Covers / Originals

When I was about 13, I had to go over a railway bridge to get to piano lessons once a week. I still remember the rush of wind followed by the locomotive as it went under the railway bridge, with a thunderous noise, followed by endless goods carriages. Sitting on my bike on top of the bridge, I used to wait for the goods train on my way home from the piano lessons My mind used to wander as I waited for the train. Poor Warrick- my other ‘main’ early piano teacher- by the time I got home I’d forgotten what he’d taught me. I’d ring him up and he’d patiently play the bass patterns and chords over the phone to me (chords for songwriting are like the colours you painting). 

Now that I teach piano to youngsters, I’m able to put myself in their shoes and remember that their lives are full of exploring so much more than just piano. So I’m patient with them if they ‘forget’ to practice. I really try to just keep the younger ones engaged and inspired each week – almost ‘sneaking’ the theory (the chords and scales) in, as part of the deal.. so much is spoon fed on the internet these days. It takes a lot of work to master an instrument. There is no quick way there. You have to be passionate. So I do my best to nudge my students along, in the hope they stick with for a long time.

Back on that bridge, all those years ago, I was fascinated, transfixed, scared to death & goaded by the trains. I’d fallen asleep to the sounds of trains from 5 years of age when my family moved to PN (without Dad) to live with my grandparents for a spell. Symbols of moving on, peace, etc. the rhythm , the inevitability of arriving (hopefully ) at a specific different from the path of our lives, as we unfold emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually. There on the bridge, my mind used to wander….part of me was reminded how fragile we are…and how insignificant we all are in the scheme of things.

I used to have falling dreams as a youngster & I still have flying dreams now (and the only drugs I would’ve done in the 60’s,maaaan , would’ve been some panadol between the age of 0-5 … if that was what was being sold then). I love the feeling, the concept of being free in our dreams to ‘leave’ our bodies…

When I think back to my piano man years, I wonder what might have unfolded had I not gone down the path of performing covers for a living. I didn’t go to ‘Uni’ in the end. Studying fine arts at university probably would’ve have lead to me meeting up with some like- minded souls and possibly forming a band, anyway.. and I loved so much music that was written by other people – maybe it was somehow destined for me.

With Paul Dredge and solo, so many nights were spent singing and playing our hearts out.

Good times….

The toughest part of a restaurant gig can be the resounding silence or frank indifference of an audience who are otherwise engaged with their meal; their dining companion; the conversation going on. It’s certainly an art. I did my best to make it that for the years when I sang for my supper playing background music. I learned a heck of a lot, it gave a lot of people pleasure, but I’m not sure if I’d go down that path again if I had a chance to do it all again.

Playing covers so much, it took me a long time to get confident about my own songs. I guess you do what you have to do to eat. Eventually you figure out that covers are someone else’s ‘originals’…

Paul and I recorded 4 or 5 4-tracked albums during our ‘piano bar’ years and we still write songs together and release albums. There’s a few on bandcamp and this one you can also stream on spotify, etc, here: Walking Through A Dream

… of 6 albums on Spotify under the artist name Pete Pascoe

Eventually I did make my living playing 100% originals in the restaurants and bars I played in. That was satisfying. Then started recording and releasing my albums (in various genres) myself.

There’s 12 albums here on Bandcamp … here’s one:

So. Starting in my late teens and carrying on for years, I lived a couple of lives at once: Mr Pianoman in the evening -and in the daytime Mr Songwriter. It’s taken me a while, but in these last few years I’ve been putting a lot of energy and time into (finally) drawing attention to my music online. Along the way I sold 5000 piano CDs of original piano music before CDs went west. Now it’s streaming and videos…and gigs.

Truth be known, I’ve loved it all and looking back, I feel like I’ve been really, really lucky to have made a living from my music.

Mr Piano Man.

I think the hazy line of our destiny lies before us. Maybe we weave backwards and forwards, hearing the call like a distant bell, or a dog barking at twilight somewhere in the neighbourhood. We follow the path loosely, a coincidence or a miracle seems to occur just when we need it most & a sense of peace descends when we are on the path. Equally, a ‘wake up call’ seems to happen when we stray.

It’s the same , following a song through to its completion: faith in your fingers that they’ll pick out the right notes, faith in yourself that what you are producing is ‘original’, ‘meaningful’, worthwhile and ‘true’. It doesn’t strike me as an art to take lightly, but it is definitely a joy- it pretty much fits in, then, with my life’s philosophy.

I’m enjoying speaking about the songwriting process on my podcast episode each week. it’s also an opportunity to let my mind wander back to old memories from the time I wrote the featured song of the week.. here’s the link :

On this recent episode I talk about Favourite Time -the 4th song I wrote (!) and I also begin composing a song on the piano, as I speak.
It really is my favourite time…

One way or another, you’re going to learn stuff in this life. I had some pretty big edges knocked off in my late teens & mid 20s – we all do – and I don’t think it did me any harm. All my trials and errors of that intense time served to make me more appreciative of this life, made me more humble.

