Concerts of Connections
D.I.Y essentially means if you want something to happen then you put effort into action and Do It Yourself, rather than waiting for someone else to come along and do it for you. It became an idea deeply embedded in the punk rock world but really it happens everywhere from Playcentres, community events and home repairs.
Good friends of ours, who were the band SABOT, advanced on this idea in one of their last albums called D.I.O – Do It Ourselves – much more communal, much less individual.
The act of making connections is essential, and then decently negotiating those relationships in the hope that ideas and plans develop is an ongoing process. It requires consideration of experience, articulating shared expectations, and discussions across cultural and regional differences. Add to this the challenge of conveying ideas and requirements across multiple languages, multiple timezones, multiple varieties of access to resources and continue to organize with an openness to collaborate without full control on the outcome. These are all great learning opportunities. Random and wonderful things can happen.
One random connection was many, many months ago when we were contacted by Gareth, one of the members of the Unstoppable Sweeties Show. Gareth offered to help us organize a bunch of shows if we were ever in his city of Liverpool. He stumbled across our music via a radio show (thank you Marina). It pays to remember to remember such generous offers. That initial connection was the genesis for our second leg of this tour.
This has been our first trip into the northern parts of the UK. We had shows in Liverpool, Nottingham, Manchester and Leeds. All shows were also with the Sweeties which provided a wonderful chance to hear more than once some of there great tunes and great compositions each really joyful, odd and skillfully delivered. After each show, except Leeds, we returned to Liverpool to rest. This was especially brilliant as we were also touring with a chest infection in tow.
The opportunity to be situated in one place for a few days makes small and unexpected spaces for connections with the local environment more likely. Here in Liverpool, while poking around in the massive cathedral, Chrissie met the artist, described by some as an outside artist, George Lund. We also learned the local history of a nearby barren section called Hitler’s Hill. The story goes that after the 1st world war Adolf came to stay with his older brother in Toxteth for several month before bro sent him packing back to Germany for being a lazy laggard. Years later the bombing happened, The Blitz. Liverpool was second only to London in damage sustained. Possibly in this campaign Adolf’s plan destroyed his brother’s home. Nothing has ever been built on that section, partly, we are told, to avoid creating a magnetic attraction for right wing romantics and fascists. There’s no plaques or any other sign of identification. Just a fence where the litter collects in a neighborhood where kids with lineage from all corners of this diverse world play soccer in the street.
In addition to all this, and on the day of our Liverpool show, we were invited to do a recording session for a series called POSTmusic. The audio sounds incredible and somewhere in the near future POSTmusic will post the video footage of this afternoon outing. Massive thanks to the warm support of Stephen Cole for doing the grunt work. We recommended you check out his band a.P.A.t.T.
This pattern of connections across time continued with the show in Leeds, organised through Danny, who sung in a band from Leeds called Jesus and his Judgmental Father, who we met in Paekakariki a couple years ago. His band was on tour in 2017 and we had the privilege of playing on the same bill on the night that the tail of a hurricane lashed the west coast of the island. That connection resulted in a brilliant night in the Wharf Chambers, the collective-run venue he is a member of in Leeds.
DIY has its challenges though. There is a massive culture of booking via promoters in the UK, and so it has been pretty hard to find a way in.
The advice we received was to start looking for shows in London at least 6-8 months out. So we began in October 2018, and now 8 days before we leave this part of the world we are still without bookings for 2 dates.
Social media is incredible though. We posted a couple of call-outs to the random world to see if anybody has any hints of help. This process in itself is incredibly inspiring. People get behind an endeavour, share posts, entire conversations generated by people we have no direct connection with, exploring their own networks to see if anything can be located for us. The net extends and friends connect to friends who connect to friends. It’s a beautiful thing to watch unfold. We wish we could throw a party for this spontaneous collaboration, this concert of connections, this flurry of mutual support for strangers across time, distance and relationship.
We don’t know yet how this leg concludes but already we are deeply gratified and satisfied. In the health world we’ve heard it said that establishing connection is the way back from the isolation of depression. These opportunities we have, the privilege of being part of the connecting of strangers in enthusiasm, is an inspiring and hope-growing experience. Thanks!