A property valuer and a guitar player from Levin are making award-winning country music in their spare time.
For the third year running, John Timmer-Arends and Steve Poulton have produced a song that has taken out Original Song Contest at the annual Pounamu Country Music Awards in Levin.
Their song Growing Old Disgracefully will now be put forward as a contender for song of the year at the New Zealand Awards - the third time in as many years they had made the national finals.
The songs sometimes come to Timmer-Arends in the night. He wakes up with a melody or a lyric in his head. They come from nowhere, without rhyme nor reason, but he has to act fast.
"If I don't get up and write it down it's gone by the morning," he said.
"It annoys the crap out of my wife."
Inspiration arrives at random. It could be while he was asleep, or while he is watching television. A bubble of artistic expression will burst in his mind.
But while the seed for the songs are sown on scribbled bits of paper, he needed help with the melodies. Cue talented Levin musician Steve Poulton, who works alongside Timmer-Arends to help bring the songs to life.
Theirs is a collaboration that plays to each of their strengths. And it works.
"We're two halves to a whole," they said.
Timmer-Arends has the muse and Poulton is then able to tweak this, and suggest that, and helps turn the raw material into a polished country song.
"I say here are the words, this is the tune. I have chords, but he takes it and makes it musical ... he knows what sounds good," he said.
"I can't do what he can do. I'm strong lyrically. He's strong musically."
They originally met through a mutual friend and started hanging out and played together in a band called Cactus Juice.
Poulton, an extremely talented musician and performer who has a studio and can play guitar, drums, keyboard, bass guitar and mandolin, said Timmer-Arends had a talent for songwriting.
"You work on it like you would work on a piece of wood. People don't see it until you've taken to it with fine sandpaper," he said.
"He's kinda got the basic tune. We lay it down and I draw down some ideas. We make some changes to the arrangement and lyrics. I act in a producer role.
"He has a pretty good ear. In the end he knows what he wants and I kind of realise it. It's a great partnership."
"Music is like that. It brings people together in magical ways."
Their first entry three years ago was titled Truck Driving Blues and won the Pounamu Award, winning the right to enter the New Zealand Award, and last year they won again with It's Hard to Write a Country Song.
It was going to be a case of third time lucky with Growing Old Disgracefully.
To ensure impartiality, recordings of the each song entered in the New Zealand Awards were sent to Australia and judged there.
Timmer-Arends, who grew up listening to country music in the car with his father, knew how to sing and play guitar but freely admitted he lacked the polish of some other performers.
"I occasionally perform them myself ... but I couldn't be described as anything approaching a performer," he said.
In fact, he only picked up a guitar in his mid-forties, but he said it was the best thing he ever did.
"It opens up so many doors. I have met so many supportive, helpful and talented people, and I wouldn't have met them if I hadn't picked up a guitar," he said.
Meanwhile, it was standing room only at the finals of the Pounamu Awards at Levin Cosmopolitan Club, the fourth annual awards.
The overall winner of the senior section was Florence Mataki from Feilding with runner-up Jessie Robson from the Silver Notes club in Auckland.
Overall winner of the veterans section was Sue Te Rangi from Whanganui, with local entrant Gordon Fletcher from the club Pounamu finishing runner-up.
Growing Old Disgracefully: John Timmer-Arends.
I worked my whole life in the city, in an office on the fourteenth floor
And even though my secretary's pretty, I don't want go there no more
I'm going to live life my way and working gives me the blues
And I don't need you, to tell me what to do
It's time that I cut loose
Well I like my country rockin, and I like my beer ice cold
This may sound kind of shockin, I'm getting wilder as I get old
Havin fun is what I'm doing
Runnin wild and being free
Im goin to make the most of every day
Im growing old disgracefully
I drink Tennessee sippin whiskey, and beer from a mason jar
Sometime I get a little frisky, with the girls at the honkytonk bar
I still go visit my mama, cause I like to do what's right
But what she don't know, is that I like to go, out with the ladies of the night
Now its girls and guitars and hot rod cars, and the stars in the sky above
Living free, hard rocking country, all of the things I love.
Im goin to make the most of every day I'm growing old disgracefully.