Once you’ve been down to the often sung about ‘crossroads’, there’s no way to come back to who you were before then. You’re a goner and you may as well enjoy the ride. The day I discovered my ‘mustard seed’ was alive and well was a day I never questioned then or since. It’s certainly a joy and privilege to be around. 

….and all this it led to me writing 800 original songs – and now (in late Dec, 2020) my band just released another rock album that I’m really proud of:

(streaming now – here’s the Spotify link) The Roughest Cut by Pete Pascoe & The Patient Hum.

You can read about the band by scrolling down through this post on my other blog:

Originals won.


Sid / Songwriting

Over the years, reasonably often, I’ve been asked: ”How religious are you?”  or : “are you a religious man?”  At times I struggle for an adequate answer and at other times the words come more easily…

I s’pose the question may be being posed as a result of people seeing how passionate and committed I am with my creative projects -and about life in general. Here we go, I’ll have a go at answering that here…

I’ve made a choice to live by a set of rules, I’m guided by my conscience/instinct, I practice and keep it building through ritual & I endeavour to live a free and happy life, by expressing these values in my everyday life & in my thoughts and intentions. I feel in touch with spirit – through nature, music and art. But I’m not in step with any organised religion as such. I was raised a ‘non-practising Church of England’ … Sunday school didn’t seem to hurt me and some sections of the book of John seemed to ring a bell in particular.

As I said, I get what I need from nature. I do my best to be calm and process any incoming information and take positive action. I feel truly happy and grateful for each day I’m here – the memory of the tap on the nut with the cricket ball helps too.

Also, anytime since my 20’s when I’ve found myself starting to think otherwise, I’ve thought of a friend who ended it all & I think: no, that’s not what I want. it’s a fine line, happiness/sadness, light/dark. 

This all brings ‘Sid’ to mind. A Salvation Army man – not that you’d’ve known it at high school – Sid York (r.i.p.) was the band master at Q.E.C, Palmerston North, NZ. He arranged ‘popular’ tunes so beginners could play them -and so they would sound good. Sid had an awesome ear. He was great at getting performances out of people. In the band it really hinged on the piano/bass and drums, then about a dozen various brass instruments filled it out. We played Beatles, TV themes, etc.

Here we are, playing on the back of a truck! Thanks to Russell McMurray (playing bass) for this pic.

Song For Guy (Elton John) was a turning point for me. I was having trouble getting it together in time for the end of year prize giving assembly. But Sid had faith in me. I got there, with a couple of days to spare. 13 years old, my knees shaking so much I could barely work the sustain pedal, all the teachers on stage stood briefly to see who was playing the piano. Looking back, it’s even more clear to me how Sid was expressing his faith through his love of music- contagious, apparently.

Here’s me, playing it recently. In this video I say “This one’s for Sid” – it became Song For Sid for me.

Another day, in the school assembly, a dead mouse fell out of the old piano, mid song. Pretty funny. We were half way through ‘Both Sides Now’… As I played, I leaned down and managed to pick it up by the piano and toss it into the euphonium – or tuba(?). Had to be done. Pretty hilarious. Sid was startled by the sudden fluffed notes and giggling. 

I believe we all get ‘special’ teachers who come in to our life. Sid was definitely one of mine. I’m very grateful for that. He was very talented and patient, kind man.

I reckon we’ve all got a hazy (phone) line to spirit. We came from there. It doesn’t go away- why wouldn’t communication be possible? Each to their own. Suffice to say events in my 20s, when I went looking for proofs (and the near death experience with the cricket ball) did nothing to dent my expectations that there is somehow ‘more to the picture’ than people generally admit to perceiving – & that has been part of my everyday thought process all along.

I think the process of ‘receiving’ , or composing, a melody of a song is along the same lines. A rough technique has been honed through work and constant practice, you’re in the zone and the muse appears -through an accidental note hit on the piano perhaps, or a couple of mystery chords. Mystery being the essence. Being prepared to move on, assuming the path is there. All very mystical and spiritual.

I get my song lyrics from interactions with other people. My personal “take’ – my choice of words – creates rhythm, feelings. I let my hands fall where they will on the keys, with a bit of help from my having some knowledge of theory – and muscle memory. It is the most wonderful feeling to write a song. It happens quickly and it happens naturally for me. Like everyday I wake up breathing, I’m extremely grateful for this ability.

On my Song and a Chat Podcast I’m constantly exploring the songwriting process (Plus having fun with ‘life’ observations, old ‘yarns’, etc..) Here’s this week’s episode’s art:

I’m extremely grateful for all those teachers who’ve come into my life and taken the time to help me along…often helping me to conquer the fear of those creative steps…

you can read more about this on my other blog: Creations In Music and Art

The Zoo Recording Sessions & a Fishy Story

After a while, Paul headed for the ‘tall timber‘. ‘Dredgie’ screamed and ran, understandably – and probably quite rightly. The idea of endless gigs at Wairakei Resort became unbearable to him. He fell in love, got engaged and eventually returned to Palmerston North. 

