Tour diary

Sitting in the van as the sceenery slides by and we listen to one of the 8000 songs on Greg Franco's ipod I'm remembering the first time I saw these places in the South island remembering the campmping trips with my parents  and my little brother- The Fox Glacier, Haast Pass and that whole amazing drive from Greymouth thru to Queenstown, also thinking back to all those tours in the 80s. opening for the Neighboors, Blam Blam Blam, Then later  the later Poetry tours with David Eggleton and a few solo Otis Mace escapades in my old  Honda Civic, flogging my Snot Vampire Story* like some demented snake oil salesman.

THE COGS -  Without a doubt our weird blend of plangent but  raucous mayhem is the unforeseen bonus of this venture.
As tree songwriters we couldn't be from more different directions  Franco's on a California cum Mexican blunt /fast strum ,multi tuning indie pop jag that says "no I'm not catchy but you'll be struck straight away by honesty and sun drenched landscape of LA and shades of thousands of 80s and 90s  bands".
Dragstrip is too easily bracketed in the Nick Cave department but there's a "growing up on the wrong side of the tracks in Christchurch feeling that pervades his songs and each has a narrative woven through wildly fluctuating volume wrenched from his whammy barred '62 Yamaha and Marshal amp.
When he shook out  "The Book of Love"  ( a cover of a Magnetic Fields song) unexpectedly at Fleur's restaurant, we were transported.
I've been delving into old style song structures sliding  and teetering  on the verge of schmaltz , and racking up the absurdity and surreal  way past 11 in my lyrics.
The best gigs are at Greymouth, Lytleton, Port Chalmers,
but some indelably etched instances like jamming outside in the smokers area after our gig at Mighty Mighty on Emma Paki's guitar while she sang a brand new work and the drunken bozo late arrivers (who had missed the gig and lost the plot) said "man you should be up on stage".
Or walking in freezing early morning at the edge of Lake Te Anu after our Queenstown gig looking for a coffee but finding a  strange poem sculpture by David Eggleton on the sea wall ( A poem stretched out to a hundred meters).
Or seeing  Carmel Courtney again after so long ( the last time we met was in London in 03 - She'd just beasted a fantastic gig at the South Bank) and now here she is dancing up a storm to my electric guitar at Al's Bar.
later we both danced to Cowboy Machine's stunning last song. Check them out if your in Christchurch, or they might have a myspace thang goin on.
Or the waves of warm nostalgia sharing the stage with Gavin Buxton and his blinding fiddle playing rocks the Wundabar.

Naku noa na

Otis Mace, Guitar Ace

Rex Bourke was the perfect gig host and playerd a blinding set for us all too.

hamiltron...just near the statue of Richard O'Brian on the main drag (Victoria Street)

is La Commune cafe and last night that friendly cafe/bar was the venue to be at. matthew Bannister opened the proceedings with some really  well built melodic songs strummed out on a very well used Fender acoustic . It was an evening of the south paws  cause next the left handed and ample greg franco wamed us and wilded with some crazy open tunings and songs about one bed room appartments not a million miles away from social decay here in godzone but inspired by his life in LA . A real sonic rawness , voice amd strings melded in total commitment that makes me wish I'd heard his band The Rough Church when they toured here in April last year.


I was in a strange frame of mind  so I started with some songs from Bird In Bush Road and then delved into some older comedic stuff , songs I haven't thouight about for years  10:4 ( a truck-driving song)  The Kitten Song  ( a sarcastic jazzy number about advertising that involves spitting on the floor)

Tonight we play the Adelaid in Wellington and as I write this we are sitting at Mark Ealie's place in Porrirua drinking a few beers and listening to Gregs great voice as he covers a song by Neil Finn and also  Mark's  songs that  have recently been played on Kiwi Fm

My  Album  Bird In Bush Road is featured as album of the week on KIWI and (bless their socks) they've playlisted "What Ever happened To Doctor Death"

and my old favourite Space Cadets ( an afro pop wierdy )




the interview with trev reikie at radio NZ went fairly well - Pretty weird listening to headphones on a isdn link Bill in Dunedin and me and andrew and trevor up in Auckand but the edited vesion was smooth as. This arvo at 4pm it's juice TV and a live to air acoustic bash fopr me i still have to decide if I'll self censor my lyrics - " don't fuck with me will most like wimp out into "don't mess with me " a compromise? the slippery slope? next i'll be doing ads for lockheed and coke!tommorrow the tour starts proper with a drive down to Kapati coast and a solo otis gig at the Waikanai pub organised by the ever grooving Kapati Live Music Club - looking forward to catching up with some of those folk fanatics a fter getting to know them at two Tahora festivals,then to welly and a gig on the Interislander that gtes us across the straight gratis, Just saw Flip Grater here up at the office (NZMIC) and she says its all a bit chaotic in the bar on the boat - hope they turn off the sports while we play!Then its a long drive to ch ch where we get put up for the night at Bretts brothers  place.



day one 12:26 just finishing a last minute email session email interview for the ODT and printing out some poems for the road.

