Sunday, April 19, 2009

Hamsterfest 2009 Review

Hamster Fest at Matamata

One of the beautiful things about going to a festival is bringing bits of it home with you.  I was driving up the long straight stretch of route 27 when I started belting out Mike Harding's Eketahuna with full lung capacity then realized he'd taken the tune from Yellow River. I don't know how much of the original he'd changed but some of the lines are classic like 'Eketahuna where the women are real with their bouffant hair and stiletto heels' This took me right back to growing up in the 50/60s and helping my mother to bouffant her hair before she put on her stilettos and went dancing with my father. It is always heart-warming to hear Mike at festivals bringing us back home with his collection of New Zealand songs. Although David Barne's rendition of Cohen's 'I lit a thin green candle' came a close second. I'd never quite got the full implication of this song until I heard his strident version. I think the black humour of it was a bit lost on the audience although I heard a few laughs. Perhaps being in love with people who make you act crazy is either out of folkie experience or too close to the bone to make one laugh.
It's always a pleasure for me to experience the continuing evolution of the music of Marion Arts. I sense a need for some kind of spiritual expression in her later songs, 'Love is a sacred river flowing down into love..... ' and the song titled My Sacred Heart gives the message of how precious love is yet love can beget love. I enjoyed being reminded too of what a fantastic musician Robbie Laven is with his bass playing enhancing everything Marion did. A musical partnership at its best.
It was a festival with no dramas I was told by one of the organizers and for a festival noted for its relaxed atmosphere everything was remarkably on time. Even the song-writers concert which had too many performers was neatly finished between two other acts on the Sunday. ( Two song-writers concerts next time please guys ) The weather was cooler than last year but there was still heaps of tent jamming and no one would have frozen in the averagely cool and fine weather. One thing I did notice was the Ceilid exuded a strong odor of sweat and beer as did the home brew unaccompanied session. It took a few deep breaths of cool night air to enter these events but once inside the music and dancing were worth it.
I always like the way the final concert includes a few standouts from the blackboard sessions. This year we were blessed with two dynamic young men whose names I did not find out but who referred to themselves as the second best shanty group, and Erin, the teenage performer of the weekend with her passionate version of Wild Mountain Thyme.
Judith McNeil (from her blog: