“Grada epitomizes for me some of the very best young talent playing on the world music circuit at this moment,” says Keith Gosney.  He is the local, independent music promoter responsible for bringing this Irish folk band to the Hastings Playhouse Theatre on May 22nd. 

Though Gosney has an obvious vested interest, and all I know about Grada is what I’ve read in the press release and heard on My Space, I have no doubts about his claim.  
At age 14, Keith was organizing dances in the Waiouru Community Center. Soon thereafter he discovered folk music and found himself caught up in the music revolution of the 1960’s.  “I was simply hooked,” he says.  “I realized very early that if we in New Zealand were ever going to see or hear international artists, I, among others, had to do my bit.”  And so he has.  Andy Irvine, Brendan Power, Martin Carthy and Vin Garbutt are among the long list of artists he’s brought to the Bay.
“It’s a hobby interest.” Keith says of his music work.  I only aim to cover costs and to send the artists and audience home after having a great evening.” But there’s more to it than that. Keith flat out loves good music; loves supporting musicians on their way up; and loves giving people the chance to hear and experience something great. 

“All artists have to start somewhere, and it’s often through the generosity of small, part time promoters as well as their own drive and commitment, that these artists become ‘mainstream’ so to speak.  Without promoters driven by their passion for music, you would not get the diverse range of music that we have.  Small promoters, small venues—including bars and cafes, and even the artists themselves–have to go out on a limb financially just so we can hear something new!  But this is how music is grounded.”

In all respects, Gosney’s music work truly is a labour of love.  (Day job: engineer, Harris Pumps & Filtration).  But it’s earned him a loyal following.   It’s also made him a key figure in establishing the folk side of a viable alternative music scene in Hawke’s Bay. “There is a whole underground music scene within the Bay—small venues, small promoters risking everything to keep alternative or even ‘not’ alternative music alive.  There are some great artists who have visited the Bay but who generally would never see the bright lights of a small downtown venue if it were not for these dedicated folk.”

Not surprisingly, most mainstream music offerings are driven by the sobering realities of “astronomical” costs.  “Without question there are different but parallel music worlds within Hawke’s Bay,” Keith says.  “And it’s often hard to convince people to step out of their comfort zone and take the punt on another genre of music.  But get them through the doors and you have won.  My experience is that most people are hugely grateful for having been given the opportunity to listen to something that’s not mainstream—and actually affordable.”

Case in point: Grada, one of Ireland’s most successful touring bands on a 150 city world tour including performances at the Royal Glasgow Concert Hall, The National Geographic Society Headquarters in Washington, DC, Dublin’s National Concert Hall, and the Sydney Opera House.  The muscle behind the band is two former Wellingtonians, double bassist Andrew Laking and guitarist Gerry Paul.  They launched Garda in 2001.  “Their sound is deeply rooted in the Irish tradition, but also layered with fresh, jazzy tones and strong rhythmic grooves. Think Irish music that’s off the beaten track, blended with a diverse range of influences such as Americana, Jazz, and NZ roots that, in the words of the Irish Times, ‘come together as if they were lifelong bedfellows.’”

This is the second time Keith Gosney and willing assistants have brought Garda to Hawke’s Bay.  Their first appearance was a sell out. Likely this one will be too, says the press release.  I’m sure it will be.

For further details and tickets contact: Keith Gosney  Phone: 06-876-5867  Email: klgosney@xtra.co.nz

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