What do you get if you mix a pound of Fela Kuti's Afrika 70, two cupfuls of The Meters, 250g of thinly sliced early James Brown and a level dessert spoon of psychedelic rock? - you get the heaving, convulsing powerhouse of soul music that is The Hot Grits.
For over five years, The Hot Grits have been electrifying club dancefloors and festival stages around New Zealand with an eclectic, take no prisoners approach to soul and afrobeat music. When THG hit their stride, no-one in the room is immune from the power and sheer soulfulness of their groove, and band and audience become one in a giant, convulsing testament to the power of good music. The overall Hot Grits sound is funky and deep, but always powerful and never too smooth.
The Hot Grits have steadily evolved into a powerhouse live outfit, capable of packing out venues and creating havoc on any dancefloor. Highlights have included playing to several thousand people at 95bfm's Summer Series concerts in Albert Park, bringing the house down at the Wintergarden theatre during AK03 and AK05, and rocking festivals from Grey Lynn and Waiheke to the Coromandel and Nelson. Along the way, THG have shared bills with a diverse array of acts, including Pluto, Goldenhorse, City Newton Bombers, North Shore Pony Club, One Million Dollars, King Kapisi, Greg Johnson, The Sneaks and The Phoenix Foundation.
The current Hot Grits line up consists of no fewer than eleven very talented musicians from such varied backgrounds as jazz, hardcore, metal, reggae, hip hop and big band. Alistair Deverick (The Shades) holds the whole operation together with his supple breakbeat drumming, abetted by the fat, soulful bass of Marlon Lobo. Nick Wood (Payola) and Trygve Wakenshaw round out the rhythm section on percussion, giving a thick rhythmic drive to the band's powerhouse engine room.
Martin Sutcliffe (The Defendants) keeps everything tight on guitar, and Nisha Madham's keys bed everything down in a warm hammond glow. Shaun O'Kane adds fluid saxophone lines to the power trombone of James A'Hara and the deep baritone sax of Ben McNichol. Atop this veritable mountain of sound rides the Hot Grits' two vocalists, Barnie Duncan and Elitia Clark. Barnie is an incendiary performer who can push a crowd (and himself) to the absolute limits of funkiness and Elitia provides both sensual soul and sheer power.