If there was ever a place that surprised my heart so entirely, it would be Stewart Island. Take a look at my photo’s to see what I mean 😀
Tucked just off the bottom end of New Zealand’s South Island, across the notorious Foveaux Strait from Bluff, this tiny paradise is the final modern civilization before you hit Antarctica. New Zealand’s third island is remote and untamed, often overlooked by visitors here AND IT SHOULDN’T BE.
Rakiura, the island’s Māori name, means “glowing skies” which refers to the Southern Lights (Aurora Australis) sometimes visible from the island. Although it may be too far away for you to visit at the bottom of the world you can get a taste of Rakiura with my personal photos.
But first you must depart Bluff to cross Foveaux Strait – leaving a part of you somewhere in Foveaux Strait is regarded as a good crossing! This strait has been stroppy from the start.
Flanked by wild waves and even wilder weather, Stewart Island is rugged, beautiful and offers a rare glimpse of a truly untouched NZ. With its rugged peaks, dense bush, vast beaches and fascinating history, you’ll leave here with your eye s wide open and your heart full.
Did I mention the birds? Visiting Stewart Island you’ll see more (rare) birds than people (true story). It’s likely only place in the country where you’ve got a real shot at seeing an actual, live, kiwi in the wild … no, not just at the local pub at 5pm. I’m talking the feathered variety. Oops … I digress! Let’s move on, otherwise this post will become all about the birds [and the HUGE weta insects like those in thi picture!]!
If you’re looking for a unique kiwi experience that’s off the grid with stunning nature and wildlife then make Stewart Island a priority.
I wanted to write you a special message and wish you the best New Year and holiday season ever, and also share with you my personal end-of-year reflections.
As I think back on this past year, I'm realizing what a doozy it was! Here are just a few things that happened, both professionally and personally.
All of you awesome friends on Facebook grew my Facebook Page to more than 37,000 followers!
Got started back at the gym – I went 142 times in fact!
Made new merch – a studio recording photo collection, the documented video footage in the studio, launched two new bundles – Step Inside the Studio and Backstage With the Band
I built a greenhouse, landscaped the entire back yard and refurbished the front lawn plus installed a new laundry
Visited Israel, Jordan, UK, Australia, Singapore and USA (twice!)
Those are just a few of the highlights!
Wow, if I had known that going into 2018 I think I would've run for cover, ha ha ha! I learned a TON about myself. How far I can stretch myself, and where my limits truly are.
I learned that I NEED more adventure in my life to keep my inspiration tank full. Travel is definitely part of that equation. So I'm going on more adventures more often.
I also learned how much I value things like routine, while not getting stuck in a rut. Traveling so much helped me realize how we can be happy with very little "stuff" and how important friends and family are.
This year I missed spending more time in my studio and playing guitar. There's a lot I want to achieve in the next 1-2 years, and making more music is definitely part of that. Being in places like Jerusalem, Petra, and Wadi Rum desert filled my inspiration tank so full… but I wasn't in a great position to record my ideas while travelling. So… I can't WAIT!
As for the holidays, we're at the beginning of 2019 with more outdoor projects and a clean-out of my studio and home! I'm ready to get rid of even more stuff!
Lastly, I wanted to thank you for being here with me on this journey and I want to keep you in the loop and include you in my travels, both musically, and geographically. Have a wonderful day, and I would love if you commented below with your end-of-2018 reflections perhaps!
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I’ve played gigs with over 5000 people and streamed worldwide to audiences over 10,000 viewers. But once you look pas the smoke and lights what are you left with? I want to make music that touches lives and gives hearts courage.
The simple problem of logistics in a big gig makes that a real problem. Everyone in the audience will tell you to your face it was “awesome” but with a huge crowd you can’t look everyone in the eye and find out where they’re at and how much of a difference you’ve really made through the sweat and songs. I really don’t care for the fame or glamour – I care about connecting with people in an authentic empowering way so I have to say playing the big gigs can sometimes feel disappointing when the music has faded and the gear is all packed down.
