North Shore band Solomon wins this year¹s Smokefreerockquest Made up entirely of students from Rangitoto College, North Shore band Solomon were last night crowned the winners of the annual Smokefreerockquest at Auckland¹s Bruce Mason Theatre. Now almost 20 years old, the Smokefreerockquest has been the launch-pad for artists Evermore, Anika Moa, Die! Die! Die!, The Checks and The Have, so Solomon are certainly keeping good company. Their overall prize package includes $10,000 to spend at the Rockshop, a NZ on Air new recording grant and video grant, inclusion on the NZ on Air official Hit Disc and a session at York Street Studios. Solomon also took the award for best song for ³Grand Vocation², whilst Christchurch band Frankly Mauve¹s singer Ollie Sewell won the Smokefree Best Vocals Award. Other wards given out on the night included: Second place: Malford, Botany Downs Secondary College, Auckland East
Third: Bang! Bang! Eche! Hagley Community College and St Andrews College, Canterbury
Smokefree Award for Women¹s Musicianship - Anna Mac Donald, St Hildas Collegiate, Dunedin; APRA Lyric Award, Tonnie ten Hove, Wairarapa College; MAINZ Scholarship for musicianship, Jesse Kearse, from "Peaches and Spleen" Hawkes Bay and the Smokefreerockquest Rip It Up Journalist Award, Elle Hunt, Nayland College Nelson.
The competition began in May this year with 650 bands playing off in over 40 heats and finals around the country over winter, with the final selection from DVDs of the bands¹ original music made by judges Jason Kerrison from Opshop, Ashley Paige from Warner Music NZ, and Tania Dean from NZ on Air. Dean, one of the judges on the night along with Tardus Music and Isaac Promotions¹ Mark Kneebone and producer and musician Hook from 48 May, was amazed at the standard of this year¹s entrants. She said the level of musicianship had stepped up significantly this year: ³They were a truly talented bunch. I¹ve been at three Smokefreerockquest finals now and each year is so different and so enjoyable.² Smokefreerockquest organiser Glen Common agreed: ³It is great to see these young bands launch into the music industry. All of the bands performing in the finals have the ability to carry on to greatness, and we look forward to seeing the ongoing impact the y have on the industry in the years to come.² And as for the winners? Solomon frontman Michael Cho was overwhelmed, admitting after coming second at the event last year it was a huge risk entering again: ³We learnt a lot from last year though and just practised and practised until we got things as perfect as we could, and this year it seemed to all come together,² he said, ³We¹ve got exams now but just can¹t wait to get into the studio!²