* Your musical inspirations?

I am inspired by many people. My family (The Barra MacNeils) were the reason
I do what I do, along with my parents, aunts and uncles.
I like people like James Brown and Beck for their great music and
showmanship. Kevin Breit (Sisters Euclid, Norah Jones, etc.) Oliver
Schroer, Oscar Peterson, Donal Lunny, and Windom Earle just to name a few.

* Any CD's or songs which are meaningful to you?

I like our own cd. This is a very self centred response I realize, but when
you spend time with a small group of individuals coming up with, performing,
screwing up, tweaking, then recording compositions, these compositions
become more meaningful to you them probably anybody.

* How has music inspired you?

I've always heard that music was the international language growing up, but
witnessing this first hand at many shows, whether it be people who don't
speak English or people who never heard our genre of music, when you get
them dancing and cheering, it shows we're speaking to them and to me that's
very inspiring!

Boyd MacNeil
Slainte Mhath

There's a youthfulness abounding in the Celtic music scene these days. It's fresh, energetic and fused with a sound that has a rich international flavour. It's Slainte Mhath (pronounced Slawncha Va). The innovative Cape Breton quintet is keeping its traditional roots firmly planted, with a determination to making 21st century Celtic music and bringing it to a global audience. The Slainte Mhath (Gaelic for "good health to you") sound draws from a wide range of influences. This high-energy group features traditional instruments associated with the Celtic genre intertwined with grooves, hooks, and sub-bass lines, all augmented with contemporary arrangements.

The diverse and cultural background of Slainte Mhath includes the musical versatility of Lisa Gallant (bodhran/percussion, fiddle and step-dancing), Boyd MacNeil (octave mandolin, fiddle, guitars and percussion), Ryan MacNeil (keyboards and percussion), Brian Talbot (drums and percussion) and John MacPhee (Highland bagpipes, Scottish reel pipes and Irish flute).

Slainte Mhath's new sounds explode on their latest album VA, a title that represents the phonetic pronunciation of Mhath. VA takes the fiercely talented young generation of musicians to another realm of creativity - combining those deep, traditional influences with modern-day nuances that will set popular culture on its ear.

Slainte Mhath has a growing fan base worldwide that keep a close eye on them through their very entertaining and informative website. Having toured extensively in Canada, the U.S.A., England, Scotland, Sweden, Denmark and Mexico, the young group has honed its chops considerably.

With VA, Slainte Mhath embarks on a new part of their musical journey. Jump aboard; get ready to go - it's definitely an enjoyable trip into a new century of Celtic music making.

The Facts on Slainte Mhath

A featured act in many Festivals; In Canada, Cape Breton's Celtic Colours International Festival, The Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Mariposa, Dawson City, Guelph, Ottawa and Owen Sound Folk Festivals, Toronto Streetfest and Toronto and Ottawa's Winter Festivals (to name just a few); In the USA at Central Park's Summer Stage, California's Strawberry Music Festival, The New Hampshire Highland Games, The Alabama Highland Games, Pennsylvania's Celtic Classic Highland Games, North Carolina's Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, the Chicago Celtic Festival, Milwaukee Irish Festival and Louisiana's Red River Revel; In England, The Cambridge Folk Festival, London's Coin Street Festival, Warwick Folk Festival and the Sidmouth International Folk Festival; In Scotland, Celtic Connections, The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Speyfest and the Celtic Hebridean Festival in Stornoway; In Denmark, the T? Festival and in Mexico, the Cervantino International Festival.

Slainte Mhath kicked off the 2003 East Coast Music Awards with 'Annie,' their first release from VA, played their own version of TSN's Silver Cup theme song on a national broadcast during the 2003 Stanley Cup Playoffs, were the subject of a Scottish documentary film aimed at inspiring Scottish school children to embrace their heritage, were featured in a Welsh documentary and part of a Gaelic Television series (MnE Scotland) showcasing local and international talent.

