Very original: Singer-songwriter Delany Davidson


One of New Zealand’s most talented and original singer-songwriters is bringing his ‘haunted blues’ show to Queenstown’s Kinross winery this Sunday.

Lyttelton-based Delaney Davidson — distinctive for his rumpled stage persona — is travelling to various small lower South Island venues with one hand holding his guitar and the other a small brown suitcase containing his ‘ghost orchestra’.

Other venues include Peel Forest, Twizel, Ophir and Stewart Island.

Davidson says he was inspired to perform in such places by his experience of close and intimate ‘Buto’ performances in Japan.

In one dance show there was capacity for only eight people.

‘‘Just the intensity of that show, I really enjoyed it, and I thought, ‘I’d love to do something similar to that in NZ’, just small shows, intimate performances, so people are not lost in a bigger place and the concentration stays strong.’’

Delaney says the gig will include a lot of old blues covers.

‘‘I’ve been listening to a lot of Jimmy Reed lately, and I always like Otis Rush, I’m a big fan of Howlin’ Wolf and I’m always rediscovering Robert Johnson.

‘‘I try and reinvent songs sometimes, so I’ll do my own versions of Robert Johnson stuff, and then I’ll do my own songs.’’

He won’t be short of material.

Davidson says, apart from the odd break, he’s writing a song every day, or at least fleshing it out so he can come back and finish it later.

‘‘It’s nice to do it as soon as you wake up because you bring all that stuff from your dreamtime.’’

He’s already achieved a lot of awards and critical acclaim for his songwriting.

He’s won song competitions in Berlin and Zurich, and three years in a row won APRA’s ‘NZ country music song of the year’.

In 2015, he was an NZ Arts Foundation laureate recipient.

Roots music journal No Depression called his 2010 song, Self Decapitation, ‘‘altogether dirty, lonesome, restless and wildly engrossing’’.

So far he’s put out nine solo albums.

His bio states: ‘‘Revelling in the darker side of things, Davidson’s lyrical content dredges up classic murder ballads, songs with a deep insight into the human condition, and hypnotic trance takes on old blues classics.

‘‘All liberally laced with an abiding sympathy for human quirks, failure, foibles and triumphs.’’

Davidson wrote Whiskey & Kisses with NZ singer-songwriter Tami Neilson for her breakthrough 2014 album, Dynamite!, which he produced.

He’s also been a seminal influence on other NZ artists like Marlon Williams, Aldous Harding, The Eastern and Nadia Reid.

He has a huge Queenstown fan in winemaker Grant Taylor, who’s organised his Kinross gig.

Taylor says he first heard his music on National Radio about 10 years ago.

‘‘He’s a cross between Johnny Cash and Tom Waits, is how I describe him.’’

When Taylor organised a charity concert in 2011 at Moonlight Country, featuring American singer-singwriter Toni Childs, he brought down Davidson as her opening act.

‘‘We catch up from time to time — I think I’ve seen him play five or six times.’’

Of Sunday’s gig, Davidson says: ‘‘We’re going to be having a wild good time.’’

Delaney Davidson, Kinross winery, Sunday 3pm. Tickets $30 via