Self-taught and self-styled

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WITH his intricate finger-style guitar, singer/songwriter Mataolin ‘Panda’ Coffey will play two gigs in Queenstown this weekend. 

The US-born artist is a regular to the resort, stopping by each time he has toured New Zealand over the past eight years. 

This time he brings material from his new album Roots, Shoots and Leaves

“I’m really pleased with it”, he says. 

“It has been recorded during the last two years over in France with some very good musicians and a top-notch producer. 

“I do the majority of my shows these days in Europe. I play pretty much all original music with a very strong focus on words, a lot of social/political, a lot of commentary, storytelling, and I find the atmosphere and culture over there really embrace it.” 

Picking up the guitar on a whim at the age of 20, he quickly took to song-­­­writing and was performing in front of live audiences within two years. 

“I play a very soulful style of jazz, blues, sort of funk acoustic, and I’m highly passionate. 

“I’ve an interesting finger style of play – I do a lot of tapping. It has just been a self-developed thing over time really.” 

Coffey will perform at Dux de Lux on Saturday and Red Rock Sunday, ably supported by duo A.n.D. 

The Queenstown-based brothers, Anthony and Dave Waldock, are about to release their own EP after moving away from playing covers gigs to concentrate on their own material. 

Coffey, who lives in Motueka, followed around The Grateful Dead during their Shakedown Street and Mega-Dead periods. 

“I’ve probably seen 350 shows. 

“I was just coming into a time of my life, 18, where I was a bit lost and it was a really good atmosphere with a lot of people looking after each other, travelling around; a loose affiliated group of folks. 

“It was just a good formative experience and that’s what got me into the music. I witnessed through The Grateful Dead the power of the audience and the band having a connection together.” 

And the name Panda? 

“I picked that up from an American Indian elder when I was 18 years old. I went on what’s called a vision quest, which is a rite of passage from boyhood to manhood, out into the mountains. I was given the vision and it has been with me ever since.”

Catch Panda supported by A.n.D at Dux de Lux on Saturday and Red Rock on Sunday