Lindon Puffin v Billy Bragg
When UK folk punk legend Billy Bragg tours NZ in October he will be supported by Lyttelton-based rockabilly raconteur Lindon Puffin. NZM set up a half hour ‘phoner’ between the pair in the hope of finding out directly what motivated Bragg to get involved in supporting the Beatbox project. They’re a right couple of ravers so the danger signs were all there, and sure enough their discussion blew out beyond the allotted half hour and way beyond our available page space.
Check www.nzmusician.co.nz for the full interview, which has been generously transcribed by Lindon and is paraphrased, in part, below.
I’m a fan of Billy Bragg’s work and have previously had the pleasure of sharing his stage as support act, when he toured here in 2008. Now he’s coming to Christchurch to express his support for us, making me feel both excited and humble. It was very early in London when we talked by phone, but I found him as straight up and articulate as you’d expect. Billy seemed to really think over my questions and I sensed genuine compassion for the Christchurch quake
I started by asking him just how he had heard about the Beatbox project and what compels him to support something like this, especially considering that it’s on the other side of the globe?
“First and foremost, on a NZ tour I’d always play Christchurch and in the aftermath of the earthquake it seemed to me that there was an opportunity to give a little back to NZ. NZ has always been really supportive of what I do and about the time I was starting to put together the Australia NZ leg of the tour I got an email from a guy in Christchurch named Jeff Fulton who’s involved in an organisation called CHART, asking for support with efforts to rebuild the city. He wasn’t straight up asking me to come play, I mean he didn’t know I was planning a tour, he was just sort of reaching out.
“So I contacted my Aussie NZ promoter guy and said we must get in touch with Jeff to see if there’s some way we can do a show to support him. But when we looked into it and tried to find a suitable venue, I think that’s when we started to understand the problems that you’re facing and how much you’ve lost there.
“Reading the other day that you’re going to knock the Cathedral down was a real... you know, it underlines it. People in England maybe think the earthquake was something that happened rather than an ongoing situation that people will have to face on a year by year basis.”
Being the socially and politically active artist he is, Billy Bragg must get asked to do a lot of benefit type gigs. So how, I ask, does he choose to do some and turn down others?
“Well there’s a few criteria. Firstly, am I available? Often I’m not ‘cause I’m on tour. Two, is it something that I really feel a connection with? But the most important one for me is… does this practically make a contribution?
That’s the underlying idea behind doing the gig in Christchurch. “Rather than just sending some money to Jeff or some verbal support, to be able to actually do a show there, to come to the town and get a handle on what’s happening. That to me is what makes all the difference.
Coming to Christchurch and being able to do the gig is very positive to me because it allows me to do more than just say, ‘I support what’s going on here’, it allows to me to actually connect with the community in a deeper way than just sending a cheque.”
“Cause you don’t only come into Christchurch, do the gig and leave, you take away with you the strength of the community, you take away with you the willingness of people to rebuild their lives and support one another and then you take that story with you to the rest of the world so that people know that Christchurch is not finished. It’s important that that message gets out as well.”
Lindon will also be touring NZ throughout August and September with the ‘Lyttelton Rough House Revival’ featuring The Eastern, Delaney Davidson and
Marlon Williams (the Unfaithful Ways). Tour info: facebook.com/roughhouse-revival
by Lindon Puffin c/o NZMusician