUN MARCH 14th 4pm.
Here’s the booking link
https://www.thestreet.org.au/shows/jan-preston-88-pianos-i-have-known-0

It’s a bit scary to step up again for performances after a long break (as noted by the tennis players currently in Melbourne.) However, we are madly rehearsing and will rise to the occasion I’m sure, so please come along and help us to get boogieing!

Jan and Mike

2020 Boogie Christmas

We wish you a lucky and loving Christmas and New Year with your friends and whanau in Australia and NZ, with fingers crossed outbreaks are contained and that the Trans-Tasman travel bubble opens soon.

My last professional outing for 2020 was with director Robynne Murphy at a sold out screening last week at the Events Cinema in Sydney of the wonderful documentary “Women of Steel.”

I composed the music for this inspirational film which has been a finalist in the Sydney Film Festival and Atom awards, and won the History Council of NSW Award.
Huge congrats to Robynne and the team!

Please try to get along if there’s a screening near you in 2021. It’s an entertaining and informative recounting of an important step for anti discrimination laws in Australia. Here’s the trailer.

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1295736997436344

We’re already planning concerts in Queensland, Canberra, NSW South Coast, NZ South Island and even Melbourne next year. Confident that “everything will be alright in the end, and if it isn’t alright, it isn’t the end yet.”

Arohanui,

Jan and Mike

Home to my Piano

After 4 months in NZ recording and touring we are home in Sydney and playing our last concerts of 2020 in NSW this weekend. For Mike and I to be able to hop in a cab from the airport and come home without needing to quarantine was a huge bonus. My beloved grand piano was waiting patiently, as wonderful a sound and feel as ever, so I’ve been back in my spot in my studio as if I never left!

A huge thanks to all the Kiwis who came out to our shows in the North Island. You were fabulous audiences and we are so grateful you had the courage in this crazy uncertain environment to attend an indoor music concert with us.

We are now packing the car (yes, I can’t believe it either) to drive to the beautiful Cootamundra Arts Centre in NSW for our last concert of 2020 tonight, as well as a one-off show there tomorrow afternoon, Jan Preston’s Boogie Christmas, presented in thanks to their tireless volunteers who have somehow kept the Arts Centre open this year. The show tonight starts at 7.30pm and bookings are through https://theartscentrecootamundra.org.au/events/janpreston-nov2020
or phone  02 69424773.

And I cannot tell you how disappointed we were last week to have had to miss Honky Tonk Town, the outdoor show for Bleach Festival on Chevron Island on the Gold Coast! We held our breaths with such hope the border would open in time, but it was not to be.

We are planning to present this show (and others) for the Gold Coast Jazz and Blues Society in 2021 to reconnect with our wild, loose and loyal Queensland boogie lovers, shall keep you posted.

Have a great Christmas and New Year……keep the music going, it will get you through!

Jan and Mike

Touring, Touring…

 

Hello boogie friends,

We’re having fabulous concerts and audiences so far on our tour and carry on this week to Mike’s hometown of Kaitaia on Friday night, followed by Whangarei on Saturday and The PumpHouse on Sunday afternoon. Please note the PumpHouse concert starts at 4pm, not 3pm as some advertising suggested. (Doors will open then)

And note our somewhat manic photo – travelling is already turning us into crazed musicians, with 3 weeks still to go!

In boogie and blues,

Jan and Mike

One more day

Hello boogie friends,

Mike and I are on our last day of hotel isolation at Auckland Airport’s Novotel Hotel. 2 weeks have moved quickly until the last few days (with the end in sight) which have dragged.

If someone had the vaguest thought of escape from behind the razor wire, they’d think again. Security are extremely vigilant in our facility. Masks are mandatory, I am signed in and out every time I step outside, and the 45m 8am walk I go on each morning is supervised. Mike goes at 9am, so we each get a glorious hour of the room to ourselves. And at this stage we’re still married, so that’s an achievement!

I go tomorrow to The Boatshed Studio in Tauranga (avoiding Auckland’s lockdown) to finish my new CD, Piano Boogie Woman, which will be launched along with a National Tour from Oct 7th. 

Some dates are still being confirmed; the entire 22 concerts throughout the North Island will be up on my website in the next few days. 

They include Auckland, Whangateau, KeriKeri, Kaitaia, Whangarei, Whitianga, Opotiki, Taupo, Napier, Waipawa, Levin, Wellington, Rotorua (Blues Festival), Omokoroa, Palmerston North, Feilding, Kapiti, Martinborough, and Masterton.

Huge apologies to our beloved South Island whanau and friends, we’ll get to you in the new year, COVID permitting.

Speaking of which, I cannot tell you how weird it felt to confidently fly into a NZ free of corona virus for 102 days, only to be told 4 cases had been announced. Of course it was sheer coincidence, yet somehow we couldn’t help feeling responsible……..totally bizarre!

And don’t let anyone tell you a hotel room can’t be turned into a music practice studio. We have photographic proof that it can be.

Jan