For the Record
Finn Remakes Blue Smoke
April 10, 2015
Written in 1940 by Private Ruru Karaitiana aboard the troopship Aquitania, recorded in 1948 by newly formed record label TANZA in New Zealand's first purpose built recording studio, Blue Smoke not only became a number one hit for Karaitiana, selling 50,000 records, but also launched the voice of reluctant kiwi songbird, Pixie Williams.
Neil Finn's remake is due for release in time for this years 100th anniversary of ANZAC day, revives Blue Smoke and cements it firmly as our very own ANZAC Anthem. Of special interest, Finn's father was aboard the Aquitania and was among the first to hear the original, pre-recorded version. Read more here.
Critical Acclaim for Dotty
December 9, 2013
Film Directors' Mick Andrews and Brett O'Gorman are collecting international accolades for their short film 'Dotty' about an elderly resident of a rest home suffering from alzheimers struggling to send a text to her daughter.
Andrews, who also wrote the film, first came to Blue Smoke's attention when he asked to use Williams 'Blue Smoke' for the credits, but with the films success he needed to produce a trailer and Williams 'Ain't it a Shame' was selected.
Watch the trailer here and see why the film is an international hit. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bmbpt3meTrA
Radio NZ Tribute
August 11, 2013
Radio New Zealand has added a great tribute page on Pixie to its collections. The page gathers together audio files for interviews and articles from over the years by the public broadcaster.
Rest In Peace Pixie
August 2, 2013
At 5.35pm last night, our beloved Pixie passed away peacefully surrounded by family.
An inspiration to all that knew her, especially in her final years - she has left us with a legacy, not only of her music but also of her courage and self. Through her gift of music Pixie will always live on.
Only NZ Album Nominated
March 15, 2012
Blue Smoke Records is proud to announce For the Record: The Pixie Williams Collection 1949-1951, nominated in the Reissue Album Category of the 11th Annual Independent Music Awards, is the only kiwi album in the running to win out of over 300 self-released and independent music label artists.
Winners will be determined by a panel of 77 influential artist and industry judges including Keith Richards, Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan, Suzanne Vega, Joshua Redman, Tori Amos, Michael Franti, Bettye LaVette, Del McCoury, Ozzy Osbourne, Shelby Lynne, Alan Light (Live From The Artists Den), Kevin Lyman (Warped Tour), Bill Bragin(Lincoln Center), Sara Beesley (Joe's Pub) Chris Diaz (Knitting Factory Entertainment), and Evan Schlansky (American Songwriter) and will be announced in April, 2012.
In addition to industry-determined Winners, music fans from around the world have until Friday, July 20, 2012 to cast their votes to determine the fan-selected IMA Winners.
Blue Smoke: The Lost Dawn of NZ Music 1918-1964
July 28, 2011
The wartime song Blue Smoke is also the title of Chris Bourke's book Blue Smoke: The Lost Dawn of New Zealand Popular Music 1918-1964 which won three categories at this year's book awards here in Wellington. Congratulations Chris!
No. 4 on Independent Charts
July 23, 2011
For the Record has hit the ground running debuting at NO.4 on The Independent Music NZ Charts.
Week 1: No 35 on NZ Top 40
July 20, 2011
For the Record - The Pixie Williams Collection 1949-1951 album has made it! Coming in at No. 35 on the RIANZ Album Charts and counting down!
RIANZ Awards for Pixie
July 19, 2011
Not only was 12 July significant for Pixie Williams because it was her 83rd birthday, but she scored a trifecta with the release of her first album The Pixie Williams Collection 1949-1951, and was awarded a triple Platinum Award for Blue Smoke with sales of 50,000 records and a single Platinum Award for Let's Talk it Over with sales of 20,000 records. RIANZ representative Chris Bourke, who authored Blue Smoke: The lost dawn of New Zealand Popular Music 1918 - 1964, presented the awards at a special invite only launch of Pixie's album at The Roxy Cinema in Miramar which will also become The Home of Blue Smoke where the music and story of Pixie Williams and New Zealand's pioneers of the music recording industry will be on permanent display. An outstanding 83rd birthday gift from the industry!
'For The Record' Launches
July 18, 2011
On Tuesday, 12 July 2011 62 years after Pixie Williams gave voice to the iconic Ruru Karaitiana song "Blue Smoke"The Pixie Williams Collection was launched at The Roxy Cinema - on Pixie's 83rd birthday.
Williams recorded 13 songs in total between 1949 - 1951 and this collection has, for the first time, been brought together, digitally remastered and released on one album with an outstanding booklet chronicling the life and music history of Pixie Williams.
Hosted by Frankie Stevens who paid tribute to Pixie - "our original pioneer of the New Zealand recording industry and living taonga", the launch event was attended by 160+ guests who enjoyed being among the first to learn that there was more to New Zealand's first recording star than Blue Smoke.
With guest spots by Paul Scoringe, New Zealand Red Cross and Jamie Selkirk on behalf of The Roxy, the night was capped off with a presentation to Pixie of a triple platinum award for Blue Smoke, and a platinum award for Let's talk it over by Chris Bourke, author of Blue Smoke: The lost dawn of New Zealand Popular Music 1918-1964 and representative of RIANZ.
Confined to a wheelchair and accompanied by her son and caregivers, the last word goes to the ever humble Pixie, "son, it's been lovely but take me home, it's time for a cuppa".
Finding the best 78s
May 9, 2011
For the past few weeks, since capturing the original music of Pixie Williams from 60+ year old, fragile shellac 78's and finding out just how good Mike Gibson from Munki Masters can digially remaster them - the search has been on. Can we find better copies? Music producer, Tim Fraser is tracking down collectors who have Pixie Williams in their collection to see if any are available in better condition than we already have for remastering. Fraser had this to say:
"It's fantastic that people who have been collecting these records for years are excited to make them available to us for this very special project. The problem with remastering straight from shellac 78s is that they are fragile. Unlike vinyl records, each time a 78 is played a bit of sound quality is lost. So for hits like Blue Smoke, finding a mint condition record that hasn't been compromised isn't easy. Then there are the recordings which only had one pressing, therefore fewer are available, but for the ones that have survived they are in better playing condition because they weren't 'loved' so much. We've already captured the whole collection, but I'm holding out to the last minute to find records in better condition than we've currently captured. The wait will be worth it if we can find them!"
If you have a Pixie Williams' 78 at home that you'd like to make available - we'd be thrilled to hear from you!
'Ain't it a Shame' Release
May 5, 2011
Due for online release from www.amplifier.co.nz on 16 May is the digitally remastered single Ain't it a Shame.
Composed by Ruru Karaitiana, and first released in 1949, Ain't it a Shame is a classic jazz number with Karaitiana's trademark sound of the South Pacific. Kariaitiana's first love was jazz and he's outdone himself with this 100% New Zealand made recording. It should have been another hit for the Williams and Karaitiana duo but issues with the original pressing (which destroyed the master) meant this song only had one release.
Williams' voice is pure velvet and the Ruru Karaitiana Quintette (who recorded Blue Smoke with Williams in 1948) are heard like never before. Each instrument has been carefully picked out and remastered - the band now perfectly supporting 21 year old Williams' voice - with the muffles, scratches and pops of age all but gone.
Ain't it a Shame is the song responsible for starting this project, to bring the music of Pixie Williams to life for a new generation of listeners to enjoy. It is fitting therefore, that it has it's own special time in the spotlight ahead of the release of For the record: The Pixie Williams Collection which features all of Williams' digitally remastered recordings. It is due for release in June/July this year.