Hot mud pools at Turangi
Wednesday 21st October. The Paramount, Wellington.
Arrived at Musichaven - a bed & breakfast run by Ruth Birnie and Gerard Hudson - at about 4 p.m.. The arrangement here is that we’ll be staying for the next four nights; Acoustic Routes, the organisation who are staging today’s show are covering the first night of accommodation, and tomorrow’s I’ll be paying for.
For the next three nights, however, we’ve struck a deal; Carol and I house-sit, feeding the cats, etc. while Ruth and Gerard stay at the Wellington Folk Festival, and we get to stay here free of charge. I think it’s very generous of them; it feels good to be in a house, in one location for a while. And it gives me a chance to catch up on laundry.
Ken at the Paramount
Pictures: Gerard Hudson
Acoustic Routes is headed by Mary Livingston, a woman of considerable energy and organisational skills. I have been nothing less than humbled by the help she’s extended to me, not just in relation to tonight’s concert, but towards my entire NZ excursion. She advised on places to visit, helped get me booked at the weekend’s folk festival, arranged for the above accommodation, and even on how best to get my CDs to New Zealand without incurring a fortune in postage and excess baggage costs.
The Paramount is a good venue - a cinema, but with an artsy, café-like feel to it. Opening tonight was duo: Rob Joass and Jo Moir.
The audience size was respectable, though a little down on what we’d hoped for, but never-the-less, I enjoyed the evening enormously.
Thursday 22nd October. Solo. The Mayfair Cafe, Upper Hutt.
This was the most recently arranged of shows here. I received an email from Paul Lambert, someone who works for the Upper Hutt City Council, on the 27th September asking if I could fit an extra date into the schedule.
The only problem I had with this was the issue of whether it would have an adverse effect on audience numbers at the other shows close by. There was no way of knowing really, but I was concerned after Mary had told me what a small-knit music-going community it was in the Wellington area.
It took a fair degree of deliberation on my part, and a few phone calls to make sure I wasn’t doing the wrong thing and stepping on any-ones toes, before saying yes to Paul.
This afternoon, 4-ish, I met with producer Sean McKenna and presenter Chris Whitta at Radio New Zealand to record a half hour interview. Chris certainly seemed to have does his research; I was impressed with the questions he asked. Obviously, because of the internet, it’s much easier these days to get background information on just about anyone, but still, he came across as having done a more thorough job than most.
As well as talk about the usual - music-related - subjects, a big area of discussion related to the New Zealand family origins on my Father’s side, and I mentioned I had many cousins, half-cousins, etc, over there.
We didn’t just talk; I played / sang three pieces: Midsummer Night Dreams, 2 Frets From The Blues, and the instrumental I.H..
The show goes out this coming Labour Day Monday. I should mention that the radio slot was yet again something Mary Livingston had organised for me; I wonder if she’d like to go into management?
Saturday 24th & Sunday 25th October. The Wellington Folk Festival, Wainuiomata.
I’d been booked to perform two sets here this weekend, the first on the Saturday morning, and then again on the Sunday evening in the final concert - both in the main marquee.
That was the plan. However, when I arrived there was a problem, the power had failed earlier that morning, and in the meantime nothing was happening in the main marquee.
Everyone did seem very confident that the power company would rectify the situation by the time I was due to take to the stage at 12:45, but should the problem not be sorted, I was to play in the Maire Hall at 1:30 - and that’s where I ended up playing - totally unplugged.
I was a little unnerved by the prospect of doing an acoustic set, but there was actually something that felt very good about it once I got going.
The crowd was great; there was a good feel to the session.
Probably within a couple of hours, maybe less, the fuse had been fixed - yes, that’s what it was - a fuse. Must’ve been a bloody big one!; I understand that all of the houses beyond a certain point in the valley where the festival was held had been effected. Power or no power, this was the beginning of a memorable weekend.
We’d been warned by more than one person to bring gumboots with us. The weather here is notoriously unpredictable, and the need for footwear that will equip for the rain and mud, which is by all accounts oft encountered, has certainly not been understated.
The term ‘Gumboots’ is, here in New Zealand the terminology used for such foot protection; they are, of course, what we in the UK class as ‘wellingtons’, a noun that most, if not all over here are fully aware of. So, although I’ve not had this totally clarified, when they talk about 'Wellyfest' I get a strong impression that the inference is twofold.
I made sure I caught some of the headline act: Tim O’Brien and Two Oceans Trio. Well, that’s a bit misleading and implies there’re four in total. He is one of the trio, so perhaps I should call it: The Tim O’Brien Two Oceans Trio, or just - The Two Oceans Trio?. Either way, I loved it. Very tight. Brilliant musicianship all round; knocked out with the mandolin playing. As well as Tim, there’s Gerry Paul on guitar, and Trevor Hutchison on bass.
Sunday, and the final concert. I felt I wasn’t at my best, but I have to say it appeared to go well - certainly if the line of those interested in my CDs was anything to go by.
I met some lovely and interesting people here this weekend. Our five days in the Wellington area is a time I’ll never forget.
Tomorrow we drop the car off, and hop onto the ferry that will take us to the South Island.