By Mick Jensen
He exudes coolness, has a cult following and is set to perform his first public gig in Ashburton on April 6.
Long time New Zealand resident Paul Ubana Jones will showcase his distinctive soulful voice and guitar skills, and will also perform alongside the Mid Canterbury Choir at the Ride That Train concert at the Event Centre.
“I once did a workshop and concert with high school students at Ashburton College, but that was years ago, so I’m really looking forward to doing a gig here,” he said.
Ubana Jones said he had collaborated with younger choirs in the past, but never with an adult choir.
The choir had sent him an email and he had said “let’s give it a go”.
“I’ve warned them that I intend taking them outside of their comfort zone, but it’s going to be great fun and they will enjoy themselves.”
He said his approach to the collaboration was to “play some stuff” and for the choir to learn their lines without song sheets, but with the help of rhythms and clapping.
His own 35 minute set would open the concert, followed by three songs with the 50 strong choir, including an original tune.
The performer met with the choir at the first of three rehearsals on Monday night. He also talked through technical requirements for the concert with Event Centre staff.
British born, Ubana Jones has a West African father and English mother and studied guitar, cello and composition at music college.
He has shared the stage and toured with the likes of BB King, Bob Dylan, Norah Jones, Crowded House and Taj Mahal.
He has eight studio albums to his name and lists John Martyn, Ray Charles, Shirley Bassey and Nick Drake as some of his influences and favourite artists.