The Gunslingers Ball

By Mike O'Connor

Date:  Friday May 3rd, 2013

Venue:  Bodega, Wellington

The beards were left untrimmed, the plaid shirts were ought in force, and the cowboy hats were rescued from the dress-up box for the Wellington edition of The Gunslingers Ball on Friday night.

The Gunslingers Ball has turned into quite the kiwi institution over the last three years. A hoe-down for city-slickers and yokels alike, it harkens back to the good ol' days of classic Americana, and to a roadshow touring style that most kiwi's have probably only seen on reruns of the Johnny Cash show.

Tami Neilson was given the unenviable task of being first on stage, but with a voice straight off the range and as loud as the flower in her hair, had no trouble kicking things off. Her countrified cover of Sam & Dave's classic soul track Hold On I'm Coming just about brought the barn down before a slow and sultry end to her set marked the perfect start to the evening's entertainment.

Wellington's own D Burmester and the Blind, as comfortable together as a boot in a stirrup, quickly had the crowd rocking along. Shaun Blackwell, who somehow finds time to front John the Baptist as well, was in particularly fine form as the chaps showed why they must be one of Wellington's finest live bands.

Looking like he'd been just stepped straight from the saloon to the stage, Bernie Griffin was up next, and once the Grifters had sorted their instruments, he settled down into his seat and proceeded to show the young bucks how to play authentic down'n'out blues.

Soon after midnight, Auckland band The Broadsides hit the stage and proceeded to give the crowd a kick straight up the dungarees. Tami Neilson joining them back on stage was like a further shot of adrenalin, notching up the tempo as her voice floated above Alan Meharry's guitar. Working together is where this combo shines, and their rapid-fire set soon had the livewire crowd swinging.

Finally John the Baptist were up, and with new songs from their latest EP to play to a buzzing late-night crowd, proceeded to deliver a bass-heavy set that was the perfect send-off to a classic country shindig.Carterton won't know what hit them.