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Jonathan Densem has inoperable brain cancer. Please help him record his songs while he still can.

  • Recording continues a pace :-)     12 December 2016
    Posted by: Emma Smetham
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    Recording at Roundhead continues a pace and is going super well. It is so much fun. It's UBER fun. Fun on steriods. Exhausting too but we'll pay that price!

    I've uploaded some more photos - so check out the Gallery if you're interested.

    Kind regards,


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  • Thanking you on Giving Tuesday     28 November 2016
    Posted by: Emma Smetham
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    Given its Giving Tuesday today, we wanted to take the opportunity to thank all you wonderful people who have given so generously to make Jonny's album possible. It is a spectacular gift you have given Jonny, Otto, Caspar and me - thank you from the very core of my being.

    Giving Tuesday also felt like a good excuse to give you another project update too!

    Recording is in full swing at Roundhead Studios and it sounds AWESOME! It is also so much FUN! The musos are INCREDIBLE - Greg Haver aka Captain Sarcastic (also the producer) on drums, Steve Small music director and keyboards, Tom Healy guitar, Ben King guitar and Mark Hughes on bass. These cats are absolutely ripping it up! They are amazeballs!!

    We so fortunate to have such a talented, generous and NICE group of people to do this project with. In the same vein Nicky Poortman, sound man extraordinaire, is frankly a genius and Christian Tjandrawinata on photography is nothing short of brilliant.

    Speaking of photos check out a small selection of Chris's photos in the Gallery.

    The funds all you 380 champions have so generously given will cover getting the album fully recorded, mixed and mastered...I.e. to download stage. Next on the list is album artwork, CD production, distribution and even the musical!

    Thank you so much Beautiful people!

    Kindest regards,


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  • It's happening folks     23 November 2016
    Posted by: Emma Smetham
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    Well folks - it's happening! We are now at The Bassment in Takapuna, Auckland and as I write this Jonny is happily rehearsing with a fantastic crew of very cool musos ...and I cannot, quite literally, hear myself think!! A nice problem to have, I think ??

    Jonny and I am very excited at how great the songs sound at the hands of these expert peeps. And so quickly. It's very, very cool! ??

    Recording starts Saturday at Roundhead Studios. Eeck! Super exciting!

    Stay posted - I'll post another update again soon ??

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  • Producer says "Too many good songs!"     3 November 2016
    Posted by: Emma Smetham
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    Producer says “...too many good songs”!

    Jonny and I are very happy to announce that we have chosen the producer for the album. Greg Haver is our man. Greg was born a Welshman but now calls NZ home – it did take him marrying an awesome kiwi chick to see the light but at least he did. Greg has a wealth of experience in the biz, knows all the right people and frankly is most enjoyable company. Greg divides his work life between NZ and the UK and has produced such successes as The Manic Street Preachers, Opshop, The Feelers, Kimbra, Melanie C, INME. Full details can be found on and

    Greg (Haver) says that we have “lots of great songs...too many, in fact! Enough for two albums really”! Here is a home video of Greg and Jonny chattin’ about the album. In the last few weeks Greg has been nutting out a plan for getting Jonny’s album largely done before Christmas – the upshot being Jonny will be rehearsing and recording the album this month and next. EECK!

    The bulk of the record is to be recorded at legend Neil Finn’s studio in Auckland, Roundhead Studios. and We would like to give a big shout out to Jeremy McPike and Roundhead Studios for their kind assistance and for the recommendation of Greg Haver. We would also like to thank Greg Haver for all his help with... well, EVERYTHING, not the least of which calling in favours to get this project done closer to budget. Not an easy ask!

    While we are on the subject of thanks, we would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people who have so generously offered their time and skill to this project in all sorts of ways, including (but not limited to) – Damon Fealy, Matthew Henderson, Troy Sussman, Anton Berezin, Teresa Borg, Kris Finnerty, Peter Murphy, Will Conyers, John Fleming, Jim Worthington, Donna Alley, Michael Bayley, Tim Beveridge, Kineta Booker, Courtenay Washington, Amanda Woods, Naomi van den Broek, Richard Marrett, Ravil Atlas, Ali Jones, Chris Aynsley, Brad Banks, James Daniels, Jason Gunn, Trevor Jones and Dave Millar.

    Of course NONE of this would be happening without the incredible help YOU have all given already. Thank you so much once again...I mean, seriously NONE of this would be happening without all your beautiful people and your kind and generous donations. Writing has never been a strength of mine...Jonny’s the writer of the family...sigh...I ’m feeling the need to use emojis - see heart and kiss emojis!

    Which leads me to some other thank you messages I’d like to get off my chest regarding this project! Two particular Superstars: Lisa-Marie Richan of Convergence – thank you so much for your fabulous advice and encouragement in the early days of this project (I particularly enjoyed our pep talks) and Suzanne McNicol of Give A Little who is a powerhouse! Her suggestions and care along the way have been invaluable and her continued help with introductions. Kiss and clapping hand emojis ladies!

    Then there is all the wonderful community in Cust North Canterbury who are helping us with the larger situation on a daily basis, and friends and family from further afield who are helping us regularly. There are way too many fabulous people in this category to name here but you know who you are and I really mean it from the bottom of my heart - thank you so SO much. Every bit helps and we could not be living this ‘no regrets’ life of jamming 20 years into a couple without your help...Far out... It all sounds so lame but really heart emoji, heart emoji, crying smiley face emoji.