Performed with industry greats such as The Chieftains, Steve Earle, Ashley MacIsaac, Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings, Gordon Downey, Dougie MacLean, Suzanne Vega, Buffy Saint-Marie, Bob Geldof, Runrig, The Oyster Band, Danu, Seven Nations, Bullfrog with Kid Koala, Ani DiFranco, Richard Thompson, The Barra MacNeils, Great Big Sea, Bruce Cockburn, Bruce Guthro, Wolfstone, Shooglenifty, Natalie MacMaster, Rita MacNeil, Gordie Sampson, Afro Celt Sound System, Leahy, Jimmy Rankin, La Bottine Souriante, Lennie Gallant, Cherish the Ladies, and Sharon Shannon.


How have musical moments inspired me?

 Music has guided me in many ways, getting me to turn just at the right moment. I grew up in Portsmouth, in "a house with no music".  At the age of 19 my first turning point came when I  passed a drum shop and something made me book a lesson. It was the first thing that clicked in my life. Spatially and intellectually it made total sense. Once I had seen the light, all my energy went into getting it together. Two years later I moved to London - it was all or nothing. I was on my own for nine months in a hideous basement flat in Finsbury Park which had been used as a concrete store. I don't know how I survived. Mega-depression, but moving in search of that inspiration.

My second turning point soon arrived. At a friend's place one summer evening the sounds from a Festival of India concert at Alexandra Palace floated through the open window. It was an amazing Indian concert with Zakir Hussain in the park. Soon after I began tabla lessons via Haringey Adult Education.  You don't really get a sound for about a year - it bears no resemblance to what you hear on records. It's very strenuous on the psyche... Then after three years I got into the South Indian stuff as well. It is amazing. The Indian system is certainly the most intricate in the drumming world. In some ways it's backwards: we talk about 1-2-3-4 but they direct everything conceptually towards that first beat, the tihai. It's taken me a long time to get the information and I want to share it. There's a lot of demystifying which needs to be done.

Indian drumming is a specialist thing - you don't get many non-Indian people turning up. My idea now is to mix it with lots of things, bring people from different cultures and play music in the space between. Create a situation where people are slightly out of their territory and can't just sit and do their African or Western thing, etc. Everyone's got to compromise and then they're trying to find new ways of making music.

Another big turning point came when I heard an album called 'Spirits' by [pianist] Keith Jarrett. He'd played everything on it like tablas with mallets.  I was a bit pedantic at the time and and I dismissed it. A year later I heard it again and loved it. I realised he was making great music on drums without any traditional technique. That made me think about the importance put on playing technically, trying to prove to others you can play something, when really all you have to do is play the music. I love technique, but it's not the key ingredient. A lot of clinics drummers play against the audience - they try to be untouchable. People judge you that way: oh it's not technical enough, he didn't scare me. I think that's a mistake. At the end of the day I think it's about developing philosophically - praxis and poesis [after philosopher Emmanuel Kant]. Poesis is an action that contains a goal outside of itself - playing music to be rich or famous, etc. It's almost a negative state of bad faith with yourself. Whereas praxis is an action which contains its own goal. To relate it to the people, which is fundamentally what music is about - community and sharing.

Pete Lockett is one of the most versatile and prolific percussionists in the UK. His percussive skills range from traditional Karnatic and Hindustani music of North and South India to traditional Japanese taiko drumming; from blues, funk and rock to classical, folk and ethnic. Having worked in virtually every field of music conceivable both live and in the studio, his boundless talents have earned him a reputation as one of the most wanted percussionists in the world.

