Fine weather and festivals

The Afrolites.

I imagine a long, lush, late-February and a March filled with glorious sunshine.

That's what we deserve, what really should happen after a January and February when the weather stuttered like a damp bonfire but failed to really ignite.

It would be good since we're just hitting the second wave of festivals, in this case ones north of Tauranga. This weekend's Aongatete Folk Festival is taking place in a lovely orchard under the hanging bows of fig trees. There are still inexpensive tickets left so if folk music is your bag I suggest checking out their website at:

But it's the festival the following weekend, on Saturday, March 4, that I wanted to write about this week. This is the third instalment of Live Music at the Lettuce Inn, the brainchild of Jess Covell and her partner, which takes place in an avocado grove on Liberty Growers' hydroponic lettuce and herb farm at 33 Sedgemoor Lane in Katikati.

A little history

The first bash was in March 2016 and featured five bands from here and Auckland. I went for that and it was a great day: a lovely spot, good vibes, good people and great music. The only thing that concerned me was the slightly patchy attendance, which caused doubts they'd be able to repeat it.

Fortunately Jess is made of sterner stuff and the second instalment was last October, which I not only missed but also missed giving a plug.

So I'd like to make up for that now. Music kicks off at 3pm, running to about 8.30pm, with six acts, all of them interesting. One Love Catering will be selling vegetarian and vegan; Harpoon Cold Brew Coffee has donated some cold brew coffee; artist Maggie Covell is collaborating on art installations; all the organisers ask is you “BYO chairs, snacks, beverages and good attitudes”.

What else? The cost: $20 pre-sales; limited $25 door sales; family passes $40; get them by emailing:

Dead Recipe.

In no particular order there's, from here, Dead Recipe, one of many bands fronted by the rather prodigious Izzy Bones. They're a four-piece, sort of a surfie-seventies jam band with cool grooves and great melodies. Hard to describe but easy to listen to.

Modern African sounds

And there's a local band I confess to never having heard of but being very excited about. The Afrolites are an original seven-piece Afro-funk band formed in 2014 by bass player Nick Jenkins and drummer Ian Richards. They've been joined by keyboard player Julian Perry and guitarist Ben Smith, along with baritone sax player Simon Crane and two percussionists, James Hughes, who is formerly of Batacuda Sound Machine, and Andrew Taylor. The band fuses the likes of Fela Kuti, Antibalas, James Brown and Herbie Hancock. Anyone who has never grooved to the excessively groovy sounds of Afro-funk is in for a treat.

Anthoine Tonnon.

Then there's Anthonie Tonnon, a songwriter originally from Dunedin whose most recent album ‘Successor' picked up nominations for both the APRA Silver Scroll and the Taite Prize. He describes his current live set as combining a performance art-inspired approach to stagecraft, home-soldered technology, and dance moves.

Ha The Unclear.

The next two acts I won't even begin to try and describe. But they sound fascinating. There's a very weird-sounding bass/drum duo called The Entire Alphabet and an off-kilter Tui-nominated outfit named Ha The Unclear.

The Entire Alphabet.


And, finally, there's a young Auckland-based acoustic guitar-wielding pop-folk singer called Susannah, who appears to be absolutely normal and not weird in any way.

That's a fantastic line-up of fascinating music, a great combo of the obscure and the approachable. In case I haven't made it clear I think this festival is the bee's knees and that everyone with an open mind and dancing shoes should go. All the bands have Facebook pages, websites and YouTube clips. I haven't got space to list them here so I suggest you check in with Mr Google. See you there.


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