Finn McLennan-Elliott: Summer is upon us!

With that comes a plethora of excellent music events and festivals. Ponsonby News has you covered; here are some of the best things you could get along to, both indoor and outdoor.

Rhythm & Vines. If you are itching to get away from Auckland, then look no further than Gisborne and Rhythm & Vines. Over 100 international and local acts who will feature, will join some 21,000 festival attendees over three days celebrating the 17th edition of Rhythm & Vines, held at Waiohika Estate. Playboi Carti is one of the biggest reasons to head along for this New Year’s Eve, with a live performance that brings ridiculous energy and a mosh pit to remember. Dave Dobbyn hit cult status with his second appearance in 2015 and returns this year, welcomed by both young and old.

Located on the lush green lawns of Waiohika Homestead, the Garden Stage plays host to Harper Finn, Wax Mustang, Frank Booker and more over the three days. While the popular Cellar Stage, often referred to as the Forest Stage, will see headline performances from Tom Trago, Patrice Bäumel, Calyx and Teebee, Makato & MC Fava and Culture Shock to name a few. The forest floor will be moving from December 29 till the early hours of 2020.

North West Wine, Beer & Food Festival
Returning after another sellout year, the Hunting Lodge will be home to one of the most exciting festivals on the summer circuit. Only 30 minutes northwest of Auckland City, the festival has pulled together a spectacular lineup headlined by The Mutton Birds, after an eight year hiatus. Joining them are The Black Seeds and local rising star Milly Tabak and the Miltones.

Food and beverage is all from the local area, featuring food from The Riverhead, Hallertau Brewery and The Tasting Shed. There will be local wineries and breweries tempting you with their beverages including Kumeu River, Coopers Creek, Liberty Brewing Company and Hallertau.

The Mutton Birds’ frontman Don McGlashan says, “It’s a huge thrill to be taking flight with the Mutton Birds again next summer. Whenever we play together, something strange and beautiful happens.

“It’s like pulling out a coat that you haven’t worn for a while, but it still fits uncannily well, and suddenly you feel like you could leap tall buildings.”

The perfect day getaway, this boutique festival returns on Saturday 15 February.

St Jerome’s Laneway Festival
We covered Laneway in depth a few months back, and the festival will not disappoint. They’ve just announced a who’s who of food trucks from around Auckland to be present, continuing their tradition of being the best festival to eat at in Auckland. Local artist Benee just cleaned up four awards at the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards last month and is sure to continue rising.

King Gizzard and the Lizard are globally loved and return to Laneway with their genuine rock and roll. Australian indie folk artist Julia Jacklin brings with her a new record that has generated a lot of buzz. She sings songs born from feelings of heartbreak, infatuation and loss, taking listeners on an elegantly raw and emotional musical journey with her in-the-moment narrative of devastating hard-hitting lyrics and gently transportive guitar and harmonies.

Auckland Folk Festival
A stellar range of overseas and New Zealand performers is set to make the 2020 Auckland Folk Festival the biggest and most exciting in its 47 year history. Held every Auckland Anniversary Weekend in January, the festival attracts thousands of music lovers from all over New Zealand, many of them musicians themselves.

The festival has become something of an institution in Auckland but a growth spurt in recent years is seeing a new generation of folk fans discovering the natural sounds of acoustic instruments and the diverse roots and contrasting styles of modern folk music.

All told, around 150 performers will arrive at the Kumeu Showgrounds from USA, Canada, Ireland, UK and across New Zealand, joining a showcase of Auckland’s own diverse, multicultural music and dance on display throughout the weekend. Headlining the bill for the overseas acts, is the two-time Grammy Award winner Tim O’Brien, a folk legend in America, who comes to the festival with partner Jan Fabricius (US).

Top overseas bands include Quebecois five-piece folk band Rosier (Canada), lively Celtic band Keeva (Ireland/New Zealand), the unique Pauline Scanlon Band (Ireland), and powerhouse English folk band Faustus (UK). Meanwhile, Kiwi success story Tattletale Saints (US/New Zealand) return from their home in Nashville for the festival, with profound skills honed in the heart of the music business. While the summer is normally all about festivals, there are some excellent shows coming up that shouldn’t be missed.

