WOMAD busking gig, Wellington Night Market

Vote for us – you know you want to…

Another day, another vote-gathering busking session in our quest to win the People’s Choice competition and play at WOMAD next year. Woop! Woop!

This time we entertained the lovely folks at the Wellington Night Market on a Friday evening, the front row wearing the W-O-M-A-D headpieces that Carin made (she’s so creative!).

Instead of playing I went around the audience with my clipboard, explaining why we were playing and what it was for, and gathering votes. I filled two or three pages with names and email addresses, all of which were duly entered onto the WOMAD website with confirmation emails sent to the voters themselves. The system is working! We’re doing well!

Full rendition of Ijexá – video by Phuong Nguyen

Hastings Blossom Festival 2014

Fabulous 1950s costumes in the rain

For the first time this year we decide to dress up in costume for Hastings, instead of wearing our normal Batucada uniform. The theme was Spring: Back to the Future – referring back to the heyday of the Hastings Blossom Festival in the 1950s when thousands of people would descend on the town for the annual festival.

It was a perfect opportunity for us to delve into the dress-up box and pull out our favourite floral swing dress, petticoats and cardis; or rock it out with a variation on 1950s James Dean T-shirt and jeans attire. We looked awesome, if we do say so ourselves.

The band in costume at the Hastings Blossom Festival - photo by Simon Shuker Continue reading

Brazil National Day 2014

The 192nd anniversary of the independence of Brazil

Brazil National Day 2014We were honoured to once again be invited to perform at the Brazil National Day celebrations – a black tie event held this year at the beautiful (and very grand) Massey Museum Building.

A smaller-than-normal hand-picked group played two sets as the guests arrived and walked the red carpet into the event. Technically I suppose we were playing in the inner foyer of the building – but oh my goodness what a room! A vast open space two or three storeys high within this classical structure made of solid old stone, and the acoustics were – amazing.

Each time we came to the end of a piece and heard the echoes dying away for three or four seconds (which is an unusually long time, as you can imagine), we let out an involuntary “ooooooh!” at the volume of the echo and the sheer wonder of the noise, and the space, and the atmosphere. Just brilliant. Continue reading

Coburg Samba Festival, Germany 2014 (1)

Part 1 – London

A Batucada adventure with Lisa, Christian, Nige, Debs, Dr Phil and AliG

London School of Samba's Orquidea Lima, onstage at the Coburg Samba Festival - photo by Nigel SloleyEvery summer the small Bavarian town of Coburg holds a rather large samba festival.

It began in 1992 with 20 samba groups performing, and two years later it had grown to 40 groups and 1,000 performers.

Now, 22 years later, 100 samba groups take part, with over 3,000 performers.

It’s now the biggest samba festival outside Brazil, and for three days in July Coburg’s rather modest population of 42,000 swells to an impressive 200,000.

Our adventure began with a random “wouldn’t it be nice” discussion after band practice one Sunday in February – and ended with 5 of us performing on stage with the London School of Samba (LSS) at this year’s Coburg Samba Festival.

This is how it went down… Continue reading

2014 Soccer World Cup – opening game

Brazil v Croatia

Soccer World Cup - Batucada and friends - photo by Karina ShawOur lovely friends at the Brazilian Embassy invited us to make some noise before and during the opening game of the 2014 Soccer World Cup. As the match was between host nation Brazil and Croatia, it was bound to be a bit of a spectacle, and we were very happy to oblige.

It was a crazy early morning start (and on a schoolday too!), but a bunch of hardy drummers and dancers gathered at Queen’s Wharf to dance and play for the fans, and then to watch the game on the big screen in Shed 6 (and provide suitable accompaniment to any exciting on-screen events). Continue reading

Relay for Life 2014

A lovely day, and a very good cause

Graham & Hazel - photo by Alison GreenThis 24-hour Cancer Society fundraising event celebrates cancer survivors and caregivers and remembers loved ones lost to cancer, and it’s really rather awesome.

We were invited to lead the participants around the first lap of the Relay for Life again this year, and we were really honoured to do so.

It was a beautiful day, there was a large turnout including many school groups taking part, and the atmosphere was brilliant. What a great gig! Continue reading

Mt Cook School Gala

Happy happy joy joy

Mt Cook School Gala - Nige and a new recruit - photo by Deborah HarrisWe arrived at the school playground in the middle of the outdoor disco. The DJ was playing Pharrell’s song “Happy”, which always makes me happy, and I knew it was going to be a lovely gig.

Mt Cook is an inner city, multicultural primary school with an energetic, inclusive vibe. Kate and Gurdip both have kids at the school, which I guess is one of the reasons why we were invited to play at their fundraising gala today.

Dazzer and Tim G did the directing honours, and both worked hard to get the audience involved. It was lovely to watch the kids gradually realise that Dazzer was directing them to turn around with us every forth bar in Six-Eight, and very cool to see them all following our choreography and having a great time. Continue reading

Newtown Fair 2014

Drumming and dancing the Newtown Wave

Drumming and dancing the Newtown WaveWe love the Newtown Fair. Oh how we love it! It’s one of the parade highlights of our year.

There’s something about Newtown – the multicultural buzz, the happy happy up-for-it crowd of 70,000 good-humoured peeps, the Friends of Wellington Batucada whom we can guarantee will be there to dance with us – it all adds up to an hour and a half of pure Samba ecstasy, as we make our way slowly along the Newtown parade route, led by at least a hundred dancers – mainly festival-goers who love to groove on down with us every year.

Our dancers teach them the moves – and 100 happy people repeat those moves in choreographed harmony. It’s awesome to see – and wonderful to be making the music that inspires them all to strut their stuff. There’s even an official dance move that our dancers do nowhere else but here, called the Newtown Wave. How cool is that? Continue reading

Brazilian Party at The Grand

…and a ninja gig in Courtenay Place

The band backstage at The Grand - photo by Deborah HarrisThere’s not much room on-stage at The Grand, and barely any space in front of it either when the crowd is in full-on samba mode, so gigs at this venue are always great fun, highly-charged, very energetic, and a bit of a squash. We were playing at a Brazilian party in honour of Carnival, which was great, because we get to watch a group of pretty enthusiastic dancers at close quarters, grooving on down to our drumming. Continue reading

Homegrown 2014

Wellington’s waterfront rocks!

On-stage at HomegrownAn event like this year’s Homegrown perfectly demonstrates just what an awesome waterfront we have in Wellington, and why we are so lucky to have retained public access along the entire length of it.

The various marquees and stages meandered along half the waterfront – from the far end of Waitangi Park to the far end of Frank Kitt’s – with music coming from all directions. This year the walkways were still open to everyone, rather than being blocked off and only accessible to ticket-holders, and so it became this wonderful mixture of wristbanded party-goers zipping here and there to catch their favourite Kiwi acts, mixed with the general public out for a stroll on a stunning Wellington bluesky sunny day, and taking in the spectacle for free. Continue reading