About the Cabana

Wilco 3rd and more Oct 2013 003



In March 2010, Roy Brown (pictured with son Wilco Tex) took over ownership of The Cabana.

Roy has been a Muso all his life…he first platyed at the Cabana when he was 18. He lived in Auckland during the 80’s and had some success with original bands. Also he recorded two albums in Melbourne. He currently plays the piano around Napier and has the Rockabilly Band BLACK SNAPPER and BUS CRASH which is an original outlet.



The legendary Cabana in Napier is being given a new lease on life as an entertainment venue, thanks to a collective of Napier personalities.

The Cabana, attached to Napier’s first Art Deco hotel, became a New Zealand icon during the heyday of touring bands in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s.

The group of seven want the Cabana to once again become a home for local and national music. But, they say, the era of the “seven days a week booze barn” is over. Instead, a more salubrious atmosphere prevails, with the venue available to clubs and groups of all ages.

The Cabana is steeped in history and has “music in the walls”. As Midge Marsden, New Zealand’s King of the Blues, said: “The Cabana was New Zealand’s finest rock ‘n’ roll finishing school!”

Cabana team member Lee Pritchard’s recent book “Hotel Cabana Thru the Decades” immortalised its story, capturing memories of the place from an impressive line-up of New Zealand’s top entertainers, all of whom graced the stage at the Cabana at some point in their careers.

Lee says, “We are not a bar that has occasional entertainment. We are an entertainment venue that happens to have a bar! And our aim, in true Cabana fashion, is:

“Only and Always the Best Entertainment!”


The seven Napierites who have decided it’s about time the Cabana was an entertainment venue again all have fond memories of visiting and playing at the Cabana during its heyday:

LEE PRITCHARD is the one who really got the ball rolling. His book Hotel Cabana Thru the Decades (published 2007) renewed nationwide interest in the old place. Lee plays guitar and is CEO of Pritchard Plumbing Ltd.

BRETT TAYLOR The principal of accounting firm Taylor Business Advisory Limited. He’s great at chairing meetings and calculating in his head that 12.5 metres by 6.5 metres of carpet equals 81.25 square metres. Brett played guitar with cult Napier ’80s band Bedside Manner and had a spell in band management also.


ROSS GANNON is Rossi Gannon Photography, Hawke’s Bay’s only New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography Master. His most memorable Cabana moment was as Mad Doris, with strait jacket, syringe, nun’s habit, sexy red dress, fishnets, Doc Martins, black rimmed glasses, teased hair… and no shame.

MATT BAKER must be Hawke’s Bay’s hardest working drummer. Not only does he thump the tubs for Naked Gun, he also plays part-time in several other bands and teaches drums at high schools and at his own studio.

RICHIE JACKMAN is the proprieter of Music Machine in Hastings Street, Napier. This is the finest music shop you’re ever likely to enter. Richie plays guitar and has been known to drown out 747 engines with his singing voice.

IAN BATES is Senior Property Manager at The Property Group Limited and has a mind like a steel trap when it comes to the ins and outs of council by-laws. He strutted the Cabana stage in the ’80s and ’90s playing guitar with Exocet, Mad Doris, and Lickety Split. Ian collects small yellow guitar effects pedals and frighteningly loud black guitar amplifiers.

IAN MORRIS (RIP) came to Hawke’s Bay three years ago to escape the Auckland drizzle. While not playing with his train set, Ian writes jingles, records music, and plays in iconic New Zealand band
Th’ Dudes, who passed many a frenzied eve playing at the Cabana.