Equality Wins! by Tori Reed

I am happy to inform everyone who is following my saga that the gentleman I was dealing with in application of WoW Festival in Norfolk is no longer looking after artists submissions.  After following up, I received an email that categorically stated the views of this individual were not the views of the festival.

"...you will be considered alongside all other musicians who apply to play at our festival. There is no discrimination at WoW; an artiste just has to be good and right for what we are seeking to create."

And so life goes on.  Unapologetic and benignly pushing forwards.  Thanks again for all the messages of support.  Big love to you all!


by Tori Reed

For those of you who don't know, I was recently denied a place in a festival called WoW in Norfolk England ( ww.wow-arts.co.uk/)  The reason given was that I have been to Israel and they wished to "follow the cultural boycott of Israel and... not employ acts who have played there or are from their." (sic)

I would like to ensure that my position on the matter is very clear as this is the kind of issue that unfortunately polarises people,

I believe in equality.  For anyone and everyone.  I believe in treating others as I wish to be treated.  I believe in taking people on face value and judging them on their actions towards me rather than stereotyping and racially profiling.  

I understand and respect the right of others to hold their own opinion and to demonstrate it.  I respect an individuals right to express their opinion, but in doing so, I feel this should not come at the cost of hurting another.

I do no believe in tarring every person with the same brush

I do not believe in condemning someone solely based on their religion, country of birth, or place they have travelled.

My endeavour in life is to meet and experience as many people and cultures that I can to educate myself and to demonstrate to myself that we are all human.  We are unfortunately sometimes embroiled in our political leaders muck.  However, I hold strong that we, as a majority, are good people and deserve the time, ears and hearts of our fellow humans to listen and try to put aside our prejudices to accept each other as people.

In the aftermath of my post on Facebook and my story having been covered on YNET ("ביקרת בישראל? לא תופיעי בפסטיבל" for those of you who would like to read it)  I was met with so many amazing responses from many caring people all over the globe.  People with the whole gamut of political ideals.  I cannot express how much I appreciate every kind word every person has said, whether it be in encouragement to stand up against this or to move on with my life and not let this get me down.  You are all beautiful, wonderful, kind individuals and here's to hoping we can play music all together some day soon!

See you next year! by Tori Reed

There is mixed feelings in me as I sit at Heathrow airport waiting for my flight home. The last three months has been beyond words, and as much as I am looking forward to coming home to New Zealand, I'm also a slightly blue to be leaving all the beautiful friends I have here, new and old. There have been Buddhist Nuns and heroin addicts; musicians and tone deaf appreciators; yoga teachers and alcoholics; lovers, likers, haters, fighters, I've met them all. They've taken the time to listen to me, let me into their lives and have given back much more than I've taken. I have had the pleasure of being around so many different characters, it's going to be hard to get back into the swing of 'normal' life.

My entry into England was nothing like my exit. I arrrived to (if you didn't read my first blog) unhelpful, cold people. I took the train from Heathrow to Victoria Station, got stuck in the turnstile (because of my ridiculous quantaties of baggage. Tip of the year. Don't try to carry your own weight in baggage. It causes blood blisters on your shoulders and over heated frustration. I do believe this is the only time my extreme stubborness has been a good trait) and NO ONE gave me a shove. I asked to make a text message from a dozen people's phones and they ran from me terrified I was a thief or maybe a murderer!  I'm not exaggerating. This country is founded on distrust and fear, but when you manage to break beneath that hard callous of anxiety and apprehension, you find generous, warm people who are kind, open and honest.

Maybe, over three months, I've adapted to the English ways and that is why my exit was so much easier. Or maybe I lucked out. Maybe being fresh from a good nights sleep, followed by a fantastic day of laughter, music and good company meant I was better equipped to give the fearful my energy. I don't know, but I'm grateful. I'm pleased that it rained the whole day of my last day in England. Otherwise I would have gone home convinced that I'd been lied to for a long time about the weather over here. I'm glad I encountered hostility when I first arrived, as it gave me an advantage on how to break through those shells. I want to thank the people who made me delve deeper into myself to find some vestige of humility and politeness when what I really wanted to do was shout “Please discard your socially conditioned thoughts that I am in any way anything but a person who wants to smile with you”.

Thank you United Kingdom (and Irealand, but that's quite wordy) for reminding me what a good friend is, and giving me the confidence to do this on my own. See you next year!

Scotland with a bag on your head by Rama Geeves

Coming from New Zealand, Scotland really feels like home. Tall, glacial cut Monroes (aka mountains), lush green scenery. It's an outdoor enthusiast dream. Every hill begs to be climbed, valleys plead to be explored, ridge lines quietly whisper “traverse me, traverse me” mantra like. There are so many sights to inspire the humble tramper to the avid mountaineer.

