Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Touring with the Explorers Club:Antarctica

Here it is, eight o'clock in the morning and I've already been for a run. I'm not lying, I waved to my neighbour and my neighbour waved to me, which naturally made me think of this song, and of what the whole neighbourhood might look like under fifteen feet of pure white snow.

And that reminded me about what's happening really quite soon - next year, certainly, but I'm sure we're all starting to realise that that counts as soon. As you'll be aware, there has been a certain kind of monomaniacal obsession happening at Bond Street Bridge HQ lately. It started, as these things often do, with a perfectly normal bout of light reading on common piracy, the lure of the heaving ocean and salt spray - monkeys with little waistcoats on and so forth. This led, via an unhealthy interest in H.M. Queen Elizabeth the first of England, to specific pirates - Drake in particular, and Dampier, and other swashbucklers with letters of marque in hand and fire in the belly. Drake's circumnavigation fired the imagination, as it must - what audacity! The hunger! And suddenly the floor of the living room and my side of the bed were home to half the contents of the 910 (exploration) shelf from the library, which is a good place to work if you tend to get obsessed with things. Drake led to Cook, and Cook - as well as plucky midshipman George Vancouver, who climbed far out on the bowsprit in polar waters as the Resolution went about for the last time and who claimed, for a while, the title of Furthest South - well, Cook led of course to his own great unrealised goal - the mysterious Southern Continent, that great counterweight of the world, locked in ice and tucked all the way down there at the end of the Dewey Decimal system at 998.9: Antarctic History.

 Sled dog and gramophone on the Terra Nova expedtion.  By Emily Cater after Herbert Ponting

And this obsession narrowed, as obsessions will, and it focussed, and for a while all was ice and darkness and the pluck of certain stalwart Edwardians.  You know who I'm talking about, of course - Robt. Falcon Scott, Captain of the Royal Navy, who we're just starting to remember again was not really a colossal bungler at all and whose achievements before his death out on the Great Ice Barrier dwarfed those of his predecessors, and Shackleton of the Merchant Marine, with his superhuman charisma and charming lack of attention to detail, Frank Worsely - a Lyttelton boy, you remember - whose feat of polar navigation in the James Caird is still unparalleled, Tom Crean, Oates of the Dragoons, Bowers, Cherry, Campbell's men in their ice cave all winter, eating rancid seal meat and smoking everything that would burn, and even Mawson, that brash colonial. Titans all, and golly, what pluck!

Capt. Frank Worsley, the Lyttelton boy. By Emily Cater

It soon became clear that this obsession required an outlet beyond my monopolising conversation at every opportunity with garbled stories of the half-remembered exploits of these public-school poster boys. ('And then the ponies fell in the water! And I think it was Oates, or maybe Bowers - no, Oates - or, no, it was Bowers but Oates showed him how - because of the killer whales, and the leopard seals and whatnot all circling round, and they couldn't pull him out, poor beast, onto the ice I mean, so he had to kill him with his ice axe.') So, in order to get the whole thing off my chest, I suppose, I wrote some songs.

These songs and the stories that go with them - such stories! - have now been beautifully illustrated by Emily "Millicent Crow" Cater, and this summer we're taking them on the road as a show called 'The Explorer's Club: Antarctica.'  Bond Street Bridge are doing about 25 shows through February and March, taking in the Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin Fringe Festivals, the celebrations in Oamaru marking the 100th anniversary of the return of the Terra Nova to civilization, Christchurch Music in Parks, opening for Mt Eerie in Barrytown, a party in Okarito, sharing stages with some of our best musical buddies - Rosy Tin Teacaddy, Matt Langley, uncle Delaney, Tiny Lies and of course Luckless and Brendan Turner, and shows from Bayly's Beach in the North to Milford Sound in the South.  The show will take slightly different forms depending on the venue, and in its complete version it's a combination of spoken word storytelling, original illustrations and heritage photographs projected behind the band, and of course foot-stompin, heart-string tuggin folk songs. 

So that's what's happening, and that's what I was thinking about as I waved to my neighbour this morning, staggering in from a really quite unadventurous run around the suburban block, and I must say I'm rather looking forward to it all. Here are all the dates and things; there will be other details to come and we're selling tickets for the Auckland shows here so get in and get them.

The Explorers Club:Antarctica Tour Summer 2013

All of these shows are with Luckless except those marked *

Sat 2 Feb: Paekakariki, St Peters Hall with Delaney Davidson, Rosy Tin Teacaddy and Dos Hermarnos 8pm, $15
Sun 3 Feb: Nelson, Playhouse Theater with Brendan Turner 3 pm, Free
Mon 4 Feb: Barrytown Hall supporting Mt Eerie *
Wed 6 Feb: Franz Josef, Blue Ice Cafe with Brendan Turner
Thurs 7 Feb: Oamaru, Grainstore Gallery with Brendan Turner 8pm $10
Fri 8 Feb: Waitati Hall with Brendan Turner 8pm $10
Sat 9 Feb: Port Chalmers, Chick's Hotel with Matt Langley 9pm $10
Sun 10 Feb: Chrischurch Botanic Gardens Lazy Sundays 3pm Free*
Tues 12 Feb: Te Anau, Black Dog Bar with Brendan Turne 8pm Free
Wed 13 Feb: Milford Sound, Blue Duck Bar and Cafe with Brendan Turne, 8pm Free
Thurs 14 Feb: Fairlie, Kimbell Garage Gallery with Brendan Turner, 8pm $10
Fri 15 Feb: Lyttelton, Wunderbar with Tiny Lies and Ben Brown, 9pm
Sat 16 Feb: Wellington Fringe Festival, The Moorings with Rosy Tin Teacaddy, 8pm $20
Sun 17 Feb: Wellington waterfront, Performance Arcade with Grayson Gilmour, 5pm free
Fri 22 Feb: AUCKLAND FRINGE FESTIVAL, Wine Cellar with Bernie Griffen 8:30 pm, $15*
Sun 23 Feb: Bayly's Beach, The Funky Fish (Sam Prebble Solo) 3pm*
Fri 1 Mar: AUCKLAND FRINGE FESTIVAL, Wine Cellar with Luckless 8:30 pm $15
Fri 22 Mar: Amberly, Nor'Wester Cafe with Brendan Turner
Sat 23 Mar: Wairau Valley, Dharma Bum's Club with Brendan Turner