Long live Barrytown Hall!

Dear all,

Greetings from a thoroughly rainy and cyclone threatened south island of New Zealand where I’ve had a great tour although a slightly not in a good way eventful day yesterday…More on that in a minute but first up let me bring you up to speed. After arriving on the south island it was the beautiful (if slightly treacherous) drive over to the legendary Mussel Inn in Golden Bay which lived up to all expectations. Unlike four years ago there was no dancing on the tables, crowd surfing or chanting of Danjo but apparently that was one hell of a one off! This was I guess more usual gig territory of devoted listeners but with a brilliant bit of patter in a fantastic setting. Amazing place this, a gig like no other. Thanks everyone for coming especially the couple who chose to spend their honeymoon there!

Next came up a couple of days off before heading to Picton for a double bill at Le Cafe with the Young Folk from Ireland. It was much enjoyed and a brilliant bonus was jamming with members of the group My Baby and their family after the gig. The three sisters singing I’ll Fly Away in beautiful three part harmony was a privilege and no less. A great night was had!

Then came a trip west to Barrytown Hall, another venue with legendary status but one I hadn’t yet experienced. Well I have now!!!!!! What a place and what a crowd – I’m pretty sure that’s the first time I’ve had half the audience doing the conga round the hall to Roll In My Sweet Baby’s Arms….quite an atmosphere and a place thoroughly deserving of its¬†status. I dearly hope the gigs keep happening…more below. Anyway from there it was off to Christchurch for a welcome return to the folk club which is always a lovely night. Then came the journey back north…

Twenty minutes into the journey came the apparently obligatory New Zealand car incident. The first time I was here in 2014, I reversed my friend’s car into a post. Definitely my fault. The second time whilst driving the aforementioned treacherous road to the Mussel Inn, my tyre gave way on a bend thus rendering the car unsteerable and heading into a barrier thankfully at a slow speed. Not my fault. This incident – I was hit in the back at a give way point. Most definitely not my fault. But a pain in the bloody buttocks nonetheless. Thankfully I sustained no pain in the buttocks or otherwise and mercifully the car is perfectly driveable if just a bit disfigured around the bumper. A shout out to Jean at Mitre 10 in Rangiora who spent time helping me duct tape the bumper and brake light shield to the car to ensure no debris on the road…thanks Jean!

Anyway after all that there was the little matter of another gig – the Highfield Winery in Blenheim was the venue and a jolly nice one it was too with a delightful audience and a beautiful setting. Regrettably, today’s gig at Punga Cove was cancelled owing to the imminent cyclone in the area so it was deemed unsafe. Such a shame, I was so looking forward to it but needs must and it has been quite nice to have a lazy day today I must admit. Still all should be fine for tomorrow’s gig in Havelock.

So then touching on this Barrytown business. Barrytown is a very remote place (even for New Zealand) and largely consists of the hall, four or five houses and a hotel. The hall happens to be on the same road as the houses and a complaint some time ago about the noise from the gigs threatened the gigs with closure and the threat has still not been completely warded off and all kinds of measures are being taken. It brought back to my mind my time in Newcastle when the legendary Cooperage pub which had been there hundreds of years and hosted many live music evenings was suddenly served notice to close because of some loathsome yuppy who moved in to a property on Newcastle’s quayside, a legendary noisy and party-orientated area, and complained about the noise…Now admittedly if you live somewhere like Barrytown you expect peace I get that. But I ask, would it really hurt you to once or twice a month put up with (or better still join) a gig that emits a bit of noise but makes hundreds of people extremely happy and brings out people of all ages into a glorious community event and experience quality live music. So something changes in your life and routine once or twice a month…big deal. Get over it.