New approaches from an old identity

Luke Hurley plays a living room concert. Photo: Mark Thompson
Luke Hurley plays a living room concert. Photo: Mark Thompson
Luke Hurley was once a fixture in Dunedin, busking in its streets and playing its halls, but after leaving in 1992, he’s hardly been back. That’s about to change.

What have you been doing since leaving Dunedin?

Since moving to Auckland in the '90s I have been practising, writing and recording. I've been releasing the odd album. Much of the time that has involved getting nowhere, but then discovering a new way of approaching it all. But I've never understood the art of marketing.

It's possible to have the work ready to share but it isn't easy to find a way to share it effectively, unless you play like crazy wherever you can, from on a bus to at a Tedx Auckland event; which I have done and was fun, by the way. The Tedx event was quite literally 15 minutes of fame (and is still up on YouTube).

But a turning point for me was in 2007, in Dublin, when this amazing man gave me the best advice ever. ``Just play,'' he said. ``Play like a bastard.''

From then on, it made sense to forget the remote and futile goal of making the grade, whatever that means, by surrendering to something way greater. Just playing and growing by accident rather than by design. It's the blues approach and I am an old blues man, qualified with dues paid many times over.

The music industry has changed a lot. No-one buys CDs any more, for a start.

As a result, I invested in playing live. It works. The live presence is vital, the rest is virtual. Literally.

That's why my new album is called one take one voice one guitar. There are no gimmicks, just organic music from a certified music nut.

It's not available yet. It has taken ages so far and may take ages yet, but I'm in no hurry.

Why the tour now?

It's winter. It's quiet. It's cold. I thrive in such conditions. It might work and it might not. You have to take risks to win. I suspect this tour is a winner. So far so good.

Is there new music? If so, what's the inspiration this time around? Are there themes/messages/issues you are taking on?

Well, there are songs about how we are in this tiny moment, in a sandwich between two eternities having spontaneously appeared out of a nothing, explained away by science and exploited by religion.

And there's a song, called Before The War, based on a poem by someone who did active service in the horrific Iran-Iraq war and lived to tell the tale and give us a message of great urgency.

Then there is a song about a junkie, about having a positive attitude and about how in fact most things we worry about are relatively trivial, and one called Miracle, about the miracle of life, among others.

Will a Dunedin audience still recognise your music? How has it changed over the years?

Well, I use new styles but I haven't abandoned old songs. My new songs sound similar but with more melody and a much improved guitar technique.

You've lived in Auckland for some time now; do you busk up there?

Yes. It's a commercial city so there aren't gigs for original music, but through busking musicians have connection. The city is pretty tolerant with buskers. However, it's limited and a concert is way more fun.

Will the Dunedin concert include your well-known songs from your Dunedin years?

Yes, indeed.


The gig

Luke Hurley plays the Kings and Queens Performing Arts Centre, Dunedin, on Thursday, July 19, at 7.30pm.

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