Training at Altitude photo shoot at Masterton airfield 1998
It has been 23 years since Hobnail (then Hobnail Boots) made their first tentative steps in the world. Rob Joass and Jo Moir had previously played together in the short lived Wild Blue Yonder, an acoustic folk/pop band influenced by the likes of Paul Kelly and The Go-Betweens (career highlight - opening for Suzanne Vega!)
Hobnail Boots was an altogether different animal, starting life as a party band playing celtic and country music, but always with a solid slice of original material thrown in. Finding their original material as popular with audiences as the cover versions, they started taking things a bit more seriously, recording and touring their own music. They were invited to play in North America on the back of their first 2 albums; "Deboot" (1996) and "Training at Altitude" (1998). Dates in England and Germany followed. Great gigs, great times.
Warming up back stage at Wellington Summer City 2004
Things changed when families were started, as the business of life meant that touring the world wasn't much of an option. But this band has a commitment to their music and each other, so they continued working together - touring around NZ when possible and releasing albums. It was inevitable that earlier influences would resurface, and at this point there was a noticeable shift back to a more folk/country sound. Bars gave way to concert venues - dancing audiences gave way to listening audiences. But they never lost the knack of getting toes tapping and people dancing.
Photo shot for The Fortune Horses at Tauherenikau Racecourse, 2007
Their next album "On With The Show" (2001) received great reviews and many festival invitations. Occasional touring and festival appearances continued through the early 2000's, and in 2004 they released "Hindsight", a selection of tracks from their first 2 albums, which were by now, out of print.
2007 saw a return to active service. The kids were a little older, Hamish returned from his big OE, and the fabulous Caroline Easther was recruited on drums. Together with Rob and Jo and guitarist/singer Bill Hickman they recorded "The Fortune Horses" which was hailed as the best of their career, and nominated for best folk album at the 2009 NZ music awards. Performances at the Norfolk Island country music festival and many festivals around New Zealand followed, including the Golden Shears in Masterton, the Moonshine Festival in Gore, Tauranga's Blues Brews BBQ's, Taste Martinborough, and the Wellington, Auckland and Canterbury Folk Festivals. A concert at Wellington's Paramount Theatre was filmed by acclaimed director Costa Botes, and released on DVD in 2008.
The last few years have seen touring and festival appearances continue as often as life allows.
Hobnail Boots in 2010
In 2011 Rob started work on what he thought would be a solo album. But as it evolved and the songs came together it became obvious that this was a Hobnail album. Hamish, Caroline and Jo had contributed to many of the arrangements and Hobnail were already playing many of the songs live. In early 2012 they added Canadian singer/guitarist Bonnie Riley to the live line-up, adding even more vocal flair and allowing Rob to be the multi-instrumentalist he has always wanted to be. "Baggage" was released to great reviews, with the title track being nominated as a finalist for Best Country Song at the 2013 NZ Music Awards up against The Eastern and eventual winners Marlon Williams and Delaney Davidson.
In 2015 Hobnail released their 6th album, "String Things", which has proven to be the most popular of their career. It is a stellar showcase of new songs, old favourites re-recorded and crowd favourite cover songs they have made their own.
Since then Hobnail has continued what they have started calling their endless tour, performing all over NZ (including the Mercury Bay Music Festival, Christchurch Folk Festival, The Caroline Bay Festival and a wonderful Lazy Sunday at Hagley Park to an estimated 3,000 happy fans). They have also started work on their 7th album and will be touring the country through the 2nd half of 2017.
So no rest in sight, and they wouldn't have it any other way.
For more information, pictures or interviews contact Rob Joass 0274 500615 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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