I struggled on ‘manfully‘, determined to ‘succeed’ –

well, survive, at least – while I figured out what to do next…. 

Not the coolest ad…

During this time we’d run into Grant Hislop, an old flatmate of ours from PN days, who now owned a a radio station and a The Zoo recording studios. “Knew we’d hook up again one day” said ‘Hizzle‘, his voice deep as a bear’s. Isn’t there a hazy line that connects all our lives to certain people?).

We booked some studio time and headed off in the mighty Hercules once more

ready for another day in the studio…

Paul Dredge, Earl Pollard & Michelle Pickett and I recorded 17 songs in 3 days.

Good times …with the amazing Zed Brookes engineering.

In the studio it was totally magic to me. it was my first time in a ‘real’ studio! I was completely in my element, somewhere on another plane – team leader (‘The Captain’) – guiding us through each day in the studio. Everything was ‘first take’, everything seemed magic. As noted previously, Earl had joined us in the PN Piano Bar days. Earl was gentleman with sensitive ears and thick skin. A strong friendship had formed during our gigging years together. Our musical relationship was pretty much cast in stone from the day where we realised we all had a strong affinity with ‘Cant Buy A Thrill’ by Steely Dan. Such are the illogical sentimental agreements of artists. 

Good old Earl. Man, he took some ‘stick’ from us slightly younger whipper-snappers. From the day he signed his name ‘Eral’ on the papers to buy a P.A, that name stuck. He called his snare a snoon by mistake. A snoon it shall remain. All were memories to file away, to recall instantly when required. Frequently.

We pulled into a gas station one morning “Gallo” said Eral, as he wound down the window and greeted the attendant. Mortification & panic in his eyes, he follows up with “Hoodmorning!”  the van is engulfed in laughter and tears as Paul and I delicately let the moment pass out of respect for Earl. Not. Thus, a character was created and passed into legend:  Eral from the planet ‘Styrian’ . 

Dear Earl, r.i.p. We love you as a brother, man. Earl has left us now, far too early. Cancer got him, seemingly the healthiest amongst us. We miss Eral so much. When you lose someone you are so close to musically, the pain is all the more acute. You communicate and trust each other so deeply. An irreplaceable relationship.  Still, we have wonderful memories of many fun times together – like this…..

A fishy story

We all enjoyed fishing. Earl was acknowledged to be ‘The Master’. One early spring afternoon we approached a beautiful steam in Taupo hinterland. Fly rods in hand, humour rampant, expectations high. Rightly so, as it turned out: Eral froze as we reached the river’s edge, flicked his fly into the water & 2 minutes later a gleaming rainbow trout lay gasping on the grass at our feet. ‘The Master’ had reaffirmed his standing in just a few minutes of action.

Meanwhile, Dredgie approached a stunning pool, with Earl and I close behind, observing. Fantails flitted across the surface, which mirrored the willows in the deep green still water. Surely here lay trout for the taking. Paul cast back and forth before finally throwing his weight forward with the line- and the front half of his rod – which chose that moment to become separated from the lower half. It arrived in the middle of the pool with a splash that would’ve scared any present trout into next year. Dredgie took the disappointment well, with a pained expression and a resigned sigh.

This was doubly compounded by my exploits shortly after: I decided there would be trout lying beneath willows about 3 kilometres upstream, which I duly started casting for. Backward and forward my fly line flew..then, predictably, with Earl and Paul watching, I completely lost control and the line fell on top of me, around me and the fly landed in 10cm of backwater behind me- directly into the mouth of a waiting trout! Perfect, I thought – & took all credit, as I hauled in a 15cm fingerling that started growing in my imagination (and continues to, in my memory)  before I even landed it.

Note to self: trout are often lying at your feet

Luck is a strange thing, aint it? maybe its a bit like magic, fairytales- faith , if you will. It seems, most often, if you assume it’s there, you’ll be ‘backed’. it does seem to be part of the equation…

The Wairakei Resort Gig

‘The restaurant’ – brand new!

After a month or so of ‘R &R’, Paul and I got a gig at a resort. In a state of both disrepair & being rebuilt, the place had a history of ‘live’ music and we became a continuum of that theme. Our last port of call on a dark winter’s evening, we dropped  a demo tape of at reception and returned, dejectedly, home. This was out first effort to find a gig, after a month or two off-  & the signs weren’t good in a small place the size of Taupo, NZ. 

The phone went the next day: “Are you guys as good as you sound on the tape?” “Hell, we’re better than that!”  I said, in true humble Sagittarian style. An arrow had found the mark and we got employed.

