Monday, December 30, 2013

Bond Street Bridge Summer Throwdown Tour


Hard on the heels of an epic 2013 of sold-out shows, rave reviews, and thousands of winding miles, Bond Street Bridge are hitting the road again to visit old friends, meet new ones, and raise the roof from Invercargill to Baylys Beach.

The past year has seen Bond Street perform over 100 shows on the road, playing at fancy places like arts festivals, museums, art galleries, opera houses and theatres all over the country. They have performed their unique show ‘The Explorers Club: Antarctica’ to packed houses and critical acclaim across the length and breadth of New Zealand, circling the country twice and winning the award for ‘Best Music’ at the 2013 New Zealand Fringe Festival awards.  The show was a ‘perfect evening of music’ according to the Dominion Post, a ‘tour de force’ said the Nelson Mail, the new album spent a month in the charts and won the praises of the toughest critics in the land, but with all of these high-culture venues and hushed, seated audiences - not to mention hotel-grade accommodation and the better sort of whiskey - Bond Street Bridge are worried about going soft.

So to kick off 2014, Bond Street Bridge take it back to the bar-rooms and Community Halls in a Summer Throwdown Tour, setting aside their high-concept Antarctica show and upper middle-brow cultural aspirations for a month or so to bring out a raft of new material and demonstrate that they can sling a guitar in a bar full of good-time yahoos just as well as they can hold a room full of history buffs in thrall with tales of icy disaster.

Bond Street have been writing new material and plundering folk-song archives to breathe new life into old singalongs and shanties, unearthing hair-raising stories and rousing choruses.  Expect the Devil, expect jealous gods and queens of the underworld, maimed seadogs and lost loves, the darkness at the edge of town and the light of a spiteful moon, vocal harmonies, stomping feet and jangling guitars as Bond Street Bridge reveal the work they have been writing on the road over the course of their 2013 travels.

Along the way the band are meeting up with old friends around the country - The Broken Heartbreakers for selected South Island shows, Rosy Tin Teacaddy for their annual St Peters Hall shindig in Paekakariki, Hannah Curwood, back from London for the Summer appearing at the Golden Dawn, and of course the enigmatic Brendan Turner will be opening the shows along the way with his trademark dark delta blues.  Later on in March, the band have been invited to open for Billy Bragg at the Opera House in Wellington and the Powerstation in Auckland, a state of affairs that has them reeling in happy disbelief.

Join Bond Street Bridge as they blaze a track through the summer of 2014, hearts on sleeves and boots on the floor at a bar in your town.


Friday 3 January: Baylys Beach , Funky Fish
Saturday 4 January: Whangarei, Old Stone Butter Factory (Explorers Club: Antarctica show)
Friday 24 January: Auckland, Golden Dawn with Hannah In The Wars
Saturday 1 February: Christchurch, Brewery
Monday 3 Februrary: Blue Duck, Milford with The Broken Heartbreakers
Tuesday 4 February: Invercargill, Brad and Chrissie’s place
Wednesday 5 February: Oamaru, Grain Store Gallery with The Broken Heartbreakers
Thursday 6 February: Waitati, Mandy Mayhem’s
Friday 7 Februrary: Blackball Hilton
Saturday 8 February: Nelson, Playhouse Café
Saturday 22 February: Paekakariki, St Peter’s Hall with Rosy Tin Teacaddy
Sunday 23 March: Wellington Opera House opening for Billy Bragg (Explorers Club: Antarctica show)

Tuesday 25 March: Auckland, Powerstation opening for Billy Bragg (Explorers Club: Antarctica show)

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Bond Street Bridge supporting Billy Bragg on NZ tour

We're opening for Billy Bragg on his March 2014 NZ tour.  As you can imagine, we are happy as clams. He is one of my total heroes. Plus we get to play at the Opera House in Wellington, which is a beautiful room.

Here's the press release:

Following an epic year of sold-out shows and rave reviews, Auckland alt-folksters Bond Street Bridge are taking their award-winning show ‘The Explorers Club: Antarctica’ to the Wellington Opera House and The Powerstation, Auckland, opening for their hero and yours, the Bard Of Barking: Mr Billy Bragg.

 In The Explorers Club: Antarctica, Bond Street Bridge use a combination of spoken word storytelling and original folk songs to bring to life the incredible tales of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration. Captain Scott’s tragic death on the Great Ice Barrier and the extraordinary survival of the crew of Shackleton’s Endurance are presented as stirring ballads and foot-stomping sea shanties. Since its premier in the 2013 New Zealand Fringe Festival, the show and accompanying album have garnered critical acclaim and played to sold-out houses at Arts Festivals, theatres, museums and bar-rooms around the country.

Bond Street Bridge tour and play constantly, with over 100 shows on the road in 2013, with their extraordinary live show earning them recognition for ‘best music’ at the 2013 NZ Fringe Festival Awards. Described as a ‘perfect evening of music’ by the Dominion Post and a ‘Tour de Force’ by the Nelson Mail, ‘The Explorers Club: Antarctica showcases a unique band at the height of its powers.

 This one-of-a-kind show and album are the product of Bond Street Bridge frontman Sam Prebble’s obsession with the stories and heroes of a dramatic period of history a century ago. Reading diaries, letters, and published accounts of the early Antarctic expeditions, Prebble used the words of the explorers themselves to create songs which pay tribute to their legacy and celebrate the indomitable spirit of this lost age.

‘We think of these as folk stories in the same sense as folk songs’ says Prebble. ‘One of the reasons we drive all over the place sharing these stories is that they are tales that belong to everyone, and tales need to be kept alive by being told. We’re honoured to be playing with Billy Bragg because he is someone who works tirelessly to keep folk stories alive.’

