The Return of the Lonesome Buckwhips

Happy (Cnr Tory & Vivian), Wellington

14/02/2007 - 18/02/2007

NZ Fringe Festival 2007

Production Details

Originally created by ARTHUR MEEK & BEN HUTCHISON

The Lonesome Buckwhips are back on land and back on tour as part of the 2007 Fringe Festival.

An ill-fated honeymoon aboard the Chevron oil tanker Condoleezza Rice resulted in newlyweds Arty and Miri Buckwhip taking an unintentional dip in the Gulf of Mexico. “If Greenpeace hadn’t mistaken us for penguins we’d still be up to the eyeballs in petrol,” says Miri. “Instead we’ve come home to find ourselves up to the eyeballs in repayments.”

The holiday was purchased on HP and the Buckwhips are hitting the road to service their debt to Miss Lucy at the Holiday Shoppe.  The family line-up is notable for the return of lead guitarist Benny Buckwhip, who had retired from country music to indulge his passion for beans. His gardening prowess has resulted in a bumper harvest and the amateur parking warden has agreed to tour on the proviso that he can set up a stall selling his beans, seeds and jam during the show. “Seeds are the new vodka,” says Benny, a reformed alcoholic.

The concerts will be notable for the absence of longstanding brother and pianist Gary Buckwhip, who is serving a three-year jail sentence for voting twice in the 2005 general election. “He did the crime and it’s important that he does the time,” says Arty, a veteran of 102 prior convictions. “Prison is wonderful for increasing your alphabet of coping strategies. I used to only have A for assault, now I have C for calm breathing.”

Gary is less philosophical about his omission from the band. “I’m gonna go Graeme Burton on them,” he warned from his cell at Rimutaka. “Even if they shoot me in the leg it won’t wound me as much as their decision to drop me.” Gary is up for parole just prior to the Buckwhips’ tour, which commences with a five-night season at Happy Bar, on the corner of Vivian and Tory Streets from the 14th February.

“Valentine’s day,” whispers Arty, as he plants a tender kiss on the blushing cheek of his new bride.

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

Band technician - BYRON COLL

Theatre ,

1 hr

Viciously funny

Review by Lynn Freeman 22nd Feb 2007

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’. 

The banter between members of the band adds to the enjoyment, while you listen to songs about beans, from mung to string, about the (dubious) benefits of smoking and a number about the starving children of Africa that would send Sir Bob Geldof into a total spin.  Looking forward to the return of the Return of the LB’s.


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Their pain is our gain

Review by John Smythe 16th Feb 2007

At last – a group that has proven Kiwi Country music can be sung in a Kiwi voice! The Warratahs, eat your hearts out. They might not have scored the Interislander TVC but The Lonesome Buckwhips have beaten you on that score, mates, hands down. As for the number they offered up for that gig … but more of that later.

I can’t say I’d ever heard of the Dunedin suburb Corstorphine (which Google suggests is mostly taken up by the St Clair gold course) until this show claimed it as the sometime home of the Buckwhip family, when they’re not residing at Her Majesty’s pleasure, that is. But the Buckwhip boys are doing their best to put it on the map.

“If you think you know pain then think again,” is their refrain. “The tragedies that befall each and every one of us” is their stock in trade as The Lonesome Buckwhips. It was just the three boys – Arty (Arthur Meek), Benny (Ben Hutchison) and Gary (Gareth Williams) – until Arty hit it off with a prison warden called Miri (Miriama Ketu), who has slipped into the line-up with her fiddle while Gary’s been doing time …

And now, as the show starts, Gary turns up, sentence served. So as well as the planned show, they have a bit of a catch up. Which makes for a few hairy moments. Hilarious too. Not that they believe in humour any more. It’s all too painful. Except for the heart-warming song about how Arty and Miri got it together.

Also they’re nothing if not pragmatic. Having a woman on board and incorporating some kaupapa Mâori will, they know, help their applications for funding from Creative New Zealand. And they’re not above accepting sponsorship from Marlboro too, blatantly advertising their product with ‘The Life And Non-Smoking Death Of A Smoker’.

Things have moved on since Gary went away and his song about ‘Precious Betty’ is especially poignant in the light of what he discovers tonight. But Benny is at least off the grog and into God now, inspiring us all with ‘Jesus Surely Is Your Strongest Steed”.

Of course the old favourites can’t be ignored so we get ‘The Bean Song’ too. And their song for Africa, ‘The Price of Hope’, tells it like it is like no other band has dared. Then, at last, they unveil the song that should have won them fame ahead of the Warratahs: ‘The Wahine Was A Once Off’.

Conceptually the format is not unlike a Flight of the Conchords show, with their characters emerging and stories unfolding between in within the songs. The musicality is great too and so are the lyrics, which are crystal clear.

It’s very idiosyncratic yet totally recognisable fare that deserves to build a cult audience.


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