Jazz up your Easter weekend

By Danielle Wright

Waiheke Island International Jazz Festival event director John Quigley chats to Danielle Wright about this year's line-up and why it's the ideal 'Waihekend'.

Get ready to jazz up your Easter Weekend. Photo / Thinkstock
Get ready to jazz up your Easter Weekend. Photo / Thinkstock

John Quigley says the Waiheke Island Jazz Festival has taken on "the characteristics of its surroundings" - outdoorsy, laid-back and creative.

It's the second year Waiheke landowner, and a founding member of Nairobi Trio, has been the festival's event director.

"Bands are encouraged to head to the beach between the day and evening concerts and the outdoorsy feel of the island is a part of the festival, with many acts playing in venues facing the sea," he explains.

It's far removed from the late-night jazz bars many of the feature acts are used to playing in, although that's still an option, with the supper club on until the small hours. If you want to try out a few different settings, you can "pick and mix" concerts, with buses circling the venues. Here's what to choose from:

Good Friday

The Good Friday Groove launches the festival from midday until 5pm. Head to the natural amphitheatre in the olive grove at Rangihoua Estate in Rocky Bay for Paul Ubana Jones, Eddie Rayner and Brian Baker, ex-Fur Patrol front woman Julia Deans, as well as hotly-tipped newcomers, Five Mile Town, followed by the headline act, Southland-born musician Annah Mac of Girl in Stilettos fame.

Local producers will man food stalls and a licensed bar will be available. Tickets cost $39.

"The Good Friday Groove is our open-air family day with a carnival festival atmosphere - it's like being in a massive backyard, listening to great music with friends," says Quigley.

From 7pm-10pm there are various concerts around the island: at The Bay at Matiatia, The Waiheke Island Resort in Palm Beach and The Dunes in Onetangi, featuring Nathan Haines, Jones or The Jews Brothers Band. Tickets $39.

If you're still in need of more music, head to the Supper Club from 11pm-2am at the Waiheke Island Resort for the Smokin' Hot House Band and a jam session with special guests and vocalists. Tickets$25.

Easter Saturday

From midday to 5pm see up to six local and international acts at The Bay (headlined by The DeSotos), the Waiheke Island Resort (headlined by Five Mile Town) or The Dunes (headlined by Trudy Lile & Mojave). Tickets $49. Local Pauline Frances has been a regular at the Waiheke International Jazz Festivals and describes them as, "funky, bright, colourful, with music everywhere around the island. It's very exciting to be here, with everyone eating out and drinking wine at lovely venues overlooking the sea - the perfect toast to the end of summer".

Each venue has live music in evening concerts from 7pm-10pm (tickets $39) and the supper club for night owls from 11pm-2am is at the Waiheke Island Resort. Tickets $25.

Easter Sunday

Jazzabout Day concerts from midday to 5pm include Eddie Rayner and Brian Baker, The Alibis, Caitlin Smith, Diana Harris, Graham Wardrop and The Alan Brown Project, featuring Cherie Mathieson, heard by millions around the world on the St Germain compilations, on vocals. Tickets $49.

The Grand Finale concert is from 6pm-8pm at The Bay and features the stars of the festival. Quigley shoulder-taps the musicians who are performing the best over the weekend and asks them to be part of this event. There are six to eight acts doing three tracks each. Door sales only, $25 a ticket.

As Frances says: "I'm not even a real jazz fan, but the festival is just a great thing, listening to music, eating good food, everybody's here."

Further information: The Waiheke Jazz Festival runs from April 6-8.

Where to stay: Accommodation at Waiheke Island Resort, call (09) 372 0011.

Getting around: Catch a Fullers Ferry from downtown Auckland and catch the Jazzabout Bus for $10 for a day pass ($39 incl ferry ticket), or $20 for a three-day pass ($50 incl ferry).

- Herald on Sunday

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