Sanders Alley Tour Nov/Dec 2010


day one – heading north it began smooth like a fine aged single malt the four hour journey then around through Back River Road (there’s apparently an old New Zealand made movie about this place we’re told) we land humidified at the Swamp Palace where the greeting party greets and shows us the 2nd hand store in the ancient building we’re to play in, antiquated yet trusty water pumps lovingly restored and tailor made 2nd hand suits… hours later the gig rips and roars…?molten musicians and dancers gel profusely blissed into one organism…? ?

day two – begins with a swim at the local watering hole where jon snaps a shot of a local fairie frolicking.. i slice open my foot quite nicely on a rock while jon perfects the belly flop… Steve and the gang show us around Oruru Valley and The Bush Fairie Dairy.. fond farewells and a jaunt down to Bennets Chocolate Factory via Whangarei for lunch.. the reverberant chocolate factory is a divine spot for playing music and the 8 strung minstrel serenades late night wine swept from the stairs…

day three – chocolated, ice creamed and content we head for 121 and a show for the local gathered fascinated and friends. stopping in at the muddy for a sesh later to be joined by Alex, Rod, Craig and Jono for some serious jammage..

day four – is a tursday we aim for Raetihi and the oldest purpose built theatre in the southern hemisphere so we’re told.. an exceptional building used also as a store house for the LOTR props… the show is intimate followed by suppage and chillage with our hosts… a morepork (ruru) vists deftly snapping up huhu beetles who flutter haphazard in the light while we spa beneath the stars under the vigilant white capped gaze of Ruapehu, soothing dram in hand..

day five – discussions of world politics and the truth of it all? precede our ritualistic road trip, this one sees the stoic white caps in the rear view as we directify our trusty tour wagon down on through Taihape and Shannon towards Raumati South, a funky seaside haven on the Kapiti coast… a speaker snaps crackles and pops we finally realise the wagon had leaked going through a carwash so a one speaker show was the order of the evening as the ill at ease one dried slowly her electrical intestines… a great snooze in a friends trusty house bus to finish the day…

day six – up over the hill to Kaitoke and the mainly acoustic music club where the back lawn show with the bush clad hillside backdrop and the gaggle of incessant passing harleys turns out to be an absolutely divine way to spend the arvo.. the evening settles into a superb sing around session fuelled by a pot belly fire, fine company and wine.. ?

day seven – off to khandallah (which i can’t help but call candelabra) where shady has an intense battle with a chicken bone and Bob (the one and only) McNeil joins us for some superb renditions of songs and tunes that were in need of superb renditionating…

day eight – the ferry… picton and Seamus’s, a fine bar run by a great crew who pour an exceptional pint.. ballistic! quadrophonic tuis at 3am (or was it 6a.m?) over-looking picton will be remembered as one of the most mind blowing sounds i’ve ever heard in the natural world..

day nine – sees us head to Lyttelton where the old building that is the Harbour Light stands embraced by a steel frame in the wake of the quakes… fall ye not great keeper of by-gone? sound and vibration… and on to the fishing shacks where a mattress on the floor is more valuable than gold itself..?

day ten – strong korfee and toast wakes the day as we bid Chris adieu and it’s off to Oamaru, where the penguins wait in the night shadows and a crazy young violinist joins the fray.. tantalizing late night conversations speak of surreality, viking bards wielding bouzoukis in some far off indistant realm.. dessert and bed after blues and the like…

day eleven.. new zealands tallest tree it’s? thought, stands taller than an alien should being a gum and all.. we found her deep in the valley huddled with others of her kind birds of a feather trees of a leaf… who measured her so as to crown her such? and how? a kaka bird boldly ignores us whilst chewing on a branch then flutters deftly off.. over the hill and down into the stunning port chalmers, indeed stunning even with the piles of toy-like shipping containers… an old maritime pub built of stone majestic and serene marinated for a hundred years by tales of high seas so fitting it felt when Jocks sea shanty mesmerized i and the all around gathered and when tunes played till small the hour crept away quiet..

day twelve – good bye Jo we gotta go me o my oh.. a long drive ‘gotta get this old space ship home’? to hanmer where a much needed night off and a soak in the hot pools rejuvenates the road wary wanderers.. the joy of the back packers hostel and the not so mysterious sounds from ye old room next door..

day thirteen – on the highway to takaka and the mighty mussell inn… near we cooked the old girl her radiator groaned and she hissed something fierce. we watered her down and borrowed a fresh steed from Jeanette in Nelson (thanks ye Jeanette)? off up the grandeur that is the takaka hills and down the other side into what feels like another world where a relaxing calm settles over one and all apon entry… hmmm.. a show and an ale or two with whiskey and wine small houred stars? in the deep dark of time..?

day fourteen – breakfast and yarns with the mussell inn folk, thank yous and farewells… a swim in the flowing river, i float nigh asleep out to sea.. on up to pupu springs and some of the clearest and most pure natural water on earth, behold… over to Pats to purchase a cut of goat skin lovingly fused to a finely fashioned shallow plywood cylinder which one beats thappity thap in time, if possible, to irish music… good bye golden bay off to nelson again to reunite with Lucinda our trusty camel/steed/tour wagon, who is delighted to see us intact and returned… we play for the fairfield folk laughter adorns the walls as it often tends do…

day fifteen – Lucy visits the tour wagon doctor who lavishes TLC apon her and wishes her luck then we aim her in the direction of picton.. after a drum lesson for a talented young local the show is a rip roaring delight as was the one the previous week. again the guinness is fine and whiskey deep warm… the tuis did not sing quite like seven nights before. scott (possibly the finest kerry style bodhran player in the country) gives me a lesson in the fine art of bodhran playing that changes things quite dramatically…

day sixteen – good bye south island and onto the ferry we go… a night in the home of the truly blessed welcomes us north..

day seventeen – fare ye well and we leave the valley of the luthiers and wellington behind… boggy gives Lucy a new respirator and the windsreen man says her monocle is not worth replacing for now.. Taihape!!!!!!!! holy jaysuss!!! the land of the humble gumboot.. them that were they came from out of the country side and listened intent to the melodies wide… the craic was almighty and the brazier glowed… the laughter and the mad song into the night flowed..

day eighteen – coffee and toast and a session of song in the morning light started the new day along.. to taupo a swim was the call the scene shone.. what a country..!! rotorua where the sulphur hangs onto the hairs in your nostrils and swings like tarzan.. the belgian bar welcomes us as only she can.. sleep ah sleep come hither..

day nineteen – hahei, hahei, my trusty old friend… the moon is a slither between us and them.. hahei, hahei my trusty old friend…

day twenty – the homeward stretch… dingle road, off Forkett lest we forget, head along Forkett and at some stage turn left.. with Chris, John and the gang again we laugh long. the night blends into something from out of beyond… when Greg speaks fluent neanderthalese surely the laughter can be heard from the top of Pirongia…?

day twenty one – until next time we say, when down dingle road way, may the manor be merry, all the dingle road days… we skirt around hamiltron making for the west we stop in at home base for a moment no less… the hill climbs to piha where the mist teases the headlands and the tour nears its end with each curve of each bend.. we play for the hills we play for the road we play for each settlement where afore we did go.. to the people all over this great little land who we’ve met in the last few weeks… many a hearfelt thanks…


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