Grant Winterburn? We've known Grant since before the band even got together. He played on the Kokomo Blues album To Be Or What nearly 30 years ago, and I've felt bad about it ever since. Let me tell you why...
Grant was the most amazing keyboard player we knew. Probably still is. When I first started playing solo in the mid-eighties at Tauranga's Saint Amand Hotel Grant, who I think was still at school at the time, played with the band in the upstairs bar, Hit And Run. Along with a guitarist who set fire to his axe, Grant, who regularly threw his keyboard around the stage like his heroes, was the talk of the town.
(Just as an aside, it was John Terry, frontman of that band, who wrote and donated us the song Freight Train – it has been a fan favourite now for 30 years, thanks John!)
Grant was also winning awards at the National Youth Jazz Band Competitions at Tauranga's annual jazz festival and a couple of years later headed down to the music school in Wellington.
It was down there that we recorded To Be Or What (1996) in the famous Studio 2 at Radio New Zealand's headquarters. And since we could bring in musicians of our choice we asked Grant to play on the very first recording of Rainy Night In Taupo.
The only problem was that we hadn't properly thought it through and although what we wanted was for Grant to show off his amazing keyboard chops, we hadn't really arranged the song that way and hadn't really left any space for him to play anything particularly exciting. So Grant played a completely unobtrusive backing part. To this day I don't think anyone has even noticed it!
Thus when it turned out that Grant was living in Tauranga during the Covid crisis we dragged him down the road to The Boatshed studio and set him up to play on two songs slated for the new album, Workhorse...
And this time we were ready. One of the central songs on the album is Something Funny Going On, a funky Covid-flecked groove, and for the recording we played the whole song and added a “false ending” - after the end the entire band started up again and played instrumentally for another couple of minutes.
And that was what we gave Grant. First he played piano on another song then we set him up with his organ and let him loose. I actually had a video camera there to capture the moment for a video. What hadn't occurred to me was that Grant would nail the song in a single take. I hadn't even turned the camera on. He just blazed through it, it was staggering.
Here's the solo. Have a listen...