    Nor would any of this be happening without Spark’s Give A Little website – so thank you Spark for providing this wonderful facility!

    Phew - it feels good to have all that off my chest! Stay posted for more updates ?

    Kindest regards,


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  • Jonathan Densem Album project update     9 October 2016
    Posted by: Emma Smetham
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    It’s been a very busy three weeks since our last update!

    Jonny has had the last round of chemo for this six month batch. As usual it left his health variable – some days ok, some terrible, some not so good but manageable. Despite that we have achieved a lot.

    We had a visit from a producer, who hung with Jonny for 2 days to “discuss life, the universe, and most important of all – music!” Despite being wonderfully social it was also a very productive session - they went through all the songs – some 18 in total to be considered for the album. The producer in question said “We have too many good songs - enough for two albums really”.

    It is a great thing to have too many excellent songs available to record....but it does mean some of our babies will have to be slaughtered on the altar of “12 songs is enough for an album”!

    So now we are in the planning stage. We have received the first draft of the album project and are digesting it now. We have to work out how to make the numbers fit with the budget!

    The current idea is to record the band tracks and lead vocals before Christmas and add the extras (backing harmonies, strings, brass, guest performers) as time and money allows.

    We also had an awesome few days in Melbourne for the AFL Grand Final which Jonny’s team (the Sydney Swans) were in. He has been a Swannies supporter for 20 years now. Many, many, thanks to the lovely friend who provided the flights (you know who you are!)...and to the fabulous Tara and Michael Whyte who provided the wonderful accommodation, and also to the Sydney Swans membership team who provided kind assistance with the tickets. It was AWESOME that Jonny got the opportunity to attend the Grand Final – let’s just not mention the result!

    While we were in Melbourne we had a wonderful long lazy afternoon at a roof top bar called Naked for Satan where we caught up with some 30-40 friends – many of whom we hadn’t seen since leaving Australia. Jonny had a rough morning but wasn’t feeling too bad that afternoon. It was a fabulous day – a precious time and one that Jonny and I will never forget.

    Our next steps are to finalise the recording plan. While we are nutting out that plan, we will be working on getting Jonny physically and emotionally ready for the rigors of recording, vocal fitness (thank you Ravil Atlas) as well as that all important piano practice.

    Thanks once again for your love and support.

    All the best,


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  • Next installment in the Jonathan Densem album project     18 September 2016
    Posted by: Emma Smetham
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    Hi All,

    Thank you for your patience and support while we continue to grapple with the ups and downs of this nasty tumour, Jonny’s health and the everyday business of family life!

    Since our last update 12 days ago, we have been working through all sorts of questions that will affect the album project –

    Where should it be recorded?

    Is there a piano at that studio?

    Is it the type of piano that will work well for Jonny?

    If the studio is perfect but the piano is not, should we record piano elsewhere and then the rest of the band at the main location?

    What kind of impact will that have on the finished product?

    What musos are at that location?

    What producers are there?

    Should we have Jonny go away to another city/country to record?

    Is it practical to have Jonny away from home?

    Is he going to be able to physically cope with a normal recording process or do we need to split it into smaller bits?

    If we record in an away from home location – can we get me there to support him?

    Who else will we need to get there to support him?

    How often will I need to be there?

    What will we do with the kids?

    How does that decision affect each studio/location?

    What kinds of costs will be affected if we do it that way? Etc, etc, etc!

    It’s a mine field of questions - but we are working through them one by one and things are gradually becoming clearer.

    We have identified that the single most important choice is the producer. We have been working through this too and though the final decision hasn’t been made as yet, we are close and hope to make a decision very soon.

    Jonny’s “well time” over the last 6 weeks has been predominantly spent on his students in The Voices Festival and his students with NCEA performances. This is now complete so his focus for the rest of the year is almost exclusively on the album project. Yay!

    We have set up a Facebook page to help keep you all informed of the project even after this Give A Little campaign finishes So if you'd like to continue to get updates after the completion of this campaign please subscribe!

    Once again, thank you all so much for your love and support.

    Kind regards,

    Emma, Jonny, Otto and Caspar

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  • Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!!     6 September 2016
    Posted by: Emma Smetham

    Jonny, the boys and I are all blown away! You wonderful people have done it!! Jonny is going to be doing his album! Thank you so SO much. I can't tell you what this means to us all. Jonny is SUPER excited and we are all so very grateful.

    It has certainly been a roller coaster few weeks - a very emotional roller coaster!! We have been absolutely blown away by the kindness and generosity of you all. We have read EVERY SINGLE message on every single donation - much of the time we have been in tears of gratitude and appreciation at the heartfelt messages. (If only we'd known that that would happen I would have stocked up on tissues!!). We have had messages, phone calls and emails from all over NZ and all around the world - it has been overwhelming but absolutely wonderful.

    Unfortunately Jonny has had a bit of a rough week or so with the chemo but hopefully he'll bounce back in the next few days...which would be good because he's got some work to do on that album! :-) :-) :-)

    We have been in contact with a number of studios, had convos with musos, music masterers and producers. The next big step is to lock in the producer - after that all the other steps will fall into place.

    I am sorry that I have only just tonight learnt of this "update" option. But now that I know of it, there's no holding back!! ;-)

    Thank you so much once again. Words really cannot express just how much this means to Jonny and our wee family. Standby for further updates! :-)

    Kindest regards,


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