While I was reading some news feeds about other musicians who play big gigs I came across instances of them doing small tailored concerts. Frankly I was really surprised and wondered why on earth they would do that. Why would Switchfoot show up at someone’s house to play for them and their friends when they could fill a stadium? Why would Kevin Max (Audio Adrenaline and DC Talk) get up close and personal singing in someone’s living room? Why are so many artists scaling down instead of scaling up to play their songs live????
I quickly realised from talking to music lovers that small intimate gigs are as powerful as large concerts but they have an authenticity and personal touch. I have gotta say that for me thinking small is much tougher, much more threatening and more visceral to play to 20 people where every word I sing and every chord I strum is fully present and up close and personal rather than being blown up onto a gargantuan stage screen or wrapped in lights and smoke by a camera. But that’s my musician viewpoint. What do you the audience think about all of this? The only way to find out is to ask you a few questions about your concert experiences to get an accurate idea of things from the audiences viewpoint. Please help me out right here and take my 1 minute survey – Yep … You should be able to finish it in 1 minute! You’ll be shaping how I bring music to you and others in the best possible way. So complete the survey above 😀
And if you think this all sounds great and you’d like your own free House Concert from me then visit here!
You’ve probably been focused on everyone else this holiday season and hardly taken a chance to catch your breath … you’ve been pulled at the seams and pushed over the edge. You just needed to get through the last 2 weeks and breath again after 2016 rolled in.
I get it.
Ending one year and starting the next can be difficult and overwhelming. It’s a mixed bag of fun and freak-out, delight and dread.
Piled on top of our pushed-to-far lives is a constantly growing bunch of extra stuff to do.
And … I hate to tell you this … but another year has GONE. As well as our lives being crazily chaotic, we realize that they’re also flying right on by. While our internal Humpty Dumpty balances on the wall of life we end up asking, “What am I doing with my life?”
For me the last few weeks of every year are a mix of tension and panic, just like turning the handle of a jack-in-the-box. I know there’s a crouched clown waiting to freak me out any second, but I just keep on cranking … crank — wait — scream — repeat.
That’s how a lot of my life seems when I’m drowning in daily details, forgetting why I’m even cranking the handle in the first place. It takes life’s shocks to make me realise it and notice what I’m doing. I realise I can stop, let go of the handle, and walk away any time I want.
You can as well. There’s just 5 questions you need to ask yourself …
So this week, I decided to stop getting wound up about another year escaping my grasp and take a few moments out. One afternoon I sat down with my iPad and some cold brew coffee. I closed my eyes and imagined myself a year go in a specific place and time. From that imagined space, I asked myself, and answered the following:
What would ‘2014 me’ say “thank you” for to my (current) ‘2015 me’?
What would ‘2014 me’ say “congratulations!” for to (current) ‘2015 me’?
How am I wiser, smarter, stronger or better than this time a year ago?
In the past year what have I learned about who I am?
What big or small things would I like to celebrate in 2015?
Armed with clear answers and a refreshing outlook, I was able to take a deep breath and answer 5 more questions:
What served me well and worked for me in 2015?
What didn’t work for me?
What do I want to take with me into 2016?
What am I going to leave behind in 2015?
What is my most important desire for 2016?
I realised I don’t have to keep on doing something just because I’ve already been doing it. I can change things up – take things out of the equation or add things in. I can re-imagine my life. Not just because it’s the start of a new year either. I can ask these questions in August or June. I can celebrate whatever works and I can toss out and leave behind what doesn’t. I can be grateful for both of these. I can tell myself how great I’ve done with what I’ve achieved and forgive myself for what I’ve blown.
Now it’s your turn too.
Make a date with yourself – it may be early, or maybe even late. Maybe along with a coffee curled up by a fire or a cool drink in a summer garden. Find your favourite spot and give yourself this wonderful gift.
You’ll be amazed at what you’ve already accomplished and excited about what’s ahead for you.
Leave a comment below with one of your answers from the questions above … and I will too 😀
Get the song from my CD that inspired 15,000 people worldwide
Fight rejection and fuel your dreams with my alt-rock anthem that featured on The Voice EMC!
I love all my kids so much but that doesn’t mean I agree with all their choices.
I guess my Dad felt the same about me as I was forging my life as an adult. He never really said much about my choices but I wish he’d told me when he thought I was getting it right … and even when I was getting it wrong.
