Music stuff – the good oil

It strikes me that I write two types of column: stories and stuff.

I actually prefer the “story” ones - columns with one main subject. Then you can have fun with a structure, by writing a column with a beginning, middle and an end, or do that journalistic thing and structure it like a pyramid: the important stuff first, then some background, then some deeper background.

Story columns are good like that.

But so often that’s not the way. I figure one of the main purposes for this column is that in between unregulated rambling, I keep an ear to the ground and find stuff that’s happening which might be of interest.

That’s the “stuff” columns, and this is one of those.

It’s a weird paradox that despite now having more information available to us than it is possible to even comprehend, it’s still damn hard to find something relatively simple, like what events are coming up that I might be interested in? This shouldn’t be difficult but, continually, things just seem to slip by unnoticed.

So each week we launch a squadron of specially-trained flying monkeys from the lawns of the Watusi Country Club and they bring back the good oil on upcoming events.

Frank Turner

Let’s start with a gig that I bet virtually no-one has noticed yet. Admittedly it’s in the relatively distant future, and possibly you haven’t come across the performer. He hasn’t visited New Zealand before and his records have never troubled the charts here, so that’s not unreasonable.

But if you’ve never heard the music of English singer/songwriter Frank Turner then you are in for a treat.

He is simply fantastic, originally pigeon-holed as a new Billy Bragg but now playing Wembley Stadium and touring the States with a powerful five-piece band.

Yes, as you can tell, I really like Frank Turner.

I humbly suggest that if you don’t know his music to dial it up on YouTube (try the song ‘I Believe’ to start with) or Spotify (his ‘England Keep My Bones’ album is my favourite). You won’t regret it.

Then you’ll want tickets for the Tuning Fork in Auckland on November 30. That’s the bar attached to Spark Arena.

The bad news is that it only holds about 250 people.

The good news is that tickets are less than $50.

Okay, on to the next bit of stuff. It’s totally unrelated so I won’t even attempt a segue.

Blind Boy Paxton

On Monday (February 12), one of the finest young bluesmen in the world is coming to Totara Street performance venue at the Mount. American musician Blind Boy Paxton is, they say, the living embodiment of the true blues in the 21st century.

He certainly plays stunning acoustic blues on the guitar, and the things I’ve heard remind me of the unique improvisations of John Fahey.

But he’s more than a bluesman. Like some of the early masters - Mance Lipscomb perhaps - he is a player in the true songster tradition, encompassing ragtime, hokum, old time, French reels, Appalachian mountain music and lots more. And he’s not just a guitarist. He also sings and plays the banjo, piano, fiddle, harmonica, Cajun accordion and the bones.

The show is at 7pm, and tickets are $47. I can’t recommend him highly enough to blues lovers.

And it’s always nice to celebrate local music, and a relatively recent local band release their new single today.

Yep, February 9.

Apollo SteamTrain was formed in 2016 by singer/songwriter Brendan McCarthy, along with drummer Les Robinson and bass player Ian Clark. Their second single ‘Brain Bell Jangler’ was recorded with international producer Greg Haver at Auckland’s Roundhead Studios.

And it’s a pretty lively little romp, my favourite of their offerings so far, with a punchy rhythm section, good melody and crunchy guitars.

The single’s release will be followed by March shows in Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga and Waihi Beach, so we’ll be checking back with the band before that. In the meantime you can hear ‘Brain Bell Jangler’ on Spotify, iTunes and all good digital outlets.


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