Gore's climate appeals to Warratahs' frontman

Entertainer Barry Saunders stops off in Gore on a whirlwind visit to the town to promote his new...
Entertainer Barry Saunders stops off in Gore on a whirlwind visit to the town to promote his new CD, Zodiac.
When Barry Saunders comes to Gore for the Hokonui Moonshiners' Festival in the new year, the sun always shines. But when the Warratahs frontman came to town this week to promote New Zealand Music Month and his new CD, it rained and it was cold.

Saunders, who splits his time between homes in Wellington and the Wairarapa, was an ardent supporter of the south and said it was a good sort of cold - it was the type of cold that you could rug-up against and go for walks, and at night you could enjoy sitting by the fire.

His band, the Warratahs, had performed at the moonshiners' festival on several occasions.

When asked why he kept coming to the town to perform at the festival, he replied: "Because they keep asking me".

"I really like the Moonshiners'. It's like a county fair with alcohol," Saunders said.

When asked if he liked whisky, he said he liked the Hokonui brand of whisky.

He enjoyed his stays and the people who attended the moonshiners' festival.

"They are quite responsive to my type of music," Saunders said.

He also praised the New Zealand Gold Guitar Awards, saying the event promoted country music as a ‘‘community thing''.

"When people think of Gore, they think farming, the Gold Guitars and the [Eastern Southland] gallery," he said.

His new CD, Zodiac, which was in his trademark genre of country with a little bit of soul thrown in, had been selling well, he said.

This was the first CD that he had not stressed about, he said. He had thought ‘‘whatever happens, happens''.

And it had so far turned out well.

He said he had at last discovered the secret to success.

He believed New Zealand's music industry was in good heart despite the economic depression.

"A good song is always going to get through. Music transcends all that [economic woe]," he said.

A lot more home-grown music was played on television and radio than had been the case 10 years ago, he said.

"So that's good," he said.

Country music was always on the "edge", he said, but every now and again it enjoyed a surge in popularity.

"A lot of people discover country music at some point in their life," he said.

In August, the Warratahs celebrate 25 years together and singer-songwriter Saunders said a "tour of some sort" would be planned.

Being involved in the Warratahs was still an attractive option for Saunders.

"The band still has a lot of fire in it," he said.

He did admit he could get a little frustrated at times but he never became bored. The band was like a family, he said.

And the biggest accolade he could hope for was that his music would live on in some form with new artists picking it up and making it theirs.

"It's nice to know that the music is still alive in some way. It's the greatest compliment," Saunders said.


-- Margaret Phillips

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