Let's talk about Katikati; there's more to it than avocados.
I like Katikati a lot and I was reminded of that a couple of weeks ago at the Katikati Avocado Food & Wine Festival. And while I can't help noting the Katikati Avocado Expo is coming up next weekend, I was planning to skip the “20 Interesting Facts About Avocados” column and move straight on to music. It sounds like I need to get in quick. Pretty soon everyone reckons there'll be a bypass around the town so no one except residents, mural artist and connoisseurs seeking out a drink from Finer Wines will go there any more… That's certainly what it sounded like after Richard O'Brien took the stage at the avo fest with a rallying cry of: “Bypass! Bypass! Bypass!” And, to be fair, that set of traffic lights in the middle of town has become a significant impediment to passing through, whichever direction you happen to be travelling. The thing about a bypass, of course, is that – as noted – many people would miss out on seeing what really is one of the prettiest little towns in New Zealand. I take my metaphorical hat off to the residents, council, random community organisers who are responsible for this. With the many murals, a gratuitous statue on the town bench, and some lovely open green spaces, the town is everything one could hope for. And the next music event happening is another feather in the town's cap, being part of the annual Katikati Twilight concerts. This one is the second for the year. It takes place tomorrow, January 28 – and anyone going to one of these shows for the first time will be amazed.
The Haiku Reserve
They take place in Katikati's Haiku Reserve, which really is a beautiful spot and during the last few years the organisers have been fine-tuning the event to the point where there is now a big colourful semi-permanent stage and full professional sound. They really are special concerts. Tomorrow's one should be a blast if you're into modern country music as American-born New Zealand-based JamesRAy is coming to town – yes, that's how he spells his name – with The Geronimo Band. JamesRAy has a whole bunch of awards that you don't get by accident and, most impressive for me, he once toured with Bob Dylan. He also knows how to make that southern states American upbringing sound as romantic as possible. Here is an extract from his PR spiel: “Southern-born and nurtured in the hills of the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, the dusty plains of Oklahoma and the rolling mountains of Tennessee, JR was raised on a staple diet of fried chicken and corn bread, catfish and hush puppies and grew up eating, breathing and living the songs he sings.” Sounds delicious. Kick-off is at 6pm, tickets are $20 on the gate. Two weeks later, on February 11, the next twilight concert is ‘Broadway to BoogieVille', a variety show comprising local performers who cover a plethora of music from the world of film and theatre through to the blues and more.
Bluegrass and beyond
If you want to go a little further than Katikati, The Long Table, which regularly hosts the Katikati Folk Club's open mic nights, is having an evening of music during Waitangi weekend. Bluegrass and Beyond is playing from 6pm-9pm on Sunday, February 5, and are well worth seeing. There's be pizzas and burgers. There are no door sales; tickets are $15 from email@example.com or 0294151956. The ever-excellent folk club itself is currently on hiatus but starts again in March and has some really good stuff coming through, including American band Hungrytown and homegrown singer Mel Parsons. But the big folk bash is a little closer than Katikati. The Aongatete Festival – Folk Under the Figs – is on the weekend of February 24-25 and has a terrific line-up, including the Pipi Pickers, English singer Kirsty Bromley, Penni Feather, David Shanhun, Jon Sanders, and Hamilton family band Rhode Workz. If you're into folk music, keep the weekend free. I'll look at it in more depth in a couple of weeks.