The Lonesome Buckwhips' Charity Gala

San Francisco Bathhouse, 171 Cuba St, Wellington

21/04/2008 - 21/04/2008

The Transmission Room, Auckland

25/04/2008 - 27/04/2008

NZ International Comedy Festival 2007-09, 2013

Production Details

2008 Billy T Nominees – NZ International Comedy Festival

Following the success of the last year’s Return of the Lonesome Buckwhips, the Buckwhips are leaving New Zealand forever.

The last straw was the complete prohibition on the possession or distribution of their 23rd album The Teensy Weensy Paua Goes in My Poaching Sack.

Dunedin’s finest family band will play a series of charity concerts in Auckland and Wellington as part of a final farewell to the country that has taken so much and given them so little over the years. All proceeds will go to a South Island family band of the Buckwhips’ choosing.

This is possibly your last chance to glimpse their unique brand of hilarious country music and onstage bickering before they up sticks.

"The final straw was being nominated for New Zealand’s highest comedy award, a slap in the face for our band as we’ve always taken ourselves extremely seriously" says Arty Buckwhip.

The Lonesome Buckwhips’ Charity Gala will feature a mix of old favourites, new hits and banned material as they reflect on a career spent trying to part you from your money.

The Lonesome Buckwhips’ Charity Gala features Ben Hutchison, Miriama Ketu, Arthur Meek and Gareth Williams – it’s onstage feuding, political satire and family fun rolled into the catchiest tunes this side of Te Wai Pounamu.

"The Return of the Lonesome Buckwhips is smart, sharp and viciously funny: the pick of the comedy I’ve seen so far by a country mile.  Country being the operative word, as they sing songs of good old fashioned heart break and of ‘grief beyond belief’."
Lynn Freeman, Capital Times  

"At last – a group that has proven Kiwi Country music can be sung in a Kiwi voice! Hilarious too. Not that they believe in humour any more. It’s all too painful. The musicality is great and so are the lyrics, which are crystal clear. It’s very idiosyncratic yet totally recognisable fare that deserves to build a cult audience."
John Smythe,  

Lonesome Buckwhips’ Charity Gala

WELLINGTON  -One Show Only
Monday 21 April at 8.00pm
San Francisco Bath House
Book at Ticketek

Friday 25 and Saturday 26 April at 10.00pm
Sunday 27 April at 7.00pm
Transmission Room, Mayoral Drive
Book at Ticketek.

Arty Buckwhip - ARTHUR MEEK
Benny Buckwhip - BEN HUTCHISON
Miri Buckwhip - MIRIAMA KETU

Sure to peel your spuds

Review by Sian Robertson 27th Apr 2008

The Buckwhips – Miri (Miriama Ketu, on violin), Arty (Arthur Meek, on rhythm guitar), Gary (Gareth Williams, keyboard) and Benny (Ben Hutchison, lead guitar) – are putting on a charity gig, the proceeds of which will go to a South Island family band of their choosing…

A family of simple-minded no-hopers, bringing us their country/folk musical satire with interludes of sibling bickering and meandering song introductions, they kick off with ‘the first song we ever wrote’, establishing the background story of the Lonesome Buckwhips. Starting us off on low-octane laugh fuel, they build up the humour in layers as the show progresses – warming up to some rip-roaring, off-colour numbers that’ll be sure to peel your spuds.

Singing of their grim upbringing in Corstorphine, Dunedin, they have a volley of sure-fire social and political jabs captured in songs like the plaintive ‘Please don’t take my benefit away’, and other political exposés about Christmas commercialism, Christchurch, world hunger, a bicultural creation myth about a pair of star-crossed canine lovers, and some odd-ball hits such as Benny Buckwhip’s ‘Beans’ and the song he wrote for Nick Cave (subsequently rejected). 

Much ado is made of Benny’s song ‘The Wahine Was a Once-off’ and how it was turned down for the Interislander ad jingle in favour of the Warratahs one. He challenges us to be the judge of which is best – Benny, you get my vote.

Though the characters are consistent, their songs are a little too clever and globally-focused to make the ignorant, inbred hick image stick. This seriously talented bunch aren’t missing any teeth, nor are they lacking in IQ. There’s no banjo either (I’m not complaining), though they do throw in some token inbreeding and a skinned cat. Musically brilliant, the Buckwhips concoct a stirring mixture of country music, folk harmonies – and a dash of rock to further alleviate the hillbilly aesthetic.

