Dynamic duo’s quake break in Queenstown

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When Queenstown-bound Kiwi raconteur Gary McCormick says it’s a busy time, it’s something of an understatement.
 
McCormick, performing in Queenstown on Friday night alongside his singer-guitarist mate Paul Ubana Jones, is in the middle of having his quake-damaged Christchurch home repaired so is living temporarily elsewhere. 

McCormick’s also selling the place after it’s done. And after his Queenstown gig on Friday, he needs to be back in Christchurch on Saturday to attend the auction of a new house he’s hoping to buy. 

“Life never gets any easier as you get older – it actually gets more difficult,” McCormick says, following it up with his trademark laugh. 

Nevertheless, he’s looking forward to a short break in Queenstown.

“Too right I am,” he says.

The storyteller and TV show host will share his observations on life, alongside reflections on the devastating Christchurch earthquakes and last week’s election result during his Queenstown show. 

“However, we are calling it Laughter and Blues so we’ll try to lighten the mood.” 

McCormick says he’ll take to the stage for a session, followed by music from Ubana Jones before their second sets. 

The pair have done more than 50 shows by McCormick’s estimate since first meeting in Raglan in the mid-1980s when McCormick was hosting a Heartland TV documentary on the beachside town. 

McCormick says he was standing outside the town’s hall when he heard music by Ubana Jones – the son of a Nigerian dustman – wafting out. 

“I thought ‘Wow, who is this guy?’.” 

McCormick convinced Ubana Jones, who studied classical music on a scholarship at the prestigious London School of Music, to relocate to Gisborne. 

The pair ended up living about five doors down from each other.

“He’s a genius on the guitar – that’s why he’s played support for Bob Dylan,” McCormick reflects, predicting Ubana Jones will be lost to New Zealand in the next year or two.
 
“People who see him, go away knocked out by him. But he’s touring Europe and Asia more and more and we’ll eventually lose him.”

See Gary McCormick and Paul Ubana Jones’ free Laughter and Blues show at SkyCity Casino on Friday night, 9pm.