Musical Groundhog Day continues…

And here we are again; it’s musical Groundhog Day.

We’re in on-again/off-again territory and I can’t help thinking the single most useful thing for the Bay right now would be a comprehensive listing guide where venues and the acts performing in said venues could post in real time as to the status of their shows.

Sadly, that idea relies on one important word and it’s the inability to make that one stick that scuppers it. The word, of course, is ‘comprehensive’.

Yep, just like your favourite TV shows, now scattered across a bewildering array of money-hungry  subscription services, listings for gigs are all over the place, distributed around the web.

Some are on Eventfinda, some are on Undertheradar, lots are on individual Facebook pages or will arrive in emailed newsletters: it’s a mess.

As to these latest changes in level two – most particularly the indoor concert limit increasing from 50 to 100 – it means different things to different venues. At the Jam Factory? Not much change.

At Jack Dusty’s? Music is starting again with bands this Saturday afternoon and Sunday. Totara Street? Well it depends on the show, where they are coming from and other factors...

It’s tricky

Like I say, it’s tricky. Some things have been canned: although the Art Galleries there are now open again, the Fringe Festival at the Historic Village planned for the end of October has been moved to mid-January; the Baycourt season of Tu Meke Tūī! Live On Stage in October has been forced to cancel; and the Katikati Folk Club have cancelled all their October concerts. Similarly, the Tauranga Acoustic Music Club has cancelled upcoming gatherings due to level two concerns at the Tauranga RSA where they get together. They plan to resume when we return to level one.

The biggest casualty of this has been the cancellation of all live performances planned for the 2021 Tauranga Arts Festival. This is a huge shame, particularly for Tauranga music lovers who were looking forward to a fantastic programme with an almost exclusively New Zealand focus. I wrote about it last month and it's so sad to see it gone after the organisers’ sterling work.

But level two restrictions that require physical distancing really mess with audience capacity, and acts have been finding it impossible to rehearse and prepare their performances. It’s a double whammy and there’s nothing that can be done.

So while the festival completely supports the government applying the restrictions to combat this vicious Delta variant, they, plus the continued unavoidable uncertainty, have done for it. Bugger.

The bright side

On the bright side, like the music at Jack Dusty’s, there are things still going ahead so I urge you to check out specifics online before abandoning hope.

Also on the bright side, between lockdowns which have kept musicians not only out of venues but out of recording studios, people have still been getting stuff done and with, I’m sure, his fingers firmly crossed, Pāpāmoa singer/songwriter/guitarist Brendan McCarthy, who plays under the name Apollo SteamTrain, has set a launch date for his long-awaited debut album, Generation Overload: October 22.

Brendan likes to say that the record has been 26 years in the making, and indeed the earliest song was written in 1996.

But it’s really for the past six years that the production has consumed him.

Recording took place at three different studios, beginning with initial sessions at The Colourfield in Welcome Bay with Tim Julian, before moving to Neil Finn’s Roundhead Studios in Auckland where international producer Greg Haver produced two songs. They have since been released as singles. Finally, things came back to Brendan’s home studio in Pāpāmoa, where the last tracks were completed.

Like most albums, it took a village, with some top local players coming on-board along the way, including Tim Julian, Les Robinson, Ian Clark, James Bos, Denise Hyde, Jed Dawkins, Paul Bloxham and Derek Toner.

I’ve just received a copy of Generation Overload so I’ll be reviewing it and sharing launch details closer to the release.

In the meantime you can find a lot more at Brendan’s website:, where digital downloads and CDs will also be available.

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