4000 Years

by Tommy

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Tommy brings together the moods of reggae, rock, soul and a dash of pop in a melodic melting pot to form their ‘folk roots’ sound. Comfortably sitting alongside the adult contemporary music of Jack Johnson and the John Butler Trio, Tommy’s sound is rooted in soothing melodies and flowing piano lines which meld in an organic blend that is unmistakably from Aotearoa.

The debut album 4000 Years marks the culmination of more than four years work during which time constant performances on the South Island festival circuit; including Destination, Visions and the Kaikoura Roots festival, have built Tommy’s loyal and passionate fan following. Invitations to support touring artists the John Butler Trio and TrinityRoots have only added to Tommy’s reputation as high quality musicians with a professional sound. The album title 4000 Years perhaps hints at the time it may take to create good music and lends a clue to the inspiration the band takes from its surroundings in New Zealand.

The album was first recorded in the native bush near Nelson on an eight-track deck, before being re-recorded at Matrix digital. At a later point the work in progress was handed over to sound engineer Mike Gibson, who lists work with musicians Weta, Fur Patrol and TrinityRoots on his credits. Mike Gibson did the third & final recording at Inca in Wellington & included two of the original recordings from the Nelson bush are in the final cut.

The album 4000 Years collects the diverse sounds of Tommy together. The Aroha (Love) side of the album includes Echo Dance and its organ driven verses, snappy vocals and slide-guitar work courtesy of Adrian Dick from Stylus 77 - the first of three guests who appear on the album. The gentler Sometimes Stones and its melodic guitars and echoing flute provide a spacious setting for the lead singer, and band namesake, Tommy’s busy vocal phrasing. Rise drives itself with big piano lines and an up tempo rhythm section giving it a pop flavour. The band recently wrapped up two brand new music videos for Sometimes Stones and Rise with UK director Richard Bell. Side A concludes with a sublime piano ballad that is the Magpie Song,

The Wairua (Spirit) side then moves into the feel-good vibe of the dub-styled Get Up, which again lifts the tempo of the album and includes the soulful swoon of guest vocalist Hollie Smith. Get Up gives rise to positive words, encouraging people to forget their struggles for a moment, get up and ‘make it happen’. The messages of meaning are continued in 4000 Years which points to the past oppression of women and children and grounded on the back of a funk-fuelled organ and warm bass line. Guest trumpeter Toby Laing of Fat Freddy’s Drop adds his delicate horn to the track alongside the catchy skank of an acoustic guitar. The Shepherd includes an unmistakable sample from the voice of New Zealand actor George Henare in the film Once Were Warriors, before the album signs off with Empty Field – the original live recording from deep inside the Nelson bush.


released October 4, 2004



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Tommy Wellington, New Zealand

Tommy Benefield is too complex to characterise. He was kicked out of home, school, and rehab before age 17. He grew up fast. By 22 he was a full-time councillor, all the while writing music. He now has a masters degree in psychotherapy, has opened shows for the likes of Fly My Pretties and Donovan Frankenreiter, and released his second studio album entitled Tomorrow I Might Go. ... more


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