The band’s live reputation saw them invited to showcase the production at a string of sold-out gala events at galleries, museums and arts festivals around the country on their recent album release tour, including appearances at the Museum of Wellington City & Sea, the Voyager NZ Maritime Museum in Auckland, the Sarjeant Gallery in Whanganui, the MTG Hawkes Bay and the Nelson Arts Festival.

Along the way, the band played special daytime shows to share the stories and songs with school students, performing over 25 shows in five weeks. Now the band are excited to be invited to share a stage with Billy Bragg, one of the true legends of folk music, and to be given the opportunity to tell these stories in two of New Zealand’s iconic live music venues.

 A night of adventure, heartbreak, stories and great songs with Billy Bragg and special guests Bond Street Bridge performing ‘The Explorers Club: Antarctica’.

WELLINGTON • Sunday 23 March • The Opera House (All Seated) TIX: www.ticketek.co.nz / 04 384 3840 or 0800 TICKETEK

AUCKLAND • Tuesday 25 March • The Powerstation TIX: www.ticketmaster.co.nz / 09 970 9700 or 0800 111 999

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Wine Cellar Strings Against Oil

My word, 25 shows in five weeks and Bond Street Bridge is firing on all cylinders. We've had a beautiful run around the country on The Explorers Club: Antarctica album release tour with sold-out shows and rave reviews, old friends and new ones, a lot of good mountains an time spent with other people's dogs, often in the same bed. Now we're back in Auckland and the Wine Cellar Strings are getting back in the saddle to raise some money for Oil Free Auckland - press release follows:

As the protest flotilla gathers off the West Coast and Anadarko’s minions prepare to deploy their sinister machines deep below the waves, a great muttering anger can be heard from the dives and wine-sinks of Auckland’s K Rd. The Wine Cellar Strings are not happy with the way the National Government are encouraging dangerous deep-water oil exploration just off our coastlines, and we plan to do something about it, on Friday 29 November, at the Wine Cellar.

The last couple of times The Wine Cellar Strings have got together, we’ve pulled in a full house, played up a storm, brought down the roof, and if we’re honest made a fair bit of money which by and large we have frittered away on things like rent and whiskey. So this time around we thought we’d do the same thing, only instead of drinking the money or using it for boring things like housing, we would give it to Oil Free Auckland to help them do something about these Anadarko goons before their noxious trolls bore too deep and open up a hellmouth off the coast of Raglan.

This will obviously work best if we get a lot of people to come along to the Wine Cellar for the show we have planned, so of course we have pulled out stops to put on the kind of lineup that would make a Texas oil baron blanch: Steve Abel, that high-seas hellraiser, one of our finest songwriters and storytellers, Reb Fountain, fresh from tearing up stages with The Eastern and with new songs loaded, The Tattletale Saints whose heartbreaking harmonies pack houses all over the country, Bond Street Bridge, appearing on the back of an epic year of sold-out shows and rave reviews, and Wellington’s true troubadour Miles Calder.

Steve Abel, Reb Fountain and The Tattletale Saints will be backed, of course, by the Wine Cellar Strings – that rag-tag, swaggering, bow-slinging, motley band of double bassists, fiddlers, and cellists culled from the cream of Auckland’s bumper crop of high-class alt-folk, country and rock outfits. The members of the Wine Cellar Strings have played with Don McGlashan, Tim Finn, An Emerald City, Paul Ubana Jones, Delaney Davidson, The Grifters, The Broken Heartbreakers, The Bads, the list goes on, who remembers? They know how to do what they do and they do it well, and on the 29th of November they will be appearing with some of Auckland’s most exciting songwriters in a unique collaboration.

Oil Free Auckland will be there to tell us what is going on out there beyond the horizon, and we confidently expect that the room will be full of the kind of people who have the good taste to both appreciate this extraordinary lineup and feel very uneasy about the kind of cowboy wildcatting that is being allowed to go ahead just off our coasts. These drill ships might be out of sight, but the Wine Cellar Strings aim to keep that trouble very much in mind. We want to fill the room, play some mind-melting music, and raise some funds to support Oil Free Auckland in their noble quest.

The Wine Cellar Strings feat. Steve Abel, Reb Fountain, The Tattletale Saints, Bond Street Bridge and Miles Calder The Wine Cellar, K Rd Friday 29 November, 8pm Tickets $20 from undertheradar.co.nz, proceeds to Oil Free Auckland

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Explorers Club: Antarctica reviews

It's been a whirlwind couple of weeks in the South Island, with shows from Nelson down to Milford, all in beautiful venues and with lovely crowds, with old friends and new ones. The Explorers Club: Antarctica is picking up some nice reviews this week - the Nelson Mail called the show a 'tour de force,' and a 'masterful performance' here, and the album got four and a half stars in the NZ Herald ('these spare, quiet and pointed songs cut to the quick'), four stars in the ODT ('delicate warmth and assured touch'), and Sweetman went kind of nuts about it on his blog, calling it a 'work of rare genuis,' among other nice things.

We were also whooping it up a bit in the van on the way back to Auckland yesterday when we saw that the Explorers Club: Antarctica album made it to number 13 this week on the NZ album charts. 13 seems like a suitably doomed and cursed number for the material, but it was nice to see it in there nevertheless. If you like the look of it in there, feel free to buy more copies over on our bandcamp site, or from www.amplifier.co.nz if you'd like a physical copy.

The tour grinds on this week with our Auckland show at the Voyager NZ Maritime Museum on Thursday, then we're in Wellington next week at the Museum of Wellington City & Sea with Veronika Meduna on the 8th of Nov, the Sarjeant Gallery on the 9th, Oamaru Opera House on the 15th, MTG Hawkes Bay in Napier on the 22nd and the Rogue Stage in Rotorua on the 23rd. See you at the shows!

