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Merry Christmas, one and all. Hope the festive season brings all you wish for and that it is a safe one.
This year the Moffatt family is spending its first Christmas in New Zealand since 2001. It will be our youngest Reuben's first time in New Zealand and he'll be celebrating his first birthday there within hours of us touching down.
On the music front, I get to reunite with my old mates Chet O'Connell, Neil Hannan and Gordon Joll for three gigs this side of Christmas at the Sky City Casino in Auckland and Muldoons in Orewa. We decided to cancel our planned Boxing Day gig at the King's Arms to spend the day with our families, so don't turn up to that one!
I'm back in Australia for a gig at Seagulls on January 2 before Bill Chambers and myself meet up with Chet, Neil and Gordy for the Geraldine Music Festival back over the Tasman on January 7, 8 and 9. As well as our main show at the Town and Country Club on the Saturday night, Bill, Chet and I will be doing individual guest spots with the legendary Red McKelvie and band throughout the weekend.
Highlights of the last few weeks have been a gig with Chris Haigh and fiddle player Hugh Curtis at the RSL Caboolture, in the newly renovated lounge, and our debut at Tamborine's Bearded Dragon pub. This was our last show with Geoff Wright, who is moving back to Cairns.
Hughie was great value on both fiddle and mandolin and added some classy vocal parts. The man also has a sense of humour and was difficult to catch out with the songs, although I did have him with "English Rose" and "Praying For Rain".
The Bearded Dragon is a great venue out in the country, on the Beenleigh-Beaudesert Road, and our Sunday afternoon was punctuated by official toad races to raise money for the local volunteer fire service. We hope to get back there soon, so watch the gig guide for that.
In fact, the gig guide is the place to visit for all your entertainment needs over Christmas. Go there now, and see you at a show soon.
PS: In this month 10 years ago, Glen, Gordy, Red, Jeremy Dart, Alastair Dougal and Jono Lonie are holed up in Montage Studio with Stuart Pearce and Sam Ford recording an album to be titled 'Somewhere In New Zealand Tonight'.
With the intermittent absences of bandmates Michael Muchow and Chris Haigh, the last six weeks or so have presented the opportunity of working with some different Brisbane musicians.
Glen Moffatt & the Tallboys have relished performing with guitarists Brendan Radford and Tony Cowell, and bass guitarist Dash McIvor. We've also seen the return of former Tallboy Tamihana Johnston for a recent Easts Leagues Club gig.
Each player has brought something special to the line-up. As well as his great picking, Brendan Radford sings harmony like an angel. It was easy to see why he's an in-demand session player and live sideman for the likes of Lee Kernaghan. And he's a bloody nice guy, to boot.
Dash McIvor is also a busy session player, producer and engineer in Queensland. He's worked with all manner of acts, including Mark Tempany and Ian Muir, and even an Abba show! However, there was no need for "Fernando" on the occasion he sat in with us.
I first saw Tony Cowell playing guitar alongside Al Hunter sometime in the early '90s in Auckland. He had also been a permanent fixture with Kevin Greaves there before relocating to Brisbane around 1993. Tony has the uncanny knack that most Kiwi musos have of adapting to any situation. I think it's got something to do with the New Zealand pub scene that has you running the gamut from "Help Me Make It Through The Night" to "Brown Sugar" to Whitesnake!
January will see Tony, Dash and I come together for the inaugural Glen Moffatt & the Lowboys shows in Brisbane while Michael, Chris and Billy John Bakos are busy at the Tamworth festival. Am I the only country musician not going to Tamworth? I suppose someone's got to stay behind and do the country gigs during that time.
November 7 sees Glen Moffatt & the Tallboys back at one of my favourite Australian venues -- Seagulls Club in Tweed Heads. It's been a good five months since we were there so I'm really looking forward to playing and seeing the familiar faces at this one.
