The Easybeats 

I sat at the table and learned friday on my mind by the easybeats, it was 3am, I sounded awesome.
I played it again in the day time, this time loud as my neighbours were awake at work whatever. I sounded terrible.
I learnt it because I thought itd be great to play in melbourne next friday night when I play at the merri creek tavern.
I'm not so sure, but the gig will be great, it'll be my first time in oz since before the great coughing, we used to have an audience there, its been so long now maybe not, but thats never phased me, whether windmill or army i will tilt because the tilting must be done, because I am a tilter.
If you or youres are that side of the ocean, come and see what Ive been up to. I'm much the same, maybe slower, maybe older, maybe more sober, maybe wiser, but none of these things can be guaranteed.
you may ask yourself how am I playing in melbourne when I'm playing hastings the night after and auckland the night before?
I use the star of jets, the air of new zealand and the madness of tilters curse.
info about those shows soon!
but for now I need to tell you about melbourne and the merri creek tavern and the easybeats.
details here:

The Songs 

shows and shows and more shows and more shows done and more to come, no retreat no surrender, we made a promise we swore we'd always remember etc.
This week its nelson/mapua at an ol' haunt, to go haunting again, at the playhouse, see nick and manu, sit backstage and get ready and eat some pizza, meet some soldiers on the front lines at the libaries or the schools or the hopsitals, theres always someone at the playhouse fighting the good fight, they seem happy that I've got a couple of songs in the canon/cannon about their concerns, it feels good to sing for them and be inspired by them. I'll also have the drinking songs, the train songs, the fight songs, the hope songs, the odd cowboy song, the go slow songs, the stand on the table songs, the keep the faith songs, the faith's got rocked songs, the hang in there songs, the fuck em songs, the I'm sorry songs, the don't quit songs, the take this job and shove it songs, the irish songs, the punk songs, the soul songs, the papanui songs,, the south island via the north island and down to stewart island songs, the get the money songs, the give the money songs, the talking blues songs, the backwards country songs, the love everlasting songs, and maybe a few more besides. I'm always glad to sing em for you!

The Time before time 

There was a time before the internet, before the personal computer, before the electric typewriter, before writers, before types, before the sun, before fire, before the scrawling of ink on the walls of caves, before it all. It is in this time whereupon The Eastern first played in Auckland, we were younger, fitter, stronger, neither Jess Shanks or I needed reading glasses.
We were in a whirlwind, we played at the kings arms, we played on juice tv, we played in a park, and we played at the Wine Cellar and we met Rohan. He who runs the joint, he who mans the faders, he who moves the couches, he who, he who always has, he who has made the space for so many and kept the faith for longer than was ever necessary.
We thought we would snowball Auckland, we were not afraid of the big city, it was where the buttons were pressed, where the moves were made and where the shakes got shaking, we had seen our comrades drawn like moths to its flame but we were not of that kind, we were raiders, pirates, commandos, airborne, saboteurs, get in do the songs and get out without too much glad handing and desperation. Sadly/happily most of just about everyone we met was nice, and supportive and hopeful, and wanting to help us with whatever it was we needed, but pirates and wild wonky horses can never stay inside for too long, so our operations were always brief, always too long between drinks, always under promoted (by us), always a little to little to late. Ultimately that was just fine and just how we were and just how we are and In a way the exact way we needed to go to keep on.
But the memories stir, of the shows and songs and drinks and times and the fact that we are mostly all still standing.
Rohan and the wine cellar are always at the heart of that kind of remembering,
Its gonna change soon, the wine cellar that is, become part of the whammy bar, for all the good reasons things change and grow and that’s just fine and Rohan will still be around, and I guess me and The Eastern will be too in some fashion, but one last time, one last round at the old haunt will suit me just fine, so here I come, this weekend, under promoted, over caffeinated, under the stairs and over the goddamn rainbow.
Rohan will be there and Ill bring the songs and the stories…
Thankyou big city, thankyou rohan, thankyou wine cellar, thankyou time,
Thankyou if you get a ticket….

