Solo artist’s several layers

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Solo artist Midge McCleary proves you don’t need much to create engaging multi-layered live music. 

The Picton musician is touring the South Island armed only with his acoustic guitar, his voice and a stomp box. 

“It’s a piece of wood plugged into the amplifier just to emphasise the sound of the foot stomping on the ground,” McCleary says. 

“I describe my sound as jazzy, bluesy, funky crossbreed acoustic style. 

“It’s a percussive alternate tuning style of play, a bit technical but not like the freaks of nature. Lots of finger style, tend to use my thumb for the bass lines and pluck out chords and make something sonically interesting.” 

McCleary, who has performed in many different line-ups over the years, has released four self-produced albums. 

The latest, Sugar, was recorded over a single weekend. 

“The writing process is another story though – songs can come quickly or develop over months. 

“A lot of times I’ll actually start working on the songs live, see how it goes and change the feeling on the spot to see what works. Some­_times that’s good, sometimes it’s disastrous. 

“It keeps me on edge and heightens the music, even if it’s a disaster it’s a good disaster – at least it’s an energetic disaster. 

“If something fails and dies we can always have a good laugh about it. It rarely gets to that stage but I’ve had a few moments where I’ve just stopped. We’re all human.” 

McCleary plays two Queenstown gigs as part of his 15-date South Island album tour. 

Catch McCleary at Monty’s Bar this Sunday 4-7pm and Pub on Wharf next Thursday. June 13. Free admission