Phil Garland's News Blog

Phi Garland New Zealand Folk Musician and Kiwi Balladeer.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Honours and Update

Time to update my blog. Tempus really does seem to fugit these days - I can't believe it's been 6 months since my last post. I went into the studio to record my latest album during December 2013  putting the finishing touches to it in January.The new album is entitled Billycan Ballads - a musical tribute to the kiwi poetry of the late Joe Charles. I've taken a selection of poems from his books Black Billy Tea and Blackberry Pie (which is being published posthumously in July this year) and set them to music. The final result is more than satisfying and I'm looking forward to promoting it around the country over the next few months.

Because the new album is designed to partner the book Blackberry Pie I will be promoting it at the book launch for in Christchurch in July, following up with some southern concerts as part of the promotional campaign. I'm currently booked to play Katikati Folk Club on Friday 18 July and The Bunker at Devonport in Auckland on 8 September. I'm still awaiting booking confirmation from Hamilton, Tauranga, Christchurch,
Owaka, Dunedin and Gore. over the next few weeks.

Queens Birthday weekend heralded the inaugural Folk Under The Mountain one day festival in Te Aroha, which could have done with a larger audience but for those that did attend the music was fantastic and all the
artists involved seemed to enjoy themselves. Everyone involved is looking forward to next year when we'll likely reschedule the event on a slightly larger scale and on a different weekend.

The most exciting part of Queen's Birthday weekend was my being honoured with a QSM (Queens Service Medal) for services to New Zealand Folk Music. The award was most unexpected and I'm still coming to terms with receiving such an important accolade - it all feels slightly surreal as I deal with all the congratulatory messages of support from around the world. In due course I will have to attend Government House to receive the award in person. Meanwhile I like to think that the award represents official recognition for our folklore and musical heritage.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Moving House

It's been a long time between drinks as they say since my last post - seemingly much has happened in the last year or so with the major news being our relocation to the North island. After having our home on the market for a couple of years, we finally sold and made the big move north from Culverden to Te Aroha in the Waikato, suffering considerable stress and angst in the process. However we finally arrived safe'n'sound and have duly settled in feeling more relaxed and comfortable by the day.
I've had a major health problem to deal with during the year and this has taken up a considerable amount of my time since our relocation to Te Aroha - however everything seems to be on track and progressing well. Not long after our arrival I was invited to perform a few songs at the local Country Music Club and the audience gave me a great reception. I followed this up with my first appearance at the East Coast Bays Folk Club in Torbay on Auckland's North Shore. This proved to be a great night all round with lots of familiar faces to renew acquaintance with.
I had to fly down to Christchurch in September to perform (for what may well have been the last time) with my band Bush Telegraph for a barn dance at the Port Lyttelton Yacht Club. The evening was a rousing success albeit an emotional one as we all came to realise this was  probably the our final appearance together - but who knows what the future may hold in store.
Thanks to a successful Pledgeme fund raising campaign I was able to visit Australia for a month long tour of folk clubs and festivals in October and early November. I performed  concerts in Sydney, Canberra, Wollongong an made appearances at the Kangaroo Valley Folk Festival finishing up at Maldon Folk festival in the historic goldfields district of Victoria. I also managed to
score an interview with Macca on the ABC radio programme 'Australia All Over' which proved quite successful. 

                                                In the Studio with Macca for Australia All Over

At the risk of blotting my copybook, I have to admit (in my humble opinion) that I found the state of folk music in Oz in a somewhat parlous state. Many of the performers at the festivals were not what I would call folkies - many of them were simply crowd pleasers owing little to folk music as I know it. With the current emphasis on many performers (and festival promoters) having to take out huge insurance protection these days it seems that putting bums on seats has taken priority over the quality of the music. Don't get me wrong, there are still a few great performers on the scene, but they are few and far between. 

                                  On Stage performing at the Maldon Hotel during the Maldon Folk Festival.

The remixed and remastered  copies of both 'Down A Country Road/ and Colonial Yesterdays have been duly completed and are just waiting on that opportune moment for Kiwi Pacific Records to re-release them.

I'm about to go into the studio again very soon to start recording a tribute album to the poetry of the late Joe Charles. Some 20 or so years after his passing, Joe's second manuscript 'Blackberry Pie' is about to be published and my tribute album is designed to accompany the new book and hopefully create further awareness in Joe's work. More news as and when it comes to hand.
I can now concentrate on finding a sympathetic publisher and hopefully getting my second book of Kiwi folklore out there into the market place.

