Cross The Tracks / We Better Go Back

Maceo Parker

The sum­mer of 1987–1988 was like an eco­nom­ic “phoney war” sim­i­lar to that we just expe­ri­enced, 20 years on, with the 2007–2008 finan­cial cri­sis. In the months fol­low­ing the 1987 share-mar­ket crash, we were wait­ing for the impact to hit. One of the casu­al­ties was sure­ly the Neon Pic­nic rock fes­ti­val, which went bel­ly up hours before show time.

That’s Chris Bourke, across at his Dis­trac­tions blog, which, I’m thrilled to say, is back in action as he has deliv­ered to the pub­lish­ers, and I am huge­ly antic­i­pat­ing, his book on NZ pre-Rock’n’Roll his­to­ry — slow­ly, very slow­ly, we doc­u­ment, despite offi­cial ennui, our social past.

He also links to Andrew Schmitt’s fas­ci­nat­ing his­to­ry of Rock’n’Roll Fes­ti­vals in NZ at the NZ His­to­ry site.

I was one of the few who had a good sto­ry from Neon Pic­nic. My part­ner in clubs (we had The Play­ground at the time), Tom Samp­son, had been asked to work on the fes­ti­val, doing stage sound, by Ocea­nia Audio, who had the main stage con­tract. Which left me in Auck­land run­ning the club.

I was gag­ging to see James Brown again. I’d seen him in Lon­don in 1980 and want­ed more.

Mo Cam­mick, one of my best mates, the edi­tor of Rip It Up and a huge soul fan who had intro­duced me to vol­umes of Black and Soul music over the pre­vi­ous decade, said he was going to see James play in Aus­tralia the Mon­day and Tues­day before he was to fly to NZ.

Thus a deal was struck. Tom would take the week­end off from The Play­ground, to work side stage for Ocea­nia (which meant see­ing TGFOS from the stage!) and I would work in the club.  To com­pen­sate, I would, with Mur­ray, fly to Mel­bourne the week before, and catch James’ gigs at the Metrop­o­lis.

This would make up for miss­ing the NZ show.

I flew out, and with Mur­ray and my oth­er mate, design­er Ter­ence Hogan, who lived there, went to JB two nights run­ning. Maceo stood next to me in the crowd and played an instru­men­tal Soul Pow­er, and I was fly­ing.

I flew back to Auck­land on the Thurs­day and … well, the rest is in Chris’ post.

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