Fangirl Heads South

It was one of those moments when you hear your crazy calling and decide in a split second to just indulge it. Your favourite singer was performing 3 nights in a row on the same island as you … why not go to all three gigs?

Sure it meant driving more than the entire length of said island in less than 3 days, while going to three concerts, booking motels, concert tickets, taking a half day off work, but life is for living and following your passions, and everyone knows I’m passionate about the glorious Tami Neilson.

Tami NeilsonLuckily for me my husband is a fan boy of almost equal proportions (competitive moi?), so he was all up for the adventure.

The first night of the adventure was a Thursday night, and Tami was performing at Charles Luney Auditorium here in Christchurch. It was sold out and it was a very refined, well behaved audience… well except for the devotees like us, who of course know the words of her songs and cheer and whoop enthusiastically.

Cover of Martin & MahaliaThe show was part of the Cavell Leitch New Zealand Jazz and Blues Festival. It was an exploration of the road from gospel to rock and roll. Tami sang examples of early gospel and blues and talked about the influence of  various artists such as Mahalia Jackson, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Mavis Staples on artists such as Chuck Berry, Bob Dylan and many others. The second half of the show was her own work. Her band, her ‘Red Hot Band of Rhythm’, are all top New Zealand musicians she has worked with often and they are obviously loving what they do.

Friday lunchtime, we leave work at 12, rush home, throw some clothes and snacks in the car and head nonstop for Dunedin. Another awesome concert – a different crowd and venue gives a different vibe, more intimate and grateful. You get the sense so many more people here actually know her music.

Tami wowing in Queenstown – photo: Purplerulz

Next morning, and we’re heading to Queenstown, through parts of the country we haven’t seen in decades, if ever.There’s a little snow around, hardly any traffic, and the rolling hills through the Rock and Pillar range are truly breathtaking. Road trips in New Zealand are just wondrous.

It’s a weird little crowd at this last gig. They’ve got a definite country pub thing going on, a lot of them have been drinking for quite a while, so are behaving rather boorishly and in the end, Tami, after trying her darnedest to engage with them, gives them what they want, music to dance to – she even sings Happy birthday.

We get back home that night wishing we didn’t have work in the morning, but the memories and the music are buzzing in our brains, and does so for days after.

If you have a passion for music, check out the wealth of music and learning to be had within Christchurch City Libraries’ databases, like  American Song which offers rich pickings in many genres, Gospel being among them.

So, moral of this long tale? Take a chance, if you say, “no, that’s crazy I shouldn’t” then I strongly recommend that you do. Feel the fear and do it anyway.

Find out more

The Gig Guide: July 2017

Planning on attending a concert, show, or gig in Christchurch? Then why not take a look at what we’ve got of that artist’s back catalogue?






What gigs are you looking forward to in the near future? Anything we’ve missed? Do let us know in the comments.

The Gig Guide: June 2017

Planning on attending a concert, show, or gig in Christchurch? Then why not take a look at what we’ve got of that artist’s back catalogue?






What gigs are you looking forward to in the near future? Anything we’ve missed? Do let us know in the comments.

The Gig Guide: May 2017

Planning on attending a concert, show, or gig in Christchurch? Then why not take a look at what we’ve got of that artist’s back catalogue?


May presents many more opportunities to listen to music than usual in Christchurch with New Zealand Music Month performances at a library near you including Adam McGrath of The Eastern, as well as the Cavell Leitch New Zealand International Jazz & Blues Festival.

What gigs are you looking forward to in the near future? Anything we’ve missed? Do let us know in the comments.

The Cavell Leitch New Zealand International Jazz and Blues Festival 2016

Jazz and blues FestivalThe Cavell Leitch New Zealand Jazz & Blues Festival is coming to Christchurch from the 25 to 29 May 2016. Discover more about the Festival, and the jazz and blues resources in our collection.

2016 performers

Ramsey LewisMulti Grammy Award winning jazz pianist and composer, Ramsey Lewis will perform with The Ramsey Lewis Quartet at the Isaac Theatre Royal on Thursday 26 May.

25th Anniversary Gala Concert celebrates 25 years of the Jazz School in Christchurch and the concert will feature ‘everything’ Christchurch Jazz at the Isaac Theatre Royal, Wednesday 25 May.

Jazz Dine will take place at the George Hotel and Dormer Jazz and Blues Club at The Gym at The Arts Centre. The club will host a selection of festival shows.

The Jazz in the City series includes special performances by Tami Neilson, Sal Valentine & The Babyshakes, and the Hipstamatics.

Find Jazz and Blues Festival performers’ works in our collection

Hetty KateRangi RuruTami Neilson

Images supplied by the Cavell Leitch NZ Jazz and Blues Festival

Jazz and blues in our collection

Jazz and blues eResources

Jazz Music Library includes works licensed from legendary record labels, including Audiophile, Concord Jazz, Jazzology, Milestone, Nessa Records, Original Jazz Classics, Pablo, and Prestige. Also included are Marian McPartland’s Peabody Award winning Piano Jazz Radio Broadcasts and never before released performances from the Monterey Jazz Festival and great jazz venues. Listen online to 1000s of great jazz tracks.

American Song provides online access to over 100,000 tracks from every genre and music period of American history.

Cover of 'Jazz' Cover Cover

Jazzing it up in Christchurch

Make sure you’re in Christchurch from 3-7 April. You don’t want to miss our very own Jazz and Blues Festival.

This years festival programme is small but perfectly formed. Perennial favourite Mary Coughlan is back, as are local talents Jennine Bailey, Naomi Ferguson, Ariana Tikao, Rosa Shiels , Graham Wardrop and Harry Harrison. These guys are all  class acts and I’m especially looking forward to Mary Coughlan, Jennine Bailey and Naomi Ferguson in their Celebrating Women in Jazz session.

