T-Bone – Tuning Fork: July 3, 2022 (Concert Review)

T-Bone burnt up the Tuning Fork stage this Sunday night in a celebration of Americana and folk music, to usher in America’s Independence Day. Swing and spice, crawfish pie and file gumbo. They answer Waylon Jennings’ poser, Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?

All acoustic instruments, no drums but full of rhythm and soul. Richard Klein, fiddles and vocals from New Jersey, Gerry Paul from Dublin, guitar and vocals, Cameron Burnell fiddle and banjo and also with the Frank Burkitt Band, Aaron Stewart bull-fiddle bass and Michael Muggeridge, mandolin, guitar and vocals.

Debut album Good ‘n Greasy has just been released and is currently sitting at number 2 in the New Zealand music charts. Sounds like it was recorded live in the studio, and on stage their presence is magnified. If this was a Honky-Tonk in Louisiana, you would need a cage around the stage.

Opening songs stoke up some fire. Lucille is Blues-influenced Cajun in the style of Nathan Abshire.

T-Bone Rag has a nice ragin’ Cajun Swing with a percussive stand-up bass that you would hear from the Roy Acuff band of the Thirties. Try Ida Red, which Chuck Berry adapted into Maybelline.

(Dreaming of the) Far North has a gentle Folk swing and touches on the style of one of New Zealand’s finest, the Hamilton County Bluegrass Band.


The first guests tonight are Hoop, from the Ministry of the Super Heavy Folk, located somewhere in a hall in Mt Eden. They’re not obsessive purists. The five-piece tonight have an electric bass and guitar, and a cajon player.

Devil’s Choice is Irish Folk, with a flute and fiddle. The electric bass gives it some Rock nuance, similar to Fairport Convention or maybe Jethro Tull.

The Outlaw mentions Steve Rickard is in town. A Kiwi pro-wrestler who we were fascinated by as kids. A Folk tune, and the electric guitar lends some Americana.

This Year. An older American Country sound. A waltz with a mourning fiddle, a little like Blind Alfred Reed.

A very interesting song is The Ballad of Ted Hawkins. A Black Street singer in America who led a hard criminal life but also made one critically acclaimed Soul Blues album in the Seventies. He performed at Auckland’s Gluepot in the early Eighties, which also attracted protesters because of his background. A nice tribute to a difficult life and a great talent.

John OszajcaJohn Oszajca

John Oszajca is a hard-case looking cat. An American born in Hawaii, he has been living in New Zealand since 2010. Been a concert promoter, has played in numerous Rockabilly and Rock’n’Roll bands, and has attracted attention from Elton John, we are told. Solo with acoustic guitar tonight.

Starts with Where’s Bob Dylan When You Need Him? The humour of Dylan’s early talking blues. A strong voice with a gritty bloke croak.

Raises the inspiration level with Sinking In. Can sing with the Deep White Soul of a John Fogerty or Mitch Ryder.  

It Ain’t So Bad is a Rust-Belt Blues. Real life Robin Hood is a man of discontent. Like Woody Guthrie given a Punk edge.

He has a big stage presence and writes very funny lyrics. You Said You Could See Me Saturday Night is New Zealand all over in certain male behaviour. I wish I was sober when you said it was over/ Don’t call the cops on me.

Angeline follows in the Honky-Tonk tradition of Hank Williams, Webb Pierce or George Jones. A sister to the mythical Evangeline that the Band and Los Lobos pay tribute to.

Finishes with I’m Alive which is a sci-fi tale of Artificial Intelligence with some Punk anger. He’s an unusual cowpunk, then.


The French Louisiana influence is strong. Especially from Klein who played in Cajun bands for many years.

A great version of the Cajun anthem Jolie Blonde. They do play with two fiddles, which I wasn’t sure of from the record. And a triangle. Compare this to the great Harry Choate’s version, or the truly awful Waylon Jennings one.

The best one on the album and on-stage tonight is Manuka Swing Balfa Waltz. They can recreate the sound of the legendary Balfa Brothers.

Keep My Skillet Good ‘n Greasy is a rowdy country funk stomper as old as the Ozark Hills, and is appropriately loud.

Oszajca is brought back to help them close out. Mining For Gold is a worker’s song about life and mortality. Irish Folk Halls, trade unions, Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger.

Little Liza Jane caps it off with the New Orleans Off-Beat. Cajun fiddles and a bit of Country Swing and Fats Domino.

A hot evening of great Americana. The Skillet was good ‘n greasy and sizzlin’.

Rev Orange Peel       

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John Oszajca: