It’s Bigger Than Texas

It’s always good to look back on something worthwhile because it reminds you that things that are worthwhile often take a bit of effort.

Since 2006 I’ve been staging annual music concerts. I’ve called them The Waikaretu Performing Arts Festival because they began at my little farm in Waikaretu.

These annual parties/concerts have been going on now since my old band mates from the late 70’s Dave Arrowsmith and Warren Cate and I dusted off some of our old punk rock songs, put a small vocal PA on the front deck at Waikaretu and used bedside lamps to light the way so we didn’t fall over each other.

Every year they get a little bigger, and a lot better.

The original vocal PA is now the drummer’s monitor system and there is a full concert PA for the front of house with a seperate foldback system, power amps fed by a stereo crossover unit and all pointing back to a 24 track Allan & Heath GL2200 24 track mixer complete with effects rack.

It’s all old school stuff. Big, heavy and bulletproof.

The bedside lamps sit up on the mixing desk now and lighting up the soundstage is a full Par64 can DMX stage lighting rig.

But the hardware isn’t really what it’s all about. That just makes the magic seen and heard.

What these concerts have always been about is a bloody great party.

And what makes the them bloody great is the people who participate in them.

Without exception everyone who participates, whether it’s the crew who set the stage up before a note is played, or do the dump run on the Monday with the empties and the rubbish bags, contributes to the success of the event.

Whether they’re up on the stage pimping the songs, or in the audience line dancing amongst the pogo dancers, or standing at the gate checking those turning up are on the guest list – these are the people who make things so good.

So we did it again last weekend.

The Waikaretu farm has changed hands and I now live in Whakatane which has a vibrant music scene and a regular Open Mic Night down at the local. So my new friends join my old friends and we set up the PA and the lights again, this time in Whakatane’s premier event venue The Top Shelf at Detour, and cranked the songs.

The evening kicked off with a pre-loading session for the entertainers at our house where the musicians and artists met each other, some for the first time, others to reacquaint and catch up. After a good feed the mini bus arrived and ferried us in to the venue.

Sound man Ian Hunia had arrived previous and had everything switched on and pumping for DJ/MC Mojo Buzz aka Kevin Williams to get the party started.

Lutz Sauer, Moone, The Shaggs

Local singer/guitarist Lutz Sauer got the festival underway with his guitar and backing tracks and a nice selection of songs that went down a treat for everyone. Lutz opened for last year’s festival as well and has promised to come back again next time.

Next up was The Shaggs from Whangerei, with Jimmy Rogers on vocals and guitar and partner Susie Rogers on the drums. They play familiar songs in their own style and are now committed regulars to the concert.

Solo act Jupiter Jones followed and this saw Jeremy Jones playing original compositions to his own backing tracks then a short tribute to Prince. Jeremy has performed twice before at Waikaretu and it was a treat to have him back again.

Our next act was Te Puke singer Moone. We first saw her playing at an Open Mic night at The Office in Whakatane a few weeks ago and immediately asked her to play at the concert. Moone writes her own material and performs with the aid of Phill Reha on acoustic guitar. The songs are stripped down lounge ballads and once Moone started, every one sat up and took notice. We will be hearing a lot more from this lady and we hope to have her back at the next concert.

Fiona Cosgrove, The Fuzztards, Harley & the Rocket III

Next up came local legend Fiona Cosgrove who wasted no time in getting the dance floor full and kept it full for 45 minutes of kick ass rock and raunch. Fiona also played at last year’s festivities at Te Teko.

Things got loud when concert regulars Harley & the Rocket III showed what it means to be a rock and roll band from Auckland. Twin guitars, bass and drums and a selection of classic rock anthems that kept people on their feet and working up a thirst that the bar manager was happy to quench.

The final act was played out by The Fuzztards, Whakatane’s oldest punk rocker’s band.

By 1.00 am we were packing up and loading up the mini buses to head back to our place for the after party.

It was a quiet day Sunday.

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