Glasgow musician who plays for hobbits on the set of a famous New Zealand movie

the GlasgowThe traditional singer and guitarist is the man behind the music in Hobbiton, the world-famous film set for New Zealand’s Lord of The Rings and Hobbit trilogies.

“I’m lucky because I play at Hobbiton a lot — my next job is the Summer Harvest Festival on February 4th,” says Jerry, who puts on live music for all of the events and events at the popular location.

“I’ve been playing there for about five years—the parties are epic. It’s like going back in time, with armored men on horseback, animatronic jugglers, and us playing traditional music….”

Glasgow Times: Jerry, Left and fellow Hobbiton performers.Jerry, left, and fellow Hobbiton performers. (Photo: Jerry O’Neill)

Hobbiton, in the heart of the Waikato region of the North Island, is now a tourist hotspot that attracts fans of the legendary films of Peter Jackson from all over the world. The director fell in love with the location when he was researching locations for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and went back to shooting The Hobbit movies.

Jerry admits he was not initially a fan of traditional Celtic music.

“I didn’t really get it before my 20s,” he admits. “For me, it was two accordion players on the radio and it definitely felt like old people’s music. I didn’t connect.”

“I loved music — when I was 15, I formed a band with my schoolmates, called Gazelle, and we’ve been together for about 10 years, signed record deals and released two albums.

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“But it wasn’t until I joined the Albanatchie folk band—mainly because none of them could drive and I had a licence—that my eyes were opened to traditional music.”

He adds, “We had a violinist whose concert piece was to play the violin and didgeridoo at the same time. We had a great percussionist, and I just played the grooves on the bass. That was when I first thought of Celtic music as really cool.”

After playing at weddings and events across Scotland, Jerry moved to New Zealand where he was a professional musician for 20 years.

Jerry has played solo, as part of the duo The Celtic Connection, and with his acclaimed band The Grail, has played in Spain, Australia, Canada and America as well as touring tracks around Thailand and all over Europe.

He has performed on television and radio, and played for the New Zealand Prime Minister and the Thai Royal Family.

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He admits that the music has taken Jerry to some interesting places.

He smiles: “I brought in the New Year with an amazing musician named Sean Kelly, on a remote island in the Pacific Ocean in what I believe is the world’s first solar-powered Irish pub.”

It’s called Currach, and it’s located in the little village of Tryphena on Great Barrier Island in the Gulf of Hauraki, about 90 miles off the coast of mainland New Zealand.

“Aotea is its proper name, its Māori name. It is called the Great Barrier as it collides with all the enormous weather systems coming in from the Pacific Ocean – taking the sting out of them before they hit Auckland.”

Glasgow Times: Jerry O'NeillJerry O’Neal (Photo: Jerry O’Neill)

Jerry admits he’s “lucky” to have found traditional music.

“It is a great honor to represent my ancient culture in my new country, and to make a living through it,” he says.

“It’s something I don’t take lightly. When I sing, I’m not only singing for those in the room, but also for those who’ve gone before as well, to allow future generations to hear old songs, to pass on traditions. I’m like a link in the chain, carrying culture forward.. It is very important to keep traditional cultures alive, wherever you are.”

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