Also on the horizon, the New Zealand Christmas gigs are all locked in, thanks to Neil Hannan and Chet O'Connell. I'll be reuniting with the Guns For Hire for dates at Sky City Casino, Muldoon's and the King's Arms. Check the gig guide for details.
Whether in Australia or New Zealand, keep your eyes on the gig guide and come and say hi!
I didn't know whether to thank my old pal Liam Farris or to deliver him a swift blow to the back of the head after an email from him downloaded at Moffatt Manor recently. I suppose I only have myself to blame for its content though.
Liam had emailed me asking why there were no photographs on the site of a band we were part of in 1990 and '91 called These Things Happen. I said I had no photos of the band but if he sent one I would certainly put it in the galleries.
Lo and behold, the bugger found one with me looking deathly thin, playing a rather dodgy guitar and sporting the biggest mullet this side of the McCartneys circa 1973! And true to my word, the pic is now in the ancient history gallery. Thanks, Liam(!)
These Things Happen was an acoustic trio that was largely based at Napier's Iron Pot Cafe, performing straight and warped covers of the likes of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, James Taylor and the Beatles, and a little something called "I'm Your Mailman".
We were bloody good, too. Liam and I were two years apart at Tamatea High School, when he was just plain old Shane Foster, but got to know each other during a stage show we were part of. Another performer there, Mark Luscombe, had similar musical tastes and the three of us debuted as These Things Happen a matter of weeks after the show's run.
What with me busy with my country outfit, the Colonials, Liam deputising in all manner of bands and performing solo, and Mark playing goalkeeper for Marist and getting his wisdom teeth removed, These Things Happen performed only sparingly.
We reunited for one night at Java Jive when Liam and Mark visited me in Auckland in the mid-'90s and that was that. There were never many photos taken of us, but thanks to Liam there's now one on the site. I do believe it is even from our debut gig.
If anyone has pictures they think would fit on the site, please do email, except Marian Burns with her Paihia Polaroids involving bourbon, a bathtub, leather and Chet O'Connell! Or Bill Chambers with his Orewa snaps of jeans pulled up too high and tucked into boots, and involving Chet O'Connell! Or Steve Taylor with his Norfolk Island shots involving Chet O'Connell and... Somebody stop me.
Meanwhile, back in Brisbane, Glen Moffatt & the Tallboys debuted at Caboolture RSL's cosy Lounge Bar in September. Finally, an intimate little setting with a listening audience as opposed to the cavernous pokie-packed rooms we're usually in.
The club's manager is former Napier singer Stephen Bunz. He'd left the Napier City Country Music Club before my time there, but not before being crowned New Zealand's amateur entertainer of the year in 1980.
We're back at Caboolture on October 23 and we're also returning to our favourite dance gig, Seagulls Club, in early November. Get a good look at the gig guide and come and say gidday at one soon.
This month saw Melissa, Quinn and I notch up two years as Australian residents. Quite an achievement. Reuben's languishing behind on eight months, but that is after all the total sum of his existence.
Quinn's now lived in the Lucky Country longer than he did in New Zealand, while Reuben hasn't even set eyes on the place (this will be remedied in four months). But Melissa has been the real star -- holding it all together when it threatened to unravel at the seams. I'm a lucky man to have her in my corner!
It's been a bumpy musical journey, but I'm starting to feel as if I'm on the verge of something good. From the fledgling duo gigs with Geoff Wright at the Arana Leagues Club, the Tallboys has evolved into a rocking little combo -- bass player Chris Haigh providing the vital final ingredient.
We're picking up some regular work and seem to be on a bit of a circuit. Have a look at the gig guide to stay in touch with what we're up to.
On the very anniversary of the day we arrived here, I took three-year-old Quinn to the Kasey Chambers concert in Brisbane. Talk about inspiring. For Quinn too, he spent the rest of the weekend singing "We're All Gonna Die Some Day" and requesting "Pony" from the new 'Wayward Angel' CD.
