The Songs Of Al Park ‘Better Already’ Album Release All coming attractions
Blue Smoke Open: 7:30pm – Show Time: 8:30pm
A showcase to celebrate the release of ‘Better Already’ – The songs of Al Park.
Buy a copy of the new album and get free entry to the show.
Featuring guest performances from some of NZ’s finest musicians; who sang, interpreted and recorded Al Parks songs for his album ‘Better Already’
Jordan Luck, Adam McGrath, Barry Saunders, Janice Grey, Adam Hattaway, Anthea Struthers, Helen Mulholland. (Also on the record but not at the show, Marlon Williams, Delaney Davidson, Anita Clark).
With the backing of an all star band throughout: Elemore Jones, Ryan Fisherman, Mike Kime and Adam Hattaway.
Support from Katie Thompson.
Who the f**k is Al Park?
Why are all these people on this record singing his songs?
Why do they care?
Because they owe him.
Influence is a funny thing. We get giddy over records, over heroes, over ideas, over history. The problem with that is the distance; the safe, impenetrable distance. Distance keeps the influence vague. We will never have coffee with Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie would never have dropped round to listen to your new songs, Patti Smith won’t help you with the low rent poetry you think might make some lyrics, and Chuck Berry would’ve never kicked your ass for sucking. They don’t or didn’t know you, so you’re safe. Their influence is distant and thus a comfort. What do you do however when the influence is just down the road, at the back of the pub watching the gig, or down at the coffee shop buying you a long black?
You anti up and acknowledge it and appreciate it and honor it. You say thanks.
That’s what ‘Better Already’ is. It’s a thank you, a very loud and appreciative tip o’ the cap to someone who has had a shoulder to many wheels, a hand in many helpings, a voice of wisdom in many thinkings and wonderings.
It’s a record that says,
“Who the f**k is Al Park?
He’s our friend, our brother, our anchor, our father, our loadstone, our voice of reason, our bullshit detector, our what to do and our what not do to, our supporter. He’s a deep real influence and we are grateful and this is our tribute”
In Christchurch, if you’ve been around music, as a fan, as a player, or as a business then you know Al Park. If you spend 10 minutes in public with him, you’ll have ten different hellos coming his way, from head nods to hour long debates everyone knows him to say hi to. Those close to him know his influence as well.
There’s probably (and thankfully) an Al in most towns and cities but for those of us in Christchurch we know him from everywhere:
From his early punk days in Vapour and the Trails and the founder of seminal (first and initially only) Punk venue ‘Mollet St.’,
To playing the pimp in The Exponents video for ‘Victoria’,
To packing every venue in town with the Latino Rock’n’Soul of Louie and the Hotsticks,
Standing behind the counter and dispensing (sometimes unwelcome!) opinions on everyone’s buying habits at Chch’s greatest record store Echo,
To being one of the meanest bar band leaders in The Latter Day Sinners,
To running one of the most popular touring circuit venues in Al’s Bar,
To being a father figure to the disparate friends who made up the ‘Lyttelton Sound’ (Marlon Williams, Aldous Harding, Delaney Davidson, The Eastern, Lindon Puffin),
And finally but not at all the end of things, as an integral part of the city’s post-quake musical recovery.
Al has simply been there for everything and everyone.
Through it all he’s been on his porch in Lyttelton and corners of bars everywhere around town writing and singing his own songs. Never really looking for the ‘big time’ and calling the idea of such out for the bullshit it so often is. For Al, it really has been to quote Townes all “for the sake of the song”.
That’s why Marlon Williams goes over for a curry and a beer in between conquering the world, that’s why Delaney Davidson and renowned poet Ben Brown want to write with him, that’s why Barry Saunders from The Warratahs will crash at Al’s on the way through to anywhere, why a fatherless Adam McGrath from The Eastern asked Al how to show him how to string his guitar when he was just a kid.
They do this because they know Al is a believer just like them and like Al will say, believers gotta stick together.
Al has influenced them all in many ways, as peer and as friend.
A life in music in a small town with city pretensions could be a tragic ‘could’ve/should’ve been kinda story, but Al has made it look like glorious, fun, adventurous and meaningful.
What a thing to show everyone who’s ever floated into his orbit.
Confused about a show? Need a show? Stuck on a song? Stuck in life? Need to know whether you should buy ‘Exile on Main St’ or ‘Let it Bleed’? Need to borrow money for lunch? Need a bed? A beer? A hopeful word?
You can call Al for all the above and more. That’s why all the people who sung these songs on ‘Better Already’ did it. Because they count on Al and they wanted to show him that he could count on him too.
It wasn’t a thing to do to make Al famous, or sell a million records, or any of that nonsense, it was just a fun idea and it turned out to be more, and to mean more, it was the right thing to do, by people who have always been done right by Al. Because he’s an influencer, not in a weak Instagram way, but in a deep wheel of faith giving kinda way. That’s why he counts and hopefully why this record will also.