Gold Guitars by Gore at the opening of country music legend Bonnie Raitt

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Country singer Jackie Bristow is normally based in Nashville, Tennessee, but Covid-19 has sent her back to the Gore family home – which she takes as a chance to collaborate with her artist mother, Liz.

Her music career has seen Bristow, 48, tour the US and Europe, opening for big names such as Boz Scaggs, Bonnie Raitt, Foreigner and Steve Miller Band, but now she’s touring New Zealand and gives back to Kiwi children who want to learn songwriting. .

JACKIE BRISTOW:

It’s the family home I grew up in, but wherever I’ve lived, I’ve always had mom’s art.

I had a full house when I lived in Balmain, Sydney. Then I moved to Los Angeles in 2005 and then to Austin, Texas four years later and had a lot of his work shipped.

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Every room in the house I eventually bought in Nashville is like an art gallery.

Mom is a beautiful artist. I like the color, the movement. She captures the spirit. His paintings give me less homesickness.

Jackie playing the piano originally owned by his nana Molly Scully, who was a piano teacher and sewed all of her and her sister Katrina's outfits when they performed in their younger years.

Robyn Edie / Stuff

Jackie playing the piano originally owned by his nana Molly Scully, who was a piano teacher and sewed all of her and her sister Katrina’s outfits when they performed in their younger years.

I’ve been making music since I was 11 and making a living from it since I was 17, including releasing five albums.

I grew up singing country music as a kid: Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, Kris Kristofferson. I have less of a Kiwi accent when I sing.

I have many Kiwi friends in America. There’s a big expat community in Nashville and LA – they’re two fusion music cities. People advance their careers, you know what it takes to get there, so you always end up connecting.

The Maton guitar is an Australian guitar that Jackie Bristow has been traveling with for 20 years.

Robyn Edie

The Maton guitar is an Australian guitar that Jackie Bristow has been traveling with for 20 years.

I probably had a lot of blind faith and was naïve in some ways. I just went there. I traveled everywhere playing solo shows for a decade: Texas, California, Arizona.

Then my producer came and toured with me. I opened for Boz Scaggs, Chris Isaac, Bonnie Raitt, Tommy Emmanuel, Foreigner and Steve Miller Band. Big shows like that and smaller shows – just what it took to organize tours, earn a living and keep doing whatever it takes to keep making records.

You should be there for the music, not the money. I think it’s just a tendency with some people: I’d be miserable if I had a nine-to-five job.

Jackie Bristow made the most of her time in New Zealand visiting family, recording two albums and developing a songwriting program for children.

Robyn Edie / Stuff

Jackie Bristow made the most of her time in New Zealand visiting family, recording two albums and developing a songwriting program for children.

You can do things you never dreamed of. I played with world class musicians for 20 years. It’s an artistic dream come true.

For example, I was so influenced by the music of Bonnie Raitt and her album Nick of Time. I did two tours with her and she chose me herself to open for her.

Came home just before lockdown (2020) to do a tour. I had come for quite a long trip, two and a half months, but my return flight was cancelled. Things got really bad in America, so I thought I might as well stay.

It was a forced thing but a lot of great things happened.

Jackie Bristow completed her new album, Outsider, while in New Zealand during lockdown, and released it in March.

Robyn Edie / Stuff

Jackie Bristow completed her new album, Outsider, while in New Zealand during lockdown, and released it in March.

I developed a songwriting program for children in Queenstown and Wānaka, in partnership with Youthtown NZ, and recorded a little EP for children called Jackie B and the Mini Band.

And I was able to finish my album Outsider (released March 4). The title comes from the story of my life, going from Gore, Invercargill, Queenstown, Christchurch, Sydney, LA, Austin, Nashville – always being on the fringes, on the outside, but going my own way.

My grandmother Molly was a piano teacher and played the organ in church; Mom would sing.

Jackie and her sister Katrina performed at Gore's Gold Guitar Awards in the 1980s. Their grandmother sewed their shirts.

Robyn Edie / Stuff

Jackie and her sister Katrina performed at Gore’s Gold Guitar Awards in the 1980s. Their grandmother sewed their shirts.

I had a cool teacher at St Mary’s Primary School, Mr Hailes, who made everyone learn ukulele and guitar. So at the age of 10, I could play them very well.

We went to Gold Guitars when I was 11 and my sister was 8. Nana Molly Scully made our outfits – my sister and I were dressed like twins with little plaid shirts, cowboy boots five sizes too big and cowboy hats.

For a decade we traveled playing rodeos, festivals, country music competitions. It’s a very big community in Southland, lots of talent around.

I’m a little torn now, after two years here. I’m leaving for a tour of a few months in July, but I lost my green card.

Mum and I are planning to do art and music together again next year, at three or four galleries in New Zealand.

I always have one of his paintings on stage and I usually sell it. Many people who love art love music.

Liz Bristow says her art is so satisfying that she can't imagine retiring from painting.

Robyn Edie / Stuff

Liz Bristow says her art is so satisfying that she can’t imagine retiring from painting.

LIZ BRISTOW:

I have always drawn and painted even as a child. I was a commercial artist, writing signs and window displays and stuff like that.

I went painting full time about 15 years ago.

Jackie always takes a painting and shows it on stage, and every time it sells out, so we thought why not just tour it?

Some of Liz Bristow's work at her home in Gore – she also sells in galleries.

Robyn Edie

Some of Liz Bristow’s work at her home in Gore – she also sells in galleries.

I have always loved music. I sang a little at school and my mother was a music teacher. When the Gold Guitars came, mom said, “You have to take the girls with you.”

Children have just started competing and winning. This was a great tour to circumnavigate the South Island. It seemed normal at the time, but I can’t imagine kids doing it now because they’re on screens.

We would take the caravan and just sail around the circuit; holidays, weekends, long weekends.

Robyn Edie / Stuff

Beth and Amy Duffill-Brookes first arrived in Invercargill as an engaged couple in 2017, since then they have married on Monkey Island, bought a house, made many friends and haven’t… intend to leave their new home.

The children encouraged me to go to art school. The girls were growing a little. He was naturally influenced by all music. Everything fell into place.

It’s just me and Spike here. But Jackie was there during the lockdown, which was great for us. She and I had a lot of time: I painted, she played the guitar. There were no distractions.

Liz Bristow has been painting full time for about 15 years.

Robyn Edie / Stuff

Liz Bristow has been painting full time for about 15 years.

I love Gore. Friends. It’s a cute little town, and so well known for country music. It was a big thing. Because we lived here, it was so easy to get involved.

As for the art, it was good too. There’s a nice little buzz of music and art around.

I don’t think I will ever retire. I will always paint, I think.

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