Smokefree Rockquest wows Nelson crowds

The boys from Oh Blok took out first prize at the 2013 Nelson Smokefree Rockquest at the Theatre Royal on Friday night. Kieran O'Connor, left, Louie Persico, Josh Baxter and Paddy Sanders. Event Producer Dan Kendrick, right.
The boys from Oh Blok took out first prize at the 2013 Nelson Smokefree Rockquest at the Theatre Royal on Friday night. Kieran O'Connor, left, Louie Persico, Josh Baxter and Paddy Sanders. Event Producer Dan Kendrick, right.

Four piece indie-pop-funk group Oh Blok and duo singers Livvy and Anna emerged the winners at the Smokefree Rockquest regional finals in Nelson on the weekend.

Both groups are students at Garin College, the same school that produced 2011 national winner The Peasants.

Oh Blok won the band section at the sold out event, and Livvy and Anna won the new category for solo/duos. 

Oh Blok spokesman, keyboard player Paddy Sanders, said it was the year 10 and 12 students' third attempt at Smokefree Rockquest. He and guitarist Louie Persico, vocalist Kieran O'Connor and drummer Josh Barker have been playing together for three years and spend their free time 'hanging out' together.

Paddy puts their success down to their love of music: "We just love the music we play and the crowd makes us pumped up," he said. "We'd love to make our careers out of music and this is a great start - but we know it will be hard."

Solo/duo winners Livvy Nott and Anna Robinson started playing together only three weeks ago when their music teacher suggested entering Smokefreerockquest would be good experience for them. However, they're both from musical families, with Livvy's older sister Georgia fronting The Peasants before opting last year to go solo.

Livvy says their stand-out factor was their harmonies and vocals: "Music is our first love and we'd really like to make it our career," she said. "Forming a duo worked well for us - we collaborate on the songs and relate well together."

Oh Blok also won the Nelson and Tasman Youth Councils' award for audience participation and the Lowdown Best Song Award for 'State of Mind'; and Anna Robinson also won the APRA Lyric Writer's Award for her song 'Intertwined'.

Second place in the band category went to pop-punk three piece Paper City made up of vocalist and guitarist Alex Hargreaves from Nayland College, bass player Dara Copeland from Garin College and drummer Niko White from Nelson College.

Second place in the solo/duo category went to Laura-Mae Parker from Nelson Girls College.

These four acts win musical gear from associate sponsors NZ Rockshops, and the opportunity to gain selection for the national final in Auckland on Saturday September 28.

SFRQ founder and director Glenn Common said from here on the Nelson finalists would have to work hard and draw on their creativity to make the most of the opportunity Smokefreerockquest offered.

"They now send in videos of their original music that will be judged in August as we lead up to the national final," he said. "This process demands creativity and musical ability, as well as learning to work together as a group and developing the organisation skills they'll need if they're going to make it on the Kiwi music scene."

Other awards made on Friday night were:

Third placed band, winning musical gear from associate sponsor NZ Rockshops and their suppliers: Third Wheel, Nelson College for Girls, Nayland College and Nelson College.

The Mainz Musicianship Award with the opportunity to be selected for the $4500 Music and Audio Institute of New Zealand Scholarship, announced at the national final: Robbie Day from Nelson College, the drummer from Third Wheel.

Smokefree Award For Women's Musicianship: Baya Vant'Slot, Nelson College for Girls, the bassist from Third Wheel.

Skinny Mobile People's Choice voted by text:  Sustain, from Garin College.

Fairfax Media