White Chapel Jak is planning a special celebratory event at Leigh Sawmill Café this month to celebrate the release of their first single, Good Time, and give back to the community that has supported it from the start.
Leigh holds a special place in the heart of lead vocalist Bonnie Hurunui, whose mother still lives in the township. It was where Bonnie got married in 2012, and where the band has always felt most at home with sell-out gigs at the renowned Sawmill Café.
White Chapel Jak has inevitably built a large local following, and to say thanks to those fans, they chose the venue to start their Good Time tour of the North Island on August 28.
“We used to get given stallholders’ produce as our fee for singing at the Matakana Markets, but our first paid gigs were at the Sawmill. Those guys have been there for us from the beginning,” she says.
The band has planned a weekend celebration. The Saturday night gig will be followed by a family-friendly Sunday afternoon session on August 29.
The Sawmill has created a White Chapel Jak cocktail and pizza for the occasion and other special treats are planned.
“We’re really proud that we are now playing for thousands of people, it’s what we’ve worked so hard for. But we love how we can really connect with fans at the Sawmill, it’s a wonderful, intimate place where we feel the love of the crowd,” Bonnie says.
“We love the energy and vibe of people having a good time. That’s what our shows and music are all about – the best that life has to offer, good music, good people and good times.”
White Chapel Jak was the Radio New Zealand Cover Band of the Year in 2018.
More recently, music guru Paul Ellis, a former Sony Music vice-president who signed Cyndi Lauper and Sarah MacLachlan, described the band as “one of the hottest and exciting acts to emerge in New Zealand in the past 18 months”.
Over the years, White Chapel Jak has progressed from being a support act for Bonnie Tyler and Alanis Morissette to becoming a headline act.
Accompanied by the Auckland Symphony Orchestra, it entertained more than 15,000 people at Auckland’s SeePort Festival for two years in a row.
Band spokesperson Hayley McLarin says Bonnie has a powerhouse voice and charisma that crowds love. She is supported by drummer Dean Tinning and guitarist Nathan Boston.
“They nail ballads through to bangers that span decades of hits and have everyone dancing,” she says.
She adds the trio’s playlist is now peppered with original music.