Renowned for his remarkable ability to bring traditional instruments out of their original cultural setting, he has recorded and/or performed with Björk, Peter Gabriel, Robert Plant, Bill Bruford, Jeff Beck, David Torn, Viku Vinayakram, Selva Ganesh, Ustad Zakir Hussain, The Verve, Chris Potter, John Spencer Blues Explosion, David Holmes, Ganesh Kumaresh, Michael Nyman, Natacha Atlas, Texas, Trans-Global Underground, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Mel C, Phil Manzanera, Bedlam, Beth Orton, Edwyn Collins, Trevor Jackson, Craig Armstrong, John Bergamo, Bernard Butler, David Mcalmont, Metro Voices, London Sinfonietta, B J Cole, Catherine Bott, Playgroup, Taufiq Quereshi, Rajesh Mandolin, Suga Babes, Hughes De Courson, Ronan Keating, Nitin Sawhney, Evan Dando,, Adrian Sherwood, On-U-Sound, Kula Shaker, Afro Celt Sound System, Vanessa-Mae, David Arnold, Evelyn Glennie, Errol Brown, Rory Gallagher, Gary Husband, Pet Shop Boys, Martina Topley Bird, Shankar Mahedevan, Little Axe, Dino Merlin, Doug Wimbish, Ronu Majumdar, Hari Haran, Ami Winehouse, The Players, Junior Delgado, The Aloof, David Toop, Lowell Fulson, Joji Hirota, A R Rahman, Luke Vibert, Eumir Deodato, Andy Gangadeen, Steve White, Youth of Killing Joke, Catriona MacDonald, Aziz Ibrahim (Stone Roses/Simply Red) DJ Judge Jules, French band INTIK, Sinead O'Conner, Elefantes, Andy Wright, Paul Heard/Mike Pickering (M People) and more!

He has also worked extensively in the film industry, playing on the three most recent Bond movies, as well as the City of Angels, Moulin Rouge, The Insider, Plunkett and Maclean, and the Guy Ritchie movie Snatch. He has also taught and lectured in Britain and the USA including at The Royal Academy of Music and Guildhall School of Music in London, and continues to run workshops and lecture all over Europe.  He continues to contribute technique articles for drum magazines internationally, inc Modern Drummer and Rhythm magazines.

Pete has two percussive groups which are regularly touring; Network of Sparks and Taiko to Tabla. The two groups currently have four albums on release. Network of Sparks featuring Bill Bruford was released on MELT2000 in October 1999 coinciding with a Contemporary Music Network tour of England that was supported by the Arts Council of England. The second album, featuring musicians from Pakistan, Ghana and Japan was released on ARC in 2003. The result of this Network of Sparks is “an eclectic mix of percussion from all over the world”, explains Pete. One is a dynamic journey through the diverse and expansive world of percussion, juxtaposing instruments and sounds that are not tradition-specific and weaving through both ambient and tempestuous textures. The sparks ignite by fusing the ethereal echoes of the east with the powerful full thrust grooves of Africa and the thunderous rhythms of Japan.  There are two Taiko to Tabla albums with Joji Hirota, Live at the Bruges Festival on Zoku-EMI label and a studio album also on ARC.   Both projects have performed to packed houses all over the world including the Edinburgh Festival, Bruges Festival, Rhythm Sticks- London, Drumusique Festival, Kuala Lumpur, Glasgow One World Festival, Pontardawe Festival, Belfast Festival, Guildford Festival, Sufi-Soul Festival, Lahore Pakistan and the Newbury Festival. The Taiko to Tabla show was also broadcast live on the internet from the Edinburgh Festival.
Pete Lockett CD's


*How has music inspired you?

Music is a fundamental human need, right alongside water, food shelter.
It needs no explanation and should speak for itself. I always listen
with my ears not my fashion sense or what anyone tells me I should
like. Music should be truth, something that seems a very scarce
commodity these days. I let the music do it's thing on me and try not
to over-analyse it.

* Musical inspirations?

I love a great song most of all. A song that speaks for itself. I
don't care who wrote it, who sings it, why or when! I think the
correct combination of words and melody is one of those divine sex and food!

*Favourite CD's etc.

Here are a few faves, some are New Zealand Artists people may not have
heard of ...

Tom Waits
Roxy Music
Ted Brown
Nick Cave
Cab Calloway
The Undertones
Cat Stevens
Dave Dobbyn
Fiona Apple
Ray Charles
The Stranglers


With his brand new album “Here Comes the Caviar” debuting 2004 in the
top 20 of New Zealand’s charts, Greg Johnson proves that superior
songwriting paired with velvety lush vocals and devilish good looks
always reign divine.

