Having just returned from seven non-stop weeks in New Zealand, Australia and Tasmania, I have a plethora of things I can talk about.

     Let’s start with a very enthusiastic and warm welcome from fellow players in Auckland, petting a koala bear and a kangaroo in the same day (along with viewing a Tasmanian Devil from a safe distance), dodging the Chilean ash cloud for my first tour of Australia, safely landing in Hobart, Tasmania, recording a live concert, much like one of my greatest inspirations John Fahey did 30 years ago.

Christchurch NZ after the quakeA most memorable experience happened in Christchurch, New Zealand, which is one of my favorite Kiwi towns I have visited and performed in for the past six tours.  Many people around the world are aware that the town and its residents have suffered a tragic number of losses from the two-time whammy of an earthquake and its aftershocks. These folks are some of the most resilient people on the planet as they continue to shore up their bootstraps and march on following the quakes and the continuing aftershocks.


The Christchurch Folk Music Club and the RockShop (based in Auckland) stepped up to the plate at my request to conduct some concerts, seminars and workshops to help support the community and raise the spirits of the people.  Each group had lost their regular venues and had scrambled to locate a place for me to play. The downtown Rock Shop location continues to be in the red and green zones of central Christchurch and is not available for local musicians. A quick relocation store was created in the nearby town of Hornby, with events being held there and at Zebedees. All the Christchurch events were particularly unforgettable as a palpable feeling of a need for some music and laughs was ever present. 


L.R. Baggs and D’Addario Strings/Planet Waves made a huge contribution to these events by providing everything from DI Boxes, pickups, to strings and accessories. It was such a pleasure to hear the laughter and chatter and to see every face sporting a smile by the end of the evening as literally everyone walked away with a prize, ready to put into practice some of the tips offered up during the seminar. 

Matt Walsham from the corporate offices of RockShop was instrumental in clearing the pathway for these events to become a reality. Instead of taking a backseat once everything was in place, he was there every step of the way as he toted guitars and equipment. He even flew in from Auckland for the Christchurch event while dealing with the airlines dodging the volcanic ash cloud, a particular spectacular event of its own that closed down the Christchurch Airport for several days.


It is very easy to see how my own contributions were merely part of theRichard Gilewitz demos the Baggs M1 pickup many spokes in the therapeutic musical wheel that traveled with me on the trip.  This tour in particular confirms my belief that music, humor and the selfless good-will of so many always transcends the obstacles that try to stand in the way of the genuine healing powers generated by this universal language. 








Originally posted 2011-08-12 01:49:45.