Unlike ‘Time' magazine I don't usually pick a person of the year.
But why not? Let's break with tradition. The only requirement was someone local, someone from the music world. How about Elijah Taula from Ah Jeez, who took out the Vocals Award at the Smokefree Rockquest. The band, a combination of Bethlehem College and Tauranga Boys' College students, placed third? Or the good folk at Tauranga Music Sux, who beaver away under the radar spreading word of alternative music of all sorts, righteously poking established music and bands, and who create underground gigs that I don't regularly mention due to the possibility of them attracting unwanted attention. Keep up the good work!
So many bands
Or a band from that alternative area, which has just launched a new album on Bandcamp. I'm talking Mount Maunganui's Ant Wars, whose ‘Sixxes + Sevens' is so recent that I haven't reviewed it yet. It's confident and aggressive and you can find it at: https://antwars.bandcamp.com/album/sixxes-sevens where it costs a mere $10 to download. There's also Kokomo, which released a two-CD retrospective and sold-out Baycourt's Addison Theatre during the Easter Jazz Festival. Then you have to consider Mike Garner (see last week's column). Mike's year: a big festival appearance in Japan; playing at The Norfolk Island Jazz Festival; and recording and releasing a new album. And there's drumming hero Phil Rudd. Phil has an album and video under his belt and a new improved band, and is off to tour Europe next year. Or how about Mike ‘Mutt' Furness, who is now the new guitarist with Phil's band? They say good things come to those that wait and I've yet to meet anyone from the local music scene who isn't absolutely chuffed about Mutt's appointment.
Big congrats from everyone! Of course we can't forget Richard O'Brien, our other international celebrity, whose TV show DNA Detectives which has just started its second season in the New Year and who oversaw what turned out to be a very successful run of ‘The Rocky Horror Show' in Hamilton. He also appeared in a one-off reboot of his much-loved United Kingdom game show ‘The Crystal Maze' to raise a gazillion dollars to fight cancer. But ultimately I decided to plonk for the person whom I've written about most frequently through the year. Not because I feel any need to bolster their profile – or ego – but because, with the timing of a ponytail-pulling Prime Minister, he has decided to leave town.
The Person of the Year is…
Yep, it's Graham Clark, who is frontman of Brilleaux and, as of this year, author. Graham has been tirelessly active on the Tauranga music scene for decades, whether fronting bands, writing, arranging gigs, or creating artwork for posters and albums. At the beginning of the year he launched ‘The Right Note', a massive tome and the only comprehensive history so far of the Tauranga music scene, stretching back to the fifties and beyond. It was a huge achievement, a genuine milestone for Tauranga music. He now has his second book, a biography of Ritchie Pickett, ready for release in the New Year. It is currently being proof-read.
In between that, he and the band recorded new songs for a compilation album they launched in the middle of the year in Europe, where they played a bunch of pub gigs along with significant festivals in England and Italy. And while it was the band which toured – kudos to them all – it was Graham who set it all up. Last week he and Holly and their inordinately cool son Wilco left for Hawkes' Bay. They found the price of land here too expensive so they're going to live in and renovate an old bank. Hats off to Graham! And y'all have a great Christmas!