And what a great time we had.
Held over Labour Weekend at a scout facility way down a country valley beyond Wainuiomata, the weather has a reputation for being a bit unkind to campers.
Not this year. The cold and wet stayed away, the sun put in the odd appearance, and the music was fabulous. At least, the bits I made it to, and joined in with, certainly were.
Wellyfest is one of those events where it just isn’t possible to do everything. Which means you can drift, sample whatever music takes your fancy, go to a workshop, join in with jamming, make new musical friends, party…..
There is a big marquee that can hold hundreds, where most of the main acts perform, but actually I rarely made it there. The Balladeer tent, in its second year, has a small stage one end, catering the other, and plenty of seats in the middle. Perfect for the half hour slots that run continuously each day. And excellent music it is too.
There are some other indoor venues, often booked up as part of the programme with anything from kids events to open mic gatherings and dancing. And in good weather add jams and music sessions in kitchens, tents or just in the open air.
My faves from the weekend; the Balladeer tent; a very good open mic on saturday evening with heaps of quality; the festival choir (run over 2 days, where we were taught several songs in lovely harmony by Carol Shortis then performed them); playing percussion for hours in a gathering of early musicians.
And the best bit of all? The Homebrew singaround session. A whole evening with over 100 good folk singers in a village hall style building, taking turns around the circle to start a song. Oh the harmonies, the choruses, the sheer fun. You sing songs (if you want), you learn new ones, you come out very late, tired, hoarse but happy.
A visiting performer from Australia, Tom of the Roaring 40s, called it one of the best he had experienced in many years. I’m looking forward to similar sessions at the Auckland Folk Festival and Hamsterfest again.
Yes, we did perform. It was a fun set (at least we enjoyed it), with a couple of new twists and I am sure we are still improving.
Roll on the next one !