Maybe I’ll write a book about the ‘Wairakei Resort‘ one day. The place has a long history. Seems a place of a thousand ghosts and memories. Back then it was surrounded by the oldest exotic plantation of pine trees in NZ, in a perfect circle. 

It seemed a surreal and breathtaking set, that first evening. We sat on the porch, watching about 50 quail on the front lawn as an awesome sunset surrendered to the tree line, against a perfectly  clear mountain-air sky. The crisp stillness was emphatic. Here, surely, was a strange set for something magical – or a place to lose yourself, never to return. Fortunately, it turned out to be more of the former, although, truth be known, it was a close run thing. 

When we’d arrived, we couldn’t believe the accommodation for our stay on that first gig : a run down old shack, the worst in the row of ‘staff quarters‘, beside the golf course.

Yeek – and it was cold. To be fair, one of the managers was horrified later to learn this was where we were put up the first weekend.

A fresh lick of paint seemed to be holding the walls up. No curtains. Freezing. Still, we’d put our bags inside and got ready for the gig and sat, observing the quail.

Then we set off for ‘the function room’. Our first night on the job…we were well received. Our brand of dinner music ‘wowed‘ the locals. Unfortunately, Keith, the maitre D (whom I’ve previously mentioned -funny story here about when we first met : Keet), threw things into state of confusion by turning on the mirror ball halfway through the night, as if we were a dance act. Dredgie was horrified, me cross eyed, Keith confused and the patrons bemused. Then it all got sorted. The mirror ball was turned off and we finished the night in our ‘quiet‘ way. 

Paul and ‘Steven Seagull’….

We got employed for Friday and Saturday evenings. Our first night in ‘The Restaurant‘ was a ‘triumph‘ -apparently. It was empty, apart from an austere looking older couple who seemed to hardly notice whether we were playing Mark Knopfler, Rolling Stones or Ray Charles. The funniest part of the night was when we sitting in the adjacent bar, during our last break. We realised the raucous music that suddenly burst into our consciousness was the last (hidden) track on ‘Woodface’ a Crowded House CD we’d put on. Paul raced into the restaurant & switched it off and saved the day. 

This is a Paul Simon song we used to perform together

A few years down the track, performing in different countries!

It turned out the older couple was the General manager and his Wife. The next evening, at ‘staff dinner’ ( left over dog? who knows? the staff food was often reinvented, re- presented as a new dish, each day ) the GM came up and congratulated us and hoped we’d stay for a long time. The place seemed somewhere between Hotel California and quaint NZ colonial times. The ‘old school‘ ‘boarding school’ type mentality was stifling. Dredgie and I flitted in and out of the picture. Playing golf (free) , writing songs, doing the gigs in the restaurant. We hung out afterwards, completely ‘lost in time‘, in the comforting soulessness of the ‘B.P. Diner, in the gas station across the road. We often scoffed burgers hungrily, having been unable to consider eating the ‘staff dinner‘ that had been on offer 3 hours earlier. The older waitress eyed us with maternal sympathy, a peaceful worldly look in her eye- angels at every turn.

I reckon we are walking receivers, set, ready to become whatever the universe requires of us, as our personalities unfold.

Here’s our song ‘B.P. Diner‘ (from the Album ‘Lost In Time’)

BP Diner reflects the juxtaposition of this somehow ethereal quiet setting while a young barmaid told us of her struggles, attempting to juggle motherhood, in a relationship that was under pressure, in a small town….-yeehar. If grace could be found here, you’d find it anywhere.

Here’s the video. Spot the lion (me ) and the gorilla (Paul) – we got dressed up for a cameo in a circus themed function between sets once. Really….

Now do you believe me?!

OK, here’s how it happened. Paul and I were booked to do a few brackets of background music for a function, which had a theme of ‘circus’. Despite some pretty interesting outfits and few good folks, this turned out to be a rather stuffy lot. We didn’t quite get daggers from the crowd as they conversed and dined, but we did get some rather long cold stares. Thank goodness, there was quiet applause from one table, occasionally, that gave us a point of focus.

Someone had the idea of hiring a lion and gorilla outfit to dress an employee up, to liven up proceedings. Trouble was, no one wanted to do it. The management asked if Paul and I would do it to provide some excitement. We didn’t need a second invitation.

We got the outfits on and worked out the briefest of plans: Paul was to chase me and go where ever I did in the room.

There followed 5 minutes of complete and utter shambolic improvised ‘theatre’ of sorts. I raced in, mincing along in the silky lion outfit. Paul was right behind me making gorilla noses, jumping in the air and clapping his feet together, rather athletically.

As planned, we raced around the room. The room erupted. I went under some tables. Paul went under the tables. I went across the top of a table and dived between the patrons on the other side. Paul followed. We had fleeting dances with some of the gamer folks…I got accosted and ended up sitting in the ringmaster lady’s lap, while Paul leapt around… it was too funny.

