#23 Ravens, Aotea Square

25 January 2018


Aotea Square is set up with a full stage, deck chairs, food court and a bar, all part of Summer in the Square. It's a balmy summer evening as New Zealand basks in record summer temperatures, and the deck chairs are pretty much all gone by 7.

Ravens are billed as folk punk, and they're an occasional ensemble of Reb Fountain from Auckland, Alice Ryan Williams from Takaka and Jessie Shanks from Lyttelton. All three have played extensively with The Eastern, which remains on my go-to list.

They play a mixture of hard edged bluesy folk and country numbers, all originals, with Reb on guitar and drums, Alice on violin and Jessie on guitar and banjo. I'm always impressed by artists like Reb Fountain who can lead a show in their own right, then slip effortlessly in as an equal partner in a group like Ravens. All three star in their own right and in their own vocal styles.

It was one of those gigs where if you don't know the songs themselves, you get a pretty good sense of what they're about with reverberant song lines, like 'She just wants a man to bring the good wood home', 'Round the bend', 'The lights of the harbour send me right back' and 'It ain't so.' All gorgeously crafted, yet with an underlying motif of tough lives lived. There's a captivating session recorded in 2016 on RNZ that can be accessed here.

A brief, bittersweet yet blissful performance, one that I'm very happy for my rates to have contributed to. People don't often say this, but thanks Auckland Council.