The second-half of the year kicked off with a one-off reprise performance of the 2011 “South for the Winter” tour line-up of Darren Watson, Matt Langley and Matt Hay. This time, Mr Hay and I were joining the other two for the Wellington leg of their “Shoot your television” tour. Such a fun night. The venue was the Rogue & Vagabond on the 9th of July. It’s a pretty hip place – well regarded for it’s craft beer and live music (mostly jazz) – I was very excited to be playing here. It was really good to catch-up with Langley again. He’s such a good bloke. It was a pretty good crowd for a VERY cold Thursday night (there was a slight possibility that we might see snow again like we did 4 years ago). It was nice to be on an actual stage, with lights and a great in-house PA and a sound-guy. Matt and I did a pretty good opening set. I joined Langley for “Love and money” and “Into the fire”. We were also joined by amazing fiddle-player, Alex Vaatstra for those two songs – and we totally nailed it!
However, the musical highlight of the night (actually for the year up to that point), was when we all (Darren, the Matts, Delia on drums and me) played The Beatles “Revolution” at the end of the night. I didn’t know it was coming, and I had to work out the chords as we went – but it was a few moments of absolute joy. Now, the warm feeling experienced at this moment may have been partly fuelled by the Wild and Woolly Beast of Baltic Porter that I had been consuming over the evening, but mostly this euphoria was coming from the music. It was coming from my happiness of being able to foot it on stage with these really good musicians – of even being asked to join them. It means so much to me.
Our third gig at Thunderbird was on Friday 17 July. This time we were without Delia as she was on the road with Darren and Langley. It’s the 4-piece all male revue version. It’s so great – due to the way this band has evolved – that it can pretty much do a show with any number and combination of players – so long as Matt is there! I was pretty low in energy for this particular gig. Had been sick all week (I personally blame the Baltic Porter from the week before). But we all saw an amazing Ryan Adams show the previous night and I think we’re all feeling pretty inspired by that, and that lifts it all up a notch. Another good crowd that thins out slightly in the second-half (there was a rugby game on). Still, definitely a success. Some really good moments. We debut a couple of new songs. Nicci is happy. Yuss.
After what feels like an agonisingly long break between gigs (I look forward to playing sooooo much these days), we were back at Thunderbird on the first Thursday of August. It’s the full 5-piece band again, and it was a really great night. So good. Good size crowd. We played really well (I totally nailed my solo in Wagon Wheel), and everyone digs it. Nice to see enthusiastic Wellington music champions like Julie Lamb and Laura Collins in the crowd (amongst others). Happy days.
A few days following Thunderbird we were back at Days Bay on the Sunday. We played an entirely different set of songs to what we played earlier in the week at Thunderbird – whilst this was met with some grumbling by some of us (why do we make it hard for ourselves!!!) – it is a great testament to the depth of Matt’s songbook (and just quietly, mixing up the songs keeps us on our toes and is good for both us and the songs). For me, it was a totally different energy to the Thunderbird show. We just didn’t get much back. Despite that, a lot of people said they liked it, there was a CD sale and everyone was generally happy with us. Even a slightly flat night is better than no night at all. I wouldn’t stop doing this for the world right now. In a world gone mad, playing music is one of the few things that makes any sense to me.
On Halloween Eve – which was a Friday – we were back at Thunderbird. Despite some encouragement from (Thunderbird owner) Nicci for us to dress-up for the occasion, we performed in our regular threads. It was another cracker of a gig. Full-house, good playing, good times!
On the last Sunday of the month it was time for our final gig at Days Bay for the year. The weather was gorgeous – which always has the opposite effect to what you might expect. You see, people are there – they’re just mostly outside. Still, we managed to pull a few indoors and as always it was an appreciative audience. Lots of familiar faces and some dancing by some of the punters. My Mum and Dad made it out which was nice as they haven’t seen us for awhile, and it was a good one for them to catch, as we were in very good form. Happiness.
Two gigs within the space of a week was such a positive way to finish what, looking back, has been a pretty good music year.
On Thursday 10th, we were at Thunderbird. No Delia for this one, and and it was a small crowd (we blamed all the other engagements of the season). So the vibe was totally different to say that last one at Days Bay. So it was pretty laid-back, but still totally enjoyable. Matt and I even kept going afterwards and had a few drinks (beer! rum!) to toast the year that was.
The following Sunday afternoon we played at Kelburn Village Pub. We’ve been here before – a couple of years ago now. Like last time, it took half a set for it to fill up, but it did, and it was great. Really great. Fairly cramped “stage” area, but such a nice sounding room. And we played so very well. A lot of friends and family and strangers made it along, including Matt’s mate, respected critic, and all-round nice-guy, Nick Bollinger. He was very complimentary of the band and made another comparison of my playing style to that of Spooner Oldham (I can’t hear that enough!!!). I think this was one of our best gigs of the year. We really are a proper band now, and I think we’re actually quite good. More gigs please! Please!
Yes, we’re still here. This year has all been about the Matt Hay band in a lot of ways, but despite that Gareth and I continue to find some time to push our own work ahead. And it’s this stuff that really means the most to me. It’s the most personal. I really do want release a collection of songs in 2016. As is customary with each blog post lately, here’s a sneak preview of new song, “Edge of the Earth”. I think it’s pretty good. I even play trumpet on it (that was hard work, after all these years away from it). Take a listen:
Thanks 2015, it’s been a blast.
See you in 2016!