In the late seventies I was working at Mystery Creek and living in a farm cottage some miles away near Ohaupo . I had a little Ford Prefect to get me to and fro and one day it broke down – I had a long walk home.
It was a beautiful Waikato summer afternoon with a slight breeze and a song started coming into my head. I stopped hitch hiking and walked faster – trying to get home to my guitar and pen without losing what I was “writing” It was my first real song – Weathered Lines.
I moved back to Hamilton and started playing it at parties along with newer songs. My larger than life friend Tony Parker would turn any party into a jam. Louise Loft was at one of these jamming parties.
She was singing a strange song that I kind of recognised. It turned out to be Lay Down by Melanie but she had a whole new form for it – slowed down with a new melody. Her voice was stunning and totally original – we fell in love. It was complicated.
Tony took us to a party where Dickie Johnson and the Hamilton theatre elite were celebrating a play. We played my songs and Dick loved us – said to come and see him at the theatre on Monday.
He mentored us, put theatre into us and got us our first gig, supporting Sam Hunt and Gary McCormack at the Waikato City Art Museum. The songs were mini dramas about witches and warlocks, epileptics and thieves, murders and ghosts, Hiroshima and Lady MacBeth
Louise and I became fearless. We played at the big Nambassa and were invited to play at the Christchurch Student Arts Fest in ’79 and Nile River Festival that same year. Gigs in New Plymouth and Auckland, Rotorua and Hamilton and all around the Coromandel.
The festival in Christchurch was pretty amazing. They flew us down and we played all over the city – the Dux, the town square, the University a couple of times. We were even filmed for television singing Weathered Lines but I think only my mum saw it. The town was buzzing, art and music everywhere. The Plauge, Citizen Band. Penny Mahy kindly put us up.
We were very mobile. Guitars and voices – we generally didn’t need a PA for a lot of our gigs. My Ovation was plenty loud and Louise liked getting right up to the audience. It was real, the opposite of theatre- Negative Theatre.
One night, we were staying with friends in Whiritoa in an old house around the time of Nambassa. We were in a double bed in the spare room and in the night we suddenly both woke up to a very sick, cloying smell in the room. There was a huge crash, then a series of them – like bombs going off. The bed started to shake then rise into the air! We held onto each other for grim life on that trembling bed in mid-air while the smell and the noise just built and built. It felt just like the end of the world.
I can’t begin the explain it but our hosts next morning said there was supposed to be a Tapu on the house – they had never had a problem with it though.
The Nile River festival on the West Coast near the end of the decade was a mud bath but we got to meet some great performers. On our way back to Hamilton we got stuck in Wellington for a few days. We liked it and moved here at the very beginning of 1980…