An afternoon in the life of a singer and guitarist

Singer and guitarist Andrew Healey writes about playing at The Blacksmith.

It’s a Sunday afternoon, and I’m driving on Auckland’s southern motorway. Kathy, my partner, sits beside me, and my car is packed: guitar, amplifier, microphone, a ‘bird’s nest’ of cables. Yes, I’m ready to perform an afternoon show at The Blacksmith in Takanini.

For a singer and guitarist, The Blacksmith is a cool place to play. For a start, within Takanini Village, there is plenty of parking, which means I don’t have to lug my equipment too far. Also, the place is usually well attended — there’re few things more depressing than playing to bar staff alone.

I arrive and, what do you know, there is a parking space right outside the bar’s side door. Excellent. So, after about 10 minutes twiddling my thumbs — I have a habit of arriving too early — I start to unload my gear.

Last time I was at The Blacksmith, due to being Mother’s Day, I played next to the bar. It was a good spot because I was in the middle of an appreciative audience. Today, though, Holly, the manager on duty, said to set up at the usual place. If you’ve never been to The Blacksmith, the ‘usual place’ is at the back beneath a large TV screen. It, too, is a good spot because I am able to plug straight into the venue’s PA system, which means my music is piper everywhere — even in the toilets.

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Anyway, I’m all set up and ready to go. After a quick tune up, I begin with ‘Four Seasons in One Day’ by Crowded House. I glance over at Kathy, who I’ve asked to check that the volume and mix is okay. She gives me a thumbs up, so all is good.

For anyone wanting somewhere to go on a Sunday, The Blacksmith is a good choice. There is tasty menu consisting of typical ‘pub grub,’ like pizza and nachos, there’s a pool table and, best of all, singers like me.

On a Sunday, there are no large, noisy bands. Instead, most performers are solo singer and guitarists playing mellow songs to create a nice atmosphere.

Anyway, back to me. After five or six songs, I gain the attention of several toddlers and their parents. The kids particularly like numbers like Tiki Tane’s ‘Always on My Mind’ — I can’t go wrong with reggae.

After playing to a good-sized audience during my first set, many of the punters leave to go home, so I switch to cruisy songs like ‘My Life’ by The Beatles and ‘The Man Who Sold the World’ by David Bowie. Come the third set, though, and things liven up again; by now, it’s about 4.30 pm, so people are arriving for dinner. I turn up a gear and rip into numbers like Queen’s ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love.’ Everyone loves that song.

As usual, playing at The Blacksmith is a good experience: the audience appreciates the music, I need less gear because I use the venue’s PA and I get to go home at a reasonable hour. Happy days!

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Andrew Healey

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Andrew is an Auckland-based writer and musician.

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