We left the room abruptly at the gallop, got changed and -once we got our act together (and it took some time, as this was one of the funniest experiences we’d had on a gig ), we resumed out positions on stage, performing to a much more relaxed bunch…. the things you find yourself doing.

So there you go. The ballad of the Lion and the Gorilla has yet to be composed…

More ‘Wairakei stories’ coming up.

Leaving town (again)

The London’s gig was pretty much an idyllic time. But I was on an emotional roller coaster: ‘love / relationship issues’…and then one summer it got too much. Paul and I ‘bailed’, got a van, called it ‘Hercules’ and headed out of town for a ‘detox’.

Too much alcohol, not enough sleep, too much stress, too many gigs in too short a time.

Elton John’s middle name…+ it seemed like a good idea to give a name of strength to a van which we weren’t really sure how long it was going to go for… years, it turned out.

Speaking of the hazy line, a fellow I was just starting to get to know, a genius on guitar, tragically took his own life. His sudden death – the ‘line’ of his life discontinuing – affected our circle of musician friends greatly. I can’t tell you why it affected me so deeply, as I was just starting to get to know him, but it did. Maybe it was seeing the amount of grief his family and close friends felt. Maybe it was like: here’s a guy who could play brilliantly, had an incredible mind, but chose not to carry on…maybe the implied conclusion to draw was:  ‘why, then, should us players of ‘lesser‘ natural ability even bother to carry on?‘ Maybe it was just where I was at…

Attempting to recollect how all that felt, while also dealing with a slowly breaking heart, the stretched soul – the amazing highs and lows – seemed overwhelming. It was a challenging patch for me…

My reflected world seemed to be talking to me. You hear about artists having these intense transformative periods in their lives. This was definitely one of those times for me. These experiences are often tucked away and not talked about. We all evolve over the course of our life and I think it’s helpful to share stories from time to time (with an appropriate ‘discerning’ filter, perhaps..).. it’s an intensely personal thing…..anyhow, back then parallels to my actual life seemed to be being played out in the movies. I felt like I was being pushed along by a huge wave that was growing & growing. Coincidences happened so frequently, each day became a puzzling miraculous dream. I was living in a dream world. Searching for truths – and I wanted answers.  Music kept my feet on the ground -to a degree…maybe I’ll write a book about it one day. For now I’ve put it in my songs, art and poetry…maybe that’s the best place for it!?

Here’s Dream world -a song I wrote the lyrics for at the start of this time. Paul wrote the music later.

I wrote the lyrics to GamePlan then, too (which Paul also wrote the music to later )

I enjoyed making this video

and I recorded a Podcast Episode about this song recently: Song and a Chat – Game Plan

I drew the cat in ’87 , Paul and I were busking in Mt Maunganui in ’94 (?)

it’s great to be able to publish my (our) work like this.

Here’s some writing which I did years afterward, if you feel like a look. I would say some of this writing is a direct result of experiences and thoughts I had at that time. here’s a link:

Transformation – peace pesto

It had a profound effect on me. Looking back, it was a new version of me, in some respects, that was unfolding… my world view changed. I saw a bigger picture. Everything changed, yet nothing changed, in some respects. I’m glad I followed my instincts and took this path. I was lucky, perhaps – I came out the other side with my head relatively ‘together’ and ready to continue on my musical life…

Just prior to my world really tipping upside down, Paul and I went looking for another gig….


 I heard a restaurant /bar across town was looking for a Piano man –the place I worked at when I returned from the U.S.A. , some years ago. It was now called London Park Cafe –

There followed about 3 ½ years of a most excellent residency. Newly single and solo, I set about singing and playing 4-5 nights a week. All  I could eat and drink, my repertoire completely up to me. My bosses trusted me to do the job and I did. 3 people turned up the first night, 10 the next. The talented Jeff Seumanu joined me on bass for a few months. Then by the time Jeff finished and I got Dredgie in, as bassist/guitarist/singer, the place was really cranking. Then one night when Paul and I turned up to work and we could barely get in the door -and it was a big place. It appeared there was a real need for vocal harmony, guitar & piano entertainment at a level people could converse easily.

Lost in the music

With great management and staff, this was a really fun place to be 5 nights a week – we were so lucky. One of the owners was a woman who used to be the girl with Scottish band (The Tartan Clansmen) who played during that Christmas season years ago. Michelle was now in that band, had bought the nightclub we met in, plus the nightclub above this piano bar/restaurant. Dredgie and I often tried to get her up to sing with us – we succeeded from time to time -what a voice. 

Hard work – someone’s gotta do it!

We had the talented Greg Crayford on drums for a time, the fabulous Jeff Baker- Then the amazing Earl Pollard joined us on drums. Good times!

That’s the man! Great ears, such a sensitive musician. Earl is no longer with us unfortunately. R. i. p. Eral.

