Guitar virtuoso and country music legend Gray Bartlett will perform at the Wanganui Opera House on April 22 as part of his national tour to promote his new album Private Conversations.

Bartlett says he is delighted with the new album, recorded at Mike McCarthy's North Auckland Orewa studio, and says it has been selling in "bucketloads."

He is also looking forward to visiting Whanganui again for the first time since 2009, when he played at the opera house with Brendan Dugan, Jodi Vaughan and the Hamilton County Bluegrass Band on the Highway of Legends tour.

On this tour, he is joined by regular collaborator guitarist and singer Chet O'Connell.


"I'm looking forward to catching up with Whanganui fans and guitar supporters and I know a talented young guy there, Daniel Harding, who will join me on stage to play a couple of songs," says Bartlett.

Nurturing young talent has become an important part of the artist's work - he recognised the talent of a 13-year-old Hayley Westernra and promoted her early career.

He has also promoted the talents of singer Yulia and 15-year-old violinist Ben Morrison, using his international connections to promote them offshore.

"When you get to the stage that I'm at in my own career, promoting young performers becomes more important, and they need to give a lot of live performances," says Bartlett.

"People who are new to the industry find it unbelievable that we used to make so much money from record sales.

"Artists don't get those kind of returns from people downloading their music online."

As a young recording artist in 1968, Bartlett won the first-ever NZ International Gold Disc for his recording La Playa which sold over 410,000 singles in Japan.

Bartlett will perform La Playa at his Whanganui show, along with his other big crowd pleaser - The Shadows' Apache - as well as songs from the new album.

- Tickets are $79.90 or $59.90 for seniors from the Wanganui Opera House or online and Friends of the Opera House can purchase tickets for $69.90 from the opera house only.