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Explorers Club: Antarctica Album

Here it is! We've spent quite a while on this one - we played the songs from Bayly's Beach to Milford Sound, we drew pictures and we told stories and we went into the studio and we banged it out live in two and a half days, Emily made amazing cover art and our friends at Banished From The Universe are releasing it for us today.

Album cover by Emily Cater

The Explorers Club: Antarctica - nine songs telling the stories of the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration.  It's out in the world today and you can download it from our bandcamp page, you can buy it from community record stores, or you can come and see us somewhere round the country over the next five and a half weeks and we'll gladly sell it to you in person.

And here is a new video for you as well - the images from the show, taken by Scott and Ponting on the ice over a hundred years ago, along with the song 'Great God! This Is An Awful Place.'



Explorers Club: Antarctica Album Launch Tour Oct/Nov 2013

Thurs Oct 17: NELSON: Nelson Arts Festival - The Playhouse Cafe and Theatre Restaurant Mapua Show at 8 pm

Fri Oct 18: TAKAKA: Nelson Arts Festival - The Mussell Inn, with Bat Country, show at 8:30 pm
Tickets from Mussel Inn, 03 525 9241 or haveabeer@musselinn.co.nz

Sat Oct 19: HOKITIKA: Hokitika Museum, 7pm
Tickets from Hokitika Museum 03 755 6898

Sun Oct 20: OKARITO -Donovans Store, with Bat Country, 7:30pm
Tickets at the door

Mon Oct 21: WANAKA: Cinema Paradiso with Bat Country, 8:30pm
Tickets 03 443 1505, abccinema@xtra.co.nz

Tues Oct 22: MILFORD SOUND Throwdown in the Sound at Blue Duck Cafe And Bar,  with Bat Country
Free if you're in Milford Sound

Thurs Oct 24: OAMARU: The Oamaru Opera Housewith THE EASTERN and Barry Saunders

Fri Oct 25: DUNEDIN, Platos with The Eastern and Barry Saunders

Sat Oct 26: CHRISTCHURCH: 241Chambers Gallery,  7pm, with Jed & Hera - Tickets from www.undertheradar.co.nz or at the door 

Thurs Oct 31: AUCKLAND: Voyager New Zealand Maritime Museum with Great North, 7pm
Tickets 09 373 0800 info@maritimemuseum.co.nz

Fri Nov 8: WELLINGTON: Museum of Wellington City & Sea with Veronika Meduna, 7pm
Tickets 04 4728 904 museumtours@wmt.org.nz

Sat Nov 9: WHANGANUI Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare O Rehua Whanganui, doors as 6:45 show at 7pm
Tickets 06 349 0506

Fri Nov 15: OAMARU: Oamaru Victorian Heritage Celebrations at Oamaru Opera House Festival Explorers Club

Fri Nov 22: NAPIER: MTG Hawke's Bay, 7pm

Sat Nov 23: ROTORUA: The Rogue Stage

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Radio with pictures

If you happen to be listening to Radio New Zealand Arts on Sunday today, you may hear me wittering on about the crew of the Endurance, and the hi-jinks they got up to in order to pass the time while their ship was stuck in Antarctic ice.  Here is a photograph of their midwinter celebrations - midwinter is of course the most important night of the Antarctic social calendar, and the crew celebrated in high Edwardian style with cross-dressing, blackface and banjos.

Photograph by Frank Hurley, from Endurance by Alfred Lansing.

It was the full Vaudeville routine, which was pretty much the funniest form of entertainment that had been invented by that stage (since then we have developed funnier things like videos of animals falling off things; we have come a long way) - Alfred Lansing tells us 'Shackleton, who was chairman, introduced the participants, Orde-Lees was dressed as a Methodist minister, the 'Rev. Bubbling-Love,' and he exhorted his listeners against the wages of sin.  James, as 'Herr Professor von Shopenbaum,' delivered a lengthy lecture on the 'Calorie'...McIlroy dressed up as a Spanish girls and a very wicked looking one at that, with very low evening dress...Marston sang, Hudson was a half-caste girl, Greenstreet was a red-nosed drunk, and Rickinson was a London streetwalker.'*  Gosh!

One hundred years later it's easy to poke fun at people for poking fun at the mentally ill, people from other countries or races, sex workers and so on, but at the time this was really quite progressive.  A few years earlier the crew of the Beligica had become similarly trapped in Antarctic ice all winter, and lacking such team spirit and so forth they sank into paranoia and depression.  Shackleton, though, knew the value of entertainment as a method of maintaining morale and sanity. After the Endurance was crushed and her crew embarked on their trek across the ice, hauling the boats on sledges, Sir Ernest ordered that personal possessions be limited to two pounds per man, and he set the example himself by throwing a handful of gold sovereigns down on the ice and tearing out the good bits (about ice) from the bible that Queen Alexandra had given him and tossing the rest into an open lead.  However, he ordered Hussey (pictured above in blackface) to bring along his banjo - despite the fact it weighed seventeen pounds - because of it's value as an 'invaluable mental tonic' for the men.  When a banjo is the answer, you know you're in trouble.

