Diverse range on offer at Whare Flat Folk Festival

Visiting United States musician Melissa Cox, who plays songs with Celtic flair and uses live looping on stage, will perform with Matt Smith at the Whare Flat Folk Festival on December 31, at 1pm. Photo by Peter Redel.
Visiting United States musician Melissa Cox, who plays songs with Celtic flair and uses live looping on stage, will perform with Matt Smith at the Whare Flat Folk Festival on December 31, at 1pm. Photo by Peter Redel.
Celtic, Gypsy, rockabilly and jazz music, along with the joyous sights and sounds of Brazilian samba, will come together in an eclectic mix at this year's Whare Flat Folk Festival.

Running from December 29, 2012, through to January 2, 2013, at the Waiora Scout Camp near Dunedin, the long-standing festival highlights the incredible variety of music and performance that comes under the modern title of ''folk''. Festival organisers, the New Edinburgh Folk Club, welcome a wide range of styles to the event, valuing the skill and performance strength of participants.

''Most musicians in the genre would consider folk to involve a mix of songwriters and people doing their own versions of music from a variety of countries - in that way, folk music is really world music,'' Whare Flat Folk Festival director Bernadette Berry said.

Variety is to the fore at this year's festival, with international, national and local musicians and performers having a chance to step up and entertain. Among the visitors will be Dunedin-born Australian musician Jo Jo Smith, Christchurch Celtic outfit The Fire Season, Lyttelton band The Eastern, Wellington-based trio Tandrom Gypsy Trio, visiting American Celtic fusion musicians Melissa Cox and Matt Smith, Canadian fiddler Gillian Boucher, Gypsy jazz group Bonjour Swing, Lyttelton rockabilly raconteur Lindon Puffin and Hamilton-based traditional Scottish songstress Chris Penman.

Flying the flag for Dunedin will be Irish music trio Erin Street, piratical songsmiths Whiskey & the Wench, bluesman King Leo and quartet Footspa playing music from Europe and beyond.

New Year's Eve will be a highlight of the festival, with the traditional barn dance divided into a session for families, from 7.30pm to 9.30pm, followed by a barn dance for adults, from 9.30pm. Then local bluesman King Leo will rock in the new year.

''Breaking up the evening this way has proved really popular in the past - it gives the families with young children a chance to celebrate before clearing the decks for adult dancing,'' Ms Berry said.

''And people really enjoy the change in feel at midnight with King Leo.''

A special feature of this year's Whare Flat festival will be a chance for participants of all ages to create and take part in their own mini Brazilian samba festival. The ''Samba Experience'' will feature mask, instrument and costume-making workshops, a chance to learn samba rhythms, chants and dance, and will culminate in a Carnival Parade on New Year's Day.

''The samba programme is a new event for us, which will be great fun for festival-goers of all ages,'' Ms Berry said.

''It will also add yet another international flavour to our festival, which is exciting.''

The Whare Flat Folk Festival will also feature blackboard (open mic) concerts, music sessions, a songwriters' showcase and a range of music and dance workshops, as well as a busy programme for children organised by Kidz Inc.

Festival-goers can either camp on site at Waiora Scout Camp, or they may choose to come and go - there are day passes available as well as full festival passes. Organisers will provide comfortable seating, and home-cooked meals and other refreshments will be available throughout the event.

''Often people who come out for a look at the festival are unsure what to expect and then they find themselves wanting to stay longer.

''We make a point of catering for all ages and for ensuring people are comfortable, so they can carry on enjoying themselves,'' Ms Berry said.

For more information, visit the website www.whareflat.org.nz

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