Musically, London’s was an awesome experience. We taught ourselves the blues, continued to rearrange sheet music, improvise, write charts, harmonise and generally have a ball. 

Some nights the band got bigger as other musos from gigs came in. We played late.

One evening, not too long after we’d been playing there, we decided to record ourselves. After the first bracket we took the tape out to Dredgie’s car. A moment of hiss then we heard ourselves for the first time,properly, ‘live’. Ahh, the relief! ‘Great! We do sound good‘ was the overwhelming feeling I remember.

We had a blast. Playing 5 nights per week. Paul and I shared a house, wrote songs, fished, played golf, holidayed together. We had so much fun – harmless enough stuff – pretty much what you’d expect from 2 ‘free‘ 20-something year olds.

Here’s a video of Paul & I live at Londons (1991). This was our opening song of this particular evening. We had just returned to town in time to perform…we’d been away on a trout fishing trip. At dawn we’d been catching the trout below -hence the half closed eyes in the bright lights! But we were in the mood to sing…

In Kuratau at Lake Taupo, NZ. We froze our fingers catching this, flyfishing in the frost!

It was generally a well behaved crowd. Nothing too wild. A place you could relax, eat, have a drink and chill out. There were some interesting evenings over the years -plenty of great memories…

For a while, some overseas students used to frequent the restaurant on a Sunday night. If it happened to be the birthday of one of their group, the idea was, apparently, to buy him/her fishbowl sized drinks of rocket fuel to consume, until the inevitable end. There was a particularly raucous group in the corner doing this one evening. Paul and I looked up to see the birthday boy right on the stage area, in front of the baby grand, completely disorientated and…arms back and outstretched, he deposited the recently ingested contents of his stomach onto the carpet. It remains the longest most impressive copious techni coloured ‘yodel’ I have ever seen. In the middle of a quiet restaurant / bar, where we are playing gently, this happens! Poor young ‘Basil’ , the new dishes hand had the job of mopping up while we took a hurried break. 

Episodes like this seem like they happened yesterday. Sometimes it was like a slow build . Other times things got crazy in a moment…

We were playing in the bar/restaurant one night. Relatively quiet, things going well. We’d just started ‘Come Together’ by the Beatles when, right on cue in walked a particularly flat headed fellow we knew of. He had quite a reputation as an ‘edgy’ dude, was built like a very short fridge and looked as strong as bear. We knew he had a short temper, too. And what lyrics did I lean into the mic and emphasise at that particular moment?  ‘ here comes old FLAT HEAD’ …

His head spun around and he delivered one of the most intense evil stares I have ever witnessed. I got away with my loose tongue (after a couple of wines) on that occasion. Also, at the time I never batted an eyelid and just carried on a singing, with a half smile and a twinkle in my eye, ala the entertainer. I didn’t dare look at Paul. We eventually took a break, went out the back and had a laugh. A narrow escape, I think. 

Here’s us, years later having some fun with some songs we used to play. (videoed in different countries, which I put then together).

A loose international jam…

We loved playing all those brilliant songs – like this one by Paul Simon
and here we are in 2019, that’s where the restaurant was, behind us (in Cuba st Palmerston North , New Zealand…) It was the best gig in the world.

So we had some really , really great times (lots more stories to come….) I have loads of live recordings from those days – must dig them up…

and I returned to cricket. My team mates gave me glasses with eyeballs painted on for a Christmas present- a statement about me turning up for cricket at 11am, having just got home from the night club about 7am…

Just another night in the office!

(for more music and art, visit my other blog: )

The Cricket Ball

Then came the ‘whack on the nut’. A rock hard red cricket ball that never bounced, straight out of the dark trees behind the bowler’s hand. The decision was made  –just too late- to hit it. I missed. Then there was a thump like a car crashing into a woodshed in the dead of night, as it crashed perfectly into my right temple. No helmets in those days. Then a noise like a jet taking off in my right ear. The movie goes into slow motion, becomes a bird’s eye view. I see myself below, slumped to my knees, trying to compute anything and everything.


The concerned voice of cricketers converging on me fade up, I’m back in ym skin. I say something about being fine & wanting to carry on batting. “He’s back!”…I hear..& someone says: “No Paz, there’s nothing to be won here- there’s blood coming out of your ear.”

Right hand cupped under my ear, sitting in my Michael’s car as he drove me to hospital (thanks Michael). His face was white as his knuckles on the steering wheel. (Turns out he can’t stand the sight of blood). Me throwing handfuls of blood out the window. 

Lying on the examination table/bed . The specialist saying “what’s your name ?” Mums there- I can’t resist it- “Tuesday.” I said, for a bit of fun. (NOT funny, mum informed me later ). “Well, we don’t know why you’re still here” The Doctor says. “The X-ray clearly shows a fracture through the right temple. But you’ve got a 2nd chance. Keep doing whatever you’re doing if you like it,  if you don’t, start doing something else.

