Beauty & The Beast Records Album In Quaint Queenstown!

I met Javi in the neatly utopian community of Tui in Golden Bay, where we were both WWOOF’ing (Willing Workers On Organic Farms). It turned out that, not only did we have a mutual friend back in Australia, we were also both on the lookout for a fellow musician to travel with. After a month of jamming around the campfire, we decided to go on a tour of the South Island – it was to be the most epic hitchhike I have ever done…

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Beauty & The Beast at the “Half Way Around The World” point of their “Friend of a Friend of a Friend Tour”

The tour could well have been called The Friend Of A Friend Of A Friend Tour, because so many times we got picked up by amazing Kiwi’s who not only transported us but also fed and sheltered us and finally passed on the contacts of their friends who in turn did the same. And so it was that a sister of a friend in Tui, offered us to stay in their family’s beautiful old town house right in the center of the quaint little tourist trap of Queenstown.

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Bettina is a Professor of Women’s History in Canada but in New Zealand she pursues her second big interest – gardening. I’ve hardly ever met such an enthusiastic gardener and we literally had to drag her to the dinner table some nights…

Being travelers on non-existing budgets, we quickly found our way around the back of the overpriced supermarkets and into their bins. Among kilos of fresh berries (smoothies for a week!) fruits and veggies, we one day found a brand new pack of 10 blank CD’s. It was at this point that Javi suggested we use my handy little recorder to record an album to sell on the streets as we performed our impromptu busking act – Beauty & The Beast.

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Here is the “studio” where we recorded our – now legendary – first album!

Bettina, who hosted us in a most pleasantly relaxed fashion, convinced us that we had a good thing going as she was dancing happily away during our recording sessions. In between endless takes of tricky tunes, we also had time to do some work around the house in preparation for Bettina’s daughter’s wedding later that month. So if you ever wonder who transformed that garage door into dinner tables and who made those lovely stone-steps in Queenstown’s loveliest garden, it was the Beauty & The Beast!

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Our stay in Queenstown may very well have been a stepping stone to fame – if not as musicians, then perhaps as landscape architects!

It was clear that this album was the first of (at least) two – we were simply too much on a roll. However, our individual journeys didn’t allow for enough time, so we called this first album “Half Way Across The World (and slightly out of tune) – intending to meet up again in Europe some day to record the other half. Needless to say, we all had lots of fun, and if the technical quality of our album isn’t the best, then at least I hope the enjoyment of making the CD is audible for the listeners 😉 . You can hear the whole album here

The CD's were from a dumpster, the cover made on my laptop and printed on the back of Bettina's old academic paper and the whole thing was recorded in her living woom on my portable microphone. Total cost: $ 0,-

The CD’s were from a dumpster, the cover made on my laptop and printed on the back of Bettina’s old academic paper and the whole thing was recorded in her living room on my portable microphone. Total cost: $ 0,-

Half of the songs on the album are covers of Louis Armstrong, Blues Brothers, Dave Matthews and Django Reinhardt, and the other half consists of originals like the gutsy opening track “Gone” with the unusual combination of didgeridoo and mandola. Please feel free to comment on the songs either here or via the link above, we would love to get some feedback!

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Our last lunch in Queenstown, enjoyed at a table we fashioned out of an old garage door.

As for actually busking in Queenstown, I wouldn’t exactly call it a successful endeavor. You see, everyone had told us that Queenstown was great for busking, but when we got there we realized that what they meant was that Queenstown is a great place to see buskers, not to be one! Every second bloody corner some sort of street-act  going on and in the end even the buskers were sick of all the buskers competing for the loose change of by-passers. Nevertheless, we still had an awesome time there and if a smile was worth a dollar, we’d be Rockefeller-rich by now!


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  1. Trackback: Christchurch Rising From The Ruins | Impromptu Immigrant

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