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While many things seem almost normal again, the music scene is currently living in limbo.

Actually, I think that's true of a lot of Tauranga; this slightly confusing winding down of levels has left many uncertain.

On one hand I talk to people chomping at the bit to ease the last restrictions and get back to full social activity. A large number of people involved in the music biz feel this way, with venues still shuttered due to the restrictive numbers social distancing laws currently allow. I feel for them, businesses and livelihoods still threatened, even now as the risk seems so low.

On the other hand, I talk to more than a few folk who say they have been changed by these recent deprivations, even if only in taking personally and seriously the oft-repeated mantra of ‘be kind’.

Many of these people are in no hurry to get out of whatever semi-isolation they're in. They are still avoiding public gatherings, even public places that are busy. Some are people over 70, others are people over 60 or younger with medical conditions. They see no need to rush back to the way things were when there is even the slightest chance of another outbreak. What's a couple of months compared to the rest of your life?

I expressed scepticism last week that we actually want such a thing as a ‘new’ normal, one that is an improvement going towards the future. It seemed to me that everyone just wanted their old life back, noise, junk food, traffic jams and everything else included.

But perhaps self-improvement is occurring. One virtue these people seem to have picked up, or had enhanced, is patience. And, having spent a lifetime being impatient I admire their ability to see a bigger picture.

Studio talk

Returning to the state of musical limbo: things are slowly starting again, even if Eventfinda is currently still an online desert.

Local studios have been busy, if not recording new projects then finishing off and mixing things already underway. Shane Davies has been doing more production for Anthony Coulter who has a new single, Escape Your Ego – a rare dip towards techno waters – on Spotify and other platforms.

Meanwhile, Tim Julian has been cranking things out over in Welcome Bay at his Colourfield Studio.

In addition to making final tweaks to Grant Haua's new solo album, for which Grant has also been filming some very entertaining videos, he's pretty much finished the mix on a debut album from the Grant Haua Trio (also comprising Brilleaux bassist Brian Franks and drummer Jeff Neilson), recorded largely live in the studio and positively leaping out of the speakers with energy.

He's also recording an album for Hybrid Blues and another for singer/songwriter Janne ‘Guitar Girl’ Izzett.

And then there's Tim's current Labour Of Love, an album of songs with a melodic pop bent that he has written for singer Kamaea Harry.

And over at Whakamarama's Boatshed Studio Nigel Masters is halfway through recording the new Kokomo album and has just finished Red Guitar, an album of country-leaning songs by debuting veteran Ian Gilmore.

Grant Haua.

Live music

But that's recording.

Live music is scarcer, at least in Tauranga, even though this is (yet another) long weekend.

But pop over to Hamilton and Biddy Mulligans is providing two days of live music - ‘Lockdown Unleashed’.

They're running two bars simultaneously, from midday for at least 12 hours on Saturday (May 30) and till around 8pm on Sunday with about two dozen bands, including Tauranga's own Hybrid Blues and many acts from the Hamilton Blues Society roster.

Meanwhile BOP Blues in Rotorua have rescheduled this weekend's Rotorua Blues Festival for October 24 and for Queen's Birthday Weekend are having instead a specially-curated virtual on-line concert, ‘Blues Recharge’, on Saturday and Sunday. This will feature acts from all over New Zealand as well as from across the ditch in Melbourne and Sydney.

Tune in to the BOP Blues Facebook page and you can expect to see and hear Darren Watson, Jan Preston, Mike Garner Band, Kokomo, Hammer On, Velvet Bulldozer and many more.

Winston Watusi
Music Plus