Bad news and good gigs

It's been a rotten morning to write a column.

I usually write in the morning.

It used to be late nights but after one too many instances of whisky-induced gobbledygook on the midnight desk it seemed safer to switch.

So first I scan the world news.

Six newspaper websites and three TV channels. Just in case.

It's embarrassing to submit a column only to hear: “I'm surprised you didn't write about (insert world-altering event).”

If something happened overnight it's best to be aware. And the other night was not a good one.

The Las Vegas music festival shooting happened before I went to bed and the number of dead and injured was still rising the next morning.

I'm at a loss for words. Blame gun culture, blame inadequate mental health care, blame an increasingly fragmented society, but it makes no difference.

Sometimes it feels like there is a sickness in this world that is only getting worse.

More bad news

And there was another headline that hit me as hard, one that changed during the morning. First it said ‘Tom Petty rushed to hospital'. Soon afterwards it changed to ‘Tom Petty in critical condition'. And now it has become ‘Tom Petty's life support turned off after heart attack'.

Tom Petty? This just seems wrong. He's not one of the ageing and infirm elder generation of musicians, this is Tom Petty. It's hard, even though he was 66, not to think of him as young and full of mischievous energy. Tom Petty, the Southern boy who came on like a Californian surfer, who was making hits, great songs like ‘Refugee', when I was back in school and continued to for decades, whether quirky pop songs, acoustic ballads or exuberant (Southern) rock.

It was Tom Petty and his band who coloured Johnny Cash's ‘comeback' albums and Cash's take on Petty's ‘Southern Accent' is as good as anything he did.

I'd like to go on and on about him. I could fill this column without pausing for breath, but there are other things rapidly approaching...

Because this week is ‘Folk Week'.

That's a bit melodramatic. What I mean is there are two folk gigs this Sunday and both should be excellent.

Two lots of folk

In town, Sunday, October 8 will mark the second gig at the Barrel Room. Where? You may well ask.

Because the first gig on Wharf St at the Barrel Room, the opening night, is on Saturday. That'll feature Franks & Toner, but Sunday's big-ticket item is a visit from the internationally-renowned Irish singer Declan O'Rourke.

More info: The Barrel Room is the new name for Mount Maunganui's relocated Hop House and will be a great addition to town – a very personal bar run by beer-enthusiast, music lover and all-round nice guy Dave Stanway, promising craft beer and great sounds. And, I'm serious. Declan O'Rourke is the real deal. He's been universally praised, with Mojo describing his song ‘Galileo' as “possibly the greatest song written in the last 30 years”. Listen to him online.

Tickets are $40 from and Swamp Thing's Grant Haua is playing support.

Sunday also marks the third gig at Rosie's Shed, in its charmingly rustic avocado orchard setting in Te Puna. Auckland's highly-regarded Pipi Pickers will be bringing the bluegrass and a good time is promised for all.

The $20 tickets come from Rosie at or 552 6291.

What's in a name?

Finally, I was a little stunned last week to hear Whakamarama's Barrett Rd mentioned prominently on news bulletins. That's the one just by the fish 'n' chip shop. Turns out there had been a big police call-out there. This road is remarkable for two reasons.

Firstly, it is the home of the famous Boatshed Recording Studio. Secondly, no one knows what it is actually meant to be called. Yep, that's what I said. Barrett (probably) Rd is a mere 400 metres long yet at one end a signpost says ‘Barrett Rd' and at the other ‘Barretts Rd'. It's been that way for years. Yet no one has (apparently) noticed or done anything about it. She'll be right mate.


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