Thus the adventure would begin.  Four girls in a car packed to the brim with every concievable piece of equipment, to fulfill most any adventure that comes our way. We had wetsuits, rock climbing gear, hiking boots, sleeping bags, stoves, mandolins, guitars and of course Settlers of Catan for those poor weather days. Anyone who has spent any time in this fair and bonny part of the world knows that this is more than possible that the skies will offer a deluge in the middle of summer, it is probable.

Armed with this arsenal of fun things, good company and high spirits, what could possibly hinder our search for quality, fun times?

Our travel to the mecca of fun (the Torridon mountains) was somewhat hindered by a police road block at our desired turning. A detour was marked, and taken, and before long, we saw our first signs to Plockton. This, to clarify, was not our destination. It was vaguely in the direction we wanted to be, thus reassuring us we were on the right track. Settling in to further solving the worlds problems, we suddenly found ourselves crossing the Skye bridge. This, for those of you who don't know the geography of Scotland, was most definitely not in the direction we wanted to go! Back across the bridge, more signs to Plockton, and we chased our tails for some time in a Merry go Round with every sign encountered pointing us towards Plockton!  

As a result of this frivolity, it was quite late before we arrived at our first campsite. We wearily unpacked the oh so carefully tetrised car, chose the flattest, least boggy place to pitch tent and got stuck in to setting up camp.

The invasion was swift, silent and merciless. They were much better prepared than we were. Within seconds we were surrounded. Their attack was coordinated, efficient but most of all sustained. Midges attack! If you are at this point scratching your head questioning what this could possibly be about, let me explain. Midges are tiny little bugs that swarm in their thousands to suck at the blood of unsuspecting tourists, or any exposed skin, they don't seem to discriminate. The pernicious little buggers covered us from head to foot as we hastily, and noisily erected the tent and stumbled inside. We fell into dreamless, restless sleep, hampered by rain that pooled at the corners of the tent, which as a result of being put it up in such haste, was NOT done in the most rainproof manner.

Unbeknowst to the slumbering girls, achingly curled in the foetal position to avoid the pool that was slowly encroaching on the horizontal space, the midges were rallying more troops. All night they gathered in numbers, surrounding our tent and making escape impossible. The attack was three dimensional. We awoke in the morning, not just to soggy sleeping bags and swollen eyes from a poor nights sleep, but to thousands, and there is no exaggeration here, thousands of them swarming the fly netting. The only way forward was to send a sacrifical lamb to the slaughter to retrieve armaments, aka a bag for your head.

And for the next week, this bag was never far from my reach. The only way to avoid midges is to move. Not just from toe to toe, but in a forwards motion at a good clip. As soon as you stop the invasion starts again. I have snorted more of the little blighters than I would like to admit. The bag was a life saver. Nothing could save my exposed skin, but at least I wasn't breathing them anymore!

The midge bag is an essential piece of kit to take to a spectacularly beautiful country.  Once you have the correct equipment, it is a country that should not be missed.  Thanks to three beautiful girls who helped keep me sane and showed me some amazing places!!


A Galway Girl by Tori Reed

As most of you know, this tour is a massive, gargantuan, colossal, imposing, and much needed learning curve for me.  I oscillate between feeling intrepid and downright intimidated by it all.  There are moments when I feel like a complete fake, and fortunately more often, times when I know there is no other place I'd rather be.  I have many moments of doubt, and counter them with the mantra "fake it until you make it".  A concept not new to me, but my view of it changed after hearing a particular Ted talk about it.  There is much to be said about the psychological and physical changes that occur within you if you continually banish any thought that challenges the goal.  I'm certainly no expert, but it gets easier and easier with every attempt to throw those thoughts away when the little devil on my shoulder tries to tell me I can't do it.  I am determined to live a life without regret, so that means I will have to take some risks.  Try things that scare me, and laugh when things don't work.  Where there is a will there is a way, that much I believe.  I have a will so strong, that even if there is no present way, like water driving a path through solid stone, I will keep trickling forwards.  And I will laugh long and loud all the way!

I know that my Mother will be mildly concerned with this outpouring of emotion.  She commented to me not so long ago that she considered this blog to be an open diary, with an expression on her face that was more than worried.  I didn't know if I should hug her and tell her everything will be ok, or dismiss her fear with laughter, so instead, I did neither, and stood gormlessly  in front of her trying to quickly analyse the pros and cons of having a blog. Then recognising too much time has passed between the comment and the reaction, and now it's just awkward.  Realistically though, I was trying to decide my true motivations behind it.  In fairness, I guess it is an open diary.  But, then the question becomes, do I want to be open?

