All of Me photo
‘The Steak Exchange Restaurant & Bar’ at the InterContinental Hotel, Beijing

My solo performances as a pianist/vocalist continued six nights a week at the InterContinental hotel, Beijing. I really enjoyed meeting hotel guests from China and around the world.

I welcomed the arrival of spring by bike-riding around Beijing and navigating the crazy traffic!  I enjoyed the beautiful local parks and the Pandas at Beijing zoo. I hiked the Great Wall for the third time. It never gets old! I visited the Old Summer Palace and 798 art district. I jetted to the neighbouring city of Tianjin on a high-speed train! And tried my hand at traditional Chinese paper cutting.

Spring merged into summer pretty quickly and we had a pool party on the hotel’s rooftop in amongst the office buildings. Was a great change to sing outside in the sun!

Beijing has a great musical nightlife. Finishing my performance at the hotel, I would quickly jump in a taxi to catch some local bands performing.

I would frequently join in with jam sessions around town. People of all nationalities would play music and sing, communicating via the universal language of music.

June 30th rolled around and my 11 month contract as a pianist-vocalist at the InterContinental hotel, came to an end. It was bitter-sweet to be leaving Beijing. China had given me many amazing cultural experiences as well as personal and musical growth. But it was also great to be heading home to NZ!

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My farewell party with the staff at the ‘Steak Exchange Restaurant & Bar’

Thanks to my agency Segrace Entertainment as well as the team at InterContinental for a great time in Beijing! Aug 2015 – June 2016.

Here’s to the next adventure!

Time flies! I should have been leaving for NZ right about now, but I took up the offer for an extension. I will be playing on here at the InterContinental hotel, Beijing until the end of June. Beijing has been pretty cold lately! But I’ve been keeping myself entertained with some unusual winter pastimes such as “ice chairing” and getting around town jamming with musicians, both expats and locals.

 

Over the last few months, we’ve had a lot going on at the hotel’s Steak Exchange Restaurant and Bar such as Christmas, Children’s Day,  Chinese Singles Day, a Students Party, Valentine’s Day and Halloween. I’ve enjoyed the challenge of adjusting my music according to the atmosphere and clientele of these different events.

I’ve also managed to squeeze in some traveling over the holiday periods. I visited beautiful Hangzhou for New Year. I celebrated Chinese New Year with a friends family in Yuntai and also visited a costal town called Qingdao, where they make the famous Tsingtao beer.

So I’m keeping the China adventures rolling for a bit longer. It’s a great time to play music for a living whilst seeing the world and having new cultural experiences. Time flies! And in only a few months, I’ll be catching up with friends in family in NZ…

 

Hi folks! So here I am in Beijing, China. I perform six nights a week in the Steak Exchange Restaurant and Bar at InterContinental Hotel, Financial Street. It’s very interesting to meet lots of new people from China and around the world!

Beijing is fascinating to a New Zealander considering the depth of history here compared to back home – China has about 2500 years on us! I have enjoyed visiting these great historical sites in my free time. At the same time I gained a new perspective on the word ‘crowded’ as I queued with Chinese tourists visiting from around this country of 1.3 billion. Makes the 4.4 million of us in New Zealand seem rather meagre.

I am treated very well at the hotel by the friendly staff and was lucky enough to have a week off where I travelled to Shanghai and Xi’an.

Having a great time in China so far… let the adventures continue!

Anyone for tea?

Anyone for tea?

Cruise ship life is an entire world that is difficult to explain in a few words, but lets try… music, travel, parties, ship-family!

I’ve learnt a lot about music by working on cruise ships. From playing in orchestra pits for production shows, sight-reading for entertainers that “fly-on” for a night, performing live-band karaoke, big-band and small ensemble jazz, playing covers of all genres on two keyboards (plus doing back-up vocals) and playing and singing as a soloist… I’ve almost done it all!

A definite plus to working on ships is all the travel. I’ve been all over the Caribbean (and seen a lot of the United States in between), as well as Australia and the Pacific Islands. Musicians are pretty lucky employees on ships because we work at night and usually have the days off to explore the ports.

But after the gig is over for the night, what to do?! Being confined to a boat (without good internet) means that crew can become pretty inventive with forms of entertainment. Themed costume parties are a regular event!

Whilst onboard a ship for six months, you become pretty close to the people around you. They become your “ship-family“. You spend birthdays and holidays together. And you keep each other entertained…!

Understandably, when you finish your contract and everyone goes home to their various parts of the world… it can feel a bit like this picture on the left. However, you’d be surprised how often you bump into each other unexpectedly, either on different ships or when you are in the same port. I’ve also made a point of visiting cruise ship friends around the world which makes for a great reason to travel!  Elyse and me reunion

In this picture, Elyse and I are together again after more than a year! I visited her in her home town of Pittsburgh, PA. Woohoo!

I was lucky enough to spend a year in Japan where I met lots of great people, did a lot of travelling and enjoyed playing plenty of music. Living within a completely foreign culture never gets old. There’s always a new experience waiting just around the corner!

I had a very welcoming Japanese host family and a lot of great students who taught me all about Japanese life and culture. I entertained children as Piccolo the Pixie. I made a lot of new friends including a bunch of Japanese hippies who loved to jam! 

I had a great time performing in various cities in Japan including Toyohashi,Nagoya,Osaka,Hakone and Yamanakako.

I was contracted as a resident pianist-singer at XIV Resort Trust Hotel in Yamanakako. I spent many nights performing to the back-drop of Mount Fuji and meeting guests from around the country and overseas.

Although New Zealand is a beautiful country and a great home, I started to get itchy feet and dreamt of travelling abroad. My friends surprised me at Auckland airport and turned up to wish me farewell! (With their instruments as well)Airport Friends

I moved to Los Angeles for six months and attended UCLA. I was a jazz vocal per2012_0331ADformance major but also took advantage of the unique classes which weren’t offered at my university in Wellington, New Zealand. Such classes included a gospel choir and a Mariachi ensemble! UCLA has a very impressive campus and some excellent educators. I also got the opportunity to travel a little.. (When I wasn’t composing 100 bars a week that is!)

Whilst working as a professional musician and travelling the world at the same time, I’ve had a lot of great experiences musically and life-ly. I am lucky enough to be updating my website here in Tustin, Michigan,Michigan Office where I am visiting a friend I made on a previous cruise ship contract. Easily the best thing about cruise ship life is all the amazing and talented people from all over the world which you are stuck with everyday in a limited living space, for a limited period of time. And then when your contract is done, they all vanish! Which can be very sad, but on the positive side you then have hosts in countries all over the world!