Graeme Downes Profile

Graham Reid
4 Feb 2021

There has never been anyone like Dr Graeme Downes in the broad landscape of New Zealand music. The quite singular Downes is a poet, musician, teacher, mentor, and – in his early life – a handy batsman and fast bowler on the cricket pitch.

An internationally acclaimed academic for his research on the composer/ conductor Gustav Mahler and 19th century symphonic music, Downes is perhaps better known at home and abroad as the writer and singer of The Verlaines, the Dunedin band which arrived in the first wave of Flying Nun in the early 1980s and rapidly outgrew and outstripped most of their indie rock contemporaries.

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The Verlaines outside Graeme Downes's home at 101 Dundas St, Dunedin, c. 1986, just before Bird Dog was released. From left: Jane Dodd, Robbie Yeats, Graeme Downes. 
Tally Ho 3 set to rock Dunedin's town hall, April 2019
It Was Raining
Behind the scenes of Tally Ho 2, November 2017
Graeme Downes, Tally Ho! concert with the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra; at right is conductor Peter Adams. 
Photo credit: DSO/Pieter du Plessis
Graeme Downes, at a Tally Ho! concert reherarsal with the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra.
Photo credit: DSO/Pieter du Plessis
Graeme Downes performing at the launch for Ian Chapman's 2016 book, The Dunedin Sound: Some disenchanted evening.
Photo credit: John Collie
The poster for the 1986 12-inch Doomsday single
Photo credit: Ian Dalziel collection
Graeme Downes, The Verlaines.
Death And The Maiden
Interview with Graeme Downes from The Verlaines, 30 June 1994. Directed by Ross Cunningham.
Joed Out bFM In Session
Graeme Downes, in the fifth form at Logan Park High School, Dunedin. 
Top to bottom: Gregg Cairns, Mike Stoodley, Graeme Downes, 1992
Photo credit: Photo by Tony Mott
Baud To Tears - Live at Avalon Studios for Radio With Pictures (1987)
Graeme Downes' final music lecture at Otago University, 2020.
Photo credit: Ian Chapman
Graeme Downes: composer interview for Sounz, April 2020
A flyer announcing an open lecture by Graeme Downes about the February 2015 Tally Ho concert with the Southern Sinfonia, Dunedin. 
The Verlaines outside the All Saints Anglican Church on Cumberland Street, Dunedin. The photo was taken in early 1982 for the release of the Dunedin Double LP. Graeme Downes lived next door, with Martyn Bull and Martin Phillipps nearby. From left: Greg Kerr, Jane Dodd, Graeme Downes.
Graeme Downes performing 'Rootless Cosmopolitan' at a Tally Ho! concert with the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra. At left is the DSO's first violinist, Sydney Mann; the conductor is Peter Adams.
Photo credit: DSO/Pieter du Plessis
Hanging By Strands
Rip It Up No.101, Dec 1985.
Bird Dog
The Verlaines, Hallellujah - All the Way Home (Flying Nun, 1985). 
Graeme Downes of The Verlaines, relaxing at home, 1985
Photo credit: Jo Downes
Death And The Maiden (live on National Anthem, May 2004)
Graeme Downes.
Juvenilia, 1993
Where Do You Think You're Going - Live at Avalon Studios for Radio With Pictures (1987)
Untimely Meditations, 2012
Photo credit: Design by Todd Narbey
The Verlaines in 1982 - Graeme Downes, Jane Dodd, Greg Kerr
Photo credit: Photo by Terry Moore
Graeme Downes, The Verlaines.
The second Tally Ho! concert, with the the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra, 4 November 2017. The singers are, from left, an unidentified student performer, Molly Devine, Metitilani (Lani) Alo, and Graeme Downes.
Photo credit: DSO/Pieter du Plessis
Graeme Downes in The Verlaines, Windsor Castle, Auckland, 1986.
Graeme Downes performing with The Verlaines
Graeme Downes and (right) Jane Dodd of The Verlaines, performing at the Kings Arms, Auckland, 2014.
Graeme Downes.
Wind Song
Graeme Downes' final music lecture at Otago University, 2020.
Photo credit: Ian Chapman
Graeme Downes and Jane Dodd, The Verlaines, at the 2014 reunion gig at the Kings Arms, Auckland. 
The Verlaines in the Californian desert, during the sessions for the 1993 album Way Out Where at NRG Recording Studios in North Hollywood, Los Angeles. From left: Darren Stedman, Mike Stoodley, Graeme Downes, and Paul Winders. 
Photo credit: Jeff Bender
Organisers tuning up for Tally Ho 2 - October 10, 2017
The Verlaines, The Chant and The R.I.P. at the Dunedin Music Centre, 28th January, 1983
Photo credit: Graeme Hill Collection
Come Sunday - Live at Avalon Studios for Radio With Pictures (1987)
C.D. Jimmy Jazz and Me - bFM In Session
The Funniest Thing
Graeme Downes on stage with the Verlaines performing 'Way Out Where', the title song of their 1993 album. The drummer to his left is Darren Stedman. 
Graeme Downes at home.
Photo credit: Ian Haig

Flying Nun