My youngest son Jesse reminds me of that … he’s forsaken me and my love for rock music!
Instead of making guitar driven rock tunes he’s an Electronic Music Producer releasing his Drum and Bass album today in LA under his moniker ‘Koronis’. The funny thing is it’s not on iTunes or even on a CD. It’s not even on a tape like my first album was.
He’s releasing his album ‘Replicant’ on vinyl so you have to use a needle to get it!
It’s truly amazing to see him following his dreams in LA with music success in such a short time!
It’s such a privilege that he’s following in my footsteps … although he’s missing out on the huge rock guitars and power vocals bit :p
Kiwi musician Peter Woolston is finally quenching his fans’ curiosity, with the release of I Believe In You, the first track from his new album Hope On My Horizon.
Drawing comparisons to artists like Jon Foreman, Bono and Martin Smith, Hope On My Horizon counts its blessings and sees the glass as half full rather than half empty. I Believe In You gives fans a taste of what’s to come with its memorable hooks and infectious melodies.
But it’s what he’s doing with his music that makes Woolston different from most Kiwi musicians.
After stepping aboard as Mercy Ships NZ Musical Ambassador in 2014, Woolston is ‘rocking the boat’ by donating 50% of all sales of the title track from his new album Hope On My Horizon, due for release first thing next month, to the floating hospital that has changed thousands of lives for the better.
Since 1978, Mercy Ships has performed more than one billion dollars’ worth of life-changing medical services on hundreds of thousands of the world’s poorest people – all for free. Mercy Ships is powered by voluntary medical professionals from more than 40 nations all over the world, including New Zealand. The crew pay their way and perform vital – often life-saving – medical services including cleft lip and palate corrections, cataract removals, straightening of crossed eyes, and orthopaedic and facial reconstruction, all at no charge to the patient.
Woolston knows that making a real difference to people’s lives doesn’t come cheap, which is why he’s donating much of his work.
“When I first found out about Mercy Ships, I was blown away by the selflessness of the medical staff who give up so much of their own time, money and energy to providing life-changing help to the people of Africa,” says Woolston.
“Then it got me thinking. What could I give that could make a difference too?
“Everyone has a skill that they can donate to worthy organisations like Mercy Ships. Mine just happens to be music.”
Hope On My Horizon was recorded in Sydney and is due for release in July 2015, along with its title track. Each song draws on Woolston’s knack for deep-thinking, and is consistently introspective and serious-minded – and memorable.
Influenced by bands like U2, Switchfoot, The Police and Larry Noman, Woolston’s music-making has taken him all over the world, including far-flung nations like China, Romania, Bulgaria and Russia.
Since 1978, Mercy Ships has performed more than $1 billion worth of free medical services, directly impacting more than 2.35 million of the world’s poorest people. Mercy Ships providing surgeries, dental work, well drilling, and other capacity building services free of charge to the most destitute in West Africa’s most impoverished nations, and all volunteers pay their own way. Mercy Ships has 16 national offices worldwide, including one in Auckland. More information at www.mercyships.org.nz
Mercy Ships have:
· Performed 74,400+ life-changing operations such as cleft lip and palate, cataract removal, straightening of crossed eyes, orthopaedic and facial reconstruction. All operations are free to patients.
· Treated over 608,200+ patients in village medical and dental clinics and educated about 5,850 local health care workers, who have in turn trained multiple thousands in primary health care.
· Trained over 34,500 local professionals in their areas of expertise, including anaesthesiology, midwifery, instrument sterilisation, orthopaedic and reconstructive surgery, and leadership.
· Completed over 1,100 community development projects focusing on water and sanitation, education, infrastructure development and agriculture.
About Peter Woolston
Peter Woolston has loved music since he was about 10 years old. Originally from Wellington but now based in Auckland with his family, Woolston has performed all over New Zealand and throughout the world, including the US, China, Bulgaria, Romania and Russia. Influenced by bands like U2, Switchfoot, The Police and Larry Norman, Woolston has studied under teachers like Pat Pattison and Jason Blume, completed a Certificate in Songwriting at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, and produced distinctive melodic and guitar-powered alternative rock.
