Last July, Fiddlers Crossing was visited by its first performers from “down under.” Singer songwriter Jackie Bristow from Gore, New Zealand, accompanied by guitarist Mark Punch from Sydney, Australia, played to a packed house at the downtown music venue. The response was so overwhelmingly positive that the duo was immediately booked for a return performance on Friday, Oct. 4 of this year.
Jackie Bristow’s singing career began at the age of 8, when she took a shine to church hymns at St. Mary's Primary School, inspired by her music teacher Walter Hailes. Encouraged by their grandmother, piano teacher Molly Scully, Jackie and her younger sister Katrina entered Gore’s Gold Guitar awards as children. By the time she was 11, the duo was sweeping up a string of awards in various categories. By the age of 14, the "Bristow Sisters" were gigging regularly throughout the South Island. Around this time, she began to mine her parents' record collection, discovering classic songs from Elvis Presley, Linda Ronstadt and even Solid Gold Hits!
Bristow began to write her own songs, a secret passion that would remain hidden from the world for the next seven years. After high school, she enrolled in the Invercargill Polytechnic Music School, where she hooked up with local musicians. She spent the next 18 months singing regularly in pop and cover bands all around New Zealand. She had, by then, immersed herself in the music of Rickie Lee Jones, Bonnie Raitt and Crowded House.
Performing was fun, but Bristow could no longer ignore the desire to write and perform her own material, which had been growing steadily since leaving Invercargill in 1994. She went to Sydney, Australia, where she gradually wrote, recorded and performed her original songs, playing late-night bar gigs to empty rooms, saving pennies and working as a nanny to make ends meet. It was in Sydney that she met her, now longtime, friend, guitarist-producer Mark Punch, who provided her with great perspective and the musical career guidance she had been missing up until then.
Bristow has shared the stage with many of her musical heroes, including Bonnie Raitt, The Steve Miller Band, Foreigner, John Oates, Joe Ely, Madeleine Peyroux, Tommy Emanuel and more.
Her performances have captivated audiences and reviewers alike. One reviewer of her show on the Tommy Emmanuel tour wrote: “Bristow was relaxed as her soulfully-seductive melodies reverberated within the auditorium. Her beautiful voice and earnest songs resonated with the audience, and they applauded her eagerly. Near the end of the show, Bristow joined Emmanuel on stage for an amazing duet that received a standing ovation."
Jackie Bristow now calls Nashville, Tenn., home. She tours the U.S as well as New Zealand and other countries regularly. Fiddlers Crossing will be just one stop of many this year for the down under singer-songwriter.
Fiddlers Crossing is located at 206 E. F St., at Robinson Street, in downtown Tehachapi. Tickets may be purchased next door at Mountain Music, Tehachapi Treasure Trove, Tehachapi Furniture in Old Town, and Lucky’s Barbershop, or online through Fiddlerscrossing.com. For reservations, call 823-9994. Tickets to the concert are $20, and as always, coffee and goodies are included. The concert begins at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
On the horizon: Lisa Richards, Kevin Burke, Missy Andersen.
Peter Cutler is an audio engineer-producer, singer and guitarist. A native of Los Angeles, he has lived in Tehachapi since 2006.