The Rag Poets are coming!

The Rag Poets

I had my first brush with cancel culture last week, and I can’t say I’m a fan.

It was a result of the column I wrote a fortnight back lambasting Recorded Music New Zealand for introducing a “code of conduct” to the Aotearoa Music Awards. You can still find it on SunLive.

I suspected there might be some reaction and indeed there was, both positive and negative. Great. I encourage debate. However, the first negative post I saw not only vehemently disagreed with my perspective – fair enough too – but also went on to say: “I think The Weekend Sun should take this article down.”

Really? Either I'm too sensitive (or else I’m getting soft), but isn’t wanting opinions you disagree with removed a little, er, cancelly? Kinda cuts short that hoped-for debate.

I assume the writer wasn’t familiar with this column since they referred to is as an “article”, so in case it pops up in the future, let me remind y’all that this is an opinion piece. Much as I admire fellow journalists at The Sun and their noble profession, I cannot claim to be one of them.

I do have a crack at making sure all information in the column is factual but, beyond that it’s, as The Dude said in The Big Lebowski, just, like, my opinion man.


Here’s another opinion. Go get vaccinated. I’m booked in (and, yes, of course I’m too young – but I have a health condition). Frankly I take my hat off to the good folk at the DHB who have had to create a system to carry out the largest vaccination programme in New Zealand history while continuing their regular essential activities.

A lot of these people are under great stress, so maybe we should give them a bit of a break – it really is a mammoth task.

Another opinion: the Entertainer’s Club, which has a concert this Sunday, August 8, at the Citz Club, has some very interesting music.

It’s a real mix, an unpredictable combination of tribute acts, blues bands, occasional jazz, and a bunch of Kiwi legends from yesteryear; it has remained popular month upon month.

There was perhaps a tiny bit of confusion last week over the date for this month’s bash, so I’m happy to help clear things up since I have an old friend in the band winging its way to Tauranga from the nation’s capital, The Rag Poets.

Al Norman

Actually, the Rag Poet I count as a mate is one of the lesser-known of the quintet. He is Alan Norman, keyboard player, guitar player, drummer and singer. That’s a lot, but primarily Al plays keyboards, usually piano or piano accordion.

He has been in two of my all-time favourite Kiwi bands, The Warratahs and The Windy City Strugglers. That’s pretty much New Zealand’s leading country and blues outfits right there.

Al has played with the Warratahs on and off over 20 years and he’s been in demand on Wellington’s blues scene for even longer, playing in various Smokeshop line-ups with bluesman Darren Watson and backing Laura Collins in the Back Porch Band. He has been a frequent visitor to Tauranga, also touring with local band Kokomo.

Al played me some early demos of The Rag Poets some years back and frequently waxes lyrical about the joys of being in a band with singer Carl Evensen. Carl was the voice of The Fourmyula and behind NZ’s favourite song, Nature. He’s a great singer; just hearing him rebuilds memories. He and bass player Clint Brown - another Warratah - also formed Rocking Horse in the 1970s.

Another Wellington legend is on drums, the great Vic Singe, who counts in his credits The Warratahs, Rocking Horse, and more recently The Desotos. And that’s not mentioning guitarist Phil Hope, once of the brilliantly-named 70s band Kal-Q-Lated Risk.

And the music? What I’ve heard is slightly psychedelic retro country-rock with great harmonies and a bunch of instruments, from squeeze box and electric guitar to mandolin, bongos and harmonica, all in service of a bunch of Kiwi songs you probably thought you’d forgotten. It’s a wonderful thing.

Entry is $15. Doors open 4:30pm and the music starts 5pm.

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