Telling stories through song

By Michele McPherson

Don McGlashan has been sharing his stories with New Zealand for more than three decades.
But in the last couple of years, he's been delighted to discover that the tables have turned - fans of his music now want to tell him their own stories.
After spending many years in bands - including Blam Blam Blam, The Front Lawn and The Muttonbirds - McGlashan has gone solo.
And since venturing out on the road on his own, he's found that "people come up and tell you stuff" after solo shows.
"People seem to find bands intimidating. What I have noticed is that people line up, sometimes for an hour, to tell me what they were doing when they first heard Dominion Road, or how they proposed to somebody when they were listening to Anchor Me at a gig. That was really cool.
"It's kind of the most gratifying part of being a songwriter ... hearing that your songs kind of become part of somebody's life. It's something that resonates, it's part of their history."
McGlashan is widely considered one of New Zealand's best songwriters.
The singer won the APRA Silver Scroll in 1994 for Anchor Me and again in 2006 for Bathe In The River, sung by Hollie Smith.
And five of his tunes were rated in APRA's Top 100 at the turn of the century, with Dominion Road and Anchor Me in the top 50.
McGlashan will do what he does best - sharing his own stories - when he plays an intimate show in Tauranga on Saturday.
Tauranga singer Matt Bodman will open the show with his band, The Valentine Grind.
The concert will include a question and answer session in which the singer will be interviewed on stage by promoter Caley Wilson.
The floor will also be opened up to the audience, who will be able to ask McGlashan burning questions they have always wanted to know about his life and hits, which include The Heater, and Pulled Along By Love.


The on-stage interview is new to McGlashan, and was trialled for the first time at a Pukekohe gig at the weekend.
But the chatty star is not fazed by revealing his songwriting secrets.
"I generally need to be told to shut up, rather than need to be encouraged to talk about myself," he laughed.
"I usually talk quite a bit during the show anyway, and tell the story of the songs."
McGlashan will perform a "whole mix" of songs, from the days of Blam Blam Blam and The Front Lawn to his recent songs.
The performer began touring solo after a stint supporting Crowded House on the band's 2008 American and European tour.
"Before that I hadn't done much solo stuff. Then I went on from that and did some solo shows in England and Canada last year, and earlier this year I did some Australian shows, Melbourne and Sydney, and some in the South Island."
Those shows were as diverse as playing at a concert hall at Sydney Opera House, to playing for a crowd of 50 at a small South Island town.
His month-long South Island tour included places like Riverton and Akaroa.
And last month he returned from a month-long tour which included shows in London, Edinburgh, Dublin, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Bodman, a music teacher at Otumoetai College, knows exactly what he'd ask McGlashan if he got the chance. "I suppose for me, it would be a tricky music industry question. I would want to know how to go about being a songwriter.
"He's made his mark after being involved for so long. To me he's kind of the guy that everyone takes seriously - the songs he writes are respected by songwriters, and by the general public.
"That's the level I really want to get to, so if he had some hints and tips, a bit of a walk-through guide, that would be great."
Matt Bodman released his debut album in May. Since then, he has opened a private show for Greg Johnson, who described him as "a pedigree musician with some great pop songs and a sweet voice". His band - The Valentine Grind - was formed at the start of the year, and features Simon Hayward on guitar, Matt Beckett on bass and Mat Patrick on drums.
Patrick, a student at Otumoetai College, finished third in the national finals of the Smokefree Rockquest with school band Malcolm Jack.
Bodman said opening for McGlashan was a fantastic opportunity.
"I would be going anyway, but I'm playing. It's a bigger buzz that I get to open the night.
"[McGlashan] is a New Zealand music icon. To be able to be there playing is huge."
Don McGlashan and Matt Bodman will perform at 16th Avenue Theatre on Saturday, September 25.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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