Saddle up

TRACEY COOPER
Last updated 09:22 29/11/2012
Vegas Brown
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Hessian Horseman play at Gravity Bar on December 7 with The Captain and Copious Ail\. Tickets are just $10 with the first 15 people through the door getting a free CD single and a Jim Beam. We’ve got five double passes to the show to give away. To enter, simply email features@waikatotimes.co.nz with Hessian in the subject line and you’ll go in the draw.

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When it comes to longevity in the music industry, in Hamilton at least, Vegas Brown takes some beating.

The entertainer - who often delivers pre-match entertainment at Waikato Stadium - is formerly of bands such as Mama Said and 48 May, he's spent years playing covers at Diggers, put out CDs under his own name, and now he has his new band, erm, saddled up and ready to ride.

The Hessian Horseman are playing at Gravity Bar in Hamilton on December 7 in one of their first hometown gigs, after successful shows in Auckland and Tauranga.

For Brown, it's been years of ongoing work to establish himself as one of Hamilton's foremost entertainers.

Not for him turning his nose up at playing covers. He says that's all part of the plan, to do what it takes to pay the bills.

"The point with me is that I didn't stay at school so I had no choice," he says.

The try-anything approach hasn't always gone down well with his peers. "When we played covers some people hated us because we weren't playing original stuff and when we played our own songs, the covers bands hated us."

The haters miss the point, he says.

"They all say they want to be able to live off their music - that's the dream - but very few can do that."

For Brown, it's about making things happen rather than waiting for something to happen. "We formed in February and we've supported Shotgun Alley, Autozamm, These Four Walls so far.

"I booked some New Zealand Music Month gigs at House and Diggers just so we could play too."

The band - Vegas Brown (vocals), Kell Bracewell (drums), Paul Smith (keys/guitar), Mike Anker (guitar) and Shocka the Maori rocker (bass) - won a recent Battle of the Bands competition in Morrinsville, pulling in $1500, which Brown says is preferable to winning something like time in a recording studio, which many competitions offer.

"The problem is, people put their whole lives on winning a couple of days in a recording studio or something. We would have ended up with a couple of songs that sounded really good but not much else."

Rather, they spent the prize money on organising a tour and inviting people within the industry to see them play.

"I like to go and see people. It's far too easy to say no on the phone or not reply to an email. So I turn up at C4 with a DVD in my hand."

So far, he says the approach is working.

"I think so, we're starting to create a profile. We're getting some TV with our first video and we're hoping to get our first song, Boy Who Cries Wolf, from the upcoming album Masquerade, on Radio Hauraki and The Rock."

Brown says, even though he didn't realise it at the time, he'd been schooled in music since joining his first band as a teenager. "When I was 13 in my first rock band it was with John Bisset. He was in the Mods. I was just young and I didn't realise it at the time but I was being cultured from the word go. I was learning stuff like Free and Pink Floyd."

Success, he says, takes time.

"I think it's one of those things, you can spend your whole lifetime trying to achieve. Mama Said was the first attempt, then 48 May. Mama Said was disappointing but 48 May, that was just a good rock band and we just had fun."

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And often, it's just about putting in the hard yards.

"I don't burn bridges, I look after our reputation. It is all about hard work.

"Many other musicians are really talented but they don't have the desire to do the work. Some musicians I've played with were more talented than me but they ended up fat, bald and working for the IRD or something."

His teachers from school would be surprised to hear him talk that way, he reckons, but although school wasn't a favourite place, it certainly taught him the benefits of hard work and sticking at something you love doing.

"I wouldn't have it any other way. I'll never give up."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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