The Eastern Profile

James Dann
8 Nov 2019

The Eastern have a reputation as one of New Zealand’s hardest working bands. They brought country music and beards and banjos and tattoos back into the musical conversation, while giving the impression that they’ve always been here, as though they were standing on the shore at Lyttelton to greet the first colonists.

Their history is tied inextricably to the port town, but also to Christchurch and the earthquakes that shook and reshaped the city. They are more than a band, they are a collective, a family, a union – but they can sometimes be as small as a duo. The two key players – the left and right hook of the Eastern – are Adam McGrath and Jess Shanks.

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The Eastern (2009)
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Adam McGrath, The Eastern.
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The Eastern.
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The Eastern performing on the street in Lyttelton.
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The Eastern with (from left) Anita Clarke, Reb Fountain, Jess Shanks, unknown, Adam McGrath, Lindon Puffin, Flora Knight.
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The Eastern: Brendan Gree, Adam Hattaway, Adam McGrath, Jess Shanks,  AJ Parks, Jono Hopley.
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The Eastern - Arrows (2010)
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Jono Hopley and Adam McGrath, The Eastern.
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The Eastern: Adam McGrath, Flora Knight and Jess Shanks.
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The Eastern - The Prayer (from Hope and Wire)
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The Eastern.
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The Eastern, from left: Alice Ryan Williams, Reb Fountain, Adam McGrath, Jono Hopley, Jess Shanks.
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The Eastern - Misty and Jimmy (live at The Harbour Sessions, 2009)
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The Eastern.
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The Eastern, Patti Smith Show at Blue Smoke, Christchurch. From left: Jess Shanks, Adam McGrath, Reb Fountain and Brendan Gregg.
Photo credit: Aimee Cane Photography
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The Eastern.
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The Eastern.
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The Eastern's Adam McGrath interviewed by Marty Duda, 2016.
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Beastwars cover The Eastern's State Houses By the River (Rough Peel Records); design by Adam McGrath. 
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The Eastern.
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The Eastern - The Waterside (from Hope and Wire)
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The Eastern with friends: Marlon Williams, Ebony Lamb, Lindon Puffin, Brendan Gree, Ben Woolley, Barry Saunders, Nicole Izobel Garcia, Reb Fountain, Adam McGrath, Joe McCallum, Alice Ryan Williams, Jess Shanks, Ben Brown, Flora Knight, Jono Hopley.
Photo credit: Jess Shanks collection
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Fort Eastern - the house in which the Harbour Union album was recorded. From left: Al Park, Lindon Puffin, Jess Shanks, Maxwell Countryman Skewes, Anita Clark, Charlotte Ivey, Delaney Davidson, Adam McGrath, Anthea Struthers, Hamish Thorpe, Marlon Williams.
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The Eastern, from left to right: Reb Fountain, Adam McGrath, Flora Knight, Jono Hopley, Jess Shanks.
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Beastwars cover of the Eastern's State Houses By the River (Rough Peel Records)
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The Eastern at the Penguin Club, Oamaru: Anita Clark, Adam McGrath, Jess Shanks.
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The Eastern's cover version of Beastwars' Cthulhu (Rough Peel Records); design by Christopher Simpson
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The Eastern performing at Blue Smoke, Christchurch, 2018: Flora Knight, Jess Shanks, Adam McGrath, Brendan Gregg.
Photo credit: Jess Shanks collection
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The Eastern in Bluff. From left: Jess Shanks, Jono Hopley, Alice Ryan Williams, Adam McGrath.
Photo credit: Jess Shanks collection
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The Eastern's Hannah Harding, Hadassah Grace, Jess Shanks.
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The Eastern, left to right: Flora Knight, Simon Hall, Charlotte Ivey, Jess Shanks, Shane Bollingford, Adam McGrath.
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The Eastern's Adam McGrath and Jess Shanks.
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The Eastern, Lyttelton Street Party: Anita Clark, Jess Shanks, Adam McGrath, Hannah Harding, Hadassah Grace, Jono Hopley.
Photo credit: jhj
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The Easter, 10 Good Rounds, 2016: Jono Hopley, Jess Shanks, Adam McGrath, Flora Knight, AJ Park, Reb Fountain.
Photo credit: Jess Shanks collection
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The Eastern, photographed for their debut album: Simon Hall, Tim Chesney, Simon Brouwer, Ben Edwards, Jesse Newman, unknown, Anthea Struthers, unknown, Anita Clarke, Adam McGrath, Jess Shanks, Banjo, Shane Bollingford, unknown, Maxwell Countryman Skewes, Chelsea McAlister, Graham, Hannah Harding, unknown, Harley Williams.
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Barry Saunders and Adam McGrath sing The Warratahs' classic Hands of my Heart (2016)
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The Eastern, from left: Jess Shanks, Hadassah Grace, Adam McGrath, Jono Hopley, Anita Clark.
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The Harbour Union on the front of the music section of The Press, Christchurch.
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The Eastern.
