Singing about the early settlers

SARAH MCCARTHY
Last updated 10:15 21/05/2014
Wheel of Experience
WELL-TRAVELLED: Wheel of Experience.

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They're like a western come to life but the story is so much closer to home - Wheel of Experience are travelling in the footsteps of the men and women of history and legend they sing about as they travel the country with Arts on Tour.

Here as part of the Southland Festival of the Arts, Wheel of Experience have been on the road for the past month, performing at the old country halls and in the towns that may have sparked the stories they tell - and Stewart Island, Riverton, Invercargill and Owaka are next.

David Ward, last seen in Invercargill in Guru of Chai, said Wheel of Experience is a show of "epic original songs" based on early pioneering New Zealand history, the characters meticulously researched and recreated through song.

"It's great feeling like we're driving through the towns we're singing about," Ward said.

Ward, Peter Daube and Dave Khan all play multiple instruments throughout the show, including a fiddle, mandolin, multiple banjos - even a Chinese instrument called a zhongruan, using their different sounds to bring their characters to life - a band of shipwrecked sealers, murdered goldminers, the original Westie, Francesco Rodriguez Figuera.

Often the stories are even closer to home - one of their songs tells of the settlers arriving at Cornwallis, near Auckland, and an audience member came up after the show to say that a relative of theirs had actually been on the boat.

"All these little bits of legend and history, and we get another little bit of information."

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- The Southland Times

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