“the sound of rocking guitars, pounding basslines, and crashing drums …pop/rock edge makes his [Woolston\’s] music incredibly accessible … very distinct alternative rock sound … akin to something from Foo Fighters or a less grungy Pearl Jam … guitars have an almost U2 kind of chiming to them and the drums have a forceful stomp … Peter Woolston has created an album that rocks and inspires with equal measure”
5 out of 5 stars
Heath Andrews discovered a passionate love for music at the hands of Huey Lewis & The News. Inspiring him greatly, he obtained a B.S. in Radio/Television and scriptwriting, hosting and produced multiple radio programs and interviewing musicians such as David Knopfler, Nils Lofgren, and Bruce Hornsby.
2. Kelly O’Neil
“Like U2 in it’s heyday … kicking rock … grand confident vocals … layered guitars … similar timbre to Switchfoot … enjoyable modern rock album that will easily attract listeners worldwide”
4 out of 5 stars
Kelly O’Neil began her career in NYC with a diverse clientele including Foreigner, Jessica Simpson, Kevin Max, Jaci Velasquez and Sir James Galway. She moved to Nashville and wrote for CCM, U and CrossWalk magazines with freelancing credits including Reader’s Digest, Pan Pipes, christianmusicplanet.com and christrock.com.
3. Alex Henderson
“this is a solid outing that paints an attractive picture of his talents as a vocalist, songwriter and guitarist … Woolston specializes in melodic, guitar-powered alternative rock, and it is evident that he has a knack for memorable hooks. Woolston is as infectious on “Dead Man Walking,” “Obsession” and “I Believe In You” as he is on “Better Man Someday” and the title track (all of which he wrote by himself) … Hope On My Horizon is definitely an album that counts its blessings and sees the glass as half full rather than half empty … enjoyable outing”
3.5 stars out of 5
Alex Henderson is a veteran journalist/music critic whose work has appeared in Billboard, Spin, The L.A. Weekly, Creem, HITS, CD Review, Skin Two, Black Radio Exclusive, Thrash Metal and a long list of other well known publications. Known for his eclectic tastes, Alex has contributed several thousand CD reviews to The All Music Guide online and series of reference books since 1996. Jello Biafra, Sonny Rollins, Megadeth, Ice Cube, Live, Chick Corea, Public Enemy, Marduk, Bobby Brown, Ra and Everlast are among the many well known artists Alex has interviewed during his long career.
4. Alec Cunningham
“all tracks you can easily get into and sing along with … these tracks are easy to relate to … an arena rock sound.”
3.5 stars out of 5
Alec Cunningham is a journalist and freelance writer from Knoxville, TN where she currently works for Blank Newspaper, Knoxville’s longest-running independent publication, writing musician interview articles and album reviews.
I was sitting in a seminar classroom in 2013 with Professor Pat Pattison, one of the world’s songwriting experts, learn how to write the best songs I could for you when all of a sudden I couldn’t believe what I was thinking. I felt terrified as the room turned into a blur of noise and I knew the crazy thing to do … was the right thing to do. The problem was the argument that was going on inside of me … and if I lost this argument it could cost me thousands of dollars and years of wasted time. You’re not going to believe what happenned next …
Even though I’d finished writing the songs for the CD and was about to send them to the Producer I suddenly broke into a cold sweat because I knew the songs were “good enough”. THat might sound crazy being “good enough” they weren’t the BEST songs I could write for my fans. Now I’d studied songwriting with Berklee School of Music and I was sitting in another of many songwriting seminars so I could write better songs. You see, Pat had just ruined my plans of recording by simply saying “The best 10% of Beethoven’s music was not the 90% he wrote”. I realised that I had settled for 90% in my desperation to get my songs out there to meet the plea’s and requests for my music from you all. If Pat hadn’t caused enough trouble already he then piped up with “… write the best songs that YOU can write – not the songs someone else would write”.
This didn’t create a mild issue – it created a HUGE problem! I knew I couldn’t use the songs planned for the CD how they were and that I needed to rewrite them ALL … even if the Producer was waiting to listen to them. You deserved the BEST songs Peter Woolston would write – I needed to use my unique ‘voice’ and style to give you songs that rocked! Right there and then I decided to stop the record project and re-write everything.
