Bonnie and Blind Boy – no complaints

Bonnie Raitt.


There is one complaint I hear more frequently than all others.


About music that is. If we threw it open to any sort of complaint I wouldn't know where to start. But the musical complaints are relatively predictable and unchanging.

There are complaints about venues – sound, size, price, lack thereof. Complaints about events – sound, size, price, organisational deficiencies. And quite regularly, dear readers, you will be concerned to hear – complaints about audiences. (In case you want to know, you are either too loud, too quiet, or too cheap to pay cover charges!)

But, standing high above those minor niggles is one overarching source of frustration: not knowing that things are happening until it's too late. That applies equally to national stuff and local shows.

And I too must confess, despite the army of highly-trained undercover felines constantly monitoring news and entertainment feeds from the 24-hour satellite coverage here at the Watusi Country Club (think of it as the Mar-a-Lago of the Southern Hemisphere), there are still artists slipping in and out of the country before even registering on the radar.

So this week I want to let you know about two upcoming events in Auckland.

A rocky tangent

First though, I was chatting recently about Richard O'Brien's Frock ‘n' Roll extravaganza next week (as seen on The Weekend Sun's front page) and a friend mentioned the rather cool musical partnership that has built up between Mr O'B and the show's remarkable keyboard player, Tauranga native Grant Winterburn.

I won't go on about Grant, as I assume many of you know him. Decades ago, as a schoolboy here he cleaned up with awards at the youth band section of the National Jazz Festival while playing wild Deep Purple-like rock in bars with Hit ‘n' Run.

But what surprised me is that it's now 15 years since Grant was musical director for ‘The Rocky Horror Show' in Auckland. I'd forgotten what a prestigious Kiwi show it was: Joel Tobeck as Frank, Michael Hurst as Riff Raff, Mikey Havoc as Eddie and Dr Scott, Craig Parker and Oliver Driver alternating as the narrator, directed by Simon Prast...that's a real who's who of New Zealand theatre!

It's hard to believe it was way back in 2002. Since then Grant has backed Richard on television and stage, forming a firm bond with the mercurial star. Just another little Tauranga success story I wanted to share...


Jerron ‘Blind Boy' Paxton.

Coming soon...

Okay. On to upcoming events and I fear that tangent was too long to now do them justice. Still, as I said, the main thing is to let you know they're happening; you are clearly smart people who don't mind the occasional long word and have mastered the art of a quick Google.

Bonnie Raitt is coming to The Civic Theatre in Auckland on Saturday, April 1. Her album from last year ‘Dig In Deep' was impressive, she has a sensational four-piece band and she's, well she's Bonnie Raitt, monster guitarist, heartfelt singer and, in my eyes, legend.

I've dug Bonnie Raitt's music since I was a wee Watusi, her early blues stuff in particular. After all, this was a young woman who sought out lessons from Mississippi Fred McDowell and other greats, a woman who is as good a slide player as anyone today.

I had assumed everyone knew she was performing but three people I spoke to last weekend didn't. Hence the plug.

More obscure, and genuinely on the blues train, is Jerron ‘Blind Boy' Paxton, who's coming to the Tuning Fork, the bar next to Vector Arena, the following week on Thursday, April 6. Paxton is big, 130kg, black, Jewish, 28 years old and – no surprises here – legally blind. More importantly, he sings and plays the banjo, guitar, piano, fiddle, harmonica, Cajun accordion, and the bones.

His speciality is music from the 1920s, not just blues but like a songster such as Mance Lipscomb, a mix of ragtime, hokum, French reels, Appalachian mountain music and more. But beyond that he approaches his material like John Fahey or Kelly Joe Phelps would, creating long dramatic modern improvisations while retaining an evocative old time vibe.

He really is something special.

watusi@thesun.co.nz



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Beauty after the storm. Photo: Tracy Hardy. Send us your photos from around the Bay of Plenty. photos@thesun.co.nz