Well well well before I totally forget where the last 10 days of relentless touring went I better write a wee overview of it. Firstly a big high five to everyone that put me in a bed for the night and fed me. My missus for letting the rope out and giving me the freedom of travel and punishment and all the venues for keeping the dream alive in a oddly strange world where Pokemon Go seems to be more important than real life!!
North Island : Friday 15th July - Sunday 17th July.
As Monika turned left to town I beeped her off and turned right to take the scenic 300km drive across to the west coast and Taranaki. Big stormy Mokau was a good half way coffee stop and as the storm front arrived a great place to stay till it passed. I had booked a few shows in the North Island and a handful in the South Island. New Plymouth has a vibrant scene and it's always a good time to catch up with old pals. The gig was at a boutique backpackers which sounds odd but works wonderfully. Brett and Paula transform the room into a great listening space as we wait for a few clients.. It turned out to be a cracking night with Matt Herrett playing a blistering set with a tip top sound and finished off with Vincent Black Lightning!! I loved playing to the crowd and did the ubiquitous set of fun, laughter and heartfelt tunes. I have to say it was a good show and highly recommend the backpackers. Great to kick off the tour with a humdinger.
I had a few hours sleep and before I knew it was setting up at Escape Coffee shop for an early morning soiree. Great coffee which was sorely needed after the celebrations the night before. This is one of the better coffee shops in NZ and after the 3 hours I am feeling more perky. Next door is a Bike Kitchen where they repair old bikes and sell for an affordable price. Heavenly place to be playing music. Sandwiched between a coffee shop and a bike shop.. Boom. I packed the car for a 5 hour drive to The Tin Hut in Wairapa and noticed a flapping note under the wiper blades....... $200 fine for not displaying the rego correctly... My heart sank.
5 hours to Carterton and the Manawatu Gorge cheered me up. Arrived at 5.30pm and was whisked off to play at The Tin Hut, a great venue 20kms south. Just for the record. This was my 3rd gig in 23 hours.... My fingers didn't need to know that! It was a fun evening and I stayed sober to get us home for a well earned glass of Johner Pinot Noir (Possibly the best drop out there)
I was rudely awoken by a Snauzer called Charlie snorting a load of previously eaten dog food over me at the ungodly hour of 8am. News was we had landed a wee gig at the farmers market in Carterton and the crowd was waiting.. Holy that made it 4 gigs in 32 hours and I still had the ferry crossing to play later that day!!! The tour was well underway. The ferry was as normal, sit in bar, order a terrible cup of coffee pay $4.50. Play for 2 hours and maybe if you are lucky 1 person may clap in a appreciation. The only time you see any resonation in the audience is when the scones are announced as being served in the lobby. There is a mad rush and the crowd evaporates. It's a pretty nice way to get a free crossing though and before I can say boo to a goose we dock in Picton.
South Island: Sun 17th July - Sun 24th July
The town was deserted, I searched the streets for signs of food and drink but was left empty handed. Midge McCleary had thought ahead and as I pulled in for a few days break there was a veritable stash of lager and wine. The next 3 days was a blur of tiling a tiny bathroom, drinking green juice and cacao smoothies, drinking vessels of wine, fishing off a vessel and catching a large shark (True) and generally lazing after the 5 gig bonanza earlier that week.
Thursday nights in downtown Picton explode at Oxleys Rock bar when Midge brings his jam night to the bar. Some great performances arise and some not so great ones too. We end up worse for wear singing another brick in the wall with a Gary Glitter chorus. Normal night in Picton then! Bed before 1 am is always a bonus and I hit the sheets for an early departure to Greymouth.
I take a scenic 400km drive via St Arnaud and the fabulous Buller and Murchinson gorges. The West Coast is renowned for its in clement weather, but today was ideal for a diversion to Westport and down the line to Punakaiki and a 7 metre swell sets the scene for a spectacular blow hole shower. Into Greymouth and found my accomodation kindly sorted by the venue. Unfortunately it was infested with South Korean travellers who were probably not going to watch my approaching concert. They need to get out more!
Show time and due to Pokemon Go I only attract a small appreciative audience. The bright side is the food was perfect, Thai and tasty as it should be. Sold 75% CD sales and had a skinful to boot. Great hosts and well worth a re visit. One down side of Greymouth is nothing is open after the gig and the well earned fish and chips has never happened to this day.
Early start and a driving northerly wind wakes me up on the walk to the venue to collect the car. Nelson is a 4 hour stint and Reefton saves my ailing sight with a decent coffee and some poached eggs. Meet up with Bryce Wastney in Nelson for a catch up and a hot cuppa. The Irish Bar in Picton is the evening gig and I arrive travel worn and a wondering if I can play a 3 hour set to the rugby revellers. I needn't worry as a few pints of Guinness later and a hearty meal I find the crowd very receptive and blaze through till the early morn playing a fair few originals and a huge back catalogue of Waterboys songs. I finish at 1am with deep knowledge I have to check in at 7.30am to play my final show on the ferry.... The wind decides to pick up that minute!!
It's a North Westerly and man she blows. There was a slight doubt the boat might not go but I was soon on board wrestling with speakers and the lift to the 8th floor. Set up and ready by 8am for a easy going show with some very agreeable applause. At one point I had quite a following when an announcement of a whale on the starboard side emptied the bar. I was tempted to have a look but I kept on keeping on. A few returned with scones and REAL cream and the boat arrived in the capital. Tour was over and I had a small jaunt to Carterton for the shortest drive of the campaign. Ken and Jayna had just opened a rather pleasing bottle of Grenache and next thing I remember I am crawling the streets of Carterton 7pm on a Sunday dribbling utter nonsense to the welcoming locals. Great town and I left with a large hangover for a 6 hour crossing of the Manawatu's and Desert Road home to a loving warm hug from the wife in a cold old house.
Top 3 best and worst's of tour:
Best Crowd Reaction
Worst Crowd Reaction
PS I was going to do a best and worst accomodation but to be truthfully honest everywhere I stayed was great and I thank all the hosts for a pleasant journey. See you on the trail.