Currently unsigned in the US, Johnson’s NZ hit single, “Save Yourself”
has already been played on many Triple A stations in the US including
WXPN Philadelphia by award-winning Triple A programmer Bruce Warren.
Recently, several new songs, including “Save Yourself” and “It’s Been
So Long” have been featured on the WB’s hit show “High School Reunion”.
Johnson’s shows have become legendary in New Zealand for their blend
of cabaret styling, catchy pop songs and quirky storytelling. In March
2004, he was the first artist to sell-out the New Zealand International
Arts Festival in Wellington and continued on with three sold out
performances in Auckland.

Johnson first discovered his zeal for music while growing up in
Auckland, New Zealand, on an eccentric blend of punk rock, Simon and
Garfunkel and classical music. With a passion for performance and music
in his heart, Johnson joined the late night band Bluespeak, singing and
playing the trumpet for a living. It was here that Johnson further
developed his distinctive and personable on-stage style. However, as
pop music is his first love, he soon began to write and record
pioneering pop songs under his own name. “Vine Street Stories” was his
first breakthrough featuring 4 top 20 singles. The next two solo albums
“Chinese Whispers” and “Sea Breeze Motel” introduced numerous pop
gems including the classic hit “Liberty”, which garnered the distinguished
Australasian Performing Rights Association Silver Scroll award.
Relocating to Los Angeles in 2002 has proved lucrative creatively as
Johnson joined forces with renowned record producer Clark Stiles (Dandy
Warhols, Phunk Junkees) to complete “Here Comes The Caviar”.
In his move to the States, Johnson was accompanied by his manager,
Michelle Bakker, and guitarist, Ted Brown. To round out the act,
Johnson and Brown team with Sid Jordan(Minibar) and Malcolm Cross
(Minibar/ Wallflowers). The band regularly performs in Los Angeles and
San Francisco.

Billboard Magazine Sept 11 2004 "KIWI CROSSING: We wandered over to
the Hotel Cafe the other night to catch Greg Johnson, a New Zealand
singer/songwriter we've had our eye on since he moved to Los Angeles
two years ago. We continue to be impressed by his smart melodic adult
pop and surprised that he hasn't found a publishing deal here much less
a label home, given how tailor made his songs are for the triple A
format or for movie, TV and ad placement.

In New Zealand, where he's signed to EMI he has been nominated for
best songwriter and best male solo artist in the Vodaphone New Zealand
Music Awards. Winners will be announced Sept. 22. Johnson can be
reached through his manager at”

“The new album from Greg Johnson is one filled with songs that will
make your heart soar.” Rip It Up Magazine

“Catchy finely crafted songs with a flair for melody” Dominion Post
CDBaby/Greg Johnson


Lyrically speaking, I generally get inspired to write when my head is occupied with an idea that simply won't go away. I've found it particularly hard to write when I'm happy, so the amount and quality of my writing unfortunately seems to depend on just how lonely, angry, sad or depressed I feel. The more I'm caught up in a feeling, the better the song usually turns out.  Musical inspiration is much less dependent on my mood, and consequently, much easier. When I hear song I like, it motivates me to write a good one of my own. I've always been a tirelessly competitive person, but I think, in this way, it's healthy.

There are certain albums and songs you tend to link to a time or moment in your life, and they become more meaningful because of it. Pearl Jam's "Ten" brings me back to high school when I was inspired by that album to pick up the guitar and to sing rock music. Ron Sexsmith's "Cobblestone Runway" reminds me of when I began to realize that writing a good song is more a matter of how it makes people feel rather than how many jazzy chords I can throw into a pop song. 

Music has inspired me to create and communicate in a way that is therapeutic. I'm a pretty quiet person, sometimes holding things back that bug me, so I often vent through songs and it has proven to be beneficial to get things out of my system that otherwise would keep me down.

