August – everyone's coming to town

Charlotte Yates

Perhaps it's the chill of winter attracting people, but a lot of out-of-town acts are heading this way at the start of August.

There is, as they say, something for everyone, and I'll start with bits that have caught my eye before focusing on one particular arts festival darling who is heading this way to play a very small and exclusive concert.

So, on to the beginning of August...

First weekend there are a couple of unusual afternoon events in town. At 2pm on the Saturday afternoon Australian trad jazz band The Dixie Street All-Stars are playing in the Washington Room at The Hotel Armitage. They promise toe-tapping fun for all ages, really old tunes and a full bar. Tickets are $22.50 from or on the door.

The next day at another unusual location, this time record store Vinyl Destination on Devonport Rd, Rotorua five-piece Strangely Arousing are promising a chilled, uplifting Sunday Session, really new tunes and excellent coffee. This is at 4pm and the band will be playing songs from their self-titled debut (available at a discount) which they recorded at Neil Finn's Roundhead Studio in Auckland. DJ Honeybone will also be spinning tunes. tickets are $10 (earlybird) or $15.

Dance party

Bobbing back to Saturday (August 5), there's a dance party at the Mount's Totara Street performance venue, with DJs and performers from Auckland and the Coromandel. Empress Naima and Matt Rapid are from Coro town and The Dastardly Bounder hails from the City of Sails. They'll be joined by local DJ Mufasa. Doors open at 7pm, tickets are $25 through the 'Rozella Presents' Facebook page.

The following Saturday (August 12) finds Wellington's Andrew London Trio and locals Kokomo playing at the Omokoroa Boat Club and offering jamming and good times. Kick-off is 7:30pm, tickets are $25 from or the club (members $20).

Sunday (August 13) sees The Hussy Hicks from Australia bring their brand of blues, folk, country and jazz to the Entertainers Club. Doors open at the Citz Club at 4.30pm, tickets are $15 from the club.

And, finally, on to that act that I mentioned in the intro...

Arts festival darling

Charlotte Yates is something of a legend on the Arts Festival circuit. And while she may be one of New Zealand's most highly regarded singer/songwriters, she's someone whose work many people know but whose name is a bit more elusive. On Sunday, August 13 she's coming to town, playing for one special night at the Village Cinema at The Historic Village. And if you can't quite place the name, allow me to furnish some details.

A decade or so ago Charlotte was the creative force behind Baxter, a ground-breaking compilation CD of James K Baxter's poetry set to music by 12 recording artists including Dave Dobbyn, Greg Johnson, Mahinarangi Tocker and Martin Phillipps. It was remarkable, a real celebration of New Zealand music and poetry, and a lovely album by any measure. Charlotte subsequently went on to direct and produce a series of Arts Festival performances based around it to great acclaim.

Such was Baxter's success that she has since followed it with similar projects bringing together top New Zealand musicians such as Don McGlashan, Goldenhorse, Whirimako Black and Graham Brazier with the poetry of Hone Tuwhare and Witi Ihimaera.

Charlotte's songs

And Charlotte has also been making her own music for nearly three decades, first with Putty In Her Hands and then solo, receiving an APRA Silver Scroll nomination for a song from her first album, 1991's Queen Charlotte Sounds. She's a great singer and for some years was also a member of the wickedly witty vaudeville trio When the Cat's Been Spayed along with Jackie Clark.

The release of her latest album, Then The Stars Start Singing, brings her to Tauranga along with singer and multi-instrumentalist Gil Eva Craig. Those who know Charlotte only through her poetry projects are in for a treat – an evening of crafty lyrics, luscious harmonies and colourful arrangements. Tickets are $25 ( and things kick off at 5pm. There'll even be a complimentary glass of wine on arrival, but be warned: the cinema is really small and numbers are limited to around 60.


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