The Hunter 

Tonight I’m playing with one of the the best to ever do it, Al
Hunter, in his home town of Woodstock just east of Hokitika, in one of the best homes for
The song in the country,
The Woodstock hotel.
It couldn’t be much better for me, or hopefully for you if you can make it. We’ll be in the round song for song, and his son, the secret weapon, the young prince Jordan the terminator hunter will be on stage with us, playing guitar like you wouldn’t believe.
But you will come to believe because they’re both something to believe! I’ll be trying my hardest to keep up!

The Wizard 

They called him hedge,
On the surface cause he was wild and wooly?
But maybe it was like how they call me blue because I had red hair? Where the opposite is true?
Because redwood or mountain or moon would be too ostentatious.
But any of those would have fit, the small man playing the tiny mandolin but casting the biggest shadow, carrying the longest history, the deepest roots, the most gigs, the truest vision.
He was a mentor to so many who’ve tried stages in this big town, little city.
And the same to enough of members of the eastern, for us to feel at times like a little brother band.
The barlands are unforgiving, but Ian strode them like a giant, like a warrior, like a wizard.
We honor him and his music and his faith and for the years and for the work and for the craic.
May his road forever rise.
Brendan sung this for Ian on Monday, sing it in your hearts today,

The minstrel boy to the war is gone
In the ranks of death you'll find him
His father's sword he hath girded on
And his wild harp slung behind him
"Land of Song" cried the warrior bard
"Tho' all the world betrays thee
One sword, at least, thy rights shall guard
One faithful harp shall praise thee"
The minstrel fell but the foeman's chain
Could not bring that proud soul under
The harp he lov'd ne'er spoke again
For he tore its chords asunder
And said, "No chains shall sully thee
Thou soul of love and brav'ry
Thy songs were made for the pure and free
They shall never sound in slavery"

Rest easy wizard

The Winner 

Christchurch industries fair, 1982
Adam McGrath wins a trumpet for dancing like Elvis Presley in a children’s talent quest, starting an addiction to trumpets and a desperate need for approval followed by a desperate sense of embarrassment.
Breens Intermediate, 1989
Adam McGrath and his friend Jason Walker win a nationwide rap competition by composing extra verses to the ‘kick it in the butt’ smoke free ad campaign.
They both win White ghetto blasters with dynamic bass boost and x3 graphic equalizers.
They also rip off the first vs of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s ‘The Message’ but no one seems to notice, regardless they feel it is their dual beatboxing that wins the day.
Marist Western Suburbs Rugby League Club Rooms, 1990-1995
Adam Wins Player of the year, sportsman of the year and team man over this period.
He trades on this for the rest of his life.
Here inexplicably the winning stops…
Last Thursday,
When he wins Folk Artist of the Year at the AMA’s.
How about that his friend Joe Kelly says,
How about that indeed.
And thus, his writing in the third person ceases to be interesting so I stop it and I say
Thankyou Thankyou Thankyou
And I am humbled and grateful and also sad that the three-hour speech I prepared in case I won was all forgotten in the interests of brevity.
But if you’ve been in my corner for any of these long-gone times, present moments or are waiting for me up the way then I can’t tell you how much you mean to me.
I’m sorry when I fuck up and stumble and am late or behind and I’m so full of thanks for you for sticking around!
I’ve written the names of Lindon Puffin and The Eastern and more on the award, in sharpie and biro and Ive made it look less an award than a high school project but what it really is now is some sort of spirit rod and incantation to remind me of all the people who have been on my side.
Tom Lark and the Terrible Sons were worthy nominees and I’m grateful to share the spirit with them too.
I’m grateful to the folk community and the festivals that have always taken a chance on me and my roundabout ways.
Especially to the Dunedin and Canterbury Folk Clubs for letting me and the Eastern through the door.
The Madills and Madill Guitars and Peter Stephens and Martin Guitars for the tools and not shaking their heads to much.
This award is everybody’s it’s just my name on it till next year I guess, but If I could I’d throw it up into the air, past the moon and up and up and up and into the way beyond to the great record store in the sky for my friend Paul Huggins for always believing in spite of all evidence to the contrary.
The Folk Singing continues ever onwards, this weekend in Picton
Then okarito, then Hokitika, then wellington, then Auckland, then nelson, then everywhere else you can get the tickets at www.adammcgrath.net/shows
Can’t sleep now drive on drive on drive on
Thankyou thankyou thankyou

The Turns 

How do you know if you’re getting old?
You have turns, bits of turns, a bit of a turn, a piece of a turn, things that throw you off, like blip in the mainframe.
I had a turn, a small turn, a weird turn, one that took me off to the ED whereupon on frazzled hero dr and a bunch of cool calm bad ass nurses were dealing with wave after of people like me.
We got it figured out in about five hours which considering the pressure they were under seems like a miracle to me and I thank them.
I’m fine and will be fine and in the great words of Richard Pryor ‘I ain’t dead yet motherfuckers’ and in the greater words of a minor character in predator 2, ‘there’s no stopping what can’t be stopped’
However there is a pause.
I have to not get on the road and instead just rest up for a few days.
So that’s what I’m gonna do, because considering the sweat on the brow of the Ed Dr I do not want to fuck with the advice given and end up back in the mix being a headache to all involved, just cause I couldn’t chill for a bit.
That means I have to postpone tomorrow’s show in invercargill! I am sorry!
Buttttt we’ve postponed till sept 8th which is heapppps of time but will happen kapow!
So if you can wait till then all tickets will be valid!
If that won’t work then all refunds will be incoming!
All ticket holders will be contacted asap!
So sorry southern friends!
All other shows are go!!!!!
And everything else
Thanks for understanding!
May your turns forever turn around!

Oh Mystery 

Last week I played at the Bucks Head Tavern in Taylorville, you can tell a good pub by the history in there and the people behind the bar and like me a little later on top of it.
I get it done out in it where it needs to be done between here and there and beyond and back again. Sometimes the dog comes, sometimes the friends come, a lot of it I’m on my ownsome. You get thinking and you get a lot of things figured out, then the truck stops and you’re late and you can’t change your shirt and you know the people hugging you can smell the road on you and you get shy but you keep talking, and keep hugging and keep hoping and through all of that keep learning about the people in Taylorville, or Woodstock, or or or or wherever it is you find yourself and you forget what it was about the world you had figured out, but its ok cause you learnt something about the people in it.
In the Eastern we talk about the musicians we’ve met along the way who want the people that see them to be at a distance, to keep the mystery, to not be bothered by them, I get that it can be hard being a node in a weird energy transference and musicians are fragile folks, but it always seemed like they were missing out in some fashion, like they’re only making the signal go one way. Sometimes your soul gets punished a bit by the guy slurring in your ear but whenever I’ve hung on in there I’ve always learnt something I didn’t know before and ultimately that learning is the whole point to it all, the singing and songs and dancing and hearing and listening its all in the mix to help with the learning.
That was not what I was expecting when the road got its claws in me way back when but I’m glad I figured it out in time that I could cease believing in the idea that this whole thing was about me.
So I scrabble around out there and on here trying to make it all make sense and sometimes it does but that’s mostly when you all are involved. Besides that brooding mystery, eccentric wisp on the wind of art inability to shake a hand shit is not something I can pull off that well.
That’s one of the good things I’ve learnt, and was reminded of this week when I saw a photo of me and john the governor of the Bucks Head standing in front of the fire the morning after. My tshirt was half tucked into my belt and my fly was half done up and well, basically I bet you Nick Cave never has had that problem, so I guess I’ll just keep keeping it as unmysterious as possible, practical boots and warm coats and a desperate need to meet every one I get to meet.
I hope to meet all of you out there, to celebrate, commiserate and apologise where necessary. Im making it up as I go along and I’m so glad youre all there to help!
I’ll see you in
This Sunday even!
And then and then….
Island Bay / Wellington!
And that’s just the goddamn beginning or middle or the beginning of the end of the beginning
And there’ll be more!
Australia even! (holla if you want a show)
And then Ireland and then Europe
And then and then and then…
Tickets here!