I was a bit lucky as it turned out. Facilities (apparently none the worse) in order, fingers all ‘go’ -no loss of motor skills. For the first time in my young adult life, I stopped. I lay in bed for about a month. Couldn’t move. A burst inner ear & perforated ear drum meant: if I did move, the nausea was instantly so bad there’d be an (off balance) race to the toilet. 

So, I thought. And thought. My mind was already made up: musician and artist for me. No question.  It was one of those near-death experiences that seem to be some sort of wake up call. Looking back, mine wasn’t overly traumatic & I’m thankful to have been given another chance. 

After a brief return to the band(no good- the drums, bass and loud guitars were too much)I realised I needed something else. Something quieter….

The Real McCoy

Then I got head hunted again- this time for a top 40/covers band. We played in the pub owned by the same hotel as the restaurant. I was soon followed by Paul , who was teaching himself bass, on the gigs, holding his left hand on the top of the neck of the guitar and finding his way about, a brilliant natural musicality his saving grace (and his ticket to eventually pretty much mastering about 8 instruments). Phil joined us on drums a few months later. ‘Tony’ completed the line up and with his magnificent P.A. we had an impressive sound. That was something we strived to get, perhaps playing quieter than might have been expected. I think that approach resulted in some long term employment for me. 

There were initially more of us in the band but Siggy and Therese left after a while. We regrouped and became The Real Mccoy. I got given the ‘high key’ songs, which Therese had been singing (!). So I did my best for the band and picked ones that I could actually manage to sing, scream, yell or yodel my way through.

Nice haircuts!

We entertained throngs of punters 4 nights per week, for 3 years. We rehearsed with voices like frogs suffering  from laryngitis on Saturday mornings. Each night, at the end of the gig, the ‘hazy line’ was locked by sliding doors, protecting all that amazing musical equipment. 

Another extremely well paid & enjoyable gig. It seemed a gift, a lucky start-surely meant to be? 

To this day I’m not sure if it was a staircase or a slippery slope  into a parallel  life to the actual creative path I’ve eventually crawled my way back to. It was a fun time, a great way to learn, but sometimes I wonder about all those years playing covers..

It did give me the time, inclination and money to live off as I started teaching myself the art of composing songs.

(Want to hear more about how I go about songwriting + anecdotes /life observations..? check out my Podcast -weekly episodes featuring a new song each week!)

A Song and A Chat

Perhaps the financial  uncertainty never let me get too comfortable (is this the bane of any established- or would be- songwriter?). 

Anyway, one way or other we dutifully turned up and played week , Wed to Sat. Looking back & at the time, a hilarious time was had by all.

Saturday, I played cricket all day, had a shower, then it was off to ‘The Office’ (The Pub). Mid 2nd set,the boys in the cricket team would arrive (a sunburnt and half-cut crew). Mysteriously it was often the girlfriend of one of the cricketers that got the birthday bottle of champagne- dished out by the keyboard player, on behalf of the pub. ‘Hurt So Good’ ‘ Summer of 69’ ‘ eagle rock’ ‘twist and Shout’ were the inevitable ‘climax’ of the evening for my vocal performances. Interwoven by Tony’s songs and  more tuneful versions of cool ‘Cars’ & ‘INXS’ songs  by Paul. 

Paul and I still write songs together today. Here’s one from the Tasman Bridge album (There’s a line about ‘wondering about the path I’ve taken…’) :

Here, on the stage, I started to learn how you could communicate with so many people at once. This was great!

The Christmas Season Gig

I left the Trio for a while- got head hunted for a (disastrous, as it turned out) Christmas season Dinner/show band at the ‘Southern Cross’. Here’s how it happened…..

I was playing with the trio at The Steeple restaurant (in Palmerston North, NZ) when, mid song, a middle aged fellow leaned across the baby grand . With one eyebrow raised, he said : “Talk to you in the bar on your break?”  A brief conversation followed and not long afterwards I broke the news (probably in a large shoe size fashion) “I’m off!” “Why?”  “This could be it!”  I remember dreaming of .. stardom? Recognition? “and just what is this ‘it’?” I remember Phil saying….

It’, as it  turned out , was: an 8 week Christmas season contract as a ‘warm up’ band /backing band for an ‘entertainer’ ,the bill split with a particularly polished Scottish group – The Tartan Clansmen. It was well paid and there was more beer on offer than you could poke a stick at. 

Although we had a couple of good singers(Moondance always went well), with 3 ‘Peters’ in the band and a dodgy P.A. ,it was bound for tragedy. “Solo, Pete!” says our singer… cue drums, guitar & piano all leaping into a solo all together. It got more chaotic each week, instead of getting better. The PA wasn’t great. That didn’t help.