Gary Buckwhip, the intense moody one, translates his bottled emotions into sensational outbursts of musical feeling, particularly with his vocal embellishments in the ‘Africa’ song and his ode to Betty the hooker (his one true love) and really goes to town on the drum machine in ‘Santa the Jew’.  Each member adds a personal touch to the songs and yet they never upstage each other – like all the best bands, they’re a combination that exceeds the sum of its parts.

I gather the Lonesome Buckwhips have adapted the show since last year’s Comedy Festival: at least one new song has been added and some character points have been changed: Gary has just returned from military duty in Afghanistan (not prison), and Miri is in fact their half sister, not adopted (making the sickly sweet duo between Arty and pregnant Miri, about not caring what anyone else thinks, that much more rancid). They also seem to have done away with their projected background images, which aren’t noticeably lacking in any case.

The Buckwhips are merciless in their parody of political correctness, ensuring ongoing Creative New Zealand funding by blatantly dropping random Māori words and phrases into their banter, and then launching into an incongruous sponsorship plug with a song about Marlboro cigarettes.

They’re not as mean and hard as they look on the poster, but the Buckwhips’ bite cuts to the quick all the more because of their happy-go-lucky simple-folk façade. My only complaint is that these hillbilly characters border on tasteful – missing out on extra opportunities to expand their wickedly exploitative humour. Miri’s character in particular is a bit bland and underdeveloped.

The encore satisfied my dark streak, though: a ‘motivational’ song written for an Olympic sports team about how you can’t win if you play fair. 


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Truly Wicked

Review by John Smythe 21st Apr 2008

At last year’s Fringe they launched themselves with The Return of the Lonesome Buckwhips – which proved an instant hit and encored, with a bit of new material (I think), at the 2007 Comedy Festival. And now they’re off.

Given they’re going because (according to their publicity) they’re pissed off with New Zealand – "the country that has taken so much and given them so little over the years" – I’m surprised to find them so happy and amiable. They’ve even let go of the pain that drove their inaugural ‘Return’. Indeed their tribute song to their Dunedin home suburb ‘Corstorphine’ has a nostalgic ring to it now, even as they rhyme "negligent" with "canvas tent".

But the underlying tensions between these dysfunctional siblings still add the grit that produces the little pearls of comedy that make this so much more than a concert.

Whereas last year Gary (Gareth Williams on keyboard) had just got out of gaol, this year he’s returned from a 14 moth tour of duty in Afghanistan with a strangely circular VC. His poignant love song to ‘Precious Betty’, who is kind to all the lonesome guys, reveals why war was attractive to him.

Meanwhile possum trapper Arty (Arthur Meek on rhythm guitar) and his step sister Miri (Miriama Ketu on violin) are shacked up and hapu – cue ‘We Don’t Care What people Say’ – while Benny Buckwhip (Ben Hutchison, on lead guitar) continues to grow beans and make jam, about which he sings a brilliantly awful song. And they’re all on the fiddle when it comes to WINZ, as testified in Benny’s cri-de-coeur: ‘Please Don’t Take My Benefit Away From Me’.

But they also remain astute enough to ensure continued Creative New Zealand funding, not only by sprinkling Te Reo amid their korero but also by composing an animated bi-cultural children’s show about a Beautiful Māori Bitch and a Mongrel Pakeha Dog which explains how all those stars came into the sky off Cape Reinga. Previewed in the style of Tina Cross and Frankie Stevens, for whom it is written, this is a marvellously wicked parody complete with integrated haka.

Also wicked in their wit, while wonderful in their musicality – as are all the songs – are old favourites ‘The Wahine Was A Oncer’ (composed for the Interislander commercial that The Warratahs won) and ‘Song For Africa’ (‘Take a shower in my money; take a bath in my tears’).

Their Christmas song, which makes Santa the hero of the Bible stories (after all he does have a big white beard like God) is new to me but was their encore at last year’s Comedy Festival. And this year’s encore, composed to motivate our Olympic team as they head to Beijing, is another work of wicked wit as it impresses upon them, "it’s impossible to win if you play fair."

Astute social and political satire, stitched into the cleverly structured lyrics for maximum effect and delivered with total clarity, permeates all their work. Perhaps the most explicit comes in that final song: "Piss on human rights, go in for the kill / Because if you don’t, you know that China will."

Truly wicked is the best phrase to describe The Lonesome Buckwhip’s Charity Gala, brilliantly conceived and delivered by a seriously talented quartet.


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