Delaney Davidson

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A non-stop whirlwind. Recipient of The Arts Foundation Laureate Award 2015.

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The Arts Foundation of New Zealand has recognised 10 artists at the Westpac New Zealand Arts Awards with a total of $360,000 in awards announced at a ceremony at the Mercury Theatre in Auckland last night.

Singer-Songwriter, Noir Protagonist, Promotional Coyote, One-Man Band, Production Svengali. Part wandering minstrel, part traveling salesman, one foot on the stage and one in the road. Six solo albums out and always one on the way. Tours and performances in seventeen countries, across oceans and continents. Awards here. Collaborations there. A non-stop whirlwind.

Enigmatic multi-instrumentalist Delaney Davidson both defines and commands his own unique realm in the shadowy musical world some call ‘Country-Noir’ or ‘Gothic Americana’, others ‘Alt-Country’, but most simply indefinable.  No wonder – he’s a hardworking miner of rich and varied musical ores from all over the world, a mad alchemist who produces wondrous new elements out of whole cloth.

It must be something peculiar in the water in his land-of-origin, because vexing questions tend to arise with regularity around Delaney Davidson. He says he comes from New Zealand, but really, where did this guy come from?  Six years in Australia, Six Years in Switzerland, 10 Years on the road. And though he’s earned a bunch of country music awards, it’s a good bet most traditional country music-lovers have never heard anyone like him before.

His inspirations range from Hank Williams and Howlin’ Wolf to The Birthday Party, from Johnny Cash through Suicide to Buster Keaton.  Reveling in the darker side of things, Davidson’s lyrical content dredges up classic murder ballads, songs with a deep insight into the human condition, and hypnotic trance takes on old blues classics. All liberally laced with an abiding sympathy for human quirks, failure, foibles and triumphs.  His rumpled stage persona combines an unconventional and unforgettable voice with a wry and twisted sense of humor. His performances are full of the unexpected, as likely to feature beer-hall antics and pantomime, as dance contests and audience participation.

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