My sister asked me once, why was I pursuing a public career when I don't like being photographed or videoed.  A valid and true question to which I had no good answer.  I am a very private person, and I still don't like posing for photographs or videos.  But I think the difference is in the posing.  I have a good sprinkling of vanity like every person, and dislike bad photos of myself, but I have regular discussions with my ego about that, and it usually concedes.  I don't mind being photographed candidly, and having a video trained on me when I am performing doesn't make me overly uncomfortable.  I think, what it comes down to, is I can't act.  I feel very awkward when asked to pose for a photo, or asked to behave in a certain way. And what makes me most uncomfortable is being asked to do that on demand and repeatedly, when the first result was not good enough, as they never are with me; I am the definition of not photogenic. What you see is what you get with me.  I am spontaneous, whimsical and I can't recreate that strange facial expression at will!  I don't know what contortions my face is pulling!   Being on stage in front of a welcoming, interactive crowd, is not acting.  It's me.  And it makes me feel more at ease than anything else I have ever done.  Sharing my music with people who want to hear it fulfils me in a way that I can't describe.  Don't get me wrong, I get nervous before every gig, and it's bloody hard work sometimes keeping your energy high if the people around you give nothing back.  But the good gigs, when you get more back than you give, make it all worthwhile.

I guess, this is the public way in which I get to say thank you to the people who have helped.  Thank you to the muses who have given inspiration.  Make educated guesses and assertions about life which may be presumptuous, but I like the thought that I can share that with any person who cares to want to know.   This is the ramblings of someone who tries to always be honest, and sometimes understanding my true motivations requires expressing them, and receiving feedback.  It's a conversation with myself that I would gladly and gratefully (and often do) have with friend, foe or stranger.

I worried that admitting my fears and failings made me less of a professional.  But then I remembered, that we are all flawed.  For me, being able to laugh about the mistakes and share them with people who care doesn't take away my strength, it gives me clarity, compassion and a better understanding of not only who I am, but a better understanding of people.  And I like people!

Oh, and Mum, I think I want to move to Ireland.

Well, I made it..... and here's the synopsis of how..... by Tori Reed

26/5, 8.30pm New Zealand

On tour.... so that currently consists of getting to Auckland airport early in fear that my 43 kilos (and that is not a typo) will not be accepted at check in. I must have read and reread my ticket at least 170,324 times. I gave it to every person that would look to see if I had misread my baggage details, and every person gave the same raised eyebrow, short inhalation of breath and momentary look of confusion, as the thoughts travelled from “Tori, you're a bit of a space cadet, every carrier has a 25 kilo weight limit” to “Wow, that's a lot of luggage!” But when you're taking a keyboard, guitar, 200 cd's and a change of underwear, you need 46 kilos. Well 43 to be precise. Thank you China Southern Air!!


27/5 5am China

I do love the airport. It's such an exciting place. Overall people are excited and happy, and everyone has purpose, which I think makes us walk a little taller, a little faster. A bit like that person at the pub who has just potted a ball on the pool table. The exhilaration makes them dash around the table as though they may now be world champion at pool. My fondness of the airport is only heightened when you get on board a plane and the seats are almost comfortable. I think at this point someone should start paying me for all the glowing words I have to say about China Southern Air, but so far (with 13 hours to go) it proves to be my favourite airline. Add to the seats being slightly off vertical in the upright position (by only perhaps one degree, but that one degree means a lot!), that there is a direct usb port to charge various items (along with a lot of checked in baggage, I also have an array of uselessly useful electronic items in my carry on, plus 150 cds, but ssshhhh, don't tell, I'm trying to make it look light....) which invariably need regular boosts. Then, add to that I was seated in 52a.

Now to most, being at the back of the aircraft signals lots of noise, lights, hustle and bustle as the crew do what they gotta do, all of which is true. However, because the plane tapers towards the back, seat 52a is a row of only two seats, window side, with space enough by the wall for me to lie down!! Oooohh yeah, I'm ok with light and noise if I can be horizontal! Hence I am feeling quite fresh and relaxed waiting the almost 4 hours for my next flight. Scratch that, not really fresh. It is 27 degrees celcius in Guanzhou, and if I could harbour a guess at the humidity levels, I would say in the 90's. It's really hot. Plus, I came bedecked from autumnal cool Auckland (aka lots of clothes), PLUS, the air con in the airport does not appear to be working....... I am, to put it mildly, slightly sticky.

The view out the Guangzhou airport window is perhaps not the most inspiring I have seen. It is very orderly, with lots of colourful lines covering the concrete runways and plane parks (do plane parks have an official name? Plane space? Plane lot?) All of the vehicles are neatly lined in a row, and you can't see the horizon. Think West Coast anti cyclonic gloom, (for the non west coasters, REALLY thick fog) multiply it by 26.3, dip it in rust coloured paint and hang it less than a kilometre in the distance. Then add a smell of, hmmmm, how to explain it. Shall we call it effluessence? There you go! Guangzhou, China!