Enjoy what's left of 2013 and keep playing our wonderful Kiwi music.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Remixing Old Album

With Christmas approaching once again it seems appropriate to update my involvement with all things folk as I look forward to a better summer than that experienced last year. It certainly can't be any worse!

   Sadly the new folklore book has stalled for the time being and won't be published this year as promised. I'm now hoping it will see the light of day sometime next year all going well. As the Mainland Cheese advt says "good things take time!"

 Following hard on the heels of the promotional tour for Damper, Duff & Doughboys  I undertook further concerts down south in Gore and Invercargill during early October and these proved quite successful. Immediately on my return I had to head off to Lake Tekapo for yet another one off performance, managing to depart just before a heavy snowfall hit the MacKenzie Country. However I wasn't quite so lucky after my appearance with Bush Telegraph at Cardrona Folk Festival just a week later. We had a great time at the festival and fortunately moved lots of CDs, but during the return trip home I drove into a huge snow storm in The MacKenzie, which started just after Twizel and lasted right through to Fairlie. Visibility was almost nil with snow piled high to the side of the road - After all these years it was certainly the worst one I've had to drive in. Nonetheless it proved to be an interesting experience.

   I've just finished re-recording and remixing my old album Colonial Yesterdays, which saw me including some new tracks (recorded around the same time frame) and rescued from oblivion. The original album never made it past LP format and hasn't been available since the early 1980s. So it's most timely that it will be re-released in CD format, probably early next year. 

    The LP received many favourable reviews when it was first released back in 1975, but with the addition of 6 further tracks it will become almost a brand new album. I've managed to include the following tracks with the new mix:- Soon May The Wellerman Come - Song For Captain Cook - By The Dry Cardrona - Taumarunui - Run For Your Life - The Day The Pub Burned Down, as well as adding some new instrumentation to a few of the original tracks. Generally speaking the accompaniments have remained reasonably sparse in keeping with the original album. I'm looking forward to its re-release in the very near future.

      This now leaves only one album remaining to be digitally remastered and remixed:- 

Down A Country Road will be the final recording to receive the 'modern' treatment and this should get underway early next year. Once completed, my full Kiwi Pacific recorded catalogue will be finally available in CD format. The next step will be to make all the tracks available for digital download and I'll keep you posted as and when this is likely to occur.

Meanwhile enjoy the coming summer months and have a wonderful Christmas.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Brand New Album

It's been a while since I last kept my news up to date and so much has been happening lately, seems like I've been run off my feet. Tempus has been fugitting just a little too much. Winter in Culverden has been pretty chilly, not helped by a huge snow dump, which caused quite a lot of damage to the trees in the garden. It kept snowing non stop for 2 days and nights with the upshot being  several trees were uprooted and many branches snapped resulting from the weight of snow.
I'm still being kept busy clearing up the garden in between musical engagements. Now that Spring is approaching the weather is showing a definite improvement. Roll on Summer I say and the sooner the better!

I managed to complete the new album Damper, Duff & Doughboys earlier this year and it was finally released in April. I immediately undertook some promotional concerts down south taking in The Hokonui Moonshine Museum in Gore, followed by the Big River Festival in Balclutha and finishing with The New Edinburgh Folk Club in Dunedin. Just one week later saw me down south once again to officially launch the new album at the annual Bards, Ballads & Bulldust Festival in Naseby at Easter. On my return home I then presented a special concert at the Christchurch Folk Music Club singing many songs from the new album. On this occasion I was joined by members of Bush Telegraph, Heather Mitchell on accordion and Claire Weyland on fiddle (reprising their performances in the recording studio) along with my old mate Dave Hart adding his musical talents to good effect. The audience members seemed to enjoy the new songs and an encore was forthcoming, which was most unexpected really, but gratefully received.

The promotional concerts haven't finished yet with still some North Island concerts coming up during August. Firstly I'm at The Devonport Folk Club on Sunday 12 August to be followed by concerts in Hastings on Thursday 23rd, Palmerston North on Friday 24th and the Wellington Museum on Sunday 'arvo 26th. There may still be some further dates to add in the near future. I was hoping to be heading off to Oz during September but unfortunately I have had to postpone that visit until next year.

My band Bush Telegraph and I will be special guests at the Cardrona Folk Festival to be held over the Labour Day weekend 20-21 October. This year the festival be a celebration of 150 years of the Otago goldrush heritage and should be a really great occasion. Cardrona, run by my old mate Martin Curtis is one of the best and friendliest little festivals in the country and well worth a visit.