We  had train crashes mid song in the entertainer guy’s set, who’s stage smile belied his urge to shoot us, I’m sure. Then Nick’s bass amp blew up & without batting an eyelid he grabs a mic and goes” dum dum de dum” in his deepest voice… Just heart-breakingly funny…

…and it would’ve taken the cake if right then, the large cubes of wood that made up the stage hadn’t started moving apart with Peter’s drum stand’s legs falling through the ever widening cracks. The drums just sort of disengaged themselves from each other like a melting dessert in a dreamscape – more like a nightmare-a hazy one! 

We did our best, but looking back I can see I learned a good lesson about (non) professionalism in that band.

I met a very good singer at those gigs, the daughter of the family playing in the Scottish band. She sat with her mother, watching each night, when we took a break, drinking the beer that was part of our wages, I’d join them and watch the Clansmen. Now, they were professional.  

My poor old battered suitcase model Rhodes piano saw me through. I survived the gig and I learned a lot.


In the New Year I turned up back at the gig with my old band mates. They took me back in, bless their cotton socks. 

Great mates. That’s what I found in this sketchy magic realm of ‘performance area’ -the ‘stage’ as it were. It was a great time for us all.

In the restaurant a wonderfully rewarding, subtle, gentle dance had evolved between the instruments and the voices as the nights went by. Paul  & I were sight-reading each other’s sheet music, new songs each night. 

It was a great feeling -so professional.

The restaurant trio was a great experience, instantly intuitively rearranging songs to suit piano/bass/drums on the spot. Flying by the seat of our pants . Exhilarating- and we got paid for it!

We got paid for turning mistakes into ‘art’, sombre moods into parties, a boring meal into a special memory ( remember that night the Christmas tree fell on the band….? )

The Restaurant Trio/ Kazoos

I got a job in a very nice restaurant. ‘The Steeple’. Quiet background piano required, 3 nights a  week – easy &  enjoyable.  3rd night in, I was required to provide music for a lingerie fashion show. This was my sort of gig!

A couple of wonderful musician/friends, Drummer Phil Mann & Neville Lauridson, on bass, became the rhythm section. It was Neville’s bass amp I sang ‘Your song’ through, on the spur of the moment, and a singing career was begun.

and I did….

Here’s me singing your song all these years later

(Still giving it my best shot).

Then Dredgie (Paul) joined, playing bass (we’d played as a duo with Paul on the drums already). Paul, Phil and I became the trio.

For a while it was Phil, Peter, Paul and Murray

We got moved into a new restaurant (in the same complex – The Quality Hotel) when it was built. The ‘big boss’ was very happy with us.

At Phil’s urging, we became more …adventurous. He supplied  3 kazoos for the ‘Da Da Da’s’  in Dave Dobbyn’s  ‘Slice of Heaven’ bearing in mind, this was to be for a performance in a very quiet silver service restaurant (!)

This novelty act was actually well received (& the kazoos in 3 part harmony sounded great), especially when Phil accidentally spat his kazoo across the toms, the piano and onto the nearest table !

Medium/ rare steak + extremely rare kazoo ‘side’

It became a bit of a ‘floor show’ moment when we finished the 2nd set , walking (dancing) out, acappella ‘Da Da Da’s ‘ on the kazoos. You had to be there. Really. 

Then there was the time we rocked up (well, we sauntered in, respectfully ) to the gig, to find a rather ominously close and huge Christmas tree jammed in (well inside ‘the line’ as it were) with us. Sort of between the piano & the drums, if you will.  Right.

It was the sort of gig where my seat was creaking louder than I was playing. Phil could’ve done the drum fills with his fingers. Silver service, fine dining, gentle piano trio playing, candle light… &…

 … “DID YOU SEE THAT TREE MOVE!?” – I thought I did, mid way through ‘Lying Eyes’, by The Eagles. Third verse in “I’m sure it did!” Dredgie thought so too: “Hmm, bit of a lean!?” 

5th Verse, just going into the chorus, it happened: there was a very loud crash of cymbals, drums, et al , as Phil disappeared under the giant falling tree. Arms & hands with drumsticks in his fingers sticking out of the branches. Hors d’vors, & champagne airborne. Brilliant. –And WE got the angry stares and comments from the  diners! 

A priceless moment (not so much for the drummer…)

Or was that Dredgie on the drums…?!? hang on..

After all these years another hazy line has appeared…I first noticed it at a cricket team reunion/wedding of one of the guys.. we were all gathered around the bar after a few ales, recounting tales of cricket ‘happenings’ from seasons long ago (often hilarious – to us) and gaps started appearing in our collective memories! Hey! Who told someone  to start deleting the memory files? And so it goes, memories become stories, myths & just plain bull…from through the haze.

I’m doing my best here, to recount the stories to the best of my ability, as truthfully as possible. Chronologically might be just..well more ‘challenging’. So I’ll continue with the scatter gun approach. Anyhow, it’s more fun, and more as our human minds behave, recalling memories from a non-existent timeline. 

By the way, it was Dredgie under the Christmas tree!