Gore on Thursday sparkled under the blue Big Top laid on by Southland’s crisp autumn. Not that I saw much of the day – I spent much of it indoors at the Croydon Lodge helping Graeme Downs present a songwriting seminar and later at the cinema in town where the country music awards show was being prepared. But what a thrilling experience it all was! Working with a songwriter and performer of Graeme’s stature was a real privilege and I kind of felt unsure whether i was actually qualified to teach or was more suited to just sitting and absorbing the wisdom on offer. I certainly learned a lot anyway and hopefully some of the assembled gained something from my relatively meagre experience.
Gore was all abuzz with its great southern country music showcase – every shop front had a battered old guitar and a cowboy hat on display in the front window. But the real action was down at the town’s beautiful cinema, where sound checks for the night’s big show were underway. I was buzzing to be down there amongst many of my Kiwi musical heroes and friends – people like Adam, Jess and Flora from the Eastern; Donna Dean, Delaney Davidson and Marlon Williams; and then of course the top-class band they put on for the night – John Dodd, Craig Reeves, Doug Wright, John Meddings, Red Mckelvie and Marcel Rodeka. Legends from left to right – it was such a privilege to be rubbing shoulders with people like this.
The show delivered on all its promise and then some – I was utterly floored by Jess Shanks’ exquisite “Wait out the Winter,” probably the night’s highlight for me. But picking between Marlon and Delaney’s stately magnificence, Donna Dean’s utterly authentic “When it’s time to leave” and the Eastern’s old-time rawk – a pretty tough tough call.
After the winners were announced we all ended up at a pub called the Thomas Greene where a string band was belting out Americana standards over the din of drinkers. Adam said it – this is what the Gold Guitars are all about. Of course it wasn’t long before he was borrowing a guitar and taking charge of the band, belting out standards and originals with the gusto and passion that are his hallmarks.
I love Gore. I love it’s great big porridge factory and its oyster soup and its ribbed jerseys and its country music festival. And I’ll be back next year, you can count on it!