Review by Bernadette:
My review of the Easter folk festival held at Waipara will concentrate on the aspects of the festival that I didn’t expect. Guests like Chris While and Enda Kenny are known quantities so it is pointless for me to spend time discussing their performances.
The first pleasant surprise at the festival this year was the weather. The forecast horrendous and after freezing last year, I went with every snuggly garment I have, along with extra quilts and a wheatbag (they do have a microwave available for campers) for night time. However, only Saturday was wet and the rest of the time the sun shone and I don’t think overnight temperatures got anywhere near zero!
Several guests stood out for me. Lindsay Martin’s violin playing and accompaniment is always a pleasure to hear but this year he shone on the mandolin. He is not only a skillful player but he seems to know just how to fill in the spaces without taking over the performance. For those of you who have never been to the Canterbury Fest, they have created a clever idea of having a ‘blind date’ concert where anyone who is attending the festival who wishes to perform, puts their name into a box, including all the guests, and the names are drawn out to go into groups. These people then get together and create a number to perform in a special concert on the last day of the festival. It is always great fun and sometimes some amazing acts appear. This year, Lindsay obviously decided to be the ‘blind date’ and he dressed up beautifully with a blond wig, tasteful makeup and a ‘stunning’ outfit. He looked amazing and you could see that he was playing some rousing mandolin breaks but it was a real shame that something was wrong within the sound system and he could not be heard more than one row away from the stage. The other act in this concert that I loved was Enda’s group who did a great précis of The Sound of Music.
Another guest that I particularly enjoyed was Lindon Puffin. From beginning to end of his concert he hardly stopped talking and he was very funny. His rendition of ‘Baker Street’ on the kazoo was inspirational. Add to silliness, a great voice, plenty of stage experience and tons of ‘street cred’ and you get some idea of what he was like. Often people who are not from the folk world feel out of place and have no idea of how to act at festivals but he came along to sessions and joined in where he thought he could without taking over or opting out.
I didn’t get the see Adrian the Clown do his clown act but as a compere he was an inspired choice. He is obviously a ‘street performer’ with lots of clever tricks to get people involved and they worked amazingly with a concert audience – some good ideas for the rest of us to steal.
The President’s choice this year was also a departure from the norm and Russell asked ‘Dunedin’ to be the guest. So a jam session was arranged on stage. Even though I was in this myself I will say that I enjoyed it immensely. Some of the numbers I have heard people do in the past worked incredibly well with the wall of sound behind them – and everyone was obviously having fun!
So, as a festival organizer myself, I have to say that my hat is off to Russell and his team for thinking ‘outside the loop’ with their guests. It was fun festival and I would recommend it to anyone.