The Lonesome Buckwhips

101 @ Bodega, Wellington

22/05/2007 - 26/05/2007

The Transmission Room, Auckland

22/05/2007 - 26/05/2007

NZ International Comedy Festival 2007-09, 2013

Production Details


They have witnessed their childhood caravan burn to the ground in a blazing inferno, struggled with critical indifference, battled with The Warratahs and each other, been arrested and "lived unhappy lives." But most importantly the only country band with their own brand of raspberry jam is back! After re-visiting their roots in the small dank Dunedin suburb of Corstorphine, they are back in concert with a new member and a raft of new and inspirational country tunes.

Benny is back in the band on the proviso he is allowed to use the gig as a vehicle to hock off his award-winning gourmet Buckwhip Jam. Which he proudly exclaims has been hair-free since 2006 and has recently won a certificate from the Ministry of Health. The gig will include songs from their previous albums such as the banned Whale Rider and a few tracks from their new album CNTY & WSTN. They recount their lengthy beef with The Warratahs who they became jealous of after "Easy Come Easy Go" was chosen to front the Interislander ad campaign instead of The Buckwhips hit "The Wahine was a Once off". Their contractual obligations to Marlboro cigarettes also means their song to promote smoking will come exactly 20 minutes into the set.

Join the Buckwhips as they reunite to celebrate their unique blend of country tunes and onstage bickering. Their music has been described as ‘effortless’, while their quick-fire banter has been compared to two misinformed old ladies slugging it out on talkback radio. Come for the music, stay for the raspberry jam as the Buckwhips play songs ranging in theme from indigenous maritime disasters to the ups and downs of market gardening in semi-rural New Zealand.

The show features Toi Whakaari graduates Arthur Meek, Gareth Williams and Miriama Ketu; and Ben Hutchison who has just completed an MA in Scriptwriting at Victoria University under the tutelage of Ken Duncum. Arthur will also be starring in Circa Theatre’s upcoming production of Two Brothers and Gareth is soon to tour with the Indian Ink theatre company.

Dates:  Tue 8 – Sat 12 May, 8.30pm
Venue:  101 @ Bodega, 101 Ghuznee St, Wellington City
Tickets:  Adults $15 Conc./ Groups 8+ $12
Bookings:  Ticketek 0800 TICKETEK (0800 842 5385)
Show Duration:  1 hour

Dates:  Tue 22 – Sat 26 May, 8.30pm
Venue:  The Transmission Room, Cnr Mayoral Dr & Queen St, Auckland City
Tickets:  Adults $20 Conc. $15 Groups 8+ $15
Bookings:  Ticketek 0800 TICKETEK (0800 842 5385)
Show Duration:  1 hour

1 hr

Sophisticated, smart material masquerades as simple humour

Review by Thomas LaHood 09th May 2007

The Lonesome Buckwhips look set to ignite audiences like brushfire across the prairie with their New Zealand tour.  Their blend of fighting words and four-part harmonies has been reworked and refined since their Best Comedy award-winning debut at the 2007 Wellington Fringe, making an already enjoyable show into a great evening’s entertainment.

The story has been tightened up from the rambling tale presented at the Fringe, but the basic plot remains the same. The four Buckwhips – Benny (Ben Hutchison), Arty (Arthur Meek), Miri (Miriama Ketu) and Gary (Gareth Williams) – play a reunion gig on the day of Gary’s release from prison, where they proceed to exhume their family skeletons in front of a live audience.

The Buckwhips’ style is colloquial, intimate, and adroit.  Their laconic delivery belies the speed of the show’s wit, covering territory from Māori tikanga to the commercialisation of Christmas, via smoking and corporate sponsorship, at a deceptively rapid rate.

The songs, too, range in style and content despite somehow remaining ‘country’.  The standout musical number of the show – ‘Africa’ ("take a shower in my money and a bath in my tears") – is anthemic and emotive, elevating the audience and drawing huge applause before smoothly returning them to the ambling pace of the between-songs bickering.

This is the skill of The Lonesome Buckwhips: what seems to be simple humour, drawing easy laughs from the crowd, is actually sophisticated, smart material with something to say.  Similarly, the characters go beyond simple hillbilly stereotypes to become real people – from Corstorphine, Dunedin – that we can identify with.

The revisions to the story are for the most part successful.  In particular, Miri has now been promoted from outsider to adopted sister and authentic family member, making her and Arty’s cloying married couple routine all the more icky.  It’s a distinct improvement, but the character is still underutilised, especially in the second half of the show.

The new venue presents some difficulties, being narrow and flat; more suited to stand-up gigs than this character based work.  I spent a lot of time ducking from one side to the other of the head in front of me trying to catch dialogue.  The over-head projected images, too, lose impact in this space.

The Lonesome Buckwhips is a brave undertaking by a young company that has worked hard, and it is a real pleasure to see that work paying off.  The audience was engaged throughout, despite the difficulties presented by the venue, and the band more than earned their exuberant encore, ‘Santa – King of the Jews’.  
For more production details, click on the title at the top of this review. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


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