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Musician finds common ground

On a tour “zigzagging” his way down the North Island, musician Sam Bambery is bringing an alt-country collage to those lucky to be listening at Featherston’s Common Ground venue tomorrow night.

Bambery – who now lives in Lyttelton – grew up in Canterbury’s Rakaia, a place he described as “a small town with a huge statue of a fish”.

He has been based in Christchurch since he was a teenager and said he’ll start the tour in Auckland on Thursday.

“The big story was I got approached to play this festival in New Plymouth, the Festival of Lights,” Bambery said.

“The fee was so good, it just made sense to book a hire car and line up some other shows and spend the whole week cutting through the North Island.”

Bambery – whose partner is from Carterton – said he heard about Common Ground through friends and said he Is greatly appreciative of owners Zac and Holly’s efforts to “champion local artists”.

“I really wanted to play in Wairarapa because it seems like things happen there and the community is receptive to seeing live music and experiencing some different types of sounds.”

A big proponent of celebrating and supporting small gig spaces, he noted that for independent artists like himself, venues such as Common Ground play a precious role in supporting artists.

“I think in this time it’s becoming a growing realisation that musicians make money or get awareness from live performance,” Bambery said.

“People need to come to shows. I know it’s hard because we live in a post-covid world.

“But it’s getting exciting because I can play a festival and then play a string of shows focusing on local communities, which is really cool.”

He noted it is less about money [though acknowledged the unenviable position of artists relying on the less than fruitful revenue from music streaming] and more about the “awareness of who you are and building community in an authentic and intuitive way”.

With a debut album released in 2022 – ‘Songs About Sailors’ – channelling an alt-country edge, Bambery said his new music is more experimental.

“With my previous music, it was a very ’90s approach to indie rock with a folk edge,” Bambery reflected.

“Over the past year, I’ve changed my approach a bit – I’m still drawing on indie rock influences, but there’s a lot of improv flair to the new stuff.”

An album due for release this May is titled ‘Rubricator’, a name Bambery said comes from the word’s historical meaning of the addition of red text [rubrics] in medieval textbooks.

“The red text symbolises a change of mood or scene or setting or signifies something a little bit different,” Bambery said.

“That’s what this work is, it’s just a little bit different.”

Doors open tomorrow at 7pm at Common Ground, with Bambery playing from 7.30pm.

Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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