Muddle's Mojo: Local musos Shay Muddle and Pearly McGrath perform as Mojo, pre-Covid-19 lockdown


With Covid-19 putting many musical careers in the Wakatipu Basin on hold, one artist claims the general mood among the local musos isn’t nearly as bad as you’d think.

Long-time Queenstown muso Shay Muddle’s spent lockdown running ‘Quarantunes’, a Facebook page where the guitarist and singer streams his Zoom yarns with a range of different artists from the region.

“It’s pretty positive overall, no one’s really going ‘that’s it, we’re buggered, I’m out of here’,” Muddle says.

“Everyone is aware that the world has changed, which has greatly affected Queenstown.

“But no one is really freaking out, we’re just kind of taking it step by step and all doing what we can.”

Muddle’s a founding member of Mojo, a covers band which plays everything from weddings to bar gigs.

Despite all that being dead in the water for the foreseeable future, Muddle says he’s enjoying a good rest after a busy summer.

“The start of summer I’m like, ‘yeah I need the money’. And by February I’m going, ‘I can’t wait for winter’… it gets pretty full-on,” he laughs.

“One year we did 26 gigs in a row.

“Even though the money was fantastic, it was tough. Too hard.”

Muddle’s also in the fortunate position where people are still booking gigs for later in the year and beyond.

“We were getting bookings for 2021 in 2019 … people are still going to get married.”

Originally from Nelson, Muddle spent a number of years in a band called Fungi with illustrious New Zealand songwriter Jason Kerrison – formerly of Op Shop.

He says he wasn’t particularly driven in a conventional manner in his younger days.

“Money and stuff like that didn’t bother me at all. Where a lot of my friends were settling down and buying houses, I was living this young and carefree life.

“It had its ups and downs.

“There were times when I was living on a packet of rice but I was having fun and playing with some really good bands with some really top musicians.”

In the Covid-19 era, Muddle says he’s in the ideal position where live music isn’t the only part of his career.

At the start of 2019 he started an e-bike tour company called Ride to the Sky, something he intends to aim at the domestic market once the lockdown’s finished.

“It’s a unique product where the tour that I take people on is on private land so you can only get there through me,” he says.

“I’ve just got to adjust my pricing and my business model. But, hey, it is what it is and there’s a lot of people that are far worse off than me.

“I’ve just got to not stress. Just keep cool.”

Many self-employed people will need to get innovative in the coming months, he says.

But he’s adamant Mojo will rise again.

“We’ve got 11 years of reputation to build upon so we’ve got that history. People can follow us back on Facebook to 2009.

“We all get a bit sort of negative, we can get down and a wee bit depressed but it’s telling yourself that everything’s gonna be alright and it’s taking a step towards something every day.

“If you’re not optimistic what have you got, what are you left with?”