*LansingAlfred 1959. Endurance: The Greatest Adventure Story Ever Told, London:  Hodder&Stoughton 



Explorers Club: Antarctica Album Launch Tour Oct/Nov 2013

Thurs Oct 17: NELSON: Nelson Arts Festival - The Playhouse Cafe and Theatre Restaurant Mapua Show at 8 pm

Fri Oct 18: TAKAKA: Nelson Arts Festival - The Mussell Inn, with Bat Country, show at 8:30 pm
Tickets from Mussel Inn, 03 525 9241 or haveabeer@musselinn.co.nz

Sat Oct 19: HOKITIKA: Hokitika Museum, 7pm
Tickets from Hokitika Museum 03 755 6898

Sun Oct 20: OKARITO -Donovans Store, with Bat Country, 7:30pm
Tickets at the door

Mon Oct 21: WANAKA: Cinema Paradiso with Bat Country, 8:30pm
Tickets 03 443 1505, abccinema@xtra.co.nz

Tues Oct 22: MILFORD SOUND Throwdown in the Sound at Blue Duck Cafe And Bar,  with Bat Country
Free if you're in Milford Sound

Thurs Oct 24: OAMARU: The Oamaru Opera Housewith THE EASTERN and Barry Saunders

Fri Oct 25: DUNEDIN, Platos with The Eastern and Barry Saunders

Sat Oct 26: CHRISTCHURCH: 241Chambers Gallery,  7pm, with Jed & Hera - Tickets from www.undertheradar.co.nz or at the door 

Thurs Oct 31: AUCKLAND: Voyager New Zealand Maritime Museum with Great North, 7pm
Tickets 09 373 0800 info@maritimemuseum.co.nz

Fri Nov 8: WELLINGTON: Museum of Wellington City & Sea with Veronika Meduna, 7pm
Tickets 04 4728 904 museumtours@wmt.org.nz

Sat Nov 9: WHANGANUI Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare O Rehua Whanganui, doors as 6:45 show at 7pm
Tickets 06 349 0506

Fri Nov 15: OAMARU: Oamaru Victorian Heritage Celebrations at Oamaru Opera House Festival Explorers Club

Fri Nov 22: NAPIER: MTG Hawke's Bay, 7pm

Sat Nov 23: ROTORUA: The Rogue Stage

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Game's Afoot

Well my word, it seems we have much to discuss.  The album, which I suppose we have worked so hard to bring to you (although honestly, it didn't feel like real work, not like hauling a sledge to the South Pole or anything) yes, the album is nearly ready to be sent out into the world, so the first thing our friends at Banished From The Universe records would like me to tell you is that you can preorder that album today from the iTunes store.  So do that, by all means, and listen to the teasing one minute and 29 seconds of each song you're allowed to hear until it is actually 'released' on the 11th of October.  That is thing one.

The band, apparently waiting for something or other. The dog is Lily; she likes to be involoved.

Thing two is that there is a free download you can have!  For free!  See, our song 'It's All In The Game, Play On!' is swaggering around on the bnet stations in New Zealand at the moment and we're giving it away from our bandcamp site, for free, for no good economic reason other than that we want to and we're grown-ups so we can do what we like, within the bounds of reason and the law. You can too - so go and download it if you want. Or not! It's up to you and I am sincerely sorry to burden you with decision-making on a Friday.



Here is a video on the youtube, which features that song and the illustrations that Emily Cater did to accompany the song.  When we perform our show, which we do pretty much all the time (I think we will have performed it around one hundred times by the end of 2013, no joke) these illustrations are projected behind us as we play and it's very atmospheric; I tell a story about poor old Reverend Arnold Spencer-Smith who died on the Great Ice Barrier laying depots for Shackleton who rudely lost his ship on the far side of the continent and never even saw them, grown men cry, everybody wins.  That is thing 2a.



Thing three is another video, (not embeddable I'm afraid) this time of us appearing on state television here in the Dominion of New Zealand performing the song 'Water Sky,' which is about the crew of the Endurance camping for five months on the pack ice of the Weddell Sea, waiting for the current to carry them north so they could launch their boats and sail home - watching for the 'water sky' that appears over the open ocean. In such times a young man's thoughts turn to love, and I have it on good authority that this song, despite its icy provenance, has been the proximate cause of at least one case of romantic attachment in its short life. I wish I could tell you more, but it is not my place to do so.  Buy me a drink sometime and I will furnish the details.

Thing four is the tour and so on, which you already know about, and which is growing like a weed - as well as all these public shows around the place, we're now doing a bunch of 'community' shows along the way at primary schools and - get this - retirement villages, because why do one show a day when you could do two shows a day? Plus it turns out that these shows are heaps of fun, and what's the matter, don't you like fun? I know I do; especially when 'fun' means waking at desk job o'clock, driving several hundred kilometers blasting Steeleye Span at an inconsiderate volume, loading the gear into a school, setting up, playing a show, packing down, driving some more playing Led Zeppelin at a frankly antisocial volume, loading all the gear into a theatre, setting up, playing a show, packing down, socialising heavily, sleeping briefly then repeating, and repeating some more. Fun! Why are we like this, I wonder?


Anyway, here are the dates, in case you forgot.  I encourage you to buy tickets ahead of time because things have been selling out a bit lately and we wouldn't want anybody to miss out on their dose of Antarctic tragedy.

The Explorers Club: Antarctica Album Launch Tour


Thurs Oct 17: NELSON: Nelson Arts Festival - The Playhouse Cafe and Theatre Restaurant Mapua Show at 8 pm

Fri Oct 18: TAKAKA: Nelson Arts Festival - The Mussell Inn, with Bat Country, show at 8:30 pm
Tickets from Mussel Inn, 03 525 9241 or haveabeer@musselinn.co.nz

Sat Oct 19: HOKITIKA: Hokitika Museum, 7pm
Tickets from Hokitika Museum 03 755 6898

Sun Oct 20: OKARITO -Donovans Store, with Bat Country, 7:30pm
Tickets at the door

Mon Oct 21: WANAKA: Cinema Paradiso with Bat Country, 8:30pm
Tickets 03 443 1505, abccinema@xtra.co.nz

