Many people I know switch off a bit at this time of year.
While a lot of folk are now back at work and the beaches are becoming quieter, there are a bunch of others still on holiday, not paying a lot of attention to whatever horrors are befalling the planet, enjoying the bounteous pleasures that summer and sun in New Zealand can offer.
And throughout all this there is another group, part of the great family of musicians, who are currently making hay while the sun shines, criss-crossing the country on summer tours of one sort or another.
It's an eclectic selection at this time of year. Big bands are playing big festivals, medium-sized bands are playing medium-sized festivals, and it's a bit of a punt for everyone else since it's just so damned hard to get anyone's attention in mid-summer when the lure of backyard barbies and that general zoning out that holidays bring is so rampant.
That's why nobody releases albums at this time of year: no one out there is paying any attention. But it also means that the people on the road are an interesting bunch, often a little more left-field than yer regular mainstream outfits.
Today I'd just like to look at what's coming to the Jam Factory in January. Before that though, allow me to offer a big doff of the Humphrey Fedora to all the good people from The Incubator who run the place. Last year was not an easy one for venues but they persevered nonetheless, and they continue to do so with a packed January line-up of that diverse and unusual music I was just mentioning.
I realise many of these acts are unknown to everyone but a quick trip to Spotify will acquaint you with their music – why not take a chance on something new...
Saturday January 16 is when dreamy Nelson indie duo O & The Mo are coming to town. I say “duo” but they're actually bringing a five-piece band, all the better to recreate the sounds on their album of last year, In Transit.
I would strongly suggest you have a listen to them on Spotify before Saturday's show as their particular brand of floaty folk-pop will really, really appeal to some people. Others will want to go to the dentist for tooth extraction without anaesthetic as you are likely to enjoy that a lot more than O & The Mo's weird child-like vocals and semi-psychedelic dreamscapes.
Next week brings much more. On Thursday it's folk night with Good Habits and it should be a doozy. Good Habits are an award-winning UK alt-folk duo comprising of singer-cellist Bonnie Schwarz and accordionist Pete Shaw, who have found themselves trapped in New Zealand for several months now for the usual reasons.
Good Habits create folk-infused songs that push the boundaries of their traditional instruments, fusing folk music with their original songwriting. In fact they are also doing a songwriting workshop at the Jam Factory at 4pm on the Thursday afternoon. $20 for each and well worthwhile.
Good Habits duo.
On Sunday 24 $30 will get you a ticket to singer / guitarist Paul Ubana Jones who after 30 years of touring still impresses with his emotive voice and serious guitar playing. Lovely man too.
The night before is a celebration of Celtic music with Polytropos, a New Zealand duo comprising Oscar West and Rennie Pearson, both of whom are expert multi-instrumentalists who have recently released their first album, though they've been playing together for a decade. Expect everything from guitar, flute and fiddles to pipes, whistles and much more, all presented in a friendly fun manner. Tickets are $20.
And one more: On Saturday, January 30, Rotorua singer/songwriter Trojan-John presents a new one-man musical show, Laughing in Bedlam, inspired by last year's life in pandemic limbo. Again, he is on Spotify (though not the new stuff). Expect looping and catchy songs, and expect to pay $20. He sounds rather good actually, and part of that rich tapestry that is music at the Jam Factory.
Why not take a punt on something new – who knows? You might not regret it.