I sometimes have this wild feeling that perhaps we are living in some sort of Golden Age of New Zealand folk music. This is probably an example of what social researchers call 'observation bias:' most of my friends are folk musicians and they're writing a load of very good songs right now; my memory is not good so I tend to focus on the present, much like a fox terrier; and my awareness of the history of New Zealand folk music is really pretty patchy to be honest although of course I do my best. So given all of these perceptual filters, it's not surprising that I would say that right now is a great time for New Zealand folk music, in the same way that a fox terrier might say that today is a good day for running around and barking at ducks.
But I do think that I might be on to something. Thanks to the economy - thanks, economy! - Christchurch and Auckland are brimming with underemployed wasters who can holler along pretty well on a range of stringed instruments, so some of the bands are getting really pretty hot. Also thanks to the economy, and our reasonably terrifying government - thanks, the government! - there's quite a lot to sing about at the moment, Wellington is full of laid-off public servants with banjos, and we've got a bunch of very good writers writing very good songs about actual things, not just their hair or how hard it is to be in your twenties.
I mentioned Adam's song State Houses by The River the other day and that's a good example of what I'm talking about. Twenty-Nine Diamonds is another one - it's by Bernie Griffen, who knows a thing or two about a thing or two and he wrote this song around a year or so ago I think. It's exactly the kind of folk song people should be writing. It's simple, it's direct, it's got a whole lot of heart and only three chords so any idiot can play it, and by god it's on the money. Me and Will played it on the ferry on the way back from a tour down south last year, in that strange Irish bar they have there. It's one of the oddest gigs you can do in this country, rocking back and forth with the swell as travelers and truck-drivers try to watch the league on a muted TV, but everyone does it because your get your van across the strait for free so you might as well. Hardly anybody ever listens, but I remember that when me and Will played Bernie's song there quite a lot of people did listen and I wouldn't be at all surprised if a few people are still humming it because that's the kind of song it is.
Anyhow we're playing a couple of shows with Bernie Griffen and the Grifters this weekend so come along, by all means. The Broadsides are playing as well and they're just the kind of band I'm talking about that's getting really pretty hot, as of course are the mighty Grifters. The first show is tonight at the Thirsty Dog on K rd at around 9, and then we're all going up to Leigh on Saturday night to play at the Sawmill and howl at the moon.