I was fortunate enough to yesterday see the transcendent Stevie Tonks perform a live show for the town of Hororata.
Entering the premises to the audio of an unfamiliar female artist, things became mildly familiar/nostalgic when a few minutes later Cassie Henderson took the stage; while Cassie’s ability to handle a guitar was superb I fear if it hadn’t been for X Factor’s 2013 season, she would still be below any musical radars.
It was towards the end of Cassie’s performance that ‘Hatbeard’ made landfall, sporting his signature hearty ginger beard but, perhaps ironically, with no hat to be seen. From inside the Hororata Village Bar and Café I witnessed Mr Tonks make his way to the bar and order a drink. I wasted no time in making my introduction.
“Stevie…” I began.
As he turned to face me with his piercing eyes and broad grin, suddenly I became as nervous as a schoolgirl at a Beiber show, and words thus intelligent thought started to evade me.
“Stevie,” I said again, as if we’d been friends for years – and again, “Stevie … Tim … Hey, ah, just curious, after X factor and all that hype, where to from here, I mean, what are the plans … What’s next for Stevie Tonks?”
“Oh, big plans, mate,” he answered with a smile, “hang around today, it’s gonna be good.”
“Oh I’ll be around … So, hey, are you doing any originals – I’m pumped to see more of your own stuff, eh.”
“Yep, there’s gonna be heaps of that, hang around.”
“Nice one, dude,” I concluded, “well good luck with the show, anyway.”
“Thanks, man,” he said, the smile growing bigger still, before turning and walking away.
The inimitable Stevie Tonks took to the stage a few minutes later and he was sensational. Along with all his classic X Factor covers, just about every second track he played was, potentially, an original recording and man, they were good. They were very good.
The man possesses a kind of passion which filters through into his music making, for example, a cheesy Adele cover of Rolling in the Deep, into a beyond-belief, spectacular showcase.
Over an hour later he stepped down to massive applause and was immediately surrounded by hordes of fans. I waited for the crowd to thin before making my way over to ask the hard questions. The weather had become inhospitable yet the man they called Stevie Tonks was as gracious as ever.
“Stevie.” My ingratiation was unchanged.
A look of uncertain familiarity came over the ginger-bearded face.
“Great show man … Fantastic.”
“Oh, yeah, thanks man, yeah, I had fun.”
“Yeah, hey, I heard a lot of originals – they were good, man … So, how many do you have – do you have an album’s worth?”
The grin was as big as I’ve seen as he leaned over the electrical equipment to show me the afternoon’s playlist; indicating which of them were originals. “And that’s only about half of what I’ve got.”
“Nice one … Yeah, I liked your sound, eh – mellow, low tempo, laid back – do you have any higher tempo, or heavier songs?”
That smile continued to augment: “Yeah man, it was laid back and cruisy today ‘cause I don’t have me band with me – the album’ll be a heaps more rocky sound.”
“Oh, good to hear, I’ll be sure to be one of the first to pick it up…” that smile was getting still bigger “…you’re a legend dude, best of luck for the future.” With that I extended my arm, shook his hand then turned to leave.
“Gotta follow your passion, man,” he said catching my eye one final time.
I nodded and walked away.
Mark these words: Stevie Tonks is going to be big.
Article by Tim Walker
Edited by Ta Debbie Kell
Photography by Wendy N Jude