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Jackie Bristow: From Gore to the USA

11 May 2018
"Making a living of music is hard. You take a lot of knocks." USA based Jackie Bristow gives us some Advice From Her 22 Year Old Self

“Music has been an amazing thing for me in my life. It’s taken me so many amazing places,” says Nashville based songbird Jackie Bristow one the eve of her New Zealand tour.

Arriving on the music scene at age 11, performing in the Golden Guitar Awards in her home-town of Gore, Jackie has gone on to make quite a name for herself. With four albums to her name, and a resume that includes performing support acts for names like Art Garfunkel, Bonnie Raitt, Steve Millar Band, Tommy Emmanuel, and Foreigner, I’m picking her show is one not to be missed.

Jackie’s songs have been used repeatedly in Australian and New Zealand film and television hit shows such as Go Girls, The Secret Life of Us, Home and Away, Outrageous Fortune, Shortland Street, and Go Big. Her original song This is Australia won Tourism Australia’s nationwide competition and was featured in its worldwide promotional campaigns for three years. Songs from the Crazy Love and Freedom albums were programmed into rotation at 7,000 Starbucks locations nationwide in the US. 

So how did this all happen, you might be wondering. Jackie studied music at Invercargill Polytechnic, and like many of our musicians, moved to Australia to catch a break. Talking about the perceived limitations of making it as a musician in New Zealand, Jackie said, “It was much harder than it is now. There’s a lot of support for music in New Zealand now. Perhaps there was then too, but living way down in Gore maybe I just didn’t know about it!”

“It was much harder than it is now. There’s a lot of support for music in New Zealand now. Perhaps there was then too, but living way down in Gore maybe I just didn’t know about it!”

“I didn’t know what I was searching for, but I went to Australia and met some great people who encouraged my song writing.” Discovered in Australia by Mushroom Records’ Michael Gidinski, Jackie’s career hit top gear and she moved to America, where she’s been based for over 10 years. The rest has been hard work and tenacity. Jackie doesn’t have an agent, so she is reliant on finding and creating opportunities herself  - pitching songs, marketing to radio networks, approaching musicians about being their support act, and even making herself available to the ‘house concert’ market (where home owners invite their friends over for dinner, drinks, and an upfront and personal concert with Jackie Bristow). “The most memorable and magical shows have been in living rooms and backyards.” 

When asked about the highlight of her career so far, Jackie says there are many – she talks excitedly about recording with such amazing people, touring with Tommy Emmanuel around America, opening for her hero Bonnie Raitt, and playing the Sydney Opera House opening for Art Garfunkel.

On the down side though, she says the lack of security in being a musician can be pretty tough. “Making a living out of music is hard. You take a lot of knocks. But you never know what’s around the corner and often the greatest songs or opportunities turn up after one of those tough times.”

Advice to her 22 year old self? “Be discerning. Don’t be too trusting. I was pretty green and very trusting. I could’ve protected myself a little more.”

Kicking off her tour in Whangarei, Jackie then winds her way south playing at bars, clubs, and cafes until she arrives to play at a sold out Bluff Oyster Festival.

Tour Dates

May 11 Llama Lounge Mt Manaia Bowling Club, Parua Bay, Whangarei Heads ​

May 13  Cafe One 2 One, Ponsonby, Auckland ​

​May 15 Taihape Musicians Club​

May 16 Lucky Bar, Whanganui ​

​May 17 Third Eye, Wellington

May 19 Dharma Bums Club, Wairau Valley​

May 20 Fairfield House, Nelson 

May 22 Marie and Pete's House concert, Rangiora  (bookings - [email protected])​

May 24 Wanaka House Concert (bookings - [email protected])

May 26 Bluff Oyster Festival (SOLD OUT)​

Tickets via Eventfinda

Jackie Bristow Official Site, Tickets