Sarah swings with wartime songs

01:16, Mar 27 2013
Sarah Brown
Sarah Brown

Music is part of next weekend's biennial Classic Fighters Air Show near Blenheim where performers will deliver sounds matching the theme "The Yanks Are Coming".

The show opens on Friday with a Marlborough Lines Twilight Extreme when a dual aerobatic display will be followed by an 8pm concert. It is to be opened by Marlborough singer-songwriter Sarah Brown, wearing a 1940s costume and singing songs by World War II American music heroes like Doris Day.

Brown will be joined by a guitarist, drummer, double bass player and violinist who make up her Northern Lights backing band, and they return on Saturday and Sunday to play Sarah Brown originals.

Brown admits she has never attended a Classic Fighters air show but she guesses it will not be live music that draws most of the punters along.

Organisers, however, want to create an atmosphere where there is "something happening around every corner", she says.

And the sounds in the music corner won't be the same, either. Brown and the Northern Lights' hour-long slot will be followed by similar-length sessions from three other acts, Helter Skelter, the Humming Birds and the Nelson Jazz Club Big Band, between 10am and 3pm on Saturday and Sunday.


Marlborough-born Brown, 29, says she has been playing music her whole life, had a music manager by the time she was 18 and introduced herself to the professional scene in Auckland where she filled support spots for the likes of Tim Finn and Greg Johnson.

In 2006, with help from NZ on Air, she released her first album on her own label, Boo Music, and the single Hands won the Juice TV award for Video of the Year.

In 2007 Brown went to Europe and based herself in an historical village, Rocbaron, to work on new music. It was recorded with more help from NZ on Air into the 11-track, 2012 album The Great Heart Robbery.

It is described as a collection of blues, folk, pop and rock and Brown plans to promote it in Europe this year. Kiwi punters will be given a chance to hear it first when she does a short South Island circuit in a couple of months. Until then, Brown is happy to concentrate on her No 1 priority: Raising her 18-month-old daughter Eliza.

Home is a sheep station Brown's husband Sam Kersten manages 43 kilometres south of Blenheim and Brown says she loves the rural lifestyle.

"It's the right time in my life to be living here," she says. "I wouldn't have wanted it five years ago but I'm very happy out here.

"Then I put on my performance hat and I'm that [other] person."

Nelson Jazz Club Big Band saxophone player Dave North will be taking off his airline pilot's cap to perform at Classic Fighters, but he admits his eyes will be on the skies when he is not reading his music score.

The big band sound is ideally suited to the Classic Fighters' theme, with jazz names like Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw hugely popular in the 1920s-1940s swing period.

The Nelson Jazz Club Big Band's 10 to 20 members play saxophone, trumpet, trombone and rhythm, with numbers varying according to day-time work commitments. North's fellow musicians include a retired sea captain, two accountants, a scientific editor and a musical repair specialist - "[who] can tell us when we're out of tune!"

North says the band will ensure its music this weekend fits the show's theme with pieces like Erskine Hawkins & His Orchestra's Tuxedo Junction, the Glenn Miller Orchestra's Pennsylvania 6-5000 and the same group's In the Mood.

The Marlborough Express