Our Story

Half Nelson are a unique mix of musicians, 

from a wide variety of backgrounds.

From New Orleans Jazz to Free Improvisation

and all manner of music along the way.

This combination has helped to

forged a band dedicated to the era of jazz we love.

The 1920's to the 40's.

Formed in September 2008

in Newcastle, Australia,

by sister and brother Sheriden and Jason Nelson,

Half Nelson is a fine collective of musicians.

"Half Nelson will take you on a midnight ride through the back alleys

of New Orleans and the smokey Jazz dives of 1920's Harlem. 

From gritty Billie Holiday, to the smooth styling of Ella Fitzgerald.

Add a shot of Louis Armstrong with a dash of Fats Waller

and you have the energetic cocktail that is Half Nelson.

Half Nelson deliver high energy, heartfelt jazz that is equally suited to a pub,

jazz festival, sophisticated corporate function or an old basement speakeasy.

Dance up a storm or moan the blues away,

but what ever you do,

       do it to Half Nelson".       

We have performed at many public, private and corporate functions, including:

 

Newcastle Jazz Festival.

Nelson Bay Wine and Food Festival.

The View Factory.

The Caves Beachside Resort.

The Newcastle Club.

Hawks Nest Golf Club.

The Wickham Park Hotel.

The Wonderdome.

The Gallipoli Club, Hamilton.

Nelson Bay Bowling Club.

The Grand Hotel.

Newcastle Jazz Club.

Harrigan's at Harrington.

Foghorn Brewhouse.

The Great Northern Hotel.

The Olive Tree Markets.

Monte Pio, Maitland.

The Newcastle Cruising Yacht Club.

Wests Leagues Club.

Woolongong Jazz Festival.

Talulahs Restaurant.

Friday Chill-Pacific Park.

Hunter Street Mall.

The Lovett Gallery.

Watt Space Art gallery.

King Edward Park-Wake Up.

Art Sounds.

Livesites.

Bar Beach Bowling Club.

The Lass O’Gowrie.

Longworth House.

The Great Northern Hotel.

The Cricketers Arms.

NIMA.

Countless Weddings.

Funeral Parlours.

Fundraisers.

Parties.

 

 

Half Nelson bridge the gap between the eras,

playing 1920's to 40’s Jazz to a music loving audience,

both young and old.

If you want a band to satisfy all age groups,

then Half Nelson is the band for your function,

party or event.

Come and meet the Band

Sheriden discovered she was a jazz singer at the age of 16. There was only one problem, she couldn’t sing. She was a dancer and just wasn’t used to be allowed to use her voice on stage. So she danced and she danced and she danced until she stopped dancing. In her early twenties, not the 1920’s, a producer friend said to her, “hey why don’t you write some songs and we’ll record them” and that is what she did. She wrote pop songs and dance songs and pop/rock songs. She released a few albums, a few singles and her songs even got played on the TV. In her heart she always knew she was a jazz singer and longed for the day that her wish would come true. In about 2008 Sheriden and her brother Jason discussed starting a jazz band together and eventually this actually happened. The rest as they say is history… or actually, the rest is Half Nelson.

      Sheriden Nelson

Jason began playing at 8. Brass and Concert bands. Undefeated solo champion from 10-17. Performed with Vegemite Reggae-Leading Newcastle Band. Sitting Ducks/Madding Crowd-Indi Band. A 20yr love affair with Free Improvised music in Sydney, Melbourne and Country Victoria. MA in Improvised Interdisciplinary Performance Art Music.

16 yrs in Victoria: Many bands. Port Fairy Folk Festival. Queenscliff Festival. Monsalvat Jazz festival. Moey, Merimbula, Ballarat, Forbes, Bathurst, Geelong, Newcastle Jazz Festivals and Conventions.

Been back in Newcastle almost 10 yrs. In that time:

Half Nelson-Jazz. The White band-Latin. Rubix Cuba-Ska. Glenny Rae's Playboys-Western Swing. Afro Moses-Afro Reggae. The Tooksie Collective-Sexy Jazz Funk. Zoe K-Soul/Funk. 

The Dungeon Big Band-Swing. Bakoomba-Afro Fusion. Swing Company-Swing band. Freebird-Blues. Nine Lives-Contemporary Jazz Orchestra. Cornstalk-Roots and Blues. Big Band Therapy-Big Band Swing. Andy Firth's Nova Swing-Traditional Jazz. Andy Firth's Big Band-Big Band Jazz. 

         Jason Nelson

Shane is an American that starting playing the saxophone at the age of 14 in middle school. He performed with a large jazz and pop ensemble, and some small jazz combos.

Shane attended the University of Central Florida where he graduated with a Bachelors of Music Performance. During this time while living in Orlando Florida, Shane performed with Jazz greats like, Arturo Sandoval, Terry Gibbs, Bob Berg, and Sam Rivers just to name a few. After University Shane started a career working on cruise ships. He performed nightly with a 10-piece show band performing a wide variety of acts.

Shane moved to Newcastle Australia in 2012 and now performs with some local pop bands and with the Andy Firth big band.

      Shane Shanks

Carter Smyth is a pianist and (occasional) vocalist based in Newcastle. A graduate of the Newcastle University Conservatorium of Music (2011), Carter works as a performer and session musician in the Newcastle/Hunter area with a diverse background in classical, jazz and contemporary styles and genres.

Besides his work as a pianist with Half Nelson, Carter can also often be heard playing with some of the areas local folk, country, pop and alternative artists.

    Carter Smyth

Chris began his professional music career in New Zealand and enjoyed success with several rock bands before moving to Australia.

He has been an established bass player in Newcastle for many years and as well as playing with Half Nelson, he appears with Le Toot Ensemble, Flying High, The Allan Ward Band and does many other freelance gigs.

In recent years, Chris has played at the prestigious 7-star Pangu Plaza Hotel in Beijing with the Jan Preston Trio, sat in at Arthur's Tavern and Cleopatra's Needle in New York City and toured NSW and Western Australia with Billy Washington's "Drifters" from the USA. He has also performed at jazz festivals at Dubbo, Moruya, Wollongong, Morpeth, Nelson Bay and Newcastle.

     Chris Dawson

Tim Evans, drummer and percussionist brings the heartbeat. After several musical tours of the world Tim has decided to base himself in Newcastle and has built a reputation as one of Australia's most versatile and expressive drummers. He began playing music at the age of 3 and in his career spanning almost 3 decades he has developed a unique style of playing. Tim has a passion for exploring and fusing genres and sees his playing as an expression and exploration of himself and the relationships with the musicians and audience he is engaged with.
Current musical projects include: Half Nelson, Crazy Old Maurice, Baltic BarMitzvah, Georgie Jones and the Jones', Grandmaster Monk, Gambirra Mob. Tim has played with music industry legends including: The Underscore Orkestra (USA), Mark Whitfield (USA), C.W. Stoneking, Emma Cunningham, Rex Goh, Dwight Cunningham, Zoe K, Declan Kelly, Muskateer and Duncan Woods.

     Tim Evans