Kasey and her band were fantastic. She is a real star and she had the capacity crowd eating out of her hand. A highlight in a night full of highlights was when opening act Vika and Linda Bull joined Kasey and her dad, Bill, for a powerful "I Still Pray". Magical.
She's come a long way from the teenage singer in the Dead Ringer Band I first met at New Zealand's Geraldine festival in 1997. Although the signs were there then that Kasey Chambers was destined for great things.
Speaking of the Geraldine festival, it is there in January that Bill Chambers and I will be reunited with Chet O'Connell and that swinging rhythm section Neil Hannan and Gordon Joll. It was at the inaugural festival seven years ago that Bill and I met. We're really looking forward to meeting up with some old friends.
Keep your eyes on the gig guide for some Auckland gigs around Christmas and the new year too. I'll catch up with you at one either side of the Tasman Sea.
It's been a surprising couple of months with Kiwis popping up at an alarming rate over this side of the Tasman. Not only did my teenage hero Al Hunter recently visit Brisbane, but so too did longtime supporters Steve Helms and Graeme Runciman.
Al called up out of the blue in June and we caught up for coffee in Queen Street Mall, while Steve, now resident in the Sunshine State, and Graeme, holidaying with his partner Christina, showed up at gigs.
It was Al Hunter who was inadvertently responsible for my move to Auckland in 1991. As a teen in Hawke's Bay I was introduced to his music via Bay City Radio -- when they played local country -- and soon after bought his 'Neon Cowboy' album, notwithstanding its cover photo!
My band of the time, the Colonials, ended up covering four of the songs from the record, and when I got the opportunity to holiday in Auckland, top of the agenda was to search out an Al Hunter gig.
Little did I know he had New Zealand studio legends Red McKelvie and Cath Newhook in his band. It was an inspiring experience that showed me it was possible to perform solely country music in God's own, with a fair smattering of original material.
Less than 18 months later I was living in Auckland, determined to make a go of it myself. When I recorded 'Somewhere In New Zealand Tonight', I included Al's "Gypsy Woman" as a tribute to his influence on my career. More information about Al Hunter can be obtained by clicking his link on the heroes and friends page.
Just as surprising were the appearances of Steve Helms and Graeme Runciman at two of Glen Moffatt & the Tallboys' regular haunts. Steve has been a supporter from way back in Mumbo Gumbo days. He's been living in Brisbane nearly as long as we have and recently showed up at Easts Leagues. No rock 'n' rolling this time, though.
Graeme and Christina stumbled upon the Southport RSL gig advertised in the local paper and came along. And they did dance -- mostly in a line. Graeme is a stalwart supporter of mine and used to hire the band for Friends Club dances back in the early '90s. It was great to catch up with them all.
On the gigs front now, we have a regular rotation going on and we're starting to garner requests for the original songs. That's always encouraging.
Consult the gig guide, get along to a show and come request some yourself.
There's nothing in the world I can recommend more highly than spending a week on the roads of New Zealand's beautiful North Island with Bill Chambers, Ritchie Pickett and Chet O'Connell.
The four of us completed eight gigs covering from Orewa down to Wellington in mid-May, coinciding with the release of Ritchie's new live album which was recorded during our North Island tour of October 2003. Needless to say, it's bloody great!
This time the format was slightly different, with only two full band gigs, at Auckland's Sky City Casino, before the four of us set off down the line with our acoustic songwriters show. Joining us on drums and bass at the casino were Ricky Ball (ladies, you'll remember him from the Challenge) and Simon Elton respectively. They did a fantastic job and we really sounded like a bought one.
Next up was a full throttle night at one of New Zealand's finest, the Admirals Arms in Coromandel. There's always a fine crowd for us there and it was great to see Clark Reid and his good lady, Tania, make the trip from Taupo for the occasion. Dennis and Ngaire are always great hosts, and with the cows being dry the Tuckers ensured it was an even later night than usual. Ritchie and I hadn't quite solved all the world's problems when the sun started to rise and we decided it would be wise to get a little sleep before the seven-hour drive to Taranaki.
