London calling for nomadic musician

Armed with a steel guitar and a newly recorded album, Nelson man Nick Ferretti is hoping to crack the tough crowds of London's street music scene.

The strong blues/rock vocals honed by several hours' singing each day and which have been echoing down Trafalgar St in the last week are now embedded in his first recording Back to Dust.

Nelson shoppers are among to the first to hear the album recorded only recently with the help of his musician mates Danny "Sugar" and Colombian drummer Dave Jiminez, at Auckland's Roundhead Studios owned by singer-songwriter Neil Finn.

It features the distinctive chords of his steel resonator guitar [made of melted down cutlery], and which lately have been amplified loud and clear in central Nelson.

Ferretti is back home for a few weeks before heading with his partner and son to Britain, where they will be visiting family and pushing the album which is the culmination of a year, "barrelling down the back roads of New Zealand in a house bus named Bang Bang".

Ferretti wrote the odd song or two when the mood took him and when he reached Auckland he had a sudden urge to record the year's work.

"I called up my old band mates and asked them to jump on a plane as soon as they could."

He said they jumped at the idea and after a quick rehearsal and only a day to polish off the songs they headed into the studio to record the tracks.

"The beauty of recording like that meant that the tracks had no time to grow old on us. When we were recording them they were still new creations, and that raw intensity is incredibly potent."

Ferretti said Roundhead Studios was a "recording palace", and for $1700 he created the 11-track blues street soul album Back to Dust, released on July 2 and named after the title track.

He has sold almost 20 CD copies in the few days he's been belting out the songs in Nelson, and has also made it available as a digital album.

Ferretti, who grew up in Hope, said music was not a huge part of his schooling at Nelson College and later Waimea College.

His dad, organic market gardener Brent Ferretti, bought him his first guitar - a half sized classical nylon string when he was 10 years old. "I held it up, stared cross-eyed at the fret board and said, ‘what the hell am I going to do with this?' "

He started busking in the streets when he was 12.

"I did music at school but not as much as I should have. It was more for myself - I'd get home and just play the guitar."

Jimi Hendrix, Joni Mitchell, Ry Cooder and John Hiatt were often on the stereo.

Four years at university studying a curious mix of philosophy, geology and chemistry failed to forge any clear direction.

Song writing went to a whole new level after he left Christchurch following the quakes and immersed himself in Melbourne where he went busking by night and sleeping by day.

The 24 year-old said music was important for the way it made him feel, which was probably the same for others too. "I can stare at a piece of art or eat good food but music strikes at a deeper level."

Ferretti said he had no real aim of making it to the big time.

"I just want to keep doing what I'm doing, and spread the music to as many people as I can."

The Nelson Mail