The absolute genius of Carol and Steve Rose, who run the Tui Farm folk festival each New Year, is in programming large gaps in the schedule.
There is plenty of time for just being; being with friends, being in the moment with music, being in the festival choir and your blind date group, being in the creek and splashing friends and friendly strangers, being lost to jamming round a brazier or chorusing with a singaround.
There were plenty of acts on stage. Gumboot Tango treated us to a feast of Kiwi classics and had the whole marquee singing. The Hardcore Troubadours were also excellent – a mixture of Kim (wonderful harmonies) and Dusty (beautifully played mandolin) combined with with some of Hobnail (Rob’s colourful songs, Hamish on effortless percussion). Carol Bean laid down some bluesy grooves.
The poetry session is a special treat, like no other I have been to and often eclipsing the music. A packed main tent was treated to a two and a half hour succession of beautifully crafted words from both festival goers and a smattering of talented neighbours. Not to be missed.
The blind date was the best I have seen, with many large groups putting on superb performances and having a great time in the process. When the festival choir gets up to perform, half the seats in the marquee empty onto the packed stage. Mary Kippenberger and Peter Charlton-Jones split many sides with the help of co-opted ‘performers’ young and old. And there were other workshops too.
A new late night addition, a traditional singing session, was a big hit and is likely to be back. Steve has promised to erect a ‘traddy shack’ for next year.
All this in an idyllic setting, nestled among cliffs, hills, woods and paddocks many miles from the distractions of ‘civilisation’.
Four days of food for the soul. With friends old and new. We’ll be back.