Well, at least you can break the trip up with whitebait fritters! Kaponga Backgammon Club is truly one of the best live music venues in New Zealand and folks flock from all over Taranaki when there's music there. It seemed our night there coincided with the region's daggy dancing championship. Each to their own.
Here we also caught up with our Wellington host Big Al Clark, who made the trip up, and I finally got to meet an old email friend Wolfgang Wehle who was responsible for getting my music airplay in Germany back in the mid-'90s. Awesome to finally meet you in person, Wolfgang.
On the way down to Wellington, Ritchie played historian by taking us to New Zealand's most complete Maori pa site, Turuturu-Mokai, at Hawera. It's a pretty eerie place, with Mount Taranaki watching from a distance, and with the dive-bombing fantail harrying us away, it was definitely time to go. In fact, it's the first time I've seen Ritchie run. Chet and I calmed our nerves with a medley of Cliff Richard hits, repaying Ritchie's kindness at the same time.
Big Al -- Bill reckons he's getting bigger -- took care of us in Wellington, where we once again played Bodega. Another good turnout and a reunion with Johnsonville's own Fon family. Nice to see Alan again and he's almost forgiven me for introducing him to the lesser-known music of Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys while touring the South Island in 1996.
Napier's always a big reunion for me, and this time I caught up with my former mentors Jim Toner and Doug Fletcher, and old school friend Tania Doidge (sorry about the 'old' bit). But the biggest blast from the past was Jo Parkyn, who I hadn't seen since the '70s when we were in a Kiss tribute band (check out the photo in galleries link). It was also a thrill for my grandmother to see Ritchie perform again! And there aren't enough superlatives available to heap on New Zealand's best truckstop Chez Bryant, in Bay View.
We were hoping for a good crowd back in Auckland, but it wasn't to be. The venue was a good one -- the Go-Go Bar in Dominion Road, formerly the Cask 'n' Cleaver but with a much better stage -- and those who did make the effort enjoyed their night. It was here Ritchie introduced the Glen and Chet action figures. Not dolls, action figures!
Irish bars always put me on edge, so I was a bit worried about what to expect at Muldoon's in Orewa. I needn't have worried at all! As Bill said, any bar that plays the Amazing Rhythm Aces through their sound system is fine by us! This was a great finale to the tour with a great crowd. It was lovely to see Mary and Rory Murray after all these years. Sorry we couldn't catch up some more.
Big thanks to Jane Jackson for helping us set things up again, and to Chet for hauling his PA around the island and making us sound like Greek gods. Also to our hosts around the country, the Mother-in-law Lorraine, Big Al, and the Bryants. Finally, to all those people who came out to the shows!
Biggest thanks to Bill Chambers, Ritchie Pickett and Chet O'Connell. Not only do I love playing music with these inspirational beings, but I love listening to their music at the same time. I'm a big fan!
See ya at a gig soon.
Having hurdled the usual obstacles and negotiated the odd spanner in the works, the tour is all but booked and Bill Chambers, Ritchie Pickett, Chet O'Connell and myself will be vanbound around the North Island for nine days in May.
Links to their individual sites are on the Heroes & Friends list, but here's a quick brief on my mates. Bill Chambers is a successful singer-songwriter in Australia and Texas. Was the leader of the Dead Ringer Band before daughter Kasey struck out on her stellar solo career taking him with her as guitarist and harmony singer. He has produced many Australian albums and is co-producer along with the Keith Stegall of Catherine Britt's soon-to-be-released Nashville effort.
Ritchie Pickett is Ritchie Pickett, the Keith Richards of New Zealand country music. Released the greatest Kiwi country album of all time in 1984's 'Gone For Water'. Was a regular on television's high-rating 'That's Country', even tucking his jeans into his boots along the way! Is my greatest New Zealand songwriting inspiration and now a friend and co-writer. How lucky can you get?!
