Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Auckland Folk Festival 2010

Many guests from The Great Ponsonby ArtHotel www.thegreatponsonby.co.nz are interested in our culture including music. This is a fine option.

Every Auckland anniversary weekend [last weekend of January] the Kumeu show grounds hosts the annual Auckland folk festival. This event established in 1973, is now New Zealand largest and longest running Folk festival. You can visit information on www.aucklandfolkfestival.co.nz

I was unable to attend for the full three days and had to content myself to the Sunday evening concert.

Two thousand people filled the marquee. It is a good idea to bring your own chair, blanket and refreshments. This show is equal to a town hall concert in professionalism and in quality.

The show MCed by folk veteran Roger Giles, was great. A cast containing guitarist Stefan Grossman, Emily Smith from Scotland, Cool Grass from Victoria and local acts Rhonda and the Ravers, Forbidden Joe as well as duo Mary Kippenberger and Peter Charlton.

Preceding the main concert were the finalists on the RAINZ TUI Best Folk Album Award for 2009. They were: West Coast vocalist Mel Parsons, Emeralds and Greenstones from Christchurch and then Chris Prowse from Wellington.

Parsons had a fine voice and was a great performer. She sang songs from her album ‘Over my shoulder’.Personally I would have preferred some songs in her repertoire which spoke of Aotearoa as well as personnel experience.

We were the beneficiaries of a great performance from Emeralds and Greenstone who sing songs from their self titled album. Their Celtic and Maori roots flows effortlessly into their music .Their skill with traditional Maori instruments, an Irish cleat and electric key boards were captivating. Their songs clearly of Aotearoa and the Celtic lands set the standard for the evening; which I believe will go down as one of the finest ever in our folk lands.

In the sprit of Pete Seeger, Chris Prowse, a Wellington singer with two others performed song from his album ‘Trouble on the Waterfront ‘about that the 1951 waterfront disputes. Chris sympathies clearly lie with the locked out watersiders and his concerns about the suspension of human rights and censorship- This album was to win the award and also Chris Prowse were to perform in the Wellington Fringe Festival in February.

Kumeu is one of New Zealand’s finest wine regions; and because the Waitakere Ranges are nearby, this makes a great venue for further exploring the western part of our city (plus it is only a 30 minute commute from Ponsonby).

Folk followers are fortunate that there are venues throughout the city to perform or sing-along to, with the iconic ‘The Bunker’ high up on the Devonport hills.

More comfortable are Café 121 Ponsonby Road, the Dogs Bollix in Newton and the Thirsty Dog in Karangahape Road. Living in Ponsonby with these venues we are spoiled rotten. Long may this last.