We are slowly making progress with my second New Zealand folklore book, which was completed over a year ago now. The publisher and I are editing and proofing as I write and I'm really hopeful it will finally see the light of day sometime around October / November this year. It should prove a worthy successor to my earlier opus "Faces in the Firelight" which is still selling well and available directly from me or the publisher Steele Roberts in Wellington.

I still have a couple of my early LPs to be digitally remixed and mastered and these will be my next priority as I rescue and restore some previously unreleased tracks from the archives, which will be added into the final mixes. As the TV Cheese advt says "Good things take time!"

This bit of news is hush hush for now. I was recently approached by some national TV representatives demonstrating an interest in filming a special programme about my field collecting efforts down the years and possibly featuring me singing a few examples of our folk heritage. It's still in the early stages, but I will keep you posted as and when full details come to hand. remember you heard it here first!
Cheers for now
Phil Garland

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Phil's Latest News

 It's been far too long since my last posting and so much has happened in the last year not the least of which have been the damaging earthquakes felt throughout Canterbury. I was booked in to start recording a new album towards the end of February but as a result of the fallout from the big quake on 22 Feb I had to put everything on hold. It has taken some months to get the recording sessions back on track and I finally made a start in November. The new album Damper Duff and Doughboys is now finished and I'm expecting it to be released hopefully in time for a number of concerts planned around the country in March.

Another couple of albums from my back catalogue were re-released after being digitally remixed and mastered during the year so that I now have 9 albums available on CD. In some cases tracks were rescued, remixed and added to the original recordings. Those back albums, featuring new and improved covers, now available on CD are - the award winning Springtime in the Mountains from 1984 - Hunger in the Air, 1987 - Wind in the Tussock 1989, - How Are You Mate 1990. There are still 2 more albums in the pipeline and I'll keep everyone informed about them as and when they become available.

With so many entertainment venues unavailable it has become extremely difficult to find places to play, so much so that I've had to look further afield, taking my music to other centres on a more frequent basis. Immediately after appearing in Naseby again over Easter for the Bards, Ballads and Bulldust Festival I was invited to present a concert in Invercargill for the Southland Festival of Arts at the end of April - this was well attended and went off pretty well I thought. Unfortunately I couldn't fly out of Invercargill on the Sunday evening due to heavy fog and had to spend another cosy night in the deep south.

My band, Bush Telegraph, had only a couple of bookings to fulfil during the year - the highlight of which was a barn dance for Larcomb's Winery and it was just like old times for us, having spent some 4 years in residency for them a few years ago.

I flew to Auckland in October to give a concert for some corporate overseas visitors to the Rugby World Cup. The organiser of this event was an expat Kiwi living and working in London and this was a grand opportunity for some rugby fans from Ireland, England, Scotland, Dubai and Australia to hear some of our Kiwi songs, yarns and poetry. I must admit to feeling some trepidation approaching this sort of event, but it turned out to be a really great night with a large number of my books and CDs managing to find new homes around the globe!

After considerable delay and four years in the pipeline, my new songbook was finally published by Kiwi Pacific Records in early December (just in time for Christmas) and quite a few copies were sold in that initial burst. The songbook will give me something else to promote once my promotional touring gets under way in March. Speaking of books, the sequel to Faces in the Firelight has been with the publisher since March last year and I'm living in hope that it will see the light of day sometime in the next few months. Its title has yet to be settled but there are still a couple of options to consider.

I know this year will be much better than the last so it's onwards and upwards until next time.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Latest News

It's been quite a while since I last delivered any news from my world of Kiwi folk music, so here's what's been happening this year.

In May I was invited to perform at the opening of the newly revamped Brunner Mine site on the West Coast. I was specifically asked to sing Down in the Brunner Mine in memory of all those miners lost in that tragic disaster of 1896. The very real dangers associated with coal mining on the West Coast have been highlighted once again with the recent tragic events unfolding at the Pike River Mine.

August finally saw the re-release of my 1987 Hunger in the Air album remixed and remastered for CD. Surprisingly this album is still the only recording of Kiwi traditional song in captivity. I would have expected more artists showing an interest and delving into our rich store of Kiwi folksongs. This still leaves a couple of albums from my Kiwi Pacific back catalogue to be re-released in company with those already completed.

The huge demand for barn and woolshed dances seems to have declined somewhat in recent times, so Bush Telegraph haven't found themselves quite so busy this year - only performing about every 4 - 6 weeks or so. However this has meant that I have been asked more frequently to present dances on my tod, teaching and calling to the music on CD. Perhaps the economic down turn had a hand to play with people not able to afford the full band. However it's not quite the same doing these gigs without the usuual band accompaniment.

