It’s two years since Jenny Mitchell played at the Grainstore Gallery and no-one came.
In July 2020, the then 21-year-old singer/songwriter from Gore was another musician unable to work as lockdown shut the live music circuit down. So she travelled to Oamaru to record and film some songs at the empty Grainstore, then released them as an EP.
Three months later she returned to play a sold-out show, and this Saturday she’ll be back, full band in tow, eager to perform again at one of New Zealand’s most unique venues.
‘‘I love shows that have something a bit different,’’ Mitchell said.
‘‘And I think for the audience it’s a bit of another world. Lots of people love to play there because of the acoustics, and the general atmosphere. So I’ve always made it part of the touring schedule.’’
Mitchell will be bringing her full band to the Grainstore in support of new album Tug Of War, a collection Rolling Stone has called ‘‘worthy of every award it will inevitably collect’’. It’s a confident, frequently captivating album. The haunting Somehow is the kind of atmospheric alt-country you could imagine soundtracking an end-of-series montage on Ozark or Breaking Bad, while award-winning singer Tami Neilsen appears on the searing Trouble Finds A Girl.
It’s a powerful response to the way women are often treated in the music industry, and is a song as heartbreaking as it is hard-hitting.
Mitchell was inspired to write the song after watching her younger sisters — who’ll play support on Saturday — enter the industry.
‘‘It became really clear that some of the things that were said or done around me — or to me — as a young woman on the road, are not OK,’’ Mitchell said.
‘‘It’s a special song to me.’’
It promises to be a magical night, and will feature one of the largest groups of musicians Grainstore owner Donna Demente — a longtime friend of Mitchell’s — has ever hosted.
‘‘We’re just really excited about having a chance to play for people again,’’ Mitchell said.
‘‘Everything still feels a little bit up in the air, and we’ve noticed across the board that people seem to be more reluctant to buy tickets, which makes it quite scary to take a band on the road.
‘‘For people who love live music and want it to return, it’s really important to get out there and support people.’’