The distance between Nashville, Tennessee, and Arrowtown, New Zealand, is thousands of miles and takes more than a day of flying (don’t even try to Google Map the mileage). Originally from Gore, New Zealand, singer-songwriter Jackie Bristow decamped to the United States to pursue her musical career. She returned to her homeland in 2020 as coronavirus put the country into lockdown.
As Bristow’s touring plans were put on hold, she created SongCatcher, a music education program to teach self-expression through songwriting to 7-10 year old kids in the local Wakatipu basin. The resulting intensive 19-week workshop for seven youngsters turned into a group dubbed Jackie B and The Mini Band. The resulting five-track EP, Shooting Star, documents their recordings, courtesy of 8 Pound Gorilla Records.
The vocals for Shooting Star were recorded in St Patrick’s Catholic Church in Arrowtown, the backing music was recorded and produced by Bristow’s long-term musical partner Mark Punch in Nashville, and the entire track was mastered at Studios 301 in Sydney, Australia (their first song, “It’s Christmas,” was released in December and is not on the EP, but is still available on Amazon and YouTube).
While it’s not addressed directly, the pandemic certainly has made children seek answers from all corners about returning the world to normalcy. “Shooting Star” tackles the topic in an oblique manner:
I see a shooting star
It’s flying very fast
To make my wishes come true
For me and you
Climate change and the planet’s future are addressed in “Earth Guardian,” with a smidgen of New Zealand flavor when the kids sing, “Every day is a little scarier like a wild boar trying to knock your door down.” But they come full-circle and rejoice in having too much fun on “It’s A Beautiful Day.” Bristow is planning to take SongCatcher nationwide across New Zealand in 2022. It will be fun to chart her progress and what her charges produce on their own in the future.
Here is the video for the band’s song, “Shooting Star”: