"I was brought up on classical music; just the popular pieces by Beethoven, Schubert and Chopin.
After the age of 10 it was Buddy Holly, the Everly Brothers and Eddie Cochran; Yakkaty Sax and La Bamba. Three chords and a strident beat, but also great harmonies. In those days everyone understood how to play rhythm and blues and country music so I could sit down with any strange musician and expect to jam together successfully around a simple repetitious structure. With a school friend I learned Buddy Holly songs strumming to a couple of spanish guitars. The guitars went electric by sticking the pick-ups from a telephone mouth piece onto the soundboard with selotape and attaching the wires to an amp. In the holidays we would turn up at a dance, get our guitars out, and expect to blast out a few songs at full throttle with a drummer and bass player we had never met. Chuck Berry toured in the same manner; leaving home with his guitar and playing each gig with the support band behind him.
After leaving school I sought to establish a "proper" career and 15 years were to pass before I picked up a guitar and began to catch up on the music scene again in the late 70's. I had a lot of catching up to do.
I listened to a lot of blues. The old. The city blues. And the country blues. You could buy record after record filled with songs all in the twelve bar format. They came in lively dancy tempos and they came as slow sad blues. They came in crisp country guitar and they came in grungy city electric styles but it was all blues.I soon became dissatisfied with the slow blues. Claptonesque solos bored me to tears. I began to cringe at the dirty "city" blues; what I wanted was clean, crisp country guitar solos which drove the rhythm along.I heard JJ Cale when he came and played at the town hall in Wellington in 1973.He sat down with his fellow bassist and guitarist, all sitting down, and a little drum kit going behind them. I was enthralled. So unpretentious. They simply enjoyed playing together. I was captivated.I was always disappointed to hear groups playing their hits on stage exactly like they were on the record. I wanted live bands to be playing live music.To take part I had to relearn what I had been doing naturally at school so many years previously.All the simple techniques and skills which I should have learned as a teenager with a guitar I had to tackle from new at the age of 35. I had also forgotten how to sing.
To make the guitar-playing easier I removed the bass string and tuned the remaining 5 strings in an open G which now runs GDGBD.
This tuning allows me to play a lot of heavy bass string while playing simple barre chords, theoretically allowing more space in my head to concentrate on the vocal. Instead I found that, as leader of a band, I was pounding the guitar louder and louder just to establish the rhythm and keep the sound going and my vocals disappeared into the background.
Musicians in the 70's and 80's all had very different musical groundings. Most had no jamming experience and had simply copied perfectly others' works. I found it much more difficult than it had been at school. "
For the last 35 years JV has been playing weekly jam sessions around simple structures. He has always been the leader; always assembling who he wants. He has written a lot of songs and can be heard around Christmas time playing out at dances; loud, raucous guitar and screaming voice, backed by a driving rhythm section.
Since 1986 these jam sessions have taken place in the Colville Music Club at the Woolshed.
Nathan McCauley, who now plays bass and sings, was a founding member of JV's Thursday night sessions which have seen a string of wonderful musicians come and go.
A couple of years ago the sessions began to attract some very accomplished musicians and JV has since been able to lay off the raucous guitar a little and pay some attention to his vocals.
While never happy with his vocal sound JV's vocal ability has improved enough for him to release some songs to the public.
Some of JV's songs have been around for 30 years. Others were written only last week. They line up side by side on his first CD due for release soon.
None of this would have happened without the drive of Nathan McCauley whose production techniques are becoming widely known.
Nathan has managed to blend a lot of tracks which he has garnered from many different venues into a lush over-laid sound. It is this lush sound that Nathan has managed to wrap around JV’s rhythmic songs to produce what has become known as the Colville wave or is it the McCauley mash?
For more on Johns debut album follow this link: /you-can-see-a-river---the-album.html