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The Eastern at a 10 Good Rounds gig, 2016. From left: Brendan Gregg, AJ Park, Alice Ryan Williams, Flora Knight, Reb Fountain, Adam McGrath, Jono Hopley, Jess Shanks. 
Photo credit: Jess Shanks collection
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The Eastern - The Letting Go (from Hope and Wire)
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Jess Shanks and Adam McGrath, The Eastern.
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The Eastern, 10 Good Rounds, 2016: Reb Fountain, Adam McGrath, Jess Shanks.
Photo credit: Jess Shanks collection
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The Eastern, from left: Anita Clark, Jess Shanks, Hamish Thorpe, Adam McGrath, Maxwell Country Skewes, T Dog.
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Adam McGrath and Jess Shanks, The Eastern.
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The Eastern at an arts festival show, Dunedin, with Delaney Davidson, Ben Woolley, Marlon Williams, Jess Shanks, Adam McGrath, Hamish Thorpe, Charlotte Ivey, Hadassa Grace, Bill Morris, unknown.
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Adam McGrath and Jess Shanks recording at the Sitting Room.
Photo credit: Jess Shanks collection
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Adam McGrath and Jess Shanks.
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The Eastern at the Taranaki Country Music Hall Of Fame, Manaia. From left: Jono Hopley, Hannah Harding, Adam McGrath, Hadassa Grace, Anita Clark, Jess Shanks, with Country Music Hall host Helen Braithwaite.
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The Eastern - In the Morning (2013)
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The Eastern: Adam McGrath, Jess Shanks, Alice Ryan-Williams, Flora Knight, AJ Park, Jono Hopley (obscured) – 10 Good Rounds, 2016.
Photo credit: Jess Shanks collection
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The Eastern and friends, from left: Jess Shanks, Marlon Williams, Tami Neilson, Charlotte Ivey, unknown,
Adam McGrath, Hamish Thorpe, Delaney Davidson, Maxwell Countryman Skewes.
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Adam McGrath of The Eastern with Bill English, MP for Southland. The note taped to McGrath's guitar reads: "This machine sings for teachers, paper boys, and the East Side of Chch."
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The Eastern.
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The Eastern: Adam McGrath, Flora Knight, Jono Hopley, Jess Shanks.
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The Eastern's AJ Park and Alice Ryan Williams at 10 Good Rounds, 2016.
Photo credit: Jess Shanks collection
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The Eastern, 10 Good Rounds, 2016: Alice Ryan Williams, Jess Shanks, Brendan Gregg, Jono Hopley, Reb Fountain, Flora Knight.
Photo credit: Jess Shanks collection
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The Eastern, 10 Good Rounds, 2016. From left: Reb Fountain, Adam McGrath, Jess Shanks, Flora Knight, Alice Ryan Williams, AJ Park, Jono Hopley.
Photo credit: Jess Shanks collection
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The Eastern, 2010. From left: Jess Shanks, Adam McGrath, Jono Hopley, Hadassah Grace, Hannah Harding, Anita Clarke, with Banjo in front centre.
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The Broken Heartbreakers, The Eastern, The Rosy Teacaddy and Bond Street Bridge on the Slow Song Revue, 2009
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The Eastern: Reb Fountain, Flora Knight, Adam McGrath, Jess Shanks, Jono Hopley.
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The Eastern, 2010. From left: Adam McGrath, Jess Shanks, Banjo, Jono Hopley, Hadassah Grace, Hannah Harding, Anita Clark.
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The Eastern.
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The Eastern's Jono Hopley and Alice Ryan Williams.
Photo credit: Jess Shanks collection
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The Eastern at the Penguin Club, Oamaru, with Marlon Williams at left.
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The Eastern performing at Mighty Mighty, Wellington: Anita Clark, Jess Shanks, Adam McGrath, Hamish Thorpe, Maxwell Countryman Skewes, Hadassah Grace.
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The Eastern cover version of Beastwars' Cthulhu (Rough Peel Records)
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The Eastern at Pomeroy's, Christchurch. From left: Simon Hall, Jess Shanks, Flora Knight, Adam McGrath.
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Credits for the Beastwars / Eastern one a side release (Rough Peel Records)
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Hannah Harding and Jess Shanks at Arthur's Pass recording The Eastern's Arrows album (2010).
Photo credit: Jess Shanks collection
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The Eastern at the Piano, Christchurch. 
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The Eastern at Kauaeranga Valley Hall, Coromandel Forest Park. From left: Jess Shanks, Adam McGrath, Jono Hopley.
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The Eastern - Oh Mystery! (2009)
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Trivia:

Christchurch and Lyttelton music legend Al Park played as part of the Harbour Union. His son AJ Park plays drums for the Eastern.

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Members:

Adam McGrath - vocals, guitar

Jess Shanks - banjo, vocals, guitar

Jono Hopley - bass

Anita Clark - fiddle

Hannah Harding - vocals

Hadassah Green - vocals

Simon Hall - guitar

Jo Knox - vocals

Shane Bollingford - drums

Hamish Thorpe - mandolin

Max Countryman - bass

Flora Knight - fiddle

Brendan Gregg - mandolin

Reb Fountain - vocals

AJ Park - drums

Adam Hattaway - guitar

Alice Ryan Williams - fiddle

Krissy Jackson - fiddle

Charlotte Ivey - vocals

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