This bi-annual festival has found a permanent home at Tapapakanga regional park on the North-western edge of the Firth of Thames. The Music Mix pitches a tent among the throng who will be swaying to the sounds of Erykah Badu, Gappy Ranks and legion of local roots, soul and dance acts.
The Yoots performing at Splore. Photo: Nick Atkinson
Was it all a dream? Bush-clad downs rolled in tiers toward a sun-baked beach upon which gently hissing waves arrived in unhurried sets from a sparkling Hauraki Gulf to the sound of trumpets. Beautiful maidens and athletic men danced and gambolled, many wearing straw hats and broad smiles. The trumpets were joined by trombones and tenor saxophones as Joe “Hopepa” Lindsay led The Yoots through a well-worn-in set of Maori folk songs played with a Jamaican feel. It was glorious, peaceful, soulful and unique. We were in for an enveloping three days of music by the sea. All who came camped on site, there was not one police man and security was all but invisible.
Sam Wicks and I donned our sensible footwear and armed our sound-device recorders to catch audience members and musicians for Music 101. Everybody that Friday night was looking forward to Erykah Badu and Soul II Soul. Badu stunned in a black, backless jumpsuit, top-hat and at least 20 gold necklaces. She counted-in her supple band with hand-tapped rhythms which she pelted out from a nearby set of drums-pads. Her ensemble included four backing-vocalists. Crowds lined the terraces above the stage. What would she have thought of this rustic setting? In 24 hours she would be playing the Sydney Opera House.
Before the end of Erykah’s set the rain began. We had just ordered two salmon wraps. I felt a solitary pregnant rain drop splat on the back of my neck. “Get those god-dang wraps on” I thought. Our order was missed. Chicken wraps, barbecue-prawn wraps, vegan bloody wraps!!! Pitter-patter. I pleaded with the kind, but the over-worked person behind the counter to start preparing our salmon wraps. The heavens opened. “Rawoar!” That’s the sound the rain made as the crowds scattered. Oh dear, the table upon which the salmon wraps were being made was in the wrong place, water began pouring onto the condiments. All hands grasped the lurching bench and shimmied it to a different spot. We got wetter and wetter. Together with a couple of French gentlemen we were now huddling beneath a plastic table. RAIN!
Another 10 minutes passed and we got a couple of soggy, but very tasty salmon wraps. These were duly bolted but our night was over. We were wet to the skin. I could feel a rivulet running from the nape of my neck all the way down my back and into my shoes. The tent was almost a mile away, would everything be mud? We dreamed of tea and biscuits.
A while later we made it back to the tent, it was still raining. We unzipped the vestibule and then the tent itself. I took my muddy shoes and sodden jeans off and stepped into the tent. Sploosh! The tent was full of water, the bedding was floating! It felt like Cape Horn all over again. Would nothing be dry? Fortunately the sleeping bags were afloat upon a raft made of closed-cell foam mats and therm-a-rest mattresses. I started bailing furiously. Would we have a shipwreck in the middle of this paddock? Fortunately the tent was re-floated. The billy was fired and before long we were warm and dry.
This was just the first act of one of the best weekends I’ve ever had. Tune in to Music 101 this Saturday afternoon to hear how Sam and I got on, or listen online here.
by Nick Atkinson
Band of Skulls
They’re a four year old rock trio from South Hampton. They’ve made friends with touring buddies Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and The Black Keys on the strength of their debut Baby Darling Doll Face Honey. Known for perfecting a classic beefy sound, Band of Skulls have gone a little crunchier on this year’s follow-up Sweet Sour. Bass player and singer Emma Richardson (centre, below) talks to Nick Atkinson about recording with Badly Drawn Boy producer Ian Davenport.
Band of Skulls. Photo courtesy of Liberation