Will get picked up by Andrew Maitai at 9:30 and then  drive to Kapiti for a 6pm soundcheck at the Murpheys Law pub Waikanae.

A long uphill stretch of the desert road, a ute up ahead with its lights on full in the harsh sun, a sign saying WIDE LOAD FOLLOWS  and a whole heap of cars stopped and pulled hard to the left , like almost in the ditch! we stopped  we waited then were told to move further to the left and left in suspense... a minute ticks... maybe three... by then, over the crest of the hill a huge truck with a mangey looking two lane  wide villa on it, comes careening down the hill  dust flying ,brushing the trees on the right and missing our wing mirrors by  ... by  well  a meter but it seemed to be less.... maybe 70 km/h  , maybe more  Astonished we numbly get back in our vehicles and continue , dumfoundeedd at the spectacle of the house that flew!!!

day two 19th nov 07----  Last night  a very good show at the Murpheys law pub in waikanae Caught up with Tracey and Susan from the tahora folk festivals .About to get on the ferry and play for the bar passengers .Bit f a worry that no sign of posters in Cuba street but  what a street it is! Welly has such a cool bohemian look to it  ,funky , alternative, and the people in Cuba street , well bigger and brighter somehow more deapth to the fashion sense more individuality and courage.  Now to get on the boat  and then a long drive to ch ch  .


the ferry crossing gig went well , a northerly ,acording to the helpful , and rather pulcritudinous,barmaid ,means the boat will lean the whole trip but not rock about too much.So under a cloudless sky and in a force 12 northerly I managed to sell a few cd's and get a smattering of applause after each song .Also did the first ever ship-to shore -live-to -air broadcast on MUNT FM (a mobile phone  held  up to the speaker for two songs we ploughed the waves and filled the airwaves in wellington). The same will be done next wednesday for Bill Direen.Then  after stowing our stuff safely in the van and getting the deisel chugging we take off just a bit prematuerley and then the guy WHOES IN CONTROL TURNS TO US AND literally looses his rage by throwing it at the van " what do you think ya doin ya f-ckin c-nt! and trows his rafg at the van Brwet shouts bravely " no need to talk like that " no need to to talk like that ! "he looks at the three of us and turns away signals us to drive odff into picton under a golden sky  abnd ...... get stuck in a huge tailback... so we turn around and get back to a pizza place  but its not quiote what we want  a bit too cheesey-




thursday /midnight Dunedin : just got back from a dinner with Bill and David Eggleton a,Brett ,Andrew  and Juanita  We take a bit of a stroll roungd the corner and after much searching finally find a poster up for  our gig tommorrow night Phanton Billstickers came thru for us after all , we were begginiing to panic as there was no visible poster action in Wellington or ch ch 

Fridays show will be a corker with Sandra Bell opening and Bill playing two seperate sets  with completely different lineups - I'm gonna try some loop station sonics and some poems  ,Goodbye Normal Gene (See lyrics page) and The Queens Knickers and may dust off a trucking song called ten four (re named  house truck from hell!)


Have to take a moment to big up REUBEN JACKSON who not only has just had his first child but runs this site  and has helped me big time  for a few  years now. Any musos or arts  or small to medium business dwellers   would be crazy to miss  checking him out at His office is in Onehunga but his clients are global and he's 'the business' Good on ya Boo!


sat 24 nov - last nights show a roaring beast! with a good sizes crowd of listening types and not a small number of old aquaintances .Sandra Bell's opener was loud and clear - she had some dancing by the end of her set  then Bill got some Builderes circa 1987 up with him  , finished on a really real version of CUP sax trumpet  drums and  keys despite the sound guy opting out at the last minuite Jessie did a fine replacement job at short notice  - my solo acoustic set went by in a blur maybe the guitar a bit loud but then bill got up for some quiet  guitar vocal  enchantment before bring the new improved - with age - bilders Andrew Maitai, Brett Scot  on drums and bass , myself on keyboard and bill on electric to  put the finishing touches and bruises on fantastic journey of a night

- all fuelled well in advance by some stunning pizza and salad courtesy of ARC

Chch sunday  Als bar is great - good crowd good people  we get the set  videoed by a Bill fan film maker from Tenessee (Mike Caleb)Mark the sound man remembers me from the Punakiki festiva -1981!  and I get a chance to catch up with Gavin Buxton the ol DC!. His album rough mixes sound fine on the big sound system as he shows off some of his new songs before the punters arrive.


a big thanks to Kay And Paul for comphey accomadation for the night and then off to Takaka....