Tues Oct 22: MILFORD SOUND Throwdown in the Sound at Blue Duck Cafe And Bar,  with Bat Country
Free if you're in Milford Sound

Thurs Oct 24: OAMARU: The Oamaru Opera Housewith THE EASTERN and Barry Saunders

Fri Oct 25: DUNEDIN, Platos with The Eastern and Barry Saunders

Sat Oct 26: CHRISTCHURCH: 241Chambers Gallery, 7pm, with Jed & Hera - Tickets at the door

Thurs Oct 31: AUCKLAND: Voyager New Zealand Maritime Museum with Great North, 7pm
Tickets 09 373 0800 info@maritimemuseum.co.nz

Fri Nov 8: WELLINGTON: Museum of Wellington City & Sea with Veronika Meduna, 7pm
Tickets 04 4728 904 museumtours@wmt.org.nz
Tickets 06 349 0506

Fri Nov 15: OAMARU: Oamaru Victorian Heritage Celebrations at Oamaru Opera House Festival Explorers Club

Fri Nov 22: NAPIER: MTG Hawke's Bay, 7pm

Sat Nov 23: ROTORUA: The Rogue Stage

Monday, September 23, 2013

Explorers Club: Antarctica Album Launch Tour

It's happening!  Here's the scheme for The Explorers Club: Antarctica Album Launch Tour...



Building on the success of their award-winning show ‘The Explorers Club: Antarctica,’ Auckland alt-folksters Bond Street Bridge are proud to announce the release this October of an album of songs recording the incredible stories of Captain Scott, Sir Ernest Shackleton and the Heroic Age of Antarctic exploration. The album is out October 11 on Banished From The Universe records, and the band is celebrating with a national tour starting with the Nelson Arts Festival, taking in special performances at some of New Zealand's premier museums and galleries, and including appearances with folk heavyweights THE EASTERN, Barry Saunders and Great North.


Songwriter Sam Prebble has turned a fascination with Antarctic heritage into a multi-faceted and collaborative work of art. After several months lost in books and dusty library shelves, poring over old photographs and maps and devouring first-hand accounts of adventure and mishap on the ice, Prebble emerged with a collection of songs recalling the hardships and celebrating the extraordinary pluck of the explorers who first set foot on the frozen wastes. The songs combine material from the original journals of the explorers themselves, lines from the poets and writers who inspired their exploits, and a treasure trove of recent Antarctic scholarship, weaving tales of courage, endurance and humanity in the face of defeat and humility before extraordinary endeavour. The stories of Captain Oates walking to his death, Scott freezing in his tent, writing to the last, and Shackleton sailing hundreds of miles in an open boat to save his men are retold through heartbreaking ballads and foot-stomping sea shanties.


The material on this album has already drawn accolades. Over the Summer, Bond Street Bridge presented the show to packed houses at Fringe Festivals around the country, securing them the award for ‘Best Music’ at the 2012 NZ Fringe Festival Awards and invitations to appear at Arts Festivals, museums and galleries around the country. The show played to sold-out sessions at the Queenstown Winter Festival, the Taranaki International Arts Festival, and the inaugural NZ IceFest in Christchurch, and was described by the Dominion Post as ‘a perfect evening of music.’


The songs are complemented by beautiful original illustrations from artist Emily Cater, who studied the photographs and drawings the explorers brought back from the ice and produced a series of evocative illustrations surrounding the music. These are projected around the band for the live show, and feature on the album artwork, online, and in a range of cards and posters.


To mark the October 11 release of the Explorers Club: Antarctica album, the band is taking the show on the road again, with two appearances at the Nelson Arts Festival followed by shows at the NZ Maritime Museum in Auckland, The Museum of Wellington City and Sea, Chambers 241 gallery in Christchurch, the newly-refurbished Napier Museum, the Oamaru Opera House, and several other appearances at galleries, museums and theatres around the country through October and November.


The Explorers Club: Antarctica Album Launch Tour


Thurs Oct 17: NELSON: Nelson Arts Festival - The Playhouse Cafe and Theatre Restaurant Mapua Show at 8 pm

Fri Oct 18: TAKAKA: Nelson Arts Festival - The Mussell Inn, with Bat Country, show at 8:30 pm
Tickets from Mussel Inn, 03 525 9241 or haveabeer@musselinn.co.nz

Sat Oct 19: HOKITIKA: Hokitika Museum, 7pm
Tickets from Hokitika Museum 03 755 6898

Sun Oct 20: OKARITO -Donovans Store, with Bat Country, 7:30pm
Tickets at the door

Mon Oct 21: WANAKA: Cinema Paradiso with Bat Country, 8:30pm
Tickets 03 443 1505, abccinema@xtra.co.nz

Tues Oct 22: MILFORD SOUND Throwdown in the Sound at Blue Duck Cafe And Bar,  with Bat Country
Free if you're in Milford Sound

Thurs Oct 24: OAMARU: The Oamaru Opera Housewith THE EASTERN and Barry Saunders

Fri Oct 25: DUNEDIN, Platos with The Eastern and Barry Saunders

Sat Oct 26: CHRISTCHURCH: 241Chambers Gallery, 7pm, with Jed & Hera - Tickets at the door

Thurs Oct 31: AUCKLAND: Voyager New Zealand Maritime Museum with Great North, 7pm
Tickets 09 373 0800 info@maritimemuseum.co.nz

Fri Nov 8: WELLINGTON: Museum of Wellington City & Sea with Veronika Meduna, 7pm
Tickets 04 4728 904 museumtours@wmt.org.nz
Tickets 06 349 0506

Fri Nov 15: OAMARU: Oamaru Victorian Heritage Celebrations at Oamaru Opera House Festival Explorers Club

Fri Nov 22: NAPIER: MTG Hawke's Bay, 7pm

Sat Nov 23: ROTORUA: The Rogue Stage

See you on the road!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Grand Theft Auto


This morning (well, before noon, anyhow) we were woken up by the kind of pounding on the door and squawking of radios that only ever means police officers (Couriers have a different, more furtive, knock) and Emily tells me that that sound, to her, means bad news of the 'come quick, a loved one is in hospital' variety, which demonstrates that we are obviously very different people because for me the first thought is always along the lines of 'the game is up - burn the files and find out when the next plane leaves for Argentina.' But I honestly couldn't think of anything I'd done that would bring police officers to my actual house, so I found a pair of jeans and opened the door.