28/5 3.20pm England

The plane was almost an hour late coming into Heathrow. This however, had not perturbed me as I had met the most lovely gentleman on the plane who kept me entertained for most of the 13 hours we had together. When we weren't discussing and solving the worlds problems, I was napping or watching one of the many movies available. Aaahhh, the joys of long haul travel. Inserting myself momentarily in to the world of visual media so that I can pretend I'm actually informed about the current blockbusters!

At this moment, I feel so incredibly fortunate. I am sitting in a big old mansion somewhere near Sussex, drinking really amazing tea (ok Sally, Mandy and Liz, I stand corrected, I can taste the difference between English and New Zealand tea) watching the grey day pass whilst I get to recount the way in which I got here. My incredible friend Gavin, met me at the train station (exclaiming over the amount of baggage I had bought with me. And rightly so, I'd had to lug it all the way from Heathrow into the centre! I had a LOT of stuff!). We left it all in baggage storage at the station and went off for a quick Indian feed and to a Beautiful South gig! This did result in us not getting home (did I mention home is a beautiful mansion in the Ashwood forest?) until well after 1.30am, but it was worth it, and I think potentially the best way to rid yourself of jet lag! If not the most efficient, it is undoubtably the most fun!

30/5 Mouldsworth, England

Despite it's dubious sounding name and the fact that I am currently accommodated in an old cow shed, Mouldsworth is really a rather charming place!  It is neither mouldy nor smelly, and I have been welcomed into Chestershire life like family.  I drove all the way from Sussex to Chestershire today (almost all the way south to most of the way north for the uninitiated) and I never want to see another motorway!  Wow, traffic.... need I say any more.....

The lovely Oli (whom will be accompanying me on this tour) found himself in the most privileged position of being asked to be sound engineer for Hollands Nina June.  If you haven't heard of her, she is someone to watch for (just quietly, I'm working on how to get her and her band out to NZ).  It was nearly two hours of great music, with wistful story telling in between.  As a trio, they are well rehearsed and very accomplished musicians.  The performance was seamless and well done, the song writing, compelling and touching, and there is an inspiring honesty to Nina's demeanour which is down right endearing.  Oli has three gigs sound engineering with them, of which I am pleased, as it means I will be able to listen again and again to Nina.

Tomorrow we climb!!  (oh, practice first of course....)

I will endeavour to put some photos up. As soon as I find my camera charger.......

BYO bunny for Easter by Tori Reed

It all started with my obligatory run for the plane.  It seems to make little difference how early I leave, I still seem to arrive just as the last call is being made for check ins.  So, a guitar in each hand and a surprisingly heavy carry on bag (shhhh, jetstar will never know) I sprinted from the car to the counter.  And when I say sprinted, if you have ever seen a person try to run with a guitar in either hand, a laptop strung around their neck, and a heavy backpack on, you will know it resembles something more like a llama trying to do aqua aerobics than it does running, but you get the idea.

Upon arrival in the sunny (?) south Island, it started to rain, and did not stop for the following three days.  I am always one to try and see the bright side of things (pardon the bad pun), and  this did allow me to be very productive on the notation side of my job.  This is the side that I find, hmmm, well, quite tedious.  I am mostly a self taught musician, so writing and notating parts for band members is challenging to say the least.  All music to me is a melody, so I get the melody in my head of what I want, say the cello, to sound like, then for the next few hours press buttons until Sibelius (I would forgive any of you from mistaking Sibelius for a new romance.  The way I speak about this software is close to a love affair, but it is  an indispensable music notation software on my wonderful little friend, Mac) sounds the same as what is happening in my head.   The easy stuff is, well, easy.  Finding the correct button for one note that holds for four beats takes little to no time at all.  The more complex, syncopated rhythms, and natural notes, they take longer, and cause some amount of frustration. Read, I regularly have to stop myself from physical abuse on poor old Mac.  But, THAT is what rainy days are for!

The cold and rain, however, left us with consternation about the weekend coming.  The forecast was not looking good, and we were due to play at a wonderful little festival in Waipara.  Having not been to this particular festival before, we were unsure about exactly how many layers of clothing would be required, given the current almost sub zero temperatures, and the assumption we would be playing outside.  In spite of our fears, we packed the car with all the winter woolies, kids, food, instruments and of course, being Easter (and not being able to find a sitter) the bunny cage went on the roof and good ol' bun on a box on the floor.  Officially a road trip!

Fortunately for our poor, nigh on frostbitten, fingers, neither cold nor rain ended up being any concern whatsoever!  The sun came out on Easter Saturday and didn't depart (aside from the obvious nap between 8pm and 7am) until Easter Monday, whence we were well on our way back to normality, aka home.

It was a fabulous festival with much jamming, songwriting, laughter and fun.  The food was exquisite, and the company better.  Huge thanks to Sarah Hickey, Lousia Nicklin and all the incredible peoples at the Canterbury Folk Festival.  Until next time Waipara!!