The trip to Motueka  we take the short way-  nearly there ...maybe 3 hours to go- but the Lewis pass is bloked by some horrendous accident so we have to turn back and go round Kiakura.As dusk falls we are a tad lost somewhere near Nelson and I notice that Bill is carreering towards a parked car.

We change drivers.

Finally arrive after 11 hours driving at the Mussel Inn

Direen tells us the Scallops are to die for. All food is exceptional, as is the site brewed beer and despite the drive and tiredness we take turns playing songs Andrew from Mussel Inn records the whole set for us from the desk!

Then a day off at Bill's brother's place  stunning setting in middle of vinyards in Blenhiem and great hospitaliy  from Dave and Denise.

Andrew Maitai gets a ph call at ten in the morning ... from the ferry ... are we gonna make our sailing?  well ... no.  We are all still getting up and a good hours drive away from the Picton terminal.Yes folks, it's the well oiled touring machine creaking under the strain now ...take your eye off the projectile for an instant and whoa ,... miss the boat!
  But with little fuss we  just get booked on the next one , no probs. This crossing is a tad more low key than the last one , its the big Russian boat with a funny  pulpit like stage surrounded by brass rails and both Mr Direen and me are sort of subdued and  the sound power keeps getting turned off for various announcements over the ship's intercom, but really... we have no complaints ,play ya way across the strait ,great! too bad we couldn't get MUNT FM to do another live to air.

Once we check our messages in Wellington we find that mighty mighty wanted a sound check at 3pm !! something to do with their sound adverse neighboors but we get there at 6  and then go for a meal and meet back at 7 for a check  with Sally, who is a real pro no fuss good sound in minimum time. The place itself is a beaut  A gently spinning mirror ball is sun illuminated , the curtains are bright red, the potted palms and furnishings make me think of the WUNDERBAR in Lyttleton and the staff are really cool and helpfull ,especially Richard Neams who has booked us in there. this has got to be one of the best venues we've been in with the added advantage of a curtain separating the bar from the stage room. The Sprouts rock the room in a most  multi -instrumental blitz with some divine harmony singing. I get Thomas from the Sprouts to play some great fiddle on the  last numbers in my set. Class! from the

The gig itself is no dissapointment either. Will Christie tries some songs for the first time ever so we bask in a world premier performance then the Sprouts wow the room with a variety of instrumental combos and some swooping harmonies...I decide to try a Magnetic Fields song and am delited to find  awhole table full of MG fans down the front.....  Bill's solo efforts and later the band the night is a success we have guests on stage for Alligator and .............. and generous bar tab glugs down a treat. Mighty fine  , mightymighty.

Next morning's ( thurs 29th ) departure from welly only slightly delayed cause Bill has forgotten a bag at his sister's place, she could send it up to Auckland but if he misses it, it will have be sent to Paris as Bill is off to there on Sunday.

Under clear skys we drive up the Kapati coast and breakfast at Paikakariki,  and there we meet  the  Earl Of Seacliff himself Michael O'Leary , hirsuit man of letters the years since I last saw him have worn him ever so gently gently.

hamiltron is a  bit grey and looks  like a low turn out from the get go  but Mathew Bannister's band is sounding swish at the check and we all put on a great show , at last Bill gets the keyboard experties  he deserves with the addition of Andrew Kelly...... I get an added bonus with Alice on violin for my last two numbers. but unfortunately the there's only  a small crowd to enjoy it.

Sat 30th Masonic Tavern Do I need a sound check? Hell no! not me!  so I have unfortunate sound for my set which poisons my life for a whole 20 minuits but after a small recovery gradually regain my composure and enjoy meeting some old mates who came out to see me. The next nigh is the PR bar and the weeks of toil have taken there toll on Bills good humour - he forever alienates some potential fans by letting the booze do the talking....

and I never do get that keyboard as promised, just  some sort of cynical  ruse to get me to be in the band....

Naku noa na

Otis Mace, Guitar Ace

wed 28th

Andrew Maitai gets a ph call at ten in the morning ... from the ferry ... are we gonna make our sailing?  well ... no  we are all still getting up and a good hours drive away from the picton terminal so we  just get booked on the next one , no probs 

this crossing is a tad more low key than the last one , its the big Russian boat with a funny  pulpit like stage surrounded by brass rails and we are both sort of subdued and  the sound power keeps getting turned off for various announcements but really... we have no complaints