Reggae fever and three narcs

The Narcs playing Saturday 28, at the HistoricVillage.

I write this just as the first line-up announcement for next year’s One Love Festival has been made.

And very impressive it is too. You’ve probably come across the initial list of bands by now: Sean Paul of Jamaican dancehall fame; Common Saints; Etana; Third World; Katchafire; Sons Of Zion; L.A.B.; Ardijah; Nesian Mystic; Ria Hall and of course many many more.

It makes me wonder... For years, decades even, Tauranga was associated with jazz. Twenty years ago usually the first question Tauranga musicians were asked around the country would be about the jazz festival.

But that was before there were quite so many festivals. Even the smallest town seems to have one of some sort these days so the National Jazz Festival – going from strength to strength though it is – doesn’t stand out quite as much. Auckland and Wellington both now have bigger jazz events.

But the One Love Festival is certainly the biggest reggae festival in the country, looking likely to sell out for a fifth year in a row, and it’s here in Lil ol’ Tauranga where the living is easy, the fish are jumping and the traffic is highly congested. Perhaps Tauranga will soon be known as New Zealand’s Home of Reggae...?

New single

Coincidentally next week sees the launch of a new single by excellent local reggae band Direct Descendants.

You’ll find the five-piece Mount Maunganui band at the Mount Social Club on Saturday, June 29, from 9.30pm onwards, though you might want to secure tickets in advance ($10 from the Social Club or as it seems probable the event will sell out before the $15 ones go on sale on the door.

But the big midwinter reggae event isn’t until the end of next month when the The Good Vibes Festival arrives at the Baypark Arena on July 27.

The Good Vibes Festival was the “warm-up party” for the One Love Festival in Tauranga this year and rather than waiting ‘till 2020 they’re putting the show on the road. The Good Vibes Winter Tour will feature some of Aotearoa’s most-loved acts, including Katchafire, L.A.B, Tomorrow People and 1814, alongside international acts Josh Wawa and LaTasha Lee. Tickets are already on sale.

Now, leaving aside reggae, let’s get back to next week...

Back in town at the Historic Village, The Jam Factory is also likely to sell out as a very special intimate show hits town. Eighties legends The Narcs have been up and active again for the past couple of years and, following a string of summer gigs along with Aussie band Pseudo Echo, have decided to pull back the veil, strip things down and rediscover a bunch of lesser-known moments from the bands’ back catalogue and side projects over the last 39 years. As well as the hits of course.


Thus, on Saturday 28 June,  at the Village, you have The Narcs’ ‘unplugged, acoustic-based, with no drums.’ Over the past four decades The Narcs have cemented their place in New Zealand music history with their classic Kiwi-rock sound, sort of a fusion of South Island chops and Sydney-inspired rock. They played their first gig in Christchurch way back in 1980, and throughout that decade had a string of hits, including “Heart and Soul”, “Lazy Susan” and “Diamonds on China”, as well as a couple of classic Kiwi albums, The Great Divide (1984) and its self-titled follow-up in 1986.

But the band hasn’t just been wallowing in nostalgia and last year started recording again, releasing two new singles, “Summerhill Stone” and “Not Over”, both of which take one straight back to the Narcs’ sound of old.

For the show next week there will be just the three Narcs: singer/guitarist Andy Dickson, bass player Tony Waine, and local man Liam Ryan on the keys (and presumably some singing).

Liam – who is the current brain behind the Youth Jazz Band Competition at Easter’s Jazz Festival – lives in Waihi these days where he has a recording studio, doing some interesting work there with singer Sarah Spicer and more recently legendary singer/songwriter Shona Laing.

Tickets for The Narcs are $30 on


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