Howling at the blues

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Musician Tom Mounsey, in Queenstown for winter, says he was born with the blues in his blood.

The performer, from the United Kingdom, plays as a soloist or with a drummer under band name Howling Phoenix.

And he’s already picked up a drummer and a few weekly gigs around town with his brand of dirty blues rock.

“I scored a show on my second day here and it’s gone really well from then on,” Mounsey says.

“After playing solo at Vinyl Underground, a drummer called Adam Smart – ‘Smarty’ – came up to me. We had a handful of practices and then our first show at Vinyl last week which went down a storm.

“I got brought up on blues, it’s in my blood, and I’ve been doing shows for 15 years now – Cornwall, then London and some UK festivals like Bestival and the Isle of White.

“I wanted to check out New Zealand, travel and play, because I had a friend who raved about here, especially Queenstown.”

Howling Phoenix plays mid to upbeat blues: a mix of classic covers and some originals.

“I don’t do the very modern covers because that’s just another version of what someone else is doing in town,” Mounsey says.

“So it’s Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, some RL Burnside – even though lots of people won’t have heard of some of these guys.

“I nearly went towards playing modern covers but it’s just not me – as long as you do it well it goes down really well.”

Mounsey’s in town until October, playing gigs at Monty’s, Vinyl Underground and Loco Cantina.

“I’ll see how it goes – nothing planned afterwards but I like the thought of travelling down the west coast of America playing.”

Catch Howling Phoenix at Monty’s on Saturday from 9.30pm. Free admission.