'One of the lucky ones': Stranded singer-songwriter Jackie Bristow


A renowned Kiwi singer-songwriter, currently stranded in Queenstown, is giving young local songwriting talent a stage tomorrow.

As part of her ‘Valentine’s Day Show’ at Queenstown’s Thomas Brown Gallery, Jackie Bristow’s introducing ‘Jackie B and the Mini Band’.

They’re a group of seven, aged between seven and 10, she’s been giving songwriting lessons to, for about three months, plus two older girls.

Bristow, who’s been based in the United States, latterly Nashville, for 15 years till getting stuck in New Zealand when lockdown started, performed a fundraiser for Queenstown’s Turn Up the Music Trust last August.

Subsequently, trust chair Bill Moran asked her to teach songwriting, which is how the Mini Band’s come about.

‘‘I’ve been teaching them how to write, and writing with them, they’re going to sing with me [on Sunday].’’

The group comprises Saige Galloway, Nia Maddern, Ivy McKenzie, Aoife O’Regan. Cecily Cooper, Taylah Miller and Francesca Freeman, while two older girls, Mala and Frida Rylev, will also sing a song each.

‘‘Songwriting is such a passion,’’ Gore-raised Bristow says.

‘‘I was writing really young but never had that guidance, I just did it because it came naturally to me.’’

Taking kids as young as seven isn’t a problem ‘‘because they’ve got their imagination — they come up with all these ideas I wouldn’t think of’’.

‘‘And then a few of them have started writing songs on their own because they’re so quick to learn.

‘‘I have been teaching them to play the songs, too, but our main focus in the time we’ve had has been learning to write the songs and writing them together.’’

Bristow, who’s made a living from music since the age of 17, is impressed with the NZ scene — ‘‘there’s a lot of great songwriters’’.

‘‘When I was younger, you sort of had to leave to make something happen, but you don’t have to do that now.’’

Bristow says she’s deciding whether she’ll continue basing herself in Queenstown or live in Wanaka before returning to the US.

She lived here for a while during the ‘90s, gigging at then-nightspots like Westy’s, Eichardt’s public bar and Penthouse.

She’ll continue to perform gigs around NZ ‘‘but I’m not doing too many ‘cos I want to keep bringing the crowds’’.

She’s finished recording her fifth album — ‘‘we’ve had some great players on it’’ — but probably won’t release it till August/September to give her time to get promo material together.

There’ll then be an album tour.

Bristow says she’s ‘‘one of the lucky ones’’ because her Nashville friends aren’t performing at all.

‘‘They don’t even want to go to a studio with each other.’’

Meanwhile, Bristow got some unusual air play in the US last month.

The title song from her first album, Thirsty, was played during an episode of popular CBS sitcom, Young Sheldon.

Ironically, she wrote that song in Queenstown with an old school friend and poet, Louise Moulin.

Jackie Bristow Valentine’s Day Show, Thomas Brown Gallery, Sunday, 4pm; tickets $38 from eventfinda and Arrowtown’s Lakes District Museum