Country star Patsy Riggir almost didn’t take the stage at the first New Zealand Gold Guitar Awards in Gore in 1974.
She flew with her father from Putaruru, Waikato, to participate in the budding competition.
“It was my first time on a plane. I had extreme nerves – it was a tough, tough day, and our flights were all delayed. ”
After driving from Invercargill to Gore, a restless Riggir arrived at the James Cumming Wing – five minutes after the competition closed at 4 p.m.
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“There was a big discussion and a rushed meeting, and they let me play, but only because I had come this far. ”
Thirty-seven other contestants had performed in the venue that day and the backing group, Les Thomas and the Countrymen, had already packed their bags.
A small group of three musicians agreed to support her.
“I sang Paper roses [by Marie Osmond] and Connie Smith’s Once a day. They did all the judging in the preliminaries at the time, and then there was a showcase in the evening.
“And then holy smoke – I won it. ”
Riggir has become a household name, releasing her debut album in 1980, the same year she was named New Zealand Artist of the Year, and appearing on TV shows like This is the country.
“It was a wonderful exhibition and it’s very difficult to get these days. The industry is absolutely more different now. It’s even harder to break through, and then it’s a real job.
“I wouldn’t say we had it easy, but when the national broadcaster records and plays a country music show in people’s living rooms every week, it definitely makes a difference.
Best known for his hit song Beautiful woman Riggir received the Queen’s Service Medal for Community Service in 1994 and says country music has changed a lot since it came into the limelight.
“Of course, it has to progress. Much of the material coming out of the United States is now great, but some of it is a mess.
“My favorites now would be Don Williams, Randy Travis, Tim McGraw… I don’t listen to a lot of modern country. Alan Jackson is still a favorite too.
Riggir has long retired from singing and creating albums. She still lives in Putaruru and enjoys spending time in her garden.
She still keeps a low profile eye for the New Zealand Gold Guitar Awards from a distance each year and was surprised to learn that there were over 750 admissions this year, and that it would be part of a country music festival of nine. days, Tussock Country. .
“Sounds awesome. Country music is a great way to make friends and that’s what I miss most: the camaraderie. On tour all the time with people who have a common love, it is what I really miss. ”
And she has some tips for those taking the stage next weekend.
“Don’t be smart. Be sincere. Let it come from the heart. ”
Phil Geary, organizer of the MLT New Zealand Gold Guitar Awards, has been involved in the event since the early 1980s and claims that the competition continues to grow and the level of competition remains very high.
“Over the past 10 years, registrations in the intermediate section, for 13-17 year olds, have increased and this year there are 260 in this section, 17 more than in 2019.
“It seems like it’s country rock, the more upbeat end of things, that the kids are discovering,” Geary said.
“There are three or four singing schools that contribute to this, there are two in Dunedin and Kayla Martin, who won the awards a few years ago, teaches here.
Riggir was the first of many artists to win Gold Guitars and have a successful singing career. Noel Parlane, Bob Mason and the Apache and Kaylee Bell are just a few who have gained national and international recognition.
Now, in addition to having his name engraved on the infamous Gold Guitar, the senior winner walks away with a prize that includes a fully produced music video, a single fully produced in a recording studio in Australia, an advertising package and a guest. . place at the Tamworth Country Music Festival.
The prizes aim to make the winner heard, whether on air or online.
Another event that adds prestige to the festival is the NZ Country Music Awards, which take place at the SBS St James Theater in Gore.
The awards announce the winners of the MLT Songwriting Award for Best Unrecorded Song, the APRA Best Country Song Award and the Award for Recorded Music NZ Best Country Artist.
This year, the awards sold out early, showing huge interest in people taking part in country music events.
West coaster Jaydin Singleton won the senior final of the New Zealand Gold Guitar Award in 2019, having competed eight times before, and said it jump-started his career.
“I’m absolutely delighted with what came out of it, it’s definitely a start to my career. I went to Australia and recorded a song, it helped me ten times. ”
“It’s not just what I did for myself as a performer – I made some really good friends with the Gold Guitars, and it’s so good to be able to spend a weekend with people. like-minded who all love to do the same. ”
The competition began when a group called Country Style Promotions presented the Gold Guitar Trophy to the Gore Country Music Club to participate in an annual Gold Guitar Awards, held in the James Cumming Wing, for one day.
It became a three-day event and the competition gained momentum, more events began to be added – a Miss Gold guitar competition, the Gore Truck Show, the MLT country songwriting competition and the New Zealand Country Music Awards have all been introduced.
This year they’re all released as part of the Tussock Country Festival, with over 30 events – from whiskey tasting to ukelele lessons and even a night of line dancing.
The first event of the festival is a ute rally which takes place on Saturday.
Tussock festival spokeswoman Annabel Roy said sales had been strong for all events and the Top Paddock concert, New Zealand Country Music Awards and Tea at Three with Jenny Mitchell were all sold out.
“It’s a natural progression of the success of New Zealand Gold Guitars, which is an incredible event, and because of that other events have started. This is the first time that they have come together under one identity as a festival and the feedback from the people of Gore and the people who come to Gore has been phenomenal. ”
And this year, there’s another new first as a company called Operatunity, which offers music-themed tours for seniors, brings 95 people to the awards, Geary said.
“This is the first time that a tour group has come to the awards, which is great. They will have two bus loads and, in addition to going to the final evenings, they will also visit the Catlins, and they will stay in Invercargill, so the economic benefits will be spread everywhere.
“People really can’t travel overseas, so they come here instead. ”
It’s still good money for the city, and this year it could be even bigger. ”