The blues after a long weekend

Can we make every weekend a long weekend from now on? Four days' work, three days off is just about right for me.

Actually, six-and-a-half days off and a little light labouring on Wednesday afternoons would be better, but having that extra day off twice in a row does reinforce how much more relaxed life is with three-day weekends.

This weekend, of course, the city gets skanking with a big celebration of reggae. Damn fine! The One Love Festival has another top class line-up this year: bands are coming from all over the planet to li'l ol' Tauranga and we should salute the organisers for setting up such a prestigious event here.

I assume anyone planning to go already has tickets. However, for the rest of you perhaps I should mention the gates open at 11am each day – Saturday, February 4, and Sunday, February 5 – and the music starts at midday. If there is going to be any sort of hold-up, or the kind of traffic delay caused by the Bay Dreams Festival, expect it between 11am and 2pm and plan accordingly: perhaps visiting friends living next to the domain can wait till another day.

A blues weekend

And if this weekend is a reggae weekend – and what with Bob Marley's birthday ‘n' all it certainly is – then next week is a blues weekend, with three distinctly different gigs, all of which I'm happy to help plug them. Because it's always hard putting on events in the week following a long weekend. And after two long weekends it's about as bad as it gets. But – hey – that's the blues…

First up is the return of the sensational Hipshooters. I've written about this high-energy blues trio many times but I always get excited when I hear they're coming back to Tauranga. Frontman, singer and guitarist Anton Tipi Elkington is now living in Auckland but bass player Billy Williams and their drummer are still over in Brisbane so it's a rare treat to hear their explosive brand of rhythm and blues.

Any description for the uninitiated has to start somewhere with classic blues guitar trios such as Hendrix's band or Stevie Ray's. And these guys can certainly deliver material by both of those classic acts with more raw excitement and authenticity than anyone I've heard. They also have a raft of terrific original songs, and the live adrenalin rush of seeing a band so fully committed to playing on the edge is sheer pleasure.

Their last album was released at the end of 2015, the impressive ‘Broken Man', which you can listen to at Or if you want a feel of the live energy there's a clip of them playing Hendrix's ‘Foxy Lady' and others at Australia's Agnes Waters Blues & Roots Festival on YouTube.

They're playing at Driver's Bar on Saturday, February 11, from 8pm and again at The Funky Lizard in Paengaroa on Sunday, February 19, at 2pm.

More Sunday music

Then next Sunday Midge Marsden is coming to The Entertainers Club. He's got Chet O'Connell on guitar and a rhythm section of Mike Abbott and Neil Hannan, so this is the A Team. Midge never disappoints and I don't think there's anything else I need to say: The gig is at Tauranga Citizens Club, entry is $15, doors open at 4.30pm.

And not far away but considerably more obscure: a young Australian guitarist-singer is playing for The Tauranga Acoustic Music Club the same night at the Tauranga RSA, from 7pm. And it's free.

Daniel Champagne a staggering acoustic guitarist. He's been to festivals all over the world and one listen on his website and you can see why. There's a clip of him playing the old blues standard ‘Spoonful' which starts with lightning fast folk arpeggios before a full frontal attack with Daniel hitting almost every part of the guitar body while still playing. This is modern folk music; it's not like it used to be.

Seriously, have a look at this guy – – he really is something else. I wouldn't usually suggest doing anything else if Midge is in town, but Mr Champagne might be one to give him a run for his money!


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