Friday, June 17, 2011

Slow Burn Winter Tour part 1: And I haven't even left Auckland yet

For the duration of the NZ album release tour, I'm doing a sort of a tour blog for New Zealand Musician over on their site here - here's the first post from that series:

There's probably a lot of reasons why you might go on tour if you're a musician.  Undoubtedly some people do it for fun, and I'm sure there are people who find the money attractive.  There are all sorts of promotional benefits and so on also, but the main reason I go on tour is so that I have stuff to write about on my blog.  I'm not sure what it is about touring, but for some reason things just seem to happen more when you're charging around different parts of the world trying to play shows. Maybe it's the momentum; when things happen on tour they happen harder because you're moving faster than you normally would.  They also usually turn out to be funnier, these things that happen, I suppose because most things are funny with hindsight and when you're touring you move around a lot, so everything is hindsight.

I haven't left Auckland yet - that's going to happen at an ungodly hour tomorrow morning, by bus, of which no doubt more later - but already things are happening on this tour.  I should make it clear here that when I say 'happening' I tend to mean 'going wrong,' often with reportable consequences.  The main thing that's happened so far - and obviously, given that the tour hasn't properly started yet, it's early days - is that when I sent an email to the crew at the Wunderbar after this last round of aftershocks to say 'hope you guys are all sweet and stuff and also are you still, you know, open?' Debs replied pretty smartly saying essentially no, they aren't still open, because these plate tectonics just won't quit and this last hit has knocked them back into February.  I cannot imagine what that must feel like for them.

The Wunderbar is hands down my favourite venue in the South Island. I was pretty excited when they re-opened after the last quake, I knew it was a big deal for Lyttelton to have iconic venues popping back up.  I was even more excited when I found out that they had a free Saturday right when the Slow Burn Winter Tour featuring Rosy Tin Teacaddy and Bond Street Bridge Bringing Their New Albums To Life For The People Of New Zealand was planning to be in the neighbourhood, so of course I booked a show there. With the Wunderbar now closed for the duration, we now find ourselves casting around for a new venue.  This is ten days out from the show, in a town where most places have already shut up shop.

I've found over the past few years that if I ever have any kind of Christchurch-related touring problem, I adopt one and only one problem-solving strategy.  I continue to resort to this strategy because it is very simple, and it works every time.  The strategy is this:  When something goes wrong, get in touch with The Eastern, tell them your problem, and they will solve it.  Have you accidentally double-booked yourself with The Feelers in the front bar of some horrendous meat-market downtown?  Call the Eastern, tell them your problem, and they will take you down the road to the Media Club where there is an audience of nice people who actually want to hear music.  Have you written off your car at the Sockburn roundabout, seven hours out from a show in Oamaru that is looking less and less likely to happen now as you sit on the side of the road nursing whiplash and surrounded by cracked guitar cases?  Call the Eastern, and they will arrive at the roadside, wait with you for the towtruck, then lend you their van for the rest of your tour.  Has the venue you were going to play at been stickered off the road?  You know what to do.

So at press time,  Adam McGrath is stomping around Lyttelton trying to find a venue for the show next weekend, and I must say I like his chances.  I'm pretty confident that if a venue is to be found in that town, he's the guy to find it, and a fine venue it will be as well.  For now, though, we have a bit of anticipation and tension happening, which I think is healthy.

Once I heard from Adam that he was on the case, I started to relax a bit.  Then my phone beeped, and it turned out that Mr Nigel Wright, who is supposed to be adding his layers of sonic wizardry to the Bond Street shows in Wellington this weekend, is in line to get his flight down there pretty severely delayed or even canceled by this apocalyptic airplane-eating ash cloud we seem to be having on top of everything else.  It may even turn out that he can't play one of the shows, which is very sad because he makes everything sound awesome and St Peter's Hall at Paekakariki would have worked a treat.  I'm not too worried though - I called Adam again and he's having a word to the volcano, so it should all be sweet.

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