“I fell in love with the place”: Kiwi muso is back on tour in a small town in New Zealand

Matt Joe Gow is a former artist based in Dunedin who is embarking on a tour of some smaller centers in New Zealand.

Lucas Packett/Supplied

Matt Joe Gow is a former artist based in Dunedin who is embarking on a tour of some smaller centers in New Zealand.

Musician Matt Joe Gow loves playing in small town New Zealand.

“If you play your heart out, you can guarantee they’ll come to your next show and buy your record.”

The artist, originally from Dunedin and now based in Melbourne, has carved out an impressive recording history and supported Chris Isaak, The Jayhawks, Justin Townes Earl and Grant-Lee Phillips.

His genre of music may be known as Americana, “but Dunedin plays a huge part in who I am as a musician”.

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He describes his hometown as having “bad weather and good music”.

The impact of ‘Dunedin Sound’ era music, such as The Clean, The Chills and The Verlaines, meant that the town he grew up in was backed by musicians.

“The idea that it was okay to be in a band was one thing.”

The influence in his music was more about “visceral elements”.

“I like to write about the weather, the landscape or the environment… My songs often take place in winter because I didn’t grow up in Tahiti.”

Gow is briefly back in Dunedin, a town where “I cut my teeth as a teenager”, as he prepares for his final tour which begins at the Dunedin Dog With Two Tails center on Friday night.

Later this month, he will act as a guest lecturer on songwriting at the University of Otago.

He returns to New Zealand from time to time, including a longer stay when Covid hit in 2020, which allowed him to tour 40 dates around the country.

“I fell in love with the place again.”

Kiwi musician Matt Joe Gow is now based in Melbourne.

Colin Murray/Supplied

Kiwi musician Matt Joe Gow is now based in Melbourne.

Gow says the popularity of streaming platforms such as Spotify meant “I could roll to a place like Gisborne and they would know my songs”.

It was easier for an audience to stream songs than to locate an album to buy, meaning “they can get a taste for you”.

In the Gisborne example, the owner had played his songs before the gig, which resulted in some of the audience singing along to his songs.

“You’re not going to beat Spotify… God bless Neil Young.”

Gow looked forward to his final, albeit smaller, tour and to playing smaller towns such as Gore, Luggate and Ophir.

He remembers walking to his gig at the latter, asking “where are all these people going?”

“On your show,” was the reply.

“That’s where I noticed on my last tour that there were these people in these little pockets who really want to hear real music. Any excuse to come back and go regional is a wonderful thing.

Americana music has its origins with artists like Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash and is a very varied genre, which means Gow could play a Blues number, a folk song or an “epic rock song from the 70s…and everything is logical”.

Matt Joe Gow will be touring at the following locations:

  • August 5: Two-Tailed Dog, Dunedin
  • August 6: Peace Memorial Hall, Ophir
  • August 7: Thomas Green Pub, Gore
  • August 12: Maheno Hall, Oamaru
  • August 13: Hotel Luggate, Luggate
  • August 19: Hilltop House Concerts, Wellington
  • August 21: Wine Cellar, Auckland

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