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Making the most of it . . . It is a year of surprises for country musician Jackie Bristow, who will perform in Winton next week. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

When Jackie Bristow touched down at Queenstown airport in January after a long journey from the United States, she thought she was visiting her home country for a 10-week stay.

Eight months later, she is still here but America’s loss is New Zealand’s gain.

The Nashville-based country music artist is set to perform in Winton next Friday alongside Barry Saunders, of The Warratahs.

“We are so happy to be able to do this,” Bristow said.

“Anyone who likes good music . . . should come on out.”

The pair would also be playing together in Clyde next Saturday as the second half of their micro-tour.

Saunders was “a bit of a legend” in country music and she had known him for more than 20 years.

They would cover country classics and there would also be some new material in the mix.

”I’ll be doing some songs from my new album.”

The Gore native’s album had been scheduled for release in August, but, as the Covid-19 pandemic spread, it became apparent this would would not be happening.

However, she was ”ecstatic” to be able to release it next year thanks to a funding grant from Creative New Zealand.

”It felt nice to get that recognition. It enables me to complete [the album].”

She hired someone in Nashville to work on the album while she did what she could from New Zealand.

”I went up to Auckland and did my vocals with Rikki Morris.”

She was counting her blessings despite the disruption the pandemic had caused in her life.

”It’s hard being separated from my life and my partner for so long.

“It’s doubly dangerous in America. They’re still in lockdown.

“I was just lucky to be in the safest place in the world.”

She was enjoying connecting with New Zealand musicians during her longest stay in the country since she left 20 years ago.

Spending time with her parents also helped make her stay a very special time.

“I’ve come full circle.”