Even though it was early and they could no doubt see that I was not up to effective communication yet, they immediately started in on questions about, of all things, my car. Like for example when did I last see it? and how many sets of keys are there? Had I lent it to anybody really, you know, shifty? I was still kind of bleary eyed because it was, as I said, the morning and too early for polite visits, so naturally I began to babble. I revealed that you don't really need a key to open the door of our car because it's kind of special that way, you can actually open it with a spoon, come have a look and I'll show you, it's parked right here in the carport, and all the while my sluggish and guilty brain was trying to figure out what antisocial behaviours I might have perpetrated with the car lately  that would bring two police to my door on a Sunday morning, and I was drawing nothing but a blank because honestly, my life is not that interesting.

And of course they looked at me pityingly - who is this disheveled buffoon babbling about spoons and with his jeans not properly on who clearly hasn't yet realised that his car is not where he left it? Because it wasn't, of course, otherwise they wouldn't have been there asking questions about it, and it began to dawn on me that my role here was not that of suspect run to ground by brave officers after a giddy spree of running orange lights and driving at 45ks in a school zone, but rather an honest taxpaying citizen who had just had some bugger thief off with his wheels.

So I did my best solid citizen impression and engaged the officers in conversation on the front lawn, because we have quite a lot of open homes around here on a Sunday morning and I know the government is worried about house prices at the moment so I like to do my bit by making sure the first thing prospective buyers see when they drive down the street is a skinny scraggly-haired lowlife blinking like a star-nosed mole and with his pants only half on bailed up on the front lawn by a couple of cops who are obviously here on a routine meth lab inspection, which I think should take a good five percent off the average offer for any house on our street this week.



This is me anytime before mid-afternoon. Forget about the 10% deposit thing, I could take the heat out the housing market just by walking down the street if I could be persuaded to get out of bed before noon every Sunday.  So far, that takes a minimum of  two police officers or the promise of a ride in an aircraft of some kind.

They told me an unlikely-sounding story about an off-duty cop who had spotted a person 'of interest' (like, you know, a 'perp' I think they call them) driving our car this morning, and this alert officer had phoned in the plates (by this time I was using words like 'tags' to show that I was up to speed with the evolving situation) and they were here to see whether we were essentially harbouring a fugitive. Which I was pretty sure we weren't, but then I obviously had incomplete information about a lot of things since I thought we still had a car in the carport. Anyhow, they went away soon after that, and the real estate agents of Morningside (Kingsland Fringe) breathed a sigh of relief as I went back inside to do up my trousers.

So it would seem that our car has been stolen, which should come as a surprise to nobody really, except that it's actually very hard to even get it going it at the best of times because the starter motor is not what it was. It also needs five new tires and some panel work, and it is full of dog hair. We've actually been meaning to sell it for ages but we're worried about getting bad trademe feedback, so it's just been sitting out there in the carport waiting for someone to boost it - which would have been great if we'd gotten around to getting it insured. If you see it around, do let me know, won't you? It's a silver Mazda 323, license plate TT1040, with roof rails and a person of interest driving it. We don't have any good pictures of it really,  because it's pretty ugly and we usually try not to get it in photographs, but here's one that was taken from the inside of the car in a rainstorm in Tauranga while we were feeding seagulls on the bonnet, in happier times. Answers on a postcard please.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Magicians, Savages, Gypsies

The material we're dealing with in this Explorers Club: Antarctica show that we've been doing is pretty much public property - great archetypal stories of triumph and adversity, the tales of people who went out in a great blaze of publicity and either came back years later covered in glory or lost their lives out in the frozen wastes in pursuit of some combination of Imperial honour, scientific discovery or precious new lines on the increasingly detailed map. That means that we're not alone here - a lot of other people are covering similar ground, and as a consequence we get all sorts of interesting emails and invitations from other artists who are doing awesome Antarctica-related work. 

One such email came through the tubes a little while back, from Sue Cooke, who has put together a striking installation in Whanganui's Sarjeant Gallery responding to her time on the Antarctic Peninsular. She'd heard about what we were doing, and she invited us to come and perform the show in Whanganui in association with her exhibit. Because of what we cheerfully refer to as our mental problems, we honestly and truthfully really enjoy driving for twelve to fourteen hours to play shows in small towns so we of course gave a resounding yes. 

As we passed through Taumarunui, night had fallen and we were looking for a place to eat. All the windows in the long main street have electric fences behind them and a lot of the shops are empty so the place has the surreal feeling you get in a lot of small north island towns. As though the apocalypse is here, and it's happening very, very slowly. Still a little dazed from the road, we pulled open an old aluminum ranch slider and stepped into a greasy takeaway joint. We stared at the menu board for a long time, as the family who ran the place took our measure. 
Magicians? If you like.

'Are you guys magicians?' said the daughter. 

I said yeah, we are. 

'Can you tell, like, fortunes?' 

I said yeah, but it's rude to. We ended up getting the rice, and I tried not to get too much on the floor of the van as we wound through the southern King Country highways with Led Zep II playing at a good volume. 

