Topic: The Right Note: An Insight into Tauranga's Historical Music Scene by Graham Clark

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The Right Note features hundreds of never before seen historical photographs from the collections of those interviewed by Graham Clark. It also includes the names of hundreds of Tauranga individuals, bands, managers, publicans, venues and events. Due for release in mid-December 2015, the book will be a valuable addition to the history of music in Tauranga Moana. The article below was written by the author of the book, Graham Clark.

Writing this book and finally becoming an author came about by accident really, although by looking at the circumstances, I guess you could say it was an accident waiting to happen.

The Right Note: An Insight into Tauranga's Historical Music Scene by Graham Clark
I was born in England, and in the late 1960s when I was a child, I was hospitalised for almost 18 months. My favourite aunty gave me the set of Narnia books by C.S. Lewis. Reading these whilst confined to bed helped to alleviate the boredom and gave me the escape I needed to pass the time - they also instilled in me a love of reading. After I had recovered, my young and hip aunty also introduced me to Alice in Wonderland - not only the book, but a real life tour. We lived in Guildford, Surrey - the home of Lewis Carrol, and my aunty gave me a tour of his house. Not the usual tourist attraction tour - this one was late in the evening, through a hole under the hedge, and over a 6ft brick wall kind of tour! The ultimate kind of adventure that brought Alices adventure alive for a 10 year old boy–but that’s another story.

Since emigrating to New Zealand in 1969, I have lived in Tauranga where I completed my school days, and took on an apprenteship at the Bay of Plenty Times, originally as a linotype operator, which required a great deal of correspondence school assignments learning about typography, spelling, punctuation and the written word. I found this extremely tedious, as I was not a good student, and had not even passed school certificate, but apprenteships were tough in those days, and I was “persuaded” to complete them!

Many many years later I came to find a use and enjoyment of these skills I had so begrudgingly come to acquire.

What has all of this got to do with writing a book on local music history? Well, In my early forties I discovered that there was a philosophy to which I had been unknowingly living my life, and of a consequence I began writing letters to the editor. 

On many occasions I would question and denounce the opinions of the current editor, whose opinions I vehemently disagreed with. To his credit this particular editor would actually publish these letters.

Then one day, I had a phone call from the editor, asking if I was the person that wrote these letters. He told me that the current music columnist was leaving, and that he had heard that I was a musician. He said that he knew that I was an interesting writer, and would I be interested in writing a regular column and replacing the former music writer for the daily newspaper!

I said I would love to try, although I would like to find a different angle on the subject from the previous writer (who was not only a very good writer, but a well respected member of the national music fraternity).

I was a busy musician and didn’t have the time to go and watch and review every band in town, nor am I into self-inflicted torture by having to listen to the latest death-thrash-rap band and find something positive to write about them, so I suggested I write about historical local music and bands.

The idea for this had come to me a few days prior to the editors phone call whilst visiting a musician friend (Ali Matthews) who was about 10 years older than me. I had noticed an old band photograph on the wall in his house and I was fascinated by it) Ali began telling me stories about the photo and stories of various other bands of the era, and I was captivated by the stories he told me.

From there I went about tracking down and interviewing various local musicians - each interview giving me more and more leads and prospective targets for the next.

I couldn’t believe the magic and treasure I was uncovering and discovered a real passion for listening to the stories that unfolded, and poring over boxes of dusty old photographs and memorabilia.

I began writing it from my own experience and observations, but as I stumbled upon some of the interesting characters and stories of some of the earlier generations of musicians it developed into interviews and the first hand experiences of others.

Unfortunately–despite its popularity, my column in the newspaper was short lived. A new editor was employed, and my column on local music (remember its a local newspaper!) was to be replaced with generic international music articles.

One day after retrospectively browsing through my collection of newspaper clippings of my stories, it dawned on me that I had assembled a most comprehensive historical overview of the local music community, and that it would make an interesting book.

As a graphic designer, I assemble and produce books on a regular basis for my clients, and I decided that I may as well collate my stories and produce a book of my own - and so I got to work! In my spare time I began the long task of designing and laying it out as a book, and re-designed the whole damn thing 3 times before I was happy with the size and layout. 

The next hurdle to overcome was how to afford to print the book.

As it had become a history book, and because I had invested so much time into it, I was adamant it had to be a case-bound (hard cover) coffee table book. By this time it had reached 360 pages, comprising hundreds of both black and white and colour photographs. To produce a book like this in any quantity was going to cost upwards of $25,000 (of which I did not have).

Government or Council funding is not an option for me (I philosophically disagree with it) so I had to find an alternative. I approached a number of possible benefactors and private funding avenues, but a book of this description did not fit their criteria, not to mention the fact that I am uncomfortable taking other peoples money to fund my personal projects.

I became despondent in my pursuit of other peoples money, and put the book (digitally) into storage resigning myself to the fact that it would not reach the printing stage, and was just a fanciful idea anyway.

Back when I was excited about the project, I showed my draughts of the book to anybody who would listen–one of whom was the tireless and effervescent local champion of the written word Jenny Argante.

A year or so passed, when I began to receive letters in the post, and emails from Jenny demanding and cajolling me to “pull my finger out,” and get this book produced!

Jenny made me feel ashamed that I had done all this work, but had not followed it through to its conclusion, and so I began to investigate other ways of paying for the production. Another idea I had was to include 10 full page adverts in the book. My idea was that local music related businesses, bars, breweries etc would pay for an advert which in turn would fund the book. 

I was about to begin the odious task of approaching some likely advertisers when I was introduced to Paul Adams of Carrus, who saw a value in the book for the Tauranga community as a histoical record, and on the spot he generously offered to fund the book. I have no doubt that without Pauls generosity this book would still be sitting in storage on my computer today, and I shall be eternally grateful to him not only for helping me fulfill my dream of getting my work published, and also for being able to preserve and share a slice of otherwise forgotten local history.

I began writing my stories in 2008, and in December 2015 the books will arrive on my doorstep - what a journey.

“The Right Note - an insight into Tauranga’s historical music scene” was not intended to be the definitive history of music in Tauranga, but until somebody actually writes one - this is it!

The Right Note features hundreds of never before seen historical photographs from the collections of those I interviewed. It also includes the names of hundreds of local individuals, bands, managers, publicans, venues and events, many of whom will be surprised to find their names in the extensive index.

Although predominantly a book on Tauranga people, it does include a number of bands from Rotorua and other Bay of Plenty centres who spent a lot of time playing in Tauranga. It also features a couple of stories with connections to international bands like TRex, Thin Lizzy, AC/DC.

by Graham Clark (October 2015).


280mm tall x 310mm wide
360 pages
Case Bound
Weight 2.4 kgs
Available mid December 2015

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The Right Note: An Insight into Tauranga's Historical Music Scene by Graham Clark

First Names:Graham
Last Name:Clark
Country of birth:England
Date of Arrival:1969
Place of settlement in Bay of Plenty:Tauranga
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
The Right Note: An Insight into Tauranga's Historical Music Scene by Graham Clark by Debbie McCauley (Tauranga City Libraries) is Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International