Willie Hona

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Willie Hona

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IT’S A CASE of South Auckland cabaret singer meets streetwise Polynesian reggae band.

In a slightly unlikely marriage of musical styles, Herbs and Willie Hona have joined forces. The 29-year-old Hona, who reckons he’s played probably every pub in the country – plus a heap of clubs – in his 13 years in the business, shapes as a new front man for the re-formed Herbs.

It seems the promise of a confirmed tour of Polynesia in August, Hong Kong dates set for October and a possible European tour with UB40 beyond that, is keeping Herbs alive. The Hona addition is only one of the major changes to the group’s lineup, after two unsettling months when the band teetered on the edge of a permanent split.

In the new Herbs (this must be Mk 3) Hona is playing lead guitar and saxophone, original member Fred Faleauto remains on drums, Jack Allen stays on bass while the two temporary additions to the band made for its South lsland tour early this year, percussionist Carl Perkins and keyboards player Tama Lundon are now permanent.

They all share the vocals. Gone it seems are Spenz Fusimalohi, Dilworth Karaka and Mori Watene. For Willie Hona the timing of the Hona/Herbs linkup seems poor:  after all this time in the business, he’s he’s only just had his first single-a self – penned ballad, She Needs You released by WEA.

But then, the man from Rawene, Northland, has switched from groups to solo performer throughout his career. He began with Mark Williams’band Face,in Dargaville, witched to , playing guitar behind Auckland cabaret, acts, became a solo artist with his own floor show then, four years back, formed his own group the Hona Band.

For two years he’s been back as a solo performer doing, as he says, “everything, mate. I do the works actually.” Hona believes he has to offer Herbs all ability to together a better on stage presence, his vocal and instrumental abilities – plus his song-writing talents.

Although Hona has been doing only three originals in his act and hasn’t recorded anything until now he’s been writing songs for years.

Already he’s written three reggae-style numbers for Herbs. He’s hoping the Herbs association will get him to Europe and to the break through with a record, much faster than he could as Willie Hona, solo night club performer.

Besides, the band has agreed to do his new single and another as part of the Herbs act – and to let him do solo work that doesn’t clash with its gigs.

 

 

 

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