20 August 2017, Napier Municipal Theatre
Marking the 10th anniversary of their father’s passing, Jim Toner – a dearly cherished and highly regarded Hawke’s Bay Country Music legend, the Toner Sisters returned to Napier with their encore show: A Little Bit Country – A Little Bit Rock n Roll.
This was no ordinary show. The Toner Sisters set out to produce an unforgettable family reunion that incorporated the considerable talent of their immediate and extended family under one roof – a never before seen event. To add a little spice to the mix, New Zealand Rock n Roll entertainer, Tom Sharplin, made this a Sunday matinee I will not forget in a hurry.
The audience, a diverse assortment of friends, relatives, and dedicated country music fans, were accompanied to their seats by cheeky Jim Brown, the Toner Sister’s cousin, and his bagpipes. With smiles, laughter and embraces the audience began to settle in for what was a two and a half hour extravaganza.
The Scottish sisters, Lynne, Celine and Adrienne, were welcomed to the stage with cheers and whistles, opening with their rendition of ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’. Their polished vocal harmonies, range of musical genre, complementary outfits and relaxed sisterly banter were a testament to their extensive careers in the music industry.
Adding to the visual and auditory experience, the girls were supported by talented musicians Pure Dixie and the versatile violinist and pianist Nick Jones. A team of local Rock n Roll dancers, dressed in their colorful Rock n Roll skirts, gave the audience an impromptu display of their swing as the afternoon gathered momentum.
Being a newbie to the family, I sometimes felt on the ‘back foot’ but I could imagine Jim Toner in his cowboy hat, watching on proudly as his family playfully bickered, sung and danced like they did when they were kids. There was an outpouring of love from the audience for this iconic Hawke’s Bay family, when Sharplin said, “When talented siblings come together they create something special. These are fantastic chicks!”
As family reunions go this was one of the more interesting and riveting get-togethers I have attended. The Toner family spoilt the audience with a generous helping of musical fare, memories, and comedy. The afternoon left me with a real curiosity around the Toner family and their influence on the country music scene in New Zealand.
In addition to this, I quite fancy a bit of a swing myself, in a cosy pub, getting down to Pure Dixi with Nick Jones. All in all, it was not what I expected but it was a great way to spend my Sunday afternoon.
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