The first three shows of the year were all at Thunderbird. The first was in March and let’s face it, we were a little rusty. The last gig had been in December and I don’t think we had managed one rehearsal with all 5 members up to that point. Still, we had a good crowd, and people liked it, even if we knew it wasn’t our best work.
The second one in April was much better – despite George being absent. I really enjoyed this one. It felt good. I even enjoyed shouldering the bass-line responsibilities. We were back, baby!
Gig number 3 was on a Friday in the middle of May, and it was a good ‘un on so many levels. Despite the average weather, the place really packed out over the course of the evening. Matt had invited photographer, Bradley Garner along to document the show. As always, we had a diverse mix in the crowd from keen music supporters (including the venerable Nick Bollinger), to friends, strangers, and a set of regulars who always seem to turn up. Thunderbird owner, Nicci was very happy with how it all went. My personal highlight came at the end of the night when one of the bar staff informed me a female patron had earlier asked after “the keyboard player”. Of course there would be no pursuit of that (I am spoken for, afterall), but you know, you can never hear too much of that sort of thing, can you? So it was a particularly enjoyable post-gig meal with my bandmates – everyone – not just me – seemed to be in high spirits.
Here’s a video from the night (I do a not-bad solo at around the 1:15 mark), shot by Bradley:
For gig number 4 we were back at Days Bay Pavilion on the first Sunday of June. June would be a busy month for us. Despite some issues with the band struggling to hear each other well in the first set (the acoustics in the Pavilion are a bit weird) we were well received. A lot of my friends, family and former colleagues made it along and helped fill the place out. It was a packed dancefloor by the end of the night.
In the middle of June we played at the Capital Blues Inc night at the Hotel Bristol on Cuba St. It had been a loooong time between drinks playing here! You’d have to trawl way back through the blog to find the last mention of a show. It definitely wasn’t with this incarnation of the band, but the original SubUrbans line-up (Matt, Darren Watson on bass, Justin Hooper on drums, and me) back in 2007. It was nice to play on a stage with a big PA, but it was a bit of weird gig. Admittedly we’re not a blues band, but we did add a few extra blues songs to our set for this one. However, no matter what we played we didn’t get much back from the audience – there was just no energy or enthusiasm. There weren’t even any hippie dancers which always seemed to be a fairly reliable part of these nights. It’s also a pretty big, drafty, and soul-less venue – nowhere as cozy as our beloved Thunderbird! Despite all of this, we played pretty well, Matt did sell some CDs and as I always say, playing a gig is almost always better than not playing a gig.
We ended the month back home at Thunderbird. Smaller crowd than last time, but there was a core audience who stuck with us and were very nice. This show’s good-guy local musician who came up and said nice things about my playing was Bullfrog Rata. I’d never met him before, but he took the time to say hello and give a compliment. It’s always a nice to hear stuff like that and I wonder if these “complimenters” (I think I just invented a word there) have any idea how much their words can mean to the “complimentee“.
Matt also launched a band Facebook page around this time.
Earlier – back in April – we started pre-production on a new Matt Hay album. The first step was cutting demo recordings of 16 songs at Matt’s house with engineer, Andrew Downes. It proved that there are enough good songs for an album (we would probably only record 10 – 12 songs for the record), but equally it proved that a lot of work was still required to get them ready for the studio. The main recording session is now booked-in for the last weekend of July at the legendary Surgery recording studios in Wellington. Can’t wait!
By very different routes, Gareth and I might just release something around same time as Matt does – which was kinda what happened last time around. I’m pretty sure that by the end of July we will have completed tracking for a little 5-song EP. Then, after mixing and mastering and artwork and manufacturing, we should have something out in Spring. The final piece in the track-listing puzzle was a wee little instrumental that we finished last week. As always – to reward you, loyal reader – here’s a preview of a very early mix of it:
Catch you back here at the end of the year (if not before)!