Coburg Samba Festival, Germany 2014 (1)

Part 1 – London

by 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

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 Orange Tim 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

2014 Wellington Sevens waterfront parade – day 2

On playing in the rain, a duet with Niko Ne Zna – and dancing with Elmos!

Batucada, Te Papa, and the cloudsYup, 2014 is definitely going down as one of the wetter Sevens weekends we’ve been involved in. But hey, the show must go on, and so it did.

Lisa and Nige abandoned their beautiful handmade wood-and-goatskin surdos in favour of having a shake on the chocalho for the day (they’d checked the weather forecast in advance), and the rest of us prepared in whatever way we could for a gig that was probably going to end up with us playing in horizontal rain… Continue reading

2014 Wellington Sevens waterfront parade – day 1

Posing as pirates in the torrential rain

Wellington Batucada at the Wellington Sevens waterfront parade, day 1 - photo by Michael SloleyDarn it! I knew I shouldn’t have mentioned how well the weather turned out in my previous post.

So – this year’s Sevens will go down in the annals of history for a) really crappy weather and b) really awesome costumes by Wellington Batucada.

And really, when you look as fabulous as this, who cares about a bit of rain? At least on Day 1 it started out OK and only became torrential at the very end… Continue reading

Wellington Sevens Parade 2014

Newbies, busted heads and a new ending…

At the Wellington Sevens 2014 - photo by 111 Emergency
Looking at the long-range forecast for Sevens Week a couple of weeks ago, one could be forgiven for feeling somewhat disappointed in Wellington’s upcoming weather. Wind, rain, cloudy and cold… except of course that the Welli Weather Gods have now realised their error and sorted it out for us.

Wednesday dawned sunny and calm (of course it did! This is the Sevens!), and we had a great parade. Continue reading

Te Rā o te Raukura 2014

Peace, love and harmony

The band at Te Rā o te Raukura 2014We were delighted to have been invited to take part in Te Rā o te Raukura for the first time this year. The festival is a family orientated event with a focus on health, art, and education; with kids’ amusement rides and over 100 stalls with a massive array of foods and crafts.

The name of the event, Te Rā o te Raukura, is significant to the people at Waiwhetu and the tangata whenua in the Wellington Region. The ‘Raukura’ was used as a symbol of peace, love and harmony by the prophet Te Whiti O Rongomai at Parihaka. Te Rā o te Raukura commemorates the day in 1881 when Parihaka was invaded, and celebrates unity in Lower Hutt City and the wider Wellington Region. Continue reading