I didn't realise how much I loved my guitar until I lost it.

One stormy night a couple of weeks back I put my lap-steel guitar on the roof of my truck while I was loading the rest of my gear into the cab. It started pouring with rain and I drove off, forgetting the guitar.

Fortunately, it was in a padded case and it was handed, undamaged, in to the Davis Library. A kind librarian ran it down to the police station, and we were reunited.

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For the past eight years I have been co-chair of the Whanganui Musicians' Club, and on the first Friday of every month, the club meets in the old Savage Club hall in Drews Ave for a blackboard concert where club members take turns at entertaining one another. Club nights are also open to the public.

For this Friday, September 1, our guests will be The Travelling Lounge Room from Palmerston North.

The band started as a house-truckers' road show, travelling with a solar-powered sound system and lounge furniture. Performing British-influenced punk/pop-rock, they are open to other musicians joining in for a crescendo jam.

John Keating and I share the role of club chairman, which is handy if one of us is away. At the moment John is seeing a dentist in Saigon, which means that I am the first person to turn up, unlock the door and walk into an empty, silent space.

Swamp Thing's warm-up last week was a show in itself before the hall had filled up. Swamp Thing is a two-piece that sounds like a five-piece and their rhythm was so tight that you couldn't help but dance.

Finally the hall emptied out and I turned off the lights, locked up and the hall was silent again.

Since taking over the hall from the Savage Club last year, the Musicians' Club has been forced to get on top of some long-deferred maintenance. We have been thrown a few challenges, as the cold water, hot water, sewerage and electrics went down one after another.

Just to make it more of a challenge, we had a series of break-ins. From the evidence left behind, it appeared we were dealing with some resentful losers, probably alcoholics.
The club runs on goodwill with unpaid volunteers, so it was hard not to take things personally. Not much stuff was taken, but the deliberate destruction of some precious items and the mess we had to clear up was something we could live without.


Last month the police told us one of the burglars would be appearing in court, and in due course we received a copy of his handwritten plea to the judge.

"I was intoxicated at the time and my judgment was impared (sic) with the horrible outcome of sico-logically (sic) hurting these people who owned that property, and the mind-frame I was in was not good at the time," he wrote, telling us what we already knew.

"Life has its little up and downs, like ponies on a merry-go-round," as Waylon Jennings once sang and, on the upside, the Whanganui Musicians' Club is now booked out until Christmas.

On Saturday, September 9, we have the legendary Larry Morris and his band. Once described by Helen Clark as a "true Kiwi icon", Larry has in his time toured with Roy Orbison, The Who and The Walker Brothers and has worked with David Bowie, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Fleetwood Mac.

Larry Morris lived and worked in the United States for 10 years before coming home. Two of his backing band have worked with Larry for the past 22 years, so expect a professional show.

For October club night we have Ben and the Believers from Palmerston North. Also in October, banjo-playing BB Bownes is returning from the States with five-piece bluegrass band Mile Twelve.

Later in October, we have ukulele legends The Nukes for a show on the 20th and a ukulele workshop on the 21st.

In November there is Andy Anderson and Trip Splat and in December we have Albie and the Wolves and The Jack of Hearts coming back home.

When Fred Frederikse is not building, he is a self-directed student of geography and traveller, and in his spare time he is the co-chair of the Whanganui Musicians' Club.