Live and recorded - new music for you

By the time you read this, the Tauranga Arts Festival will be underway. There are many treats on offer, so I thought the most useful thing would be for me to act as a sort of reminder.

And in the space between now and next week's column, you have the chance to catch a remarkably diverse range of music in the Crystal Palace –  that beautiful tent by the waterfront which has become a symbol of the biennial festival.

On Monday afternoon there are spooky tales of Australia's dark past as Bush Gothic, a trio led by fiddle-playing singer Jenny Thomas, explore the backwaters of Aussie bush-band folk.

They're here on the back touring England and Ireland, and Australia's murky past should provide somerich material. Kick-off is at 3pm.

The following night sees a return to Tauranga for comedy Berlin cabaret duo Otto and Astrid, who bring their particularly insane brand of Euro-pop parody to town.

They were here a couple of festivals ago and have since conquered the other half of the world. Seriously silly stuff, it's at the more regular time of 8.30pm.

Smooth sounds

At the same time on Wednesday we have a visit from Wellington's Thomas Oliver and his band, comprising of some of the capital's finest including members of Trinity Roots, Hollie Smith's band and others. This is the man who won the APRA Silver Scroll last year for the song “If I Move To Mars”. He's a lovely guitarist and singer, making music both smooth and soulful.

On Thursday night Sarah Spicer and the Blue Riders head over from Waihi for more smooth sounds, this time with a more bluesy lilt. The band is led by Keyboard wiz Liam Ryan, who has been doing fascinating things in the past year with his Torch Music record label, releasing projects as diverse as an EP with his old mate from The Narcs, Andy Dickson, to music from NZ cricketer John Wright.

More relevant to this gig, he recorded Sarah's recent song “Mr Johnson” at his Waihi studio – her tribute to legendary bluesman Robert Johnson. Now, on to one of those recently-released local albums I mentioned last week.

Let's get beige

And first out of the bag is a new CD from local singer/songwriter Davey Beige. People here may know Davey by the slightly more prosaic name Dave Bishop but, back in the 90s, Davey used to front a well-known Auckland band called The Peter Stuyvesant Hitlist, for which he wore a range of fawn safari suits.

The suits passed on, but the name stayed.

Davey released an album back in 2007 and a four-track EP in 2014. This latest offering is called Beginner's Mind and the first striking thing about it – aside from the cover photo – is the prestigious roster of musicians featured.

Most guitar duties are handled by Hello Sailor's Harry Lyon, while The Narcs' Tony Waine plays bass, keys are courtesy of jazz maestro Alan Brown and horns come from Kingsley Mellhuish – all seriously heavy hitters.

And it shows. “Big Star” opens things with patented Hello Sailor guitars courtesy of Mr Lyon. It's only when Davey's lighter voice comes in that you realise it's not Sailor.

Continuing the Kiwi classic rock references, the horns that open “Watching The Waves” make you immediately think of Netherworld Dancing Toys in their heyday. There are, in fact, many styles on display: light skiffle, ska nods, gentle rock 'n' roll, and a trip to the world of Harry Nilsson on “No Is Not The Word” (complete with Beatles-style strings).

And it's all very pleasant. I guess you'd class it as folk/rock, but it's hard not to think of the term Dad Rock. It's easy to listen to and totally non-threatening, from “Silver Headed Rooster Blues” to “Rock 'n' Roll BBQ” – a barbeque that definitely sounds like one for the laid-back, well-off over-60s.


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A large performing arts centre/conference hub
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Waterworld. Photo: Ron Webber.

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