05|25|08   Simon’s South Island Tour Diary

[I'm totally stoked: Simon just emailed me his tour diary. This is the first time a post will be up on The Enright House that wasn't written by myself. Sweet. So without further delays, here's Simon's diary from our South Island tour:]

[Photo by Roger Grauwmeijer. View entire set.]

Day One: Oamaru

We left about two in the afternoon, which was a pretty cruisy start. We drove to Oamaru, a fairly short drive. The town was beautiful. The old buildings looked really cool. We had kebabs for dinner, and the owner of the restaurant spoke with Mark in German; he was Dutch himself. Mark almost ran into one German-speaker in every town we went to. Pretty impressive.

The Penguin Club was a stylish venue with a friendly, enthusiastic crowd. We assumed we were playing to a crowd of non-initiates, but it turned out they had checked out our MySpace before deciding to come and watch us. The show went well, with Shaun performing a lovely solo set, and us playing well afterwards. It was a good precedent for the tour. We stayed at another singer’s house, a guy Shaun met on his last South Island tour. He and his girlfriend had a nice flat and were very hospitable towards us. He has been recording his music there, and his girlfriend runs a photography business, capturing the images of New Zealand musicians, among other things. Everyone else slept on couches, I slept on the floor. It was to be the first of two times doing that. I had a sound sleep, believe it or not. The next morning, of all the places we could have breakfast, it was at a café where our hosts were also dining. I had a large lasagna for breakfast. People were placing bets on whether or not I’d finish it, luckily not too high stakes, as it was easily done.

Day Two: Dunedin

Longer drive today. I started to sleep sitting up, with my head down on my chest. I did not drive this whole tour; Mark and Evan did most of the driving. While not sleeping, I was reading. We stopped lots of times on our drives to take photos; the scenery in the South Island is breath-taking. Although not literally. Before the gig we handed out flyers at the university. I don’t think one of those people came; yet this was not the case later on in Nelson. The show went really well, the crowd were one of the best we’d had It was so cool they came especially to see us, especially as most of the Dunedin punters were at Backstage at its huge birthday event with many of the town’s popular bands playing. We stayed with another musician and his girlfriend. We had a great jam on the organ and then the others played on guitar hero while I slept. We had breakfast at the Farmers’ Markets then left town with some nice fruit and a huge bottle of juice.

Day Three: Invercargill

Shaun got food poisoning from a pie from a crappy café south of Dunedin. I forgot its name, because we were going to badmouth the place. The kiwi way: Don’t complain; just run a place down to all your friends after going there. We arrived at a really cool bogan bar called The Glue Pot, with cleverly airbrushed demonic figures on the walls. Somehow we didn’t expect much. Even though people warned us not to play in Invers, we did. About four people showed up. To the manager’s credit though, she did give us petrol money to help us out. The people of Invers, the same town that had bottled the Rolling Stones years back, preferred to drive up and down the road (like some people in Christchurch and most other NZ towns) or sing AC/DC songs to karaoke beneath our backpackers. Good for them. Let’s not go back there. I think the town should adopt a sign and a slogan: “Gateway to Stewart Island”, possibly with the subtext: “just drive on through.”

Day Four: Stewart Island

What an awesome ferry ride, flat despite its nasty reputation. And then the island was phenomenal too. Our hosts – the arts trust there – gave us three cooked meals: fish for lunch, fish for dinner, and for a change, fish for breakfast. It was cod, and it was delicious. We got to explore the island a bit before dinner, Little River and Halfmoon Bay. Very nice. Pity we didn’t have time to discover the rest of the 160 km (ish) island, and the great bush that covers a lot of it – or so I am led to believe. The audience at the Wharfside Café were a mixture of young and old, even some kids there. I talked to the café manager afterwards. His son had liked the show – he even came up to me to say so – and he said his children were both musical too. It’s nice to think we inspired some budding musicians. Also, as a teacher, it was cool to see kids getting into our music, and to talk to them about it.

