A review of Te Rangi Festival, Otane. I Was a Te Rangi Virgin by Tony Burt

This is not as the title may suggest a titillating coming of age tale but rather my first experience of Te Rangi music festival, although you could be mistaken with a viewing of some of the pics from the Weekend. I arrived late on the first night just in time for the last half of the evening concert, familiar faces, lots of hugs and instantly I felt at home with friends and over the course of the four days plenty to fill the music gas tank.
The next morning I got my first orientation of Te Rangi. Nestled in a valley just outside Otane in the heart of Hawkes Bay this family community of houses, building and structures is the home of Mary Kippenberger, Peter Carlton Jones and their extended whanau. An old school room had been relocated and converted with newly built stage veranda and was to be the focus for all performances.
To write a review on the music and mentioning individuals, I feel would do a complete injustice to the quality of the performers young and old(er) who black-boarded and collaborated. Everybody who wanted to perform got the opportunity to do so. It appeared on many occasions a single performer would also carry a troupe of capable musicians and the line ups that sprung forth were entertaining, inspiring, just fantastic.

I had heard mention of the infamous Blind Date Concert, one I observed that is met with anticipation and howls of protest at the same time. Mary had split everyone into groups (no exceptions tolerated) and opened the treasure trove of costumes for this dress up spectacle. I must say it was slightly disturbing to see respectable hairy grey bearded gents rummaging enthusiastically through the corsetry looking for the best fit but the end result was a howling success.

Sunday was my birthday and I was intent on making the most of it. Usually one ever celebrated because of the time of the year but this was different. It was filled with fun and music, dress ups, concerts and jamming. It was also my first time seeing the remarkable Mary perform her story telling with Peter backing on the songs and music. Stunningly brilliant and hilarious and a real treat. I felt like a 10 year old, no more so than as I lined up for my Ice cream after the Blind Date. “An extra scoop for the birthday boy”, said as Mary she squished another scoop of sun softened Hokey Pokey on to the cone. I was having so much fun it was like several hundred people had come to my party and I felt like a kid again.
Looking back on the festival, the fantastic music, talented performers, laughter, jamming, re affirming friendships, meeting new friends and sharing in so many ways I have come to realise that family is the feeling that stays long after the music has faded. This would not be the Te Rangi it is without the generosity and warmth of Mary, Peter and the family that have opened up and shared their home, set the mood for the festival and made sure we were all looked after.
I may have been a Te Rang virgin on the Friday night but by Monday afternoon as I set off I felt well and truly less so. Welcomed to the Te Rang family I know this will now be on the annual calendar as a special turangawaewae of music and whanau in the heart of Hawkes Bay.
Tony Burt

Thanks Tony for your positive review.  Published in The Balladeer, the monthly newsletter of the Wellington Folk Music Club, Wellington,New Zealand.


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