The big silence begins...

By: Winston Watusi

Winston Watusi
Music Plus

This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but with a slowly descending silence.

Things are not going well right now. I sat down with a friend for a drink a couple of days ago. We joked that by the time we'd finished chatting there would be new COVID-19 restrictions in place.

Within that two hour window the rules on gatherings larger than 500 people were enacted.

Who knows if whether between when I write this and you read it things will have been tightened  still further.

Already the Jazz Festival, for the first time in its 58-year history, has been cancelled. And the Beach Hop and the Multicultural festival and several school galas.

More will no doubt follow.

“This applies to non-essential events such as festivals, fairs, sporting, religious and cultural events.”

That was the word then but things are changing so fast it's hard to tell what happens next.

I suspect that quiet times are ahead for musicians. People are not going to be rushing out to attend events. I hesitate to predict which shows, for instance, will continue on the packed schedule of concerts at the Historic Village's Jam Factory.

Things are still being decided. But there are a number of overseas acts who, unless they are in the country already, are going to be stuck self-isolating if they come at all.


This list will include: Freaky Meat and Champion Things (March 28), Jordan Brodie (March 29), Daniel Champagne (April 7, 8), Znouzectnost (April 9) and Eamon Dilworth's Crawfish Po’Boys (April 24). I can't say definitively that they've cancelled yet but keep an eye out for announcements.

What it means for New Zealand's touring acts is anyone's guess. Lawrence of Arabia is due here on March 22, avant garde Wellington jazzers Jeff Henderson and Riki Gooch plan to come on March 29 and there are more, either there or at other venues.

How comfortable will people feel packed into Baycourt for Pink Floyd tribute Floyd Live on March 21?

The big one is the National Jazz Festival when around 500 musicians from all around the country and further afield were due to hit town. There is going to be a huge knock-on effect.

Perhaps the people who scoff at council giving money to such an event may finally notice the blow to the local economy from not having huge numbers of visitors in town for Easter.

I can't see this stopping there. Will people still head out for a sweaty night dancing at Totara Street with potential infection hanging over their heads? The one thing I think we can rely on is that – as at every stage of this pandemic so far – things are going to get worse before they get better. So I'm uncertain which things I should promote in such turbulent times...

New music

For the moment I'm going to stop covering so many live events and move along to new music being made in studios and released into the world, whether physically or digitally.

Mike Garner has a new album in the offing, a collaboration with both Japanese and London-based musicians on a full collection of new original songs.

Anthony Coulter has been working like crazy, making videos and releasing new songs.

His album, Memories, is on-line and I'll be reviewing that.

At the younger end of the pool Mount Maunganui-based independent singer/songwriter Georgia Lines - Rockquest winner in 2014 - will be releasing her five-track debut EP on March 27, part of which was recorded over at a studio in Texas. Georgia has gone from strength to strength since her debut single in February last year with a UK single release deal and airplay here on ZM, The Hits, More FM and The Edge. She's also on Spotify of course.

On the bright side, a New Zealand online sex toy retailer is reporting a sales surge in lubricant, vibrators and batteries in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak.

Says the owner: “Our customers have told us they’re avoiding crowds and they want something to do while they’re stuck at home.”

Fair enough. Might as well stay busy while you're staying safe.