Hey Socials! It’s been a good start to the year for Maggie Cocco Music! We’re making a name for ourselves in the scene here in New Zealand. Here’s what we got up to this month.
Piha RSA, January 3rd
Just your average bar fare in the least average place imaginable. Piha is New Zealand’s most famous surf beach, known for it’s black sand and (sometimes literally) killer waves. The view is spectacular, but I declined to swim. I’ll have the opportunity to get my courage up again as we’ve secured a rotating performance schedule in Piha. Our next gig in paradise is on February 13th.
[5th-7th, Bay of Islands Rehearsals]
Bay of Islands Music Festival, January 8th
I played two sets for Bay of Islands – the first as Cocco & Jay, and the second as Maggie Cocco’s Science for Sociopaths. The music for Cocco & Jay was good, summery, acoustic…it felt right for the scene, and…well, the audience ignored us. I changed tact. For the second set, I pulled out the keyboard and did a few Science for Sociopaths tunes…ya’ll, I ran out of stickers. Even though there were only two stages at the festival and we were on the “please ignore me” stage, people stopped in their tracks to hear the piano set. Especially children, which was interesting. They stood there as if mesmerized and flocked to me after the show. I’m preaching to the choir here, but I’ve never considered my music particularly child friendly…I’m still debating the lesson learned from that event, but it’s stuck with me as significant.
Speaking of takeaways…You don’t really understand the weight of something foreign to you until you’ve been exposed to enough perspectives on it to form a holistic idea. Bay of Islands was an interesting one to wrap my head around. It’s usually an international summer music festival, but due to COVID it featured all local acts…and me. I was the “international act” of the festival. That was a fun fact, but really only amounted to a funny quip on stage. The headliners at this festival, however, were mammoth acts in New Zealand. I personally had never heard of any of them, which made it easier for me to rub elbows back stage. I connected with some of New Zealand’s music royalty that day, but I wouldn’t have known were it not for the reactions of others when I recounted the events of the evening. It’s funny how that works. If people are to be believed, Bay of Islands is a big deal. But what it felt like was any other gig. You play your best and make the most of the time and place. I don’t know if anything further will come from it, but I’ve done my best so as to make the most of the opportunity. If nothing else, it’s definitely one for the books.
Sing Your Best Self, January 9th & 16th
On the heels of these shows, I taught two, 3-hour workshops over two weekends. Vocal techniques for a range of adult singers – beginner to advanced – and it was such a fulfilling experience! I’m good at it, and it gives people confidence. What could be better!?
Where Words Fail: Songwriting, Workshop, January 9th, 16th & 17th
Simultaneous to the Voice Workshops, I taught a newly developed songwriting workshop. Truthfully, I was more nervous to teach this class than I was to play any of the shows! But I figured that no matter who was in attendance, they were there because they felt somehow lacking. I prepared a lecture that essentially demonstrated that there’s no one way to do things, and to illustrate, here are some common approaches and some exceptions. Songwriters can use the tried and true formulas or forge their own paths. All approaches are legitimate because art is subjective. YOU and the way you choose to do things are legitimate because there’s never been another you. I found that this is what most people needed to hear. From there, I helped people trouble shoot individual struggles and provided a couple songwriting prompts through which they could apply their new perspective. All the positive feedback nearly made me cry. Music is such a beautiful, giving thing.
Butter Factory, January 15th
This was fun! An acoustic set featuring the increasingly popular Austyn Mills on guitar. He’s got great feel and sings both lead and harmonies like a pro…such a fun musical gig! Micky jumped on bodhran for the last couple sets and really lifted things. We had a full house, which was funny because the venue wasn’t expecting it. We played for an extra hour and people danced all night. We’ll be back at the Butter Factory for a full band set this Friday.
[ 9th & 16th Jazz Fest Rehearsals]
Waipu Jazz Fest, January 17th
First full band gig with the boys from Otium – Jesse on guitar, Austyn on bass, and Scott on drums. We did a 45 minute jazz fusion set that I’m told was the highlight of the festival for many festival goers. We’ll act as closer for the next festival at the same venue – Classics at the Cove – in March 🙂
The Basin City Big Band closed the jazz festival and were kind enough to ask me to sit in. I sang Georgia On My Mind and Hallelujah I Love Him So – old favorites of mine – but my favorite Big Band performance was an impromptu duet with opera singer, Rishi Iyer, whom I met at the festival. Check the reel *new* for that awesome highlight!
The Judge, January 22nd
Just another bar gig. This one featured Scott on guitar, which was cool because I knew guitar is his primary instrument but I’d only ever heard him play drums. This was a fucking treat. I enjoy playing with Scott on guitar as much as Austyn, and for different reasons. …Can you tell how excited I am to be getting to know these new musos (that’s Kiwi for musician)? They’re SO good that even playing “Valerie” for the millionth time (which I will never not enjoy doing with a great band and/or a grateful audience) is stimulating! Can’t wait to see what we do next!
Auckland Folk Fest, January 29th/February 1st
This. Is. Everything. I’ve never stayed at a weekend festival, and for years I never went to a festival that I wasn’t playing. This was a turning point for me. The Auckland Folk Festival was full of PHENOMENAL musicians just killing it in their respective genres. It was so inspiring. I felt like a novice again, surrounded by so much music that I didn’t know and that I wanted to know! I took fiddle workshops (I used to play a bit, did you know?), saw so many shows, and sat in on so many sessions where I was far from the most experienced performer that I must have leveled up at least once! Also, it turns out my voice is well suited to folk music. I’m sincerely looking for an opportunity to collaborate with an experienced folk musician and see what comes of it. If nothing else, I’m going again next year because that was an education and a half! Not the least important takeaway was the warm, loving folk music community. I want that for all genres of music.
Whangarei Town Basin, January 5th: Maggie Cocco and the San Detroit Band (duo) deliver chill acoustic, early evening vibes on the village green.
Butter Factory, January 5th: Maggie Cocco and the San Detroit Band get funky this Friday at the Butter Factory.
Piha RSA, February 13th: Maggie Cocco and the San Detroit Band (trio) level up your bar night out.
Auckland Fringe Festival, February 27th: Maggie Cocco’s Science for Sociopaths, Fringe Tour Part 3.
Titirangi RSA, February 28th: Maggie Cocco and the San Detroit Band (trio) bring you Sunday Afternoon jams.
One non-performance related development: I’m now a board member of Girls Rock Detroit. Girls Rock is an international organization that uses music to empower disenfranchised youth. We host summer camps that teach youth how to play instruments, collaborate with one another, and offer classes on age and circumstance relevant issues from gender identity and birth control to domestic violence. While I will be working for the Detroit chapter, I will also be connecting with the New Zealand chapters. In the meantime, I would encourage you to check out your local Girls Rock chapter! See what they’re doing, donate, get involved, give feedback! Let’a make the world we want to live in happen, one show, one student, one song at a time ❤️🎶
That’s all for January! If you’ve any thoughts – inspiration you’d like to share, things you’d like to see or hear – comment below or send me a PM! As always, thanks for all you do! It’s your monthly commitment and feedback that keeps this project trucking 🙏