That got us to Whanganui with the gas light just starting to glow, and the next day we rolled down to the venue in fair time to set up for our morning show. I had heard tell of this place, some of our friends had played here before and the information I had told me that we were in for a slap in the cultural face. 

The Savage Club hall is a very challenging environment to walk into. It seems that in 1857 or thereabouts, Pakeha colonists in New Zealand, responding to international trends in racial theory, made their own fun by imitating Maori iconography and costume and getting together periodically to sing songs at one another. This should come as a surprise to nobody; there exist several similar examples of such appropriation around the world. A famous photograph by Frank Hurley, for example, shows at least one member of the crew of the Endurance in blackface during their midwinter revels. It should also be unsurprising that the Pakeha colonists quickly organised their entertainment into a regular club - with a president, treasurer, minutes, and of course a hall in which to meet. It is decorated more or less as one might expect with the above in mind, and yes, I am told, the carvings around the proscenium arch were stolen from a marae up the river. 


The Savage Club Hall: Make of it what you will

The odd thing about the Savage Club is that it still actually exists as a club, not just as a historical curiosity. We were just playing in their hall - our show didn't have anything to do with the club itself so I know nothing of its history beyond hearsay. But I gather that they still meet regularly and sing songs at one another, and the photographs around the walls of the hall show generations of white people dressed in grass skirts holding guitars, giving an overall impression of what the hell is going on here? I asked a few people and the answers I got were mostly around 'well it's all just fun, isn't it?' and 'they're not hurting anybody, are they?' 

As we stood on the stage and played our show, I kept thinking about other strange places I've got up and slung my guitar over the years, or gone to watch other people doing the same thing. There was this hall in Copenhagen tricked out it a Viking style one time, with probably not very many actual Vikings present. A lot of bars in places that weren't Ireland dressed up to look like how somebody might think an Irish pub might look if they liked the book Angela's Ashes. A series of shows that happened under various 'Gypsy' labels organised by people who I'm pretty sure weren't Romany. The tired old tradition of white people playing reggae. Or the blues. Those bars with all kinds of Oriental trappings that hark back to the good old days of the Opium Wars and the White Man's Burden. These things all seemed to me to have something in common and that is this: I don't really know what the hell to make of them. Kind of makes me glad that I'm not at University anymore so I don't have to write essays about it, plus you can't think about this kind of stuff too much when you're on stage because you forget where you're up to in the song and then the bass player rolls his eyes at you. 

Brendan Turner: Actually a Gypsy.

Anyway, the Whanganui Chronicle described the show as 'a performance to make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck, your teeth clench and your body shiver,' which coincidentally is exactly how I feel when I walk into a particularly glaringly fake Irish bar. There was no mention of us being magicians, but the performance was also described as 'mesmerising,' and 'stunning,' which are pretty close. The next time we play in Whanganui it will be beneath the echoing neo-classical dome of the Sarjeant Galley, on our album release tour in November (of which more later), so if you know people in Whanganui who like being mesemerised, stunned or chilled tell them to watch this space.

Here's the review.  Chilling.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Great God! This Is An Awful Place EP and free download

It's been all hustle and bustle at Bond St HQ this year.  There's been touring and shows a-plenty, ice and aeroplanes and lashings of whisky, and a couple of months ago the band disappeared into The Lab, below the Crystal Palace on the slopes of Mt Eden, to get some songs recorded.

The old Crystal Palace Theatre - now infested with a serious case of musicians. 

It all happened pretty smoothly, as a result of having played these songs live as part of the Explorers Club show about fifty times since the middle of last year. We got the album made in three days, all live in the room without overdubs, and by God it sounds just how we'd hoped it would. It's coming out in October so watch out for that.


What the stairs look like when you are waiting on them for everyone else to get there and sort of 
wondering if you remembered to tell them what day the recording was but not texting anybody just yet.

In the meantime, we had a show down at the Queenstown Winter Festival last week, (pictures here, by the way, of the cold but sold-out house) and we've got a few other things coming up like that, and people always seem to want to get a wee souvenir at these things, which is as it should be in my opinion.  So we took a couple of songs from the album sessions, and a song we recorded later that week at the Lab for the good people over at Kiwi FM, and some live recordings from the Fringe Festival shows we did in Auckland earlier this year, and what do you know, we've got a little EP!

Artwork, like all of our artwork, by Emily Cater

It's called 'Great God! This Is An Awful Place!,' and it's the story of Captain Scott arriving at the South Pole in 1912 and realising that Amundsen had already got there. As you know, he did his best to get home with his men, but all five of them died trying to return to Hut Point.  The EP tells that story, too, so overall it's pretty grim.  The live recordings from the Fringe Festival are of me telling the stories, because some people said that they'd like to hear that recorded as well.

So you can listen to it online of course, or you can download it - in fact you can have the title track for free, if that's what you fancy - or you can get a physical copy at any of these gigs we have coming up, of which there are a few over the next little while.  Here it is, look:



And here's where we're playing in the next few weeks:

Saturday 13th July - Auckland, Lucha Lounge with Great North and The Bads
Friday 9th August - Savage Club, Whanganui
Thursday 29th August - Mayfair Festival Club, Taranaki International Arts Festival

Bond Street Bridge at Queenstown Winter Festival. It was, predictably, cold.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Shackleton's Whisky: A tale of shame and redemption, part one

