Neil Reynolds

Neil was introduced to drumming at intermediate school when he was invited to join their fledgling Pipe band. This is what led him to learn the rudiments (rolls, flams, paradiddles etc.) which would hold him in good stead as he progressed his drumming career. He went on to be lead side drummer in the Hamilton Boys High School pipe band, but by now his interest in popular music was growing. With the proceeds of his paper round he was able to purchase his first drum kit and started playing at talent quests and the like. He teamed up with his elder brother Wayne on guitar and they went on to form a pop band called “The Mods” while Neil was still at school. The band performed the hits of the early 60’s including the Beatles, the Who, the Rolling Stones and so on. They recorded 2 x singles and achieved national recognition around 1964. Meanwhile the brothers had been delving in to the origins of 60’s British pop and discovered it had its roots in the blues from the other side of the Atlantic. This led to his interest in blues, soul and later jazz. (Gene Krupa was a major influence.)

The Mods went their separate ways in the mid sixties and Neil went on to play with a number of different lineups, playing mainly around Hamilton nightclubs. It was in the seventies that he teamed up with a friend from school days Chris Thompson (Chris later joined Manfred Mann as lead singer) and a six piece soul band called Mandrake was formed. With a horn section and Hammond organ the band’s sound became very popular and they had residencies at “Tabla II” (later to become The lady Hamilton). The band moved to Auckland to another residency at Grannies nightclub.

In order to develop his growing interest in what was known as “progressive rock” Neil left Mandrake and teamed up with some like minded muso’s to form what would be known as Dragon. One of their first gigs was at the Great Ngaruawahia Music Festival in 1973. The band achieved almost a cult status as a prog rock outfit which didn’t translate well to money in the bank!  Somewhat reluctantly Neil left the band to return to Hamilton and get a “real job” as his wife was expecting a baby.

From there his broad musical interests led to some collaborations with some of NZ’s finest musicians. The blues with Mike Farrell (RIP) (Farrelli Brothers), Midge Marsden, the Mudsharks, Hammond Gamble, and probably a highlight being chosen to back the legendary Chuck Berry at Mt Smart supertop. There was also a stint with Red Hot Peppers (NZ band went to Oz) in Melbourne. (6 nights a week, different pub every night, bugger all money.)

Jazz gigs were still on the menu and he was delighted to be a part of “Torch Songs” with Liam Ryan (the Narcs) and Carol Storey. That lineup has endured to this day and is a regular at the Tauranga Jazz festival. Country music also became an interest after working with the likes of Brendan Dugan, Gray Bartlett, Jodie Vaughan and Eddie Lowe. He became the go to drummer for the Country Music Association’s annual awards , where he got to back country music legends as well as up and coming artists.

In 1975 Neil left his day job and decided to start his own business based on providing services and support to musicians. On a shoestring budget Musicare was born and started to help musos with equipment hire, repairs, booking agency, tuition, and later on a recording studio. They diversified in to manufacturing (Sargent brand audio gear), and even a record company and music publishing. Neil  picked up an awful lot of skills during those years. After 33 years he decided to look for new opportunities (and humping speaker boxes was not helping his sore back!).

These days he  works as a Xero software partner and music remains his  passion (albeit gigs are far and few between!). Currently he  is  working with John Thompson (JT and the Agnostics) which is a really classy blues band featuring originals written by JT. Also a work in progress with Morris Taylor (who was actually a member of the Mods way back) doing some very tasteful country/rock.

Music has been part of Neil’s life for many many years and long may it continue!

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