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.