That moment felt wonderful AND terrifying. In fact for the next few nights I lost a lot of sleep concerned as there were a bunch of people supporting me to make the record and this decision would delay everything. At the same time I also felt wonderful because I knew I could take these songs beyond “good enough” and turn them into the best songs to record.
So what would have happened if I had just plowed on and hit the record button with the songs “as is”? I needed to get them recorded as people were waiting … well, I would have lost the one opportunity to bring these songs to people in their “best dress” – once a song is out it’s OUT! I would have always known the songs could have been better and I that I could have given the people supporting me, people like you, my best instead of my ‘good enough’.
So here we are 2 years later getting ready to send out finished CD’s and release the singles and videos. That one decision slowed the whole recording up by years but by re-writing the songs and delaying the record I wrote the best songs I could for you. People were wonderfully understanding of the delay and people are still excited about the record because they knew writing songs is what I love and that I was only trying to do the best I could with what I loved!
The proof in the pudding is in the CD Reviews I received in the last week from Music Journalists. CD Reviews are something us musicians tremble at the thought of, but you’ll never really know how good your songs are until a music critic who listens to tracks day-in-day-out listens to yours! And you only get one shot for that song too.
So what did they say? The video at the top of this post tells it all! The combined average of the reviews was 4 out of 5 stars!!! That’s an incredible result!!!!
I am so grateful that my labour of love was met with such a positive response by independent reviewers. I realise it could have been so different – if I had simply bowed to mediocre the CD reviews would been average instead of awesome! I didn’t give in to “good-enough” but pushed myself to give my best in these songs … to give my best for you!
So whenever you’re doing something you love and are facing “good enough” maybe that’s a good time to think about the people who will receive that “good enough” – in my experience, even if it adds years and thousands of dollars to the cost of what you’re doing, it’s worth giving your best for those you love.
I had my collar turned up as I tried to keep a low profile hoping no one would notice me as my pride probed me asking what was I doing here. The hall was dark as I suffered in my seat awaiting the kitsch consequences of my impetuous ABBA Tribute Band “Buy Now”. When I was young and stupid I had no musical taste and found myself wearing white flares and wing collar shirts singing “Dancing Queen young and sweet only 17 …” but now I’m a serious rock musicianary and I was shifting in my seat as the ABBA Band took the stage to a wild welcome.
The clapping cheering crowd of college kids 5 rows back amused me at first – they weren’t even born when Bjorn wailed-out Waterloo so I expected their misguided youthful enthusiasm would wane by the 3rd or 4th song. But they didn’t “Move On” and obviously knew “The Name of the Game” because “When All is Said and Done” they were still “Head Over Heels” dancing taller than the ABBA Band’s boots with no signs of slowing down.
In the slew of sequinned songs and 6inch stilletto’s the true facts about Bono’s love of ABBA hit me plain as day as I sang of “Thank You for the Music”. ABBA had shaped my life and influenced the world and I have to admit that just like Bono, ABBA was one of my favourite bands. Bono even performed with Bjorn and Benny doing “Dancing Queen” and “Satellite of Love” in concert. So why does Bono rate ABBA? Well he’s quoted as saying “I think ABBA have a pure joy to their music and that’s what makes them extraordinary.”
I want my songs to do the same – to make people dance and smile despite the struggles or problems they face – to give them some relief from life. So this week I’m sending the CD off for manufacture so I can share songs like “Hope On My Horizon” with you. It’s an exciting stage of the record and feels amazing to finally be at the end of the project.
But I could have easily not even made this record. When friends told me “you’re too old to be a rock star …” I could have hung up my guitar and exited stage left. But if I had listened to naysayers instead of what God had told me to do and ignored the effect my songs have to bring joy to people then these songs would never have been recorded and this CD would never have seen the light of day. There would be no “Hope On My Horizon” for you.
But just like ABBA “I Have A Dream” that you “Let the Music Speak” and instead of singing your dreams are “Slipping Through My Fingers”, you instead sing “I See Hope On My Horizon”.
PS What other ABBA songs should Bono do a cover of?
Comment below … This video contains images that were used under a Creative Commons License. Click here to see the full list of images and attributions: https://app.contentsamurai.com/cc/75061