It took the Norfolk Island Country Music Festival 2001 for Chet O'Connell and myself to bury our differences and realise we were cut from the same cloth. In fact, there barely were any differences when you got down to it, except maybe he has more of a predilection to Waylon compared to mine to Kristofferson. Chet is an exceptional guitarist who has released albums of his own and is one of those rarities who is comfortable in any musical setting, although his heart's in the country (thanks, Lyn Bowtell!).
Last month's e-news made it sound as if we were all returning to New Zealand for the tour, but, as their many fans who contacted me let me know, of course, Ritchie and Chet have been working their butts off there during the seven months since the four of us last toured.
Bill and I will be crossing the Tasman Sea in time to kick things off at Sky City Casino on May 12, firstly as part of Malcolm McCallum's songwriter showcases in the Atrium Bar, and then with Ritchie and Chet and a rhythm section in the New City Bar.
This time the rhythm section is made up of Ritchie's long-time bass player Simon Elton, who has played with all manner of New Zealand bands since starring alongside Robin Galley in the Furys more than 20 years ago, and the recently bionic Ricky Ball, drummer to such Kiwi luminaries as the Challenge, Ticket and Hello Sailor.
Then we're down and up the North Island.
Wednesday May 12: New City Bar, Sky City Casino, Auckland
Thursday May 13: New City Bar, Sky City Casino, Auckland
Friday May 14: Admirals Arms, Coromandel
Saturday May 15: Kaponga Backgammon Club, Kaponga
Monday May 17: Bodega, Wellington
Tuesday May 18: O'Flaherty's, Napier
Wednesday May 19: Go-Go Club (formerly Cask 'n' Cleaver), Auckland
Thursday May 20: Muldoon's, Orewa
I'm really looking forward to catching up with everybody and also playing with these fabulous musicians again. For those of you who caught the show last time, I don't need to tell you what a treat you're in for, but those of you who missed it need to get along this time because it's probably the last time you'll see us all together.
As soon as the New Zealand trip is over, Bill and Chet are off to the Norfolk Island festival, Ritchie's back to being Ritchie, and I'm working with new bass player Chris Haigh and the rest of the Tallboys in Brisbane.
Check the gig guide and say hi at a gig real soon.
First of all, folks, international news. Those of you who have visited the gig guide recently will have noticed that Bill Chambers, Ritchie Pickett, Chet O'Connell and myself are returning to New Zealand in May.
We are kicking off again at the Sky City Casino in Auckland on May 12 and squeezing in a brief jaunt around the North Island between the Bay of Islands and Norfolk Island festivals.
Unfortunately, we're once again unable to get to the South Island. To the two radio announcers who went crook about us billing last year's trip as a New Zealand tour -- "How can you call it a New Zealand tour when you haven't crossed the Cook Strait?" -- I'm really sorry. Thanks to them, it's now clear that the Beatles never in fact toured the United States, because they never played Alaska.
At this stage, we're confirmed at the Admirals Arms in Coromandel and the Kaponga Backgammon Club. We're also looking to get back to Wellington, Napier and Hamilton. Keep an eye on the gig guide over the next few weeks as more gigs are added.
In Australian news, a few new gigs are being added in the form of Easts Leagues Club, Pine Rivers Bowls Club and Greenbank RSL, all awesome venues. We've also added a new bass player to the Tallboys line-up as me old mate Tami Johnston concentrates more on his other musical commitments.
Former Sydneysider Chris Haigh will be taking over four-string duties with us. Chris is a player in the Neil Hannan mould, which is everything a man could ask for, and you can read all about him on the band link. He starts with us at the end of May.
Now, get back to that gig guide and I'll catch you at a show soon.
Chances are the majority of you folks have heard the Bobby Russell-penned "The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia". Well, here's a wee tale about the day the air-conditioning went out in Brisbane. And as Mr Murphy would have it, it occurred on the hottest February day the city had ever seen.
