Whanganui Festival of Cultures

Batucada goin’ up-country… and staying over…

Performing at the Whanganui Festival of Cultures - photo by the Wanganui ChronicleWe were really honoured to have been invited to feature at the Whanganui Festival of Cultures this year. I think it’s the first time we’ve been up to Whangers as a band, and we had a completely brilliant weekend.

It’s quite a drive from Wellington, so we booked a couple of mini-buses (with trailers) to take the majority of the band up there together. Just like a school trip! Fun! Especially when you get to play “Boat, goat, float” (with a side order of “Horse”) on the journey.

We arrived in Whanganui with plenty of time to spare, and once we’d found our meeting-place, we gathered round for a bit of a warmup, and then walked along the waterfront to the Information Office, where we were due to begin the day’s events.

Photo gallery

Click on any thumbnail to see the larger version. Photos by Alan Shuker:

Our first performance was at the Whanganui River Traders Market, where we wound our way through the many stalls, playing as we went.

Video by Antony Millen

Once our circuit of the market was complete, we headed up the main street in a little Batucada-parading-on-the-pavement parade, making our (noisy) way up to Majestic Square, where the Festival of Cultures was taking place. It took quite a while to get there, and I remember being in quite a relaxed and casual frame of mind, just enjoying the walk up the hill, and not really thinking about what it would be like once we arrived.

Crikey! I think there were about 4,000 people there – all waiting to see us! We continued to play as we marched into the square, and then began our set once we’d arranged ourselves in front of the large crowd.

What a great gig! They loved us, we loved them, and it was all completely brilliant.

Here are a couple of little clips from the Festival of Cultures’ Facebook page:

After lunch we gathered behind the stage area to do our second gig of the day in Majestic Square – and Alan took time-out to take some team portraits while we waited.

We decided that, as we were now all warmed-up, we’d do a few of our Sambanui pieces, which we haven’t really done much of in public yet. In fact our rendition of the first piece – Sambanui Samba Reggae with the song Kinije at the start – was the first time we’ve performed it in public since our post-Sambanui gig at The Dowse. Exciting!

At the end of the show, as an encore, we decided on the spur of the moment to do Bloco de Xango, which is our most difficult Sambanui piece, and had a fine old time doing it.

Photo gallery

Click on any thumbnail to see the larger version. Photos by Alan Shuker, except for the last two, which are from the Wanganui Chronicle:

What a great day of gigs! The people of Whanganui were so welcoming, and so enthusiastic about our playing – we really did enjoy ourselves immensely.

The party bus and beyond…

It just so happens that Christian has a mate, Ivan, who lives in Castlecliff in a former Four Square that he’s converted into a pottery studio. He’d invited us to stay over, so, while some of the band hopped back into one of minibuses and headed back to Wellington, the rest of us got into “the party bus” and headed out to Ivan’s place to hang out for the night.

What a great evening! Communal cooking was shared by all – Ivan does a mean curry – and after dinner we had a bit of a disco in the Four Square, which was jolly good fun. It’s one of things I just love about being in this band – we all get on so well that socialising outside and beyond band practice and gigs has become the norm for many of us. We’re like a great big family.

(Some of) the band on a log as the tide comes in - photo by AliGThe following morning, after breakfast, we headed down to the beach.

Castlecliff has a bit of a rough reputation in some circles, which is a real shame because it’s a great place – and the beach is fabulous!

Huge, wild, black sand as far as the eye can see, masses of driftwood everywhere – you could have a campfire on the beach and you wouldn’t have to go more than three metres in any direction to get fuel for the fire – and lovely big green waves rushing up to say hello. What a fabulous way to greet a new morning and say farewell to Whangers at the same time.

One of the the reasons why Christian had been so keen for us to stay at Ivan’s was so we could do a couple of ninja gigs on the way home. We love ninja gigs.

You rock up to some random place, get your drums out, gather round, and get stuck into playing for half an hour or so – and then you jump back into your vehicle and off you go. Short and sweet and always good fun.

Our first ninja gig was in Bulls – Tim C had us taking it in turns to direct the rest of the band – which was a completely terrifying prospect and I am so grateful that we stopped playing before it got to be my turn. The second ninja was in Otaki, and as Tim C had rushed off back to Welli to lead our normal Sunday rehearsal, our remaining repinique players did the directing instead – and a mighty fine job they did too.

All in all, it was a brilliant weekend. Ivan has invited us to stop over again next year so – if we get invited to perform again, we’ll be there with bells on!

Media coverage

Wanganui District Council

Whanganui Festival of Cultures a great success – 9/10/2013

Organisers of the Whanganui Festival of Cultures were delighted with the 4500-strong turnout on Saturday, October 5.

Seventeen stallholders sold an abundance of food and goods from around the world while local groups showcased their talents at Majestic Square. Organisers said the number of audience members had grown significantly since last year.

The two national performers, the Wellington Batucada Group and New Zealand’s Got Talent star Tawaroa Kawana, were a hit with the crowd.

Wanganui District Council media release, 9 October 2013

Festival of Cultures at the Majestic Square 2013

Festival of Cultures at Wanganui’s Majestic Square: Photographs by Stuart Munro
Wanganui Chronicle, 7 October 2013

Batucada's front row - photo by Stuart Munro

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