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Woke up this morning, got myself a cup of tea

Big river blues man Doug Snelling is a solid supporter of live music in Wairoa and Gisborne and on Saturday will be joined by harmonica player Richard Heikell to perform at Wrights Vineyard Winery.

Snelling has been a fixture in the East Coast music scene for the past decade as the regional staple for old-school blues and grass-root, original homegrown tunes.

“I’m a strong believer in live music,” he says.

“There’s a selfish reason behind bringing acts in — it’s because I like to listen to them and to meet other musicians. If I can make it easier for them to get gigs here I’m happy to help out. There is so much music but the challenge is finding venues.”

Originally from Canada’s steel town, Hamilton, Snelling has been into the blues since he was a kid growing up outside Toronto in the late 1960s. He heard blues legends Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, Buddy Guy and blues harmonica player Paul Butterfield play in small club settings. As a 16-year-old he spent a day as a volunteer roadie for Howlin’ Wolf at a Toronto festival.

“A friend and I went to a folk music festival with the intention of meeting Howlin’ Wolf. The festival was held on an island and by coincidence when we got on the ferry Howlin’ Wolf turned up. We introduced ourselves. We carried his gear and hung out a little bit.”

Snelling’s father was a big band jazz fan and some of that music translates into blues, says the Wairoa musician.

“I listen to big band music but I’m not able to master the chords. I have two styles of blues — Muddy Waters style, electric blues and acoustic, slide guitar blues.”

Having retired from teaching IT and English at Wairoa College for 28 years Snelling’s goal now is to improve his guitar playing, finger picking and slide.

Doug Snelling and Richard Heikell, Wrights Vineyard Winery, Saturday, 1.30pm. Free but bookings recommended.

BIG RIVER BLUES: Known to the Guide as a passionate promoter of local and touring acts, Wairoa bluesman Doug Snelling will take to the stage himself in Gisborne on Saturday. Picture supplied