As far as my own music goes, what I said in the prior answer applies here. It's a way to free my mind of what I don't want to think about any more.
There are so many songs that I've listened to in order to distract myself from thinking about a break-up, or someone passing away, or anything else traumatic. These songs become companions when you need them the most, and you rely on them to get you through.   They make you realize what is important to your well-being and what really isn't worth stressing over.
“Every dollar I have saved
Every winter I have braved
Every road that I have paved
Leads to somewhere”
- Ari Hest’s “Aberdeen”

As Ari Hest prepares to release Someone To Tell, his major label debut album, he stands at a crossroads: looking back down the long road he’s paved to get to this point, and looking ahead to the promise of where that path will now take him. Blessed with a rich, weathered baritone voice and a soaring falsetto, Ari is developing into an artist with an exceptional ability to connect to listeners and live audiences in a way that few singer-songwriters can.

“It’s a really great feeling to drive into a new city and find that people are coming to my shows and identifying with my music,” Ari explains. “I’ve poured my heart into these songs, so I’m thrilled that they can relate. I’m hoping this album will help me do that on a wider scale.”

Like many a young songwriting musician before him, Ari Hest grew up shy and introverted, but discovered in music a means to communicate with the world at large. On Someone To Tell, Ari's combination of heart, soul, strong sense of melody, and a gimmick-free approach to classic pop songcraft, has resulted in an album that promises great times, and delivers great tunes, for once and future fans of this 21st century troubadour.

Over the past half decade, Ari's been building his fan-base through a savvy combination of old-school essentials: hook-filled, classically structured pop-rock songs, charismatic presence, natural talent, musical chops and determination, and a blue-collar work ethic that has kept him touring the country constantly for the past three years. New-school innovations, including well-designed internet promotional tools, encouragement of live show tape-trading and sharing, and the development of a promotional street team called the "A-Team", have also helped spread his music to a devoted legion of fans.

A sterling exemplar of the indie DIY ethos, Ari began his career by booking and promoting his own concerts and tours, and by releasing an EP, Incomplete, and two full-length albums, Come Home (2001) and Story After Story (2003), on his own Project 4 label.

With his new album, Ari comes into his own as an artist with a collection of songs that is emotionally mature and honest, musically sophisticated, and diverse in range, yet consistent in tone and quality. "I wanted to convey what's in my live show on tape," Ari says of the album, which was recorded with producer David Rolfe (who first worked with Ari on Story After Story) and mixing engineer Bruce Witkin at Bruce’s Garage Studio in Los Angeles. "I definitely can change from a rock song to a jazz ballad in my sets. I really envy that kind of diversity in my musical heroes."

Stylistic diversity is among the hallmarks of Someone To Tell. From the album's opener--the moody, pulsing ode to paranoia, "They're On To Me" -- to the elegiac, lullaby-like shimmer of the title track that closes the album, Someone To Tell covers a multitude of lyrical and musical moods and observations, ranging from the wry and the witty to the achingly honest. "Everything I write is personal," Ari confesses. "I used to internalize everything, and the songs on this record were and still are my way of working things out of my system - actually speaking up about what I believe in, what I think about myself, and what I think about my environment. I've always found my words and music come out a lot easier when I've actually been through whatever it is I’m writing about."

Born in the Bronx, Ari Hest grew up in a musical family: his father, a college music professor, is fluid on a variety of horns and wrote "jingles" when he was Ari's age; Ari's mother is a professional singer. As a child, Ari took piano lessons, even though he preferred the world of sports (particularly baseball, which he played through high school). At the age of 16, he was introduced to The Beatles and first picked up his mother's nylon string guitar. “I started by learning to play all the Beatles' songs by ear, which was a helpful place to start,” he recalls. “If it hadn't been for that kind of chord complexity, I don't think I'd be trying to incorporate all these variations on the basics in my own music."

Young Ari Hest also began listening to the songs of Paul Simon, Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam, U2, the Police, Tears For Fears, Nirvana, and others. "I was into Dave Matthews too," he says. "The way he was playing guitar was particularly cool to me -- the fragments of chords he would play and the use of the guitar as a percussive instrument. All of these bands contributed to my self-education on the guitar."

Music became a much bigger deal once Ari went off to college. During his freshman year at school, he recorded Incomplete, a collection of six songs. At first the compilation was intended to help secure gigs, but it soon became an item Ari sold at his performances. On weekends he'd travel to different colleges to perform his repertoire, coupled with songs he'd learned from the radio. "The best thing about those gigs is that they got me the stage experience that I desperately needed," Ari admits. "I loved to play and sing, but at first I was so frightened to be on stage that I didn't enjoy performing in front of people at all. It was just an important experience."

At the end of 2001, Ari released his first full-length album, Come Home. Following his graduation from NYU in 2002, he recorded Story After Story, "which was the first record that was thought out before I went into the studio: the parts, the arrangements, everything was done on a more professional level,” he recalls. “I took out all the money in my savings account and recorded what we thought was a good independent record."

So good, in fact, that it brought Ari the attention of the major record labels. After a particularly spectacular sold-out gig at New York's Bowery Ballroom in August 2003, Ari Hest found himself courted by Columbia Records. Going back into the studio with producer David Rolfe and his touring band, Ari began work on Someone To Tell.

Comprised of new songs like "Anne Marie" and "A Fond Farewell" as well as reworkings of some of the strongest material from Story After Story, Someone To Tell is a revelation for his fans, and the perfect introduction to the music and artistry of Ari Hest.
Ari Hest media player (listen)
Ari Hest/buy CD's


Any CD's or songs which are meaningful to you?

The song "LOVE OF A WOMEN" which was written for me by Barry & Robin Gibb.

Samantha Sang, the great-great-granddaughter of a Manchurian Surgeon and herbalist, was born in Australia. Her sensational career is recognised around the world and her varied experience is testament to her outstanding talent.

At the tender age of 8 she made her radio debut. Two years later she first appeared on Graham Kennedy's In Melbourne Tonight, where she continued to perform regularly.

At 15 years of age and then known as Cheryl Gray "...the little girl with the big voice", she received a "Best Female Vocalist" awarded for her hit single You Made Me What I am a recording which also won a commendation as the Best All Time Australian Produced Record of its time

Shortly after, she left for London where she performed at leading venues with artists such as The Hollies, Herman's Hermits and the Bee Gees..

New York followed but after a couple of appearances, her visa expired and Samantha was forced to return home leaving behind a rising career and a number of lucrative engagements.

Years later, Samantha made a triumphant return to America where she toured with her band for four years.

During this time she recorded her hit single Emotion, which rocketed straight to the top of the charts and soon became No.1 worldwide. Emotion sold over 6 million copies throughout the world

The album which followed, sold four million worldwide, Emotion is still receiving airplay in America, Australia and other countries of the world today.

Throughout her career, Samantha has toured many countries including America, England, Europe, South Africa, The Phillippines, Trinidad-Tobago, Mexico and her own country, Australia.

Samantha garnered worldwide critical acclaim including the award for Best Performer at the Yugoslavian Song Festival, which led to her own radio and television specials.

She performed regularly on Australian Variety shows including The Midday Show, The Ernie Sigley Show, The Bert Newton Show, and American shows and concerts including The Johnny Carson Show, The Merv Griffin Show, The Dinah Shore Show, The Mike Douglas Show, The Dick Clark Show (Also known as American Bandstand), The Jack Jones Show, The Roselands Concert, The Jones Beach Concert, The Fire Island Concert and many others in other countries of the world.

Stage musicals are Samantha's greatest fulfilment. Her first stage performance was at 22 years of age where Kenn Brodziak cast her in a leading role in The Magic Show. She hopes one day to return to the stage in the right role for her.
Samantha is now living in Melbourne, Australia, with her partner Barry and her son Marc.

She is currently preparing to re-release three of her albums on CD's:

*Samantha Sang Emotion
*Samantha Sang From Dance to Love
*Samantha Sang and Rocked The World

*The above was the first produced television colour special produced in Australia in 1975 on Channel 0 (now known as Network 10) in Melbourne.

Samantha is recommencing her singing career with selective engagements in Australia.

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