Day Five: Okarito

One of our longest drives. Most of the tour we were sleeping from about 11:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m. More sleep than I get at home. We had been woken at 6:30 a.m. for breakfast, and I had had a great talk to an older man at the ferry terminal about The Simpsons and all the show’s legendary social commentary. His son – or grandson, not sure who the kid was – surprisingly was not so into the programme. The man told me about the ill-fate of the Rolling Stones in Invers, which made me feel better about our poor turn out. I napped and read most of the trip to Okarito. Then we arrived at a kayak shed in a town with no streetlights, and a population of a whopping thirty-five people. Most or all of the town were present at the monthly pot-luck dinner. The locals were very friendly. The gig went well and the people seemed to really appreciate us going out of our way to play there. We stayed at a backpackers there.

Day Six: Karamea

We met up with Shaun’s banjo player Renee in Westport on our way. Fairly nice bar and people in Karamea, apart from this munter who heckled us, telling us to use electric guitars and to play some Megadeth songs. You know that stereotype that everyone always jokes about when you’re playing/at a gig? “Play some Slayer/Sabbath/Metallica…” etc. Well, it turns out he’s real. To his credit, Mark did play a tiny lick from Symphony of Destruction to appease/humour the dude. Good old Daz. He smashed a glass right next to his own baby. Not sure what the mother was doing in the pub with the baby anyway… The backpackers – Rongo – was really cool, with lots of tourists there. There were a few Americans, some of whom were at our show. One guy in particular had been really into it. He said the music sent shivers down his spine. Nice compliment, it made up for the other guy. Mark played a song on the backpackers’ radio station, as did Shaun and Renee.

Day Seven: Granity

One of the coolest gigs. We were given lunch, dinner and heaps of drinks, as well as a morning coffee and being put up in the backpackers across the road. The backpackers was beautiful, with a cool rock garden and the beach right next door. The Drifters Café crowd were really cool and supportive, and we hung out with them and played three-way chess into the early hours. The crowd here knew of our heckler, and informed us his name was Daz. These were the only hosts who stayed and partied with us after a gig. It was awesome.

Day Eight: Nelson

We didn’t expect a huge turn out, but Mark’s flyering, particularly at a local backpackers, paid off. I had a good chat after the gig to some tourists from England who said they’d really enjoyed the show. I never found out, but I had texted National Radio before the gig to ask them to announce that we were playing at Yaza Café. Maybe they did. That may be another reason we had a good turn out. The only down side here was that we had to pay to play there. We stayed at Renee’s uncle and aunty’s place. Luxury for a change.

Day Nine: Motueka

Hot Mama’s. What more can I say? My brother has also played a gig in Mot, as well as in Golden Bay, back in the days when he was playing Celtic music. The gig went okay here, but for our standards, I was getting used to silent, respectful audiences appreciating out music. This crowd contained a small few enthusiasts, but many felt like talking and smoking outside instead. My brother later informed me we went I the wrong season. When all the tourists and fruit pickers are there there’re probably a lot more people into live music in town. The locals just wanted to talk to their mates. We did get a few people come up to us after the show though, and some bought our album. The barman/manager put us up in his own home after the gig: now that’s hospitality. Until now for me, that was unheard of.

Day Ten: Christchurch

Back into our home town. Playing the Dux de Lux for our third time was awesome. We had many of our loyal fans, and, surprisingly, many new ones. It was probably the best we’d ever played the acoustic set. We had it recorded, by the legendary Rob. I decided to bring along my good (bronze) snare and hi hat for this set, after playing a small Kick Start kids’ drum kit – apart from my good Paiste ride cymbal – for the previous nine days. We still got a good sound out of the tiny bass drum. Amazingly, a guy at this gig knew Daz from Karamea too. We put Shaun and Renee up in our flat. They were both sick this night. Sad for them.

Overall, the South Island had some beautiful scenery, some amazing small towns, and some warm, receptive audiences. It was an adventure, one not to be beaten for at least a few months.

And then it was time to crash and recover for a day before returning to teach on Monday. I’m taking a school band with nineteen eight-to-ten year olds to the Smokefree Rockquest in June. That and my school camp at the Wainui YMCA are my next two adventures. Between them there’s our gig supporting HDU. I can’t wait. But I’ll have to…


Yay! Check out the new Enright House Shop I just finished making! Even if you’re not the type of person who buys music anymore, do take a look at how pretty and shiny it is! :)

View Comments

  • Mary Gemmill

    I remember you telling me about this tour as if it was
    recent- tempus fugit:)

blog comments powered by Disqus