The star of the festival though, is Grammy Award winner Bonnie Raitt  who returns as part of a world tour to promote Slipstream, her nineteenth studio album. There’s no doubt she’ll be a sell out. She’s accompanied by other excellent overseas acts including Kiwi hero Nathan Haines (fresh from appearances at Ronnie Scotts) and a British rockabilly trio of talented multi-instrumentalists Kitty Daisy & Lewis whose latest track features in the film Gangsta Squad. Toni Randle, a Kiwi singer song-writer with a growing reputation and a fine voice, is also a guest star.

A delicious little extra this year is the chance to sample New Orleans style food at The George while you listen – giving those of us who will never make to the American South a chance experience just a touch of the real thing.

To get a good look at the  programme look for the paper copies at Christchurch City Libraries, or find it online .

Summertime, and the living is easy …

Hugh Campbell and Jon Hooker… or so it seemed for a lazy hour at South Library last Saturday. The sun streamed in through tall windows and it was easy to forget that winter is just around the corner as local duo Hugh Campbell and Jon Hooker treated book browsers and music lovers to the gentle sound of fingerpicking, slide and blues guitar.

It was great to see people hunting for books while tapping their feet to the rhythm of the blues. And one elderly couple was spotted jiving in a stately fashion as the Cannonball Rag twinkled over the non-fiction shelves.

I’d like to think that one or two young people were inspired to pick up a copy of Guitar for Beginners by Minna Lacey or to grab The Devil’s Music: A History of the Blues by Giles Oakley. I borrowed a CD called Ragtime Memories and I’m almost sure I saw that elderly couple leaving with a copy of Peggy Spencer’s The Joy Of Dancing tucked under an arm.

Hugh and Jon are playing at New Brighton Library at 2pm tomorrow and at Shirley Library at 2pm Wednesday, 25 May. Head on down, grab a sofa and enjoy a slice of summer.

Auf wiedersehen Southern Blues Bar

Former Nurse Maude building, Madras Street
The Southern Blues Bar is the third building along (Nurse Maude in the foreground)

The Southern Blues Bar developed out of a musicians club formed by some blues enthusiasts in the 1980s. Originally it was only for the members of the club, but eventually it  was turned into a commercial venture. By the 1990s ,when I spent a bit of time there because I had a friend who played in a band, it was booming.

It catered to the really late night crowd, having got a 24-hour licence on the basis that it was a musicians club – and musicians go out to relax after they finish working, late at night. The clientele included everyone from bikies, to local musicians, to … librarians. Some famous names performed there, Charlie Musselwhite, and Robert Lockwood Jnr. for example, as well as a lot of local talent.

Thursday night was jam night. Originally this was to encourage the talented, but shy, members of the club to get up and perform. Over the years though, it fostered quite a lot of amateur talent. I remember going to hear a friend who was doing a jazz course at Hagley Community College. She and her classmates got up and performed there for the first time in public, an opportunity they were unlikely to get anywhere else. Sadly the earthquake was it’s downfall and it was demolished in December 2010.

All may not be lost though. Already somebody has organised a “Southern Blues Bar Revisited” at the Sandridge Hotel. You can find out more about the Southern Blues Bar in this article from New Zealand Blues Society website.

You’re having a bad hair day, idiot

coverYou know you’re having a bad day when a colleague suggests your new haircut makes you look like a used car salesman. And that it’s an improvement. And you know your day is getting worse when the spell checker decides your last name should be replaced with the word idiot.

Oh well, the bumpier the ride, the more interesting the story. And it’s good to bear that in mind as we head into the Auckland Writers and Readers festival – an event that, like New Zealand Music Month, is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. Festival artistic director Jill Rawnsley tells her story in our just-published interview – how she’s given a large chunk of her life to the festival, and how determined she is that youth connect with literature and writers.

We’ll be doing our best to make the most of our opportunities at the festival and invite you to follow us and ask questions along the way. Other places you can read about the festival include:

Got a bad hair day story, or an idiot moment to share? If you’ve been flushed from the bathroom of someone’s heart, cheer yourself up and get to a music month gig, and follow our festival coverage from tomorrow. In the meantime, you can find out the science of why bad days happen, or ease the burden by commenting your blues away …

International Jazz and Blues Festival, but with a local flavour

Midge Marsden
Midge Marsden

Last night was the second of The Press Headerliners concerts for this year’s Jazz and Blues festival. Although it is billed as an international festival last night had a distinctly local flavour with local boy Harry Harrison organising a feast of home-grown talent to take us through the history of the blues. From the simple yet haunting sounds of vocals, harmonica and slide guitar to full on horns and electric guitars the first half of the show truly covered a lot of ground.

In the second half the band were joined by Midge Marsden, not quite so local, but still a Kiwi. Not being a Kiwi myself, I didn’t know much about these two ‘legends’ (as the publicity described them) so before I went to the show I made sure I brushed up on them both by borrowing some CDs from the library. Midge even bemoaned the fact that when he wanted to listen to one of his own earlier records the only place he could find it was Trademe, for a vastly inflated price…I wonder if he tried our catalogue? We do try and keep a good back catalogue of significant New Zealand artists. The whole show reminded me just how broad a genre blues is, from its early African American roots to the cross over with country, jazz and rock.

Today the festival ended with Taste Jazz, an open air concert lasting all afternoon at the Arts Centre Quad. Accompanying the music were 10 food and wine stalls. Again the flavour was local with acts such as Pacific Underground, Stu Buchanan and Naomi Ferguson amongst others. Again the styles were varied and being outdoors and with adding good food and wine to the mix it all led to a laid back kind of an afternoon. A lovely way to end the week.