These days, when you hear the words “Cross Creek Blues Club”, the word “club” is enough to make you see wizened old men whose music dreams failed and who get a group of like-minded old men together to share their woes and their bad blues music.
After joining my friend Tory, a Cross Creek Blues Club fan, at the Tin Hut in Featherston on Wednesday night, my visions were proved very, very wrong.
Sure, the club captain was a wizened old man, but he was sweet. And sure, there were a couple of middle-aged men up on stage and in the audience, but they had style. There were definitely no stereotypes in that place – every person seemed worlds away from each other in terms of personality, but were brought together by a love of blues music.
I have worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for nearly a year now, and have written many articles on who is set to be playing at the blues club each month, but I have never actually been, or met any of the members. So when Tory asked me to go, I though, why not? I’d had a busy week and needed a glass of wine and a catch up with my fellow journalism school survivor, and the music might be okay.
Well, I arrived, got myself an $8 glass of wine (seriously, in Featherston?!) and sat down with Tory. Then began the people watching. In front of me sat a boy of about twelve, there with his parents. Across the room were a few young guys, maybe in their mid to late twenties. Behind me were a few young couples with a great sense of style and warm smiles, something I see seldom in Masterton but often in places like Featherston and Greytown.
At the bar stood a small woman with a cute black pixie cut who looked like she has just flown over from Paris in her beautiful brown overcoat and red hat, standing by a young man who also looked like he was straight out of Paris.
So with my attention back to the conversation, which was generally sharing war stories of our time at the Wairarapa Times-Age and Whitireia Journalism School, the music played on in the background. It was quite good.
After a couple of people had played, two words pricked up my ears: Jimi Hendrix, and as I do most times I hear that amateur bands are going to cover songs sung by music legends, I inconspicuously crossed my fingers and prayed this particular band wouldn’t murder a great song.
Well, this guy was so good that I almost fell asleep in my chair I was that relaxed. With some good sauvignon flowing through my veins, I closed my eyes and let the music flow through me. I’m now on the hunt for a Jimi Hendrix record.
Turns out the French-looking woman from the bar was featured singer Alda Rezende, and the young French-looking man was Lucien Johnson, a saxophone player, who plays in a band The Troubles, which was backing up Alda.
I’m not the best judge of nationalities it turns out – Alda was Brazilian. I may have been right about Lucien though, but I never actually heard him speak, I only heard his impressive saxophone playing.
For such a petite woman, the voice that came from little Alda was definitely unexpected. You wouldn’t expect to hear Brazilian music at a blues club, but somehow Alda’s deep, husky voice that sounded neither male nor female by the end, fitted in seamlessly with the eclectic mix of musicians there that night.
I will definitely be back next month, Cross Creek Blues Club; to listen to the musical stylings of Vinyl Bison I’ve heard so much about.
Photo by Mike Warman