It will come as little surprise to many when I reveal that I have been somewhat interested lately in the storied history of the Heroic Age of Antarctic exploration.  This interest has had all sorts of agreeable side-effects, many of which are a direct result of tearing around the country over the past year or so telling some of these stories in barns, bar-rooms and back-country halls from Invercargill to Dargaville. It seems like the more you get up and tell stories, the more stories people want to tell you right back, so I've been hearing all kinds of tall tales from all kinds of people, which luckily is one of my favourite ways to pass the time. One of the stories that's been cropping up a lot lately is the one about Shackleton's Whisky, and it has become for me a tale, dear reader, of shame and redemption.
You've probably heard the tale yourself, even if your main source of news is, well, 'The News,' and not grizzled old taproom scholars in South Island bars.  It's a compelling story with a high degree of cross-over interest, and it tests well in a range of demographics, so it has had a good share of what media analysts call 'screen-time' over the past couple of years.  I heard about it in a bar.
It was near the end of a long tour in the winter, I recall, of 2012.  We'd just driven the usual loop - a bunch of nights in the North Island, an early morning ferry crossing playing old Neil Young songs to hung-over travelers in the bar they call the Karori Rip, followed by a dozen or so dates around the South Island, and when we do this, we don't tend to give ourselves a break. It's a lot of late nights and weird mornings; a typical day is an early start and a long drive followed by a scramble to set up the PA, run a soundcheck, play a show, sling some merch, pack down, load out, find the accom, bags the tops bunk then grab the throwaround  guitars and walk out to the darkness at the edge of town to find a quiet spot to sit up for the rest of the night trying to remember how to play old Neil Young songs.  Many days of this in succession on the standard pizza and whisky diet and there is a risk of becoming unhinged.
So I was perhaps a little unhinged as I sat at the bar of the Darkroom in Christchurch there, after the show, having a yarn with Jasper and T'Neale who own the place and trying to summon the motivation to go to bed like a decent human being. The Darkroom, you should understand, is a classy establishment with a discerning clientele and an impressive commitment to quality when it comes to the drinks list, and as my magpie eye strayed to the top shelf I espied something I had not seen before:

I mean, it didn't look exactly like this. It was on a shelf surrounded by other bottles, but it did say 'British Antarctic Expedition 1907' on the side.
This piqued my curiosity, naturally, and I politely asked Jasper what was going on here.
'Oh yeah, I was going to tell you about that actually.  It's a pretty cool story.  Apparently a few years ago they found this whisky under Shackleton's hut in Antarctica.'
'What, and that's it there?'
He could see that explaining the full story to me would take ages and require a certain amount of repetition, so he said something like 'Pretty much, yeah. More or less.'
'Can I have some?'
Jasper explained that it wasn't really for sale - they have a thing for regulars called the Adventurers Club (which of course led me to interrupt to tell him that that's funny, because we've got this thing called the Explorers Club, did I tell you about it? And he said yeah, I know, you just played in my bar) and the thing is you have to try twenty different drinks - not in the same night, obviously, for mental health and legal reasons, but gradually, over a period of perhaps months - and once you've tried these twenty different drinks, and only then, you get a dram of the Shackleton Whisky.
'Cor. So... can I have some?' Remember I was a little unhinged.  I think Jasper raised a single eyebrow to indicate that I would need to do better than that.
I marshaled a clever three-pronged argument - firstly, hadn't I just spent the past hour or so on stage - his stage - telling stories about Shackleton? Surely that put me in some sort of special interest category?  Secondly, Poor Me - which is an important prong for any argument, and the less specific the better I find, and thirdly (which I think actually sealed the deal) I indicated that I was game for earning the Shackleton Whisky by the conventional route, right then and there, which we could all agree would be a ludicrous idea but that's how strongly I felt about the matter.
One or all of the prongs worked, anyhow, and Jasper solemnly took the box from the self and the bottle from the box (how handsome it was!) and poured me a dram.
Now you should know that I am not anything of a gourmet. Things like food and whisky have only instrumental value to me - I carry a hipflask for motivational purposes, as Shackleton himself did, to hand off to band members in times of crisis to prevent mutiny.  On tour, I carry nuts and raisins in my pockets for the same reason, as fuel for myself and others, and results have so far been mixed but events have fallen out broadly in my favour. I like good food, but I will eat bad food if I have the hunger. I like good whisky, but I will drink bad whisky if I have the thirst.  I am, however, a total nerd for history and funny little talismans, so I was aware of the gravity of the moment.  But! I was a little unhinged.
I passed the glass around the band, and everyone took a sniff and sip with appropriate reverence. Adam McGrath, who can smell whisky ten miles away in a snowstorm, appeared as if by magic at my elbow (which is to say his belt was approximately at the level of my elbow; he's a big boy) and of course he needed a sip too, and by this time a small crowd had formed at the bar and there was a certain amount of polite jostling, people getting in each other's breathing space and so on, a bit of a 'what's going on here then' atmosphere and a level of encroachment on elbow room of the sort I can find unnerving at the end of a succession of late nights an weird mornings - a degree of anticipation building and a hum in the ears, and with the eyes of the band upon me, before a bar full of cultured palates, I felt a flush creep up my neck and a devil on my shoulder and when the glass appeared in my unhinged hand dear reader I tossed it back, disgracefully, like a cooking whisky.

There was a silence.  You know the kind. 
Jasper, bless him, did not hit me with a bottle or throw me into the street, but he did look Very Disappointed. I crawled into my sleeping bag that night feeling like the kind of barbarian who goes about the place breaking windows in churches to hear the smash, a loutish boor who appears at garden parties in a dirty anorak and hovers around the buffet table eating caviar with his mouth open and spilling Chianti on the corgis. What a dope! Upon finding the Holy Grail, the hapless pilgrim knocks it to the floor with his elbow and hides the pieces under a rug.  Obviously, I could never go back to The Darkroom.
That's the end of part one - The Shame - it got a little bit longer that I'd anticipated so I'll post the rest - The Redemption - next week. Or when I get around to writing it.

Update! Here it is.