Mac Demarco is returning for the first time in four years with a headline performance at the prestigious Town Hall on 8 January. May saw him release his fourth album Here Comes The Cowboy. It was described by Q Magazine as a ‘masterpiece’ and is definitely Demarco at his thoughtful and introspective best. Joining him at the Town Hall is local indie artist Fazerdaze. The brainchild of Amelia Murray, Fazerdaze has been quiet recently since debut record Morningside burst the band on to a global tour that included Coachella and Latitude Festival and headline shows in Asia, Europe and North America. This is Fazerdaze’s first show in over a year.

The masked mystery man and critically acclaimed country star Orville Peck has announced a run of debut shows for Australia and New Zealand. The enigmatic singer and his bandmates will perform Sunday 12 January at The Tuning Fork.

North Carolina-based Americana band Hiss Golden Messenger will perform its first New Zealand show on Friday 31 January at the Tuning Fork. This coincides with the release of the band’s brand new record Terms of Surrender. For over 10 years the profound song writing and vocals of M.C. Taylor spearheaded this prolific, perpetually evolving group. He’s toured and recorded relentlessly, earning devotees along the roads, deep in festival pits, and across the seas, delivering earnest performances that morph from jammy freakout to private prayer in a matter of measures. Graham Reid praises the band, “the songs transcend spare folk and reach towards something literary and philosophical.”

They will be joined by a very special guest in New Zealand’s own Nadia Reid. A self-proclaimed fan of the band, this will be an intimate evening of folk and Americana.

From the US comes bluesman Jerron ‘Blind Boy’ Paxton. Last time we saw Paxton he was supporting the UK trio Kitty, Daisy & Lewis, although he’s performed multiple times in New Zealand over the last five years. Paxton performs on a range of instruments, singing new and old tunes, and draws on his family’s rich southern roots to present a unique and beautiful performance. Don’t miss this one on 5 February at the Hollywood Cinema in Avondale.

Cafe One2one will be keeping the home fires burning throughout the summer with its regular music nights, but will also be hosting the legendary Paul Ubana Jones on Wednesday 22 January. Erin Cole-Baker, who comes back to New Zealand from the US, will be performing a rare Auckland show on Sunday 19 January, before an appearance at the Auckland Folk Festival.

Wellington indie-pop act Glass Vaults make the trip North to perform at the Wine Cellar on 10 January. Irish folk singer Andy Irvine will be kicking off the Auckland Folk Festival season with a side show at the Devonport Folk Club, the Bunker on Mt Victoria, on Monday 20 January. Award-winning, Lyttleton-based artist Delaney Davidson will be taking over the Wine Cellar on 25 January.

The Auckland Council will be taking over parks across Auckland with its Music in Parks programme beginning in early January, so keep your eyes on the local green space and ensure you plan a picnic around that one.

Have a safe summer filled with friends, family and music. See you in 2020. (FINN MCLENNAN-ELLIOTT)

Gig guide:
Sunday 29 December – Rhythm & Vines
Wednesday 8 January – Mac Demarco & Fazerdaze – Town Hall
Friday, 10 January – Glass Vaults – The Wine Cellar
Sunday, 12 January – Orville Peck – The Tuning Fork
Friday, 17 January – Storehouse – The Wine Cellar
Sunday, 19 January – Erin Cole Baker – Cafe One2one
Monday, 20 January – Andy Irvine – The Bunker, Devonport Folk Club
Wednesday, 22 January – Paul Ubana Jones – Cafe One2one
Friday, 24 January – Auckland Folk Festival
Saturday, 25 January – Delaney Davidson – The Wine Cellar
Monday, 27 January – St Jerome’s Laneway Festival
Friday, 31 January – Hiss Golden Messenger – The Tuning Fork
Wednesday, 5 February – Blind Boy Paxton – Hollywood Avondale
Saturday, 15 February – North West Wine, Beer & Food Festival

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