With live performances being a little quieter than usual, I was able to sit down and write a sequel to Faces in the Firelight. The new book is similar in approach and format to the first publication highlighting a lot of collected folklore material not used in the first book. I managed to put the finishing touches to the new book in September, however it probably won't see the light of day until around the middle of next year. Stay tuned and I'll try to keep you all posted on developments as and when they occur.

I was honoured by a visit from Australian folklorist Rob Willis in early October and he interviewed me for the Australian folklore archive domiciled at the National Library in Canberra. It made a bit of a change to be on the other side of the microphone for a field collecting exercise. We had a good chat about Kiwi folklore and the similarities / connections with Australia and the results will eventually be deposited in Canberra, where hopefully they'll become available to any interested folk in due course.

I have spent the last couple of months sorting out material for a new album. I expect to start work recording this project within the next month or so - tentatively entitled Damper, Duff and Doughboys it will mainly feature folksong and music pertaining to rural New Zealand.
Finally The Phil Garland Songbook is slowly progressing towards publication, so all going well 2011 should see a result after a couple of years in the pipeline. I will endeavour to keep you all posted on the progress of the new CD and songbook in the weeks ahead.

Meanwhile, my best wishes for the forthcoming New Year.

Phil Garland

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Southern Concerts

Bush Telegraph on stage at Totara Estate

I set off on a mini southern tour during late March early April, beginning with a couple of appearances with my band Bush Telegraph at Totara Estate, Harvest Home, Open Day on Sunday 28 March. We shared the billing with the amazing Topp Twins before a huge crowd - larger than any I had seen there previously. It was a great day despite the bitterly cold wind and as soon as we had finished and packed up I was heading down to Dunedin for a solo spot at the New Edinburgh Folk Club that same evening. There were two guests performing that night, myself and another visitor Alistair Brown from Scotland. The smallish audience seemed to enjoy what I had to offer, which was primarily a few songs from my award winning Southern Odyssey album and a bit of a promotion for my book Faces in the Firelight.

Jan and I stayed a couple of nights in Dunedin with my brother Mike and his wife Margaret, who have recently moved down south. Margaret is curently undergoing a couple of years internship at Knox Church preparing herself for the Presbyterian ministry. Once she has finished there, they could end up being posted anywhere in the country. However it was good to see their little house and find them happy in these southern climes.

After our stay in Dunedin we set off for Gore, where I was to give a concert in the Eastern Southland Gallery. I have played this venue a few times before and the curator, Jim Geddes, always looks after me well. It was advertised that I would be promoting the award winning Southern Odyssey Project and associated heritage trails, so I felt obliged to sing a few more Southland songs from the album. There was a good turnout, but what really surprised me was how few of them knew anything about the project - they certainly loved the songs and the history behind them. Jim told me that the heritage trails were only just being finalised so the big promotional push is yet to come. Looks like I could well be returning south for a giant launching ceremony sometime in the near future. Jim took us out to lunch at Croydon airfield in Mandeville, where we saw Bert Pither's self designed and self built metal framed aircraft, which he first flew back in 1910 - an amazing feat and an amazing machine - I will have to write a song about his wonderful achievement. Apparently it is to be flown again in a couple of months for the centenary of that very first flight.

After a couple of nights stay in Gore we headed off to Naseby for the 5th Bards Ballads & Bulldust Festival over Easter. It doesn't seem like 5 years since I first started this festival in conjunction with Roch Sullivan of the Ancient Briton Hotel. The festival is coming along nicely and our daytime audience numbers were definitely up on last year. A real highlight is the popularity of the High Country Musterer's Breakfast - (not just with festival goers, but also with the Rail Trail visitors) so much so that we may have to repeat it each morning of the weekend. We certainly don't want to let the weekend grow too big - the venue is relatively small and we want to keep proceedings as relaxed and informal as we possibly can. This inherent informality is part of the festival's charm and seems to be what both guests and audience like most about the event. All in all another good time was had by all. The real icing on the cake was selling quite a few books (and CDs) in both Gore and Naseby and still the orders keep coming in. No complaints from me on that score!

I always enjoy my visits to Naseby, so it was with some sadness we said goodbye to all our fellow performers and mates before heading home to North Canterbury on Easter Monday. Thanks to all the performers and audience who made it such a memorable weekend and hopefully we'll see you all again next year.