A craving for Gin Wigmore

Annemarie Quill catches up with Kiwi favourite out to rark up crowd

Don't be fooled by the name. Gin's favourite tipple is wine - Marlborough sauvignon blanc to be exact.

She is looking forward to having a few glasses after headlining the Winery Tour at Wharepai Domain this Saturday.

"I can't wait to be in Tauranga, it's going to be a real laugh getting outdoors and performing with Don and Dave."

She is referring to the other acts, Don McGlashan's reformed Mutton Birds and Dave Baxter's Avalance City.

"I met Don McGlashan and Dave Baxter a couple of months ago. They are really relaxed, cool dudes. Don McGlashan is really part of the furniture of New Zealand," she says.

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Photo: Dean Purcell

"I can't believe I am going to be on stage next to the band who did Anchor Me. We are all going to do songs together and I am looking forward to rarking up the crowd."

Gin is not long back from the United States, where she recorded her latest album Gravel and Wine, released late last year to rave reviews.

The title of the album is a line from her single Black Sheep. "I thought of gravel as the open road, and wine - well, that took the road into the lounge. I wasn't referring to the gravel as my voice, but I guess why not, you can think of it that way."

Her distinctive voice has often been compared to Amy Winehouse or Adele, but Gin resists being boxed in. "I think of myself as a musician first. My music is eclectic, across all genres and styles."

This is reflected in her fan base. "At my gigs, there is everyone from a 70-year-old dude to 12-year-old girls. I love that my music resonates with a wide range of people."

A singer who does inspire Gin is US-based Cary Anne Hearst, who has a band called Shovels and Rope. "When I heard her music I was obsessed by it. She is phenomenal. I want to be her friend."

Gin set her sights on the producer of Hearst's music to produce Gravel and Wine.

"That's the reason I went to the US, as he has a studio in Santa Monica. Before I recorded it, I toured around the southern states, from Mississippi to Memphis." She says the songs "have the love of a cowboy, bathe in a little lonesome blues, dance to a touch of rock 'n' roll, and have the swagger of a woman past midnight".

If there was pressure to roll out an album to match the adulation received by her debut, Holy Smoke, Gin wasn't feeling it. "Every record has its own identity. It's like if you have a second child, you don't expect it to be like your other child - you want it to have a life of its own.

"I am stoked it has done well but, if it had tanked, I would have still stuck to it 100 per cent."

Gin has just completed the video for the next single from the album, Man Like That.

This year, Gin is looking to spread her footprint with plenty of playing and touring.

"I'm looking forward to having my feet in New Zealand on the Winery Tour. Then it's back to Australia, then I will shoot back to the States, starting on the East Coast."

It doesn't leave much room for a personal life, but Gin does have "someone special" - her Australian boyfriend, who is in a "real dirty rock 'n' roll band".

"We don't get to see each other much, but I can definitely say absence makes the heart grow fonder in our house."

Gin has her eye on Europe but will focus on the US first.

"I am still making my mark - I will always be making my mark. It's a lifelong process. That's the joy of it. The moment you stop collecting fans would be sad. Turning people on to my music, that's what invigorates and motivates me."

It's clear that music to Gin is not just a way to make money.

"It's a passion-driven job ... your heart has to be in it, to want to get up each day and perform," she says.

"But it's more than a calling, it's a craving."

The fine print

What: The 6th annual Classic Hits Winery Tour

On stage: Featuring Gin Wigmore, The Mutton Birds, Avalanche City

Where: Tauranga's Wharepai Domain

When: Friday, February 10. Gates open 5pm, first act on stage 6pm and concert concludes at 10pm

Price: Children under the age of 12 given free admittance when accompanied by an adult ticketholder

How: Tickets available via Ticketmaster www.ticketmaster.co.nz or phone 0800 111 999. For full show information see www.winerytour.co.nz

- Bay of Plenty Times

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