LABOUR Weekend found me out of cell phone range. We were deep in a valley near Wainuiomata for the Wellington Folk Festival.
It was good to get away as it had been a busy week at the Whanganui Musicians' Club. Friday Rock Heart Cult (heavy metal), Saturday a sold-out concert by Mile Twelve (bluegrass from Boston, USA, featuring Turakina's BB Bowness on banjo); Sunday, the Cassette Club bros having a bass-driven jam after cleaning the hall; Monday afternoon, the old people's band practice; Tuesday, committee ...
The committee put The Nukes (ukuleles) concert in Gavin's capable hands and we cruised down the Kapiti Coast with the caravan.
The Folk Festival attracts itinerant musicians in house trucks, caravans, buses and even a converted horse float towed by a red Ford Galaxy convertible. Others camped in tents.
The people I spoke to there were delighted with the change of government.
"This crowd is fairly left-leaning," said Taranaki songwriter Mike Harding.
Being a Wellington crowd there were government department workers there.
"It will be interesting for a while. All our board members are National appointments," a secretary for the Parole Board told me.
One grey-haired parliamentary services clerk told me "Ron Mark was sent out to count the 'lunch monitors', Winston wanted to form a government of MPs who once had been lunch monitors in school.
"National had marginally more lunch monitors than Labour and New Zealand First had hardly any. It turned out that all the Green Party MPs had been lunch monitors in school and they were holding all the cards in the back room meetings.
"The Greens' bottom line was a referendum on the legalisation of cannabis for private and medicinal use," he told me. I wasn't sure if he wasn't pulling my leg.
An old hippie guitar picker reminded me that when the Greens were in government with Labour and United Future, Peter Dunne made it his coalition bottom line that cannabis was not to be on the agenda.
"Progress is made one funeral at a time," the old hippie said sagely. "I was sitting in a ferry terminal in Helsinki when this song came to me," an Irish troubadour said from the stage as I sat down in the main marquee.
He was followed by a French guy playing a hurdy gurdy, which he had amplified and run through looping pedals.
He made it sound Indian, Arabic, Celtic and like Guns and Roses.
The Wellington Folk Festival is well run and you couldn't get a more well-behaved crowd.
At the festival I ran into John Jukes, with whom I'd been in the Castlecliff Surf Life Saving Club in the 1960s.
John was the drummer in Fuego Latino, from the Hawke's Bay, with a Spanish woman on guitar and a German woman on violin and piano accordion. They were excellent and I gave them a Musicians' Club card.
It turned out that John's father had been in the Wanganui Savage Club and in their band back in the day.
"What's happening with the Savage Club?" John asked me.
"The Whanganui Musicians' Club bought the halls off the Savage Club last year. We're working on the building, the sound system and running monthly club nights for anyone to get up on stage and perform as well as putting on concerts," I told him.
"We might come over some time. What's coming up?" he asked.
"We're looking forward to Johnny Keating coming back from overseas, for one thing; on club night (Friday, November 3) we've got Andy Anderson's Trip Splat. Andy is an old rocker from the days of Grunt Machine.
"Bruce Jellyman's Damn Raucous band will finish the evening, so it looks like a good night for dancing."
■When Fred Frederikse is not building, he is a self-directed student of geography and traveller, and in his spare time he is the co-chair of the Whanganui Musicians' Club