get in behind 

I get so behind that I'm behind all the things I'm behind in, so far behind I might as well be the ass end of a pantomine horse, hunched with my head nestled right in the things I'm behind in, making excuses about how far behind I am to all the things I'm behind in, behind, beholden, unbelievable...Imagine me the greatest of the greatest of all old sheepdogs,
"what do you mean you can't?"
"I'm already there"
I meant to tell you about my show in a couple of weeks in new plymouth, but I just got behind, so far behind, but a couple of weeks is actually pretty good considering who you're dealing with...
so yeah Its been a minute since I, NZ's 37th favourite folk singer showed up in one of my most favourite homes away from homes, new songs, new stories, a new record, old clothes, old ways, old hopes, new feelings, old dog, new truck, old guitar, new cables, whatever it looks like I'll being going in guts first
come join me old friends and new....
now l'm a little less behind, behind the 7 ball, one better
holy improvements


Once, actually about 4 times, I got to sing ‘Welcome Home’ on stage with Dave Dobbyn to rooms full of stranded New Zealanders. I’m not that nationalistic, and have a mostly impossible fear of flags (excluding probably the Tino Rangatiratanga flag and Union Banners world wide), but man it was pretty hard to not be moved by the big feelings and big tears coming back to the stage during those long hot nights. I had to keep kicking myself in the shins and wondering, “How did I get here? This cannot be my beautiful life? This can not be Dave Dobbyns beautiful wife standing beside the stage.” And yet there I was.

I’ve been lucky to do the same with a lot of my songwriting heroes, everytime is like what?

Barry Saunders, Lindon Puffin, Upper Hutt Posse, Luckless, and more, it’s a big list.

Last year or maybe the year before ( I dunno, folk singer time is weird, moving at once rapidly forward and backward all at the same time), I got to do the same with Jordan Luck as part of his backing band; an honor all us easterners got to share. It was big stuff and fun as fuck hearing every word of every song that’s in built into your NZ DNA coming back at you.

Jordan is wry and wise and deep and true and kind and wild and a man with the greatest song writing gifts as well as those of one of the greatest front people to ever do it. As a pretender to the outhouse throne of the temple of fronters and chancers I couldn’t help but feel THE AWE and the AW and of course THE AW FUCK YEAH.

It was great.

We’ve been waiting for a chance to Voltron and form up to get it done again. 

This march that chance becomes a fine thing, and in service to the big things which makes it even better.

A Fundraiser  for the Delta Community Trust, a great organization that go deep for the folks with the big needs, day after live long day.

This year they saw their major regular donation of food (which they shared with two other food banks) suddenly split between nearly 17 more.

There’s a few levels to this,

But the main ones are the big gut kicking pangs that they’re running short and the fact there are 17 (at least) food banks out there in Christchurch.

Its hard to feel patriotic about a land of plenty of not much.

It is however easy to feel patriotic about a land of folks who are down to come and get down and bring a bunch of food when they are called upon.


So c’mon and join us, we’ll do the heavy work, y’all can just sink a few and get busy down the front, while our pals count the cans (and weetbix, and toiletries and tampons and toothpaste and pet food) ya’ll are gonna bring with your cheap as chips tickets (just $15).

These tickets are to cover costs and we’ll pony up the profits to Delta but it’s the food we want! And the solidarity! 

If you’re running late and won’t make the supermarket you can pay $35 (or more) for a ticket on its own!

Grab your tickets right here:




The Reason ‘Welcome Home’ is such a mighty beast of a song, is one line, buried right there drawing very little attention to itself. 

“You’ll find most of us here, with our arms wide open”

That’s beautiful and also very smart and aware

The key word being ‘Most’

Very smart Dr Dobbyn

I promise to get teary when we sell this sucker out and get to believing in the most of us again.

This a gig we’re excited about, but frustrated that it even needs to happen.

That said you are all welcome.

As always if the ticket money is tight send me a message we’ll figure it out.

Much love

Welcome home etc