For seven years, musician Monty Bevins lived a life on the road, taking his spirited stories and folk songs from one small New Zealand town to another.
Having no fixed abode and on a perpetual tour provided a freedom the singer-songwriter not only embraced but enjoyed. He would play in a different town or city each night and soaked up the sights of natural beauty along the way.
“I can play a show at night in any venue, cafe, hall or barn, and then the next day get up and go for a swim or mountain bike ride,” Bevins says.
It’s this laid-back style of performing and the people he’s met along the way who’ve been the inspiration to his touching stories, which are always backed by beautiful chord combinations on the guitar.
At the heart of Bevins’ music is other people’s tales they’ve kindly shared with him along the way. He feels their lives are far “more interesting” than his own thoughts and emotions.
His song, Lovers Again, was written after meeting a couple who were getting ready to move out of their family home in Arthur’s Pass, where they’d lived when their three daughters were growing up.
“The daughters had moved on, and I was around as they struggled to shift on from the house because of the memories and the height markings on the doorways.
“It’s moments like this when I drive away and reflect a fair bit, then I put it into a song to share with other people who might be going through a similar experience.”
The soul-folk artist’s ability to document people’s real emotions and experiences with such care and turn them into song is a gift for the audiences Bevins plays for.
“I love it [touring] because you don’t have to look too hard to be inspired or interested — you’re meeting lots of people all the time.”
Not only has he toured the length of NZ many times over, he also gigged for many years in London and Europe.
But as Bevins knows only too well, change is the only constant, and he’s since parted with his life on the road and planted some roots in Northland, just north of Whangarei.
The birth of his seven-month-old son, Matai, was the start of a new chapter for the musician.
“Being able to see him grow every day has been really, really cool.”
Spending time at home has also given Bevins more time to get creative with his music.
“The routine has allowed me to write every morning, and I’m also reading more and getting in the garden, so I’m starting to see the fruit of that too.”
He’s planning to release new music next year.
Monty Bevins is playing at Pub on Wharf on Wednesday, December 18, and Thursday, December 19, at 8.30pm. Then he’ll hit the stage at Muskets and Moonshine on December 20, at 8pm, and at The Fork and Tap, Arrowtown, at 4pm on December 22.
- MIRANDA COOK