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Valley of Dreams

December 15, 2013

UH 1

It was a night of “singing, screaming, stamping and sheer youthful joie de vive” declared the Upper Hutt Leader, whose alliteration was sharper than its je ne sais quois. The evening was a Talent Quest held in November 1964 at the Upper Hutt College Hall. Here, TV personality Pete Sinclair, who compered the show, presents Kevin Stent with his £25 first prize. Stent had beaten the second-place getters, local group Sinewaves, with his rendition of the haunting ballad ‘Streets of Laredo’, accompanying himself on guitar.

Sinewaves later evolved into the Fourmyula, its songwriters Wayne Mason and Ali Richardson came up with ‘Alice is There’ and ‘Come With Me’, Mason wrote ‘Nature’, and the rest is history. Their vocalist Frank Stevenson later became known as Frankie Stevens, and just last night stole the show at the annual Christmas in the Park in Auckland.

At the Upper Hutt College Hall, Sinclair and the various acts had trouble making themselves heard over the “screams and shrieks of the appreciative audience.” Sinewaves presented “a delightfully well-balanced version of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’. This group proved to be the Heretaunga College band with the addition of a drummer from St Pat’s College. Members were Les Gruebner, Wayne Mason, Frank Stevenson (vocalist par excellence), Martin Hope and Chris Parry (St Pat’s). Third place went to Lawrence Wong, whose number ‘I Believe’ with guitar accompaniment induced rapt and almost silent attention from the audience.”

Other acts included a family group ‘Putting on the Style’, Trevor and Val Tapp performing magic with doves, the Sunrays with ‘Go Tell It To the Mountain’, and Joyce Gilliard whose version of ‘Summertime’ “sounded delightful in the odd moments her voice could be heard.”

The talent quest items were interspersed by songs performed by local stars Johnny England and Christine Barnett, the latter “a bubbling little bundle of pink shift dress and long-fringed hairdo who knew how to get her audience rotating” (she asked them to join in and make as much noise as they wished). Unfortunately, England – a pleasant, blonde-haired boy’ – couldn’t be heard above the “shattering volume of greatly amplified electric guitars and a dervish drummer who whacked away with a tremendous force.”

A “stimulating, if somewhat ear-splitting time was had by all”. It was the first time older members of the audience had witnessed “Beatle-type entertainment and its subsequent audience reaction.”

UH 3From left, Lawrence Wong (third prize), and the Sinewaves (second prize): Frank Stevenson, Les Gruebner, Chris Parry, Wayne Mason and Martin Hope. Photo: Revelle Jackson.

Found at the splendid searchable Upper Hutt Leader site, made available by the Upper Hutt City Library.

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