27 May 2022

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Cy Winstanley - Gig Review: Cy Winstanley @ Freida Margolis, Auckland - 26/01/2022

27 Jan 2022 // A review by Roger Bowie

Zone red, and everything is being cancelled except the smallest of gigs, and best of all, an impromptu one at that, as Nashville based Cy Winstanley ventures out solo at the suggestion of old covers band mate Dave Khan. Which means of course that he’s not actually solo, just not Tattletale.

It’s masks on as you wander around Freida’s, but masks off if you stay seated, so naturally, there’s not much movement and attention is guaranteed. And it’s been a Tattletale day as I contemplate last night’s gig and listen to the album I missed, Dancing Under the Dogwoods, winner of last year’s Tui for Folk Album of the Year. What an oversight, it’s very sweet, and very typical and very good.

So it’s great to be able to catch Cy on a flying NZ visit to see family and friends, and avoid the Tennessee winter. I’m catching up with Cy over the next couple of weeks on Zoom to have a more in-depth chat. But for the moment let me tease you with the news that Cy has not stopped writing catchy folk and Americana songs, and has also branched out as a children’s song and book writer, all the while staying true to his Australasian roots with songs that talk about coming home to your partner after a long period on the road, and needing to get a little more direct and down than “no wuckin furries”

Dave Khan’s short set is well under way when I arrive, but you all know the musical dexterity of the man, and when he’s solo, he plays gentle Americana with immaculate covers of lesser-known songs. Such as The Gambler by Don Schlitz, recorded by Kenny somebody and The Hobo Song by Jack Bonus, which I have on vinyl by Old and in the Way. Musicologist, is Dave. Cy does some harmony before there’s a break and Cy starts his part of the show.

This not the Tattletale Saints, but more of an alt-folk version of the covers band Cy and Dave had in Vulcan Lane centuries ago. Cy’s sweet songs and voice, reminiscent of, you know who, but he’s sick of hearing it, so if you don’t know, go listen, and Dave on his various strings coming in at times melodic, at times aggressively angry in Covid blues style. Harsh contrast makes for great sound and Cy is no slug on guitar either, so duelling picking enhances the pathos of listening to fine music in the middle of aerosol missiles.

Lots of new songs, She Had The Dumplings, a song about craving for Cantonese food, very rare in Nashville. A song about getting secretly stoned, which he sings to the percussive support of Auckland Transport trucks outside doing traffic management, and the poor anxious dog in the ute whimpering harmonies. Some well interspersed covers from pretty much the same era, John Martyn’s epic May You Never and Neil Young’s Walk On, no longer on spotty-fi. A lot of humour, a lot of fuck it if we can’t take a joke (but we can, Cy, we can). A lot of commentary which we can deduce is about living in the paradox which is America.

Some Tattletale Saints’ songs, the sublime Sonoma County Wine, and the more recent D.I.N.K and Bobby Where Did You Learn to Dance, from Dancing Under the Dogwoods. And the song from the book, by Simon Stanley which is a supremely ironic pseudonym, about the kids floating down the river.

A fine night in the height of summer, no late-night chill, just the warmth of one of New Zealand’s finest exiles, our loss (but at least he comes back) and Nashville’s gain. Thank you, Cy!

Set List (approximate)

1. Honest Work

2. She Had The Dumplings

3. One More Trick In The Box

4. Tired of Talking You Down

5. Secretly Stoned

6. She Loves The Honey

7. Came A Long Winter

8. No Worries (Fuck Them Away)

9. May You Never (John Martyn)

10. Sonoma County Wine

11. How Do You Live (With Yourself)

12. Floating Down The River

13. D.I.N.K

14. Bobby Where Did You Learn to Dance

15. Walk On (Neil Young)


About Cy Winstanley

Cy Winstanley is a New Zealand born, Nashville based songwriter, guitarist and singer. His band Tattletale Saints has released 3 albums, most recently 2020's Dancing Under the Dogwoods. The band's release How Red is The Blood won the New Zealand music award for Folk Album of The Year 2014.

Under the pseudonym Simon Stanley, Cy released the kid's song Marley Sitting on a Pumpkin Seed, which won the 2019 NZ music award for best children's song.

Cy works as a studio and live guitarist and has played for a variety of artists including Brandy Clarke, Aubrie Sellers, Andrew Combs, Rachel Baiman, Peter Bradley Adams and many more.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Cy Winstanley


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