As the mercury was touching 41.7 degrees C outside, I was relieved to be entering the much cooler Arana Leagues Club for four hours of acoustic music with Geoff Wright. Don't count your chickens -- with south-east Queensland sweltering in record temperatures over the weekend of February 21 and 22, Arana Leagues' air-conditioning system had busted.
Needless to say, it was one extremely sweaty gig to, funnily enough, the biggest crowd we'd had there so far. And the sweat wasn't just pouring off Geoff and I, there were those mad enough to take to the dancefloor! It was great to see Noel and his crew back at the club, and former Aucklander Jose and his partner, Pam. Noel even fulfilled a lifelong ambition by counting in a couple of songs! Must've been the heat.
Geoff and I are back there on the night of Saturday February 28 with the rest of the Tallboys, so fingers crossed the system's back up and running. The following day we have our first show at the laidback Cleveland Sands Hotel in Cleveland.
Word has it the temperatures are on their way back to normalcy, but you'd be mad not to check the gig guide and come watch grown men sweat just in case they're not. Catch you there.
This fair city of Brisbane is proving itself a haven for former Colonials bandmates with the appearance of my old partner in crime from Napier days Simon Beattie just five minutes' drive from my home.
Unbeknownst to each other, three of us Colonials have now turned up in Queensland's capital more than 10 years after the band broke up in Hawke's Bay. Tamihana Johnston started the trend in 2001, followed by myself and Simon within months of each other in 2002. I'm expecting a knock on the door from Ian Turbitt, the fourth Colonial, any day now!
Tamihana is now playing bass for me again, in the Tallboys, and I visited Simon, his wife, Sonia, and their family late this month after completely chancing upon him on a New Zealand Old Friends web site.
We hadn't seen or spoken to each other for, count them, 12 years! Back in the late '80s and early '90s we were like Butch and Sundance, with a common musical cause after surviving our first gig together at a Meeanee Speedway social in about 1986 or so.
Simon and I formed the Infamous James Gang, in 1987, which grew out of almost nightly jam sessions in the Moffatt family garage in Tamatea. Sometime later we discovered Joe Walsh already had a James Gang, but his wasn't infamous.
After a couple of years, Simon moved out of town, but he was back in 1990 to join Ian Turbitt and I in honky-tonkers the Colonials. Tamihana also joined to complete a rarity in Hawke's Bay -- a 100% country music band, originals and covers.
Having released a DIY cassette called 'Living In Overdrive' the following year, Simon and I took off for Auckland to conquer New Zealand. We found a decent guitarist in former Spelling Mistake Warwick Fowler, but couldn't find a suitable bass player.
With finances dwindling and a wrist injury, Simon leapt into his Hillman Hunter and drove into the sunset. It was early 1992.
Later that year, Red McKelvie recruited me to join his brand new Cajun band, Mumbo Gumbo, Rob Galley invited me to front the country jam night at Java Jive, which evolved into my own band, and I'd inherited Al Hunter's band and residency when he opted not to return to the King's Arms.
I was on my way, but it all came too late for Simon. Strangely enough, life took us down different paths and we never saw each other again. Until the Old Friends web site brought us together, that is.
In fact, Old Friends threw up a plethora of names from my past, including one Jo Parkyn who I hadn't seen since we were 10-year-olds. That's Jo playing the part of Ace Frehley in the Kiss photo on the Ancient History gallery, just below the Colonials with their mullets.
Enough! Back to modern times. I stayed away from Tamworth this year to help Melissa with our new baby -- he screams just like Janis Joplin -- so I'm chomping at the bit in a musical sense now.
February's hotting up for band gigs with work at Seagulls, Arana Leagues Club and Cleveland Sands Hotel, a new one for us. There's also all manner of duo and trio gigs coming up. Check the gig guide for details.
Plans are also afoot for another New Zealand visit in May or June for Bill Chambers and I. As well as teaming up again with Ritchie Pickett and Chet O'Connell, we hope to involve that mighty rhythm section Neil Hannan and Gordon Joll a little more. Stay tuned for that.
See ya at a gig soon.
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