Random Play by Graham Reid


Walk this way

So, with people struggling and the price of food (milk frozen, but at a high price anyway?), who would be a concert promoter these days?

Well, if you pick up the paper or search online the answer would seem to be, “Just about everybody”.

Yes, we are spoiled for choice, perhaps because acts which aren't selling CDs are getting back out on the road. All kinds of reasons – but also all kinds of artists too.

Like Grace Jones. Anyone name her last album? (It was Hurricane in 2008Anyone care to guess how many, or how few, it sold?

Not that it matters, Grace Jones is a creature to be seen – and today I spent an hour out at the Puhinui Reserve in Manukau – just 25 minutes from my house near Eden Park – which is the site of the Grassroots Festival where Grace will be appearing, live as that extraordinary personage.

Most people won't have ever been to the reserve even though it was the site of the last Sweetwaters Festival (I didn't go, I was in Australia and was told not to bother coming back as it might not be going ahead). So I was curious about the site.

And it's real pretty. Rolling acreage – publicly owned, yours in other words – right beside the Manukau Harbour.

The reason for going was a media briefing about the festival which takes place over Easter Weekend – the Saturday and Sunday, more on that in a minute – and promoter Michael Chugg was there to talk it up in that rather dismissive and amusing way he has.

He noted that the ticket price – $130 a day, $299 for the two-day VIP package – worked out to less than $10 an act: there are 31 in total, 18 of them Kiwi.

What was most interesting for those tempted to drive out daily or pitch a tent was this: “We're not expecting 20,000,” he said, “though if you split [the acts] up you could probably sell 20,000 [tickets]. But we want to get a comfortably sized audience”

Festival director Manolo Echave told me they were looking at just 15,000 over the two days. That sounds very pleasant and comfortable to me.

There will be all the usual things – foodstalls, a market, toilets, Eftpos facilities, parking and camping – and they are putting in extra roading for access/egress.

There will be buses from Auckland central and Manukau.

And Grace Jones headlining on the Sunday night: on at 8.20 and off by 10pm. Not a late night for those wanting to go home immediately after.

On the way back we were talking about this festival – a “grassroots festival” with Grace Jones, we are laughing still – and how cleverly thought out it is.

At Easter most people would hit the road on the Friday night or Saturday morning for beaches and baches etc, and return Monday afternoon or night.

This festival sits right in the middle: it starts noonish on the Saturday and Sunday.

Clearly the promoters want to secure future bookings on the site by providing a good experience in a lovely setting: “Where else but New Zealand would you find a rural setting on the water?” asked Chugg expansively. Answer: Lotsa places.

There will be two stages and it seemed to me the second stage was about 500 - 600 metres from the main one.

Not far.

FAR ENOUGH? Although if you believe these people, 500 – 600 metres is akin to a major hike.

Sorry, but while I accept some people who find walking difficult for whatever reason think 500 - 600 metres or so is a long way, it isn't.

We live right by the western line and while I don't have much sympathy for the railways when they start working on the line at 7am on a Sunday morning, or drivers blasting their horns while heading to the city (not a crossing for maybe a kilometre?) it seems the transport organisers can't win on this one.

From Morningside Station to Eden Park is an almost flat walk down Morningside Drive then Rossmay Terrace which takes you Sandringham Road right near the park.

If you get off at Kingsland – and okay, if you are coming from the west it now seems you won't be able to – it is certainly a little closer: but if walking is a problem it sure ain't easier. There will be steps – and crowds in the narrow stairwells at Kingsland Station. That strikes me as poor option. Better to walk at your own pace from Morningside Station (roads will be closed, plenty of ambling space) I would have thought.

But there you go. Big issue? Something to be “disgusted” about?

Don't think so.

ALMOST FINALLY. For your amusement: about a week or so ago we got an e-mail from the REDgroup regarding sales of my book The Idiot Boy Who Flew through Whitcoulls. They were more -- many more actually -- than I had expected and I was very pleased. We invoiced as they requested.

The following day I took the newspaper to Megan, held up the front page and bellowed “Noooooo.”

We have now received a letter to say we are unsecured creditors and there is a meeting on March 1 at the Ellerslie Convention Centre.

As it happens we can't go – but I can appoint a proxy.

If there's anyone going and would like to be my proxy – basically I suppose it's “Give me my money. Oh, you have none?” – then flick me an e-mail and we can discuss it.

FINALLY FINALLY: One of the most interesting albums of the year is by the UK singer Rumer. I have an interview with her at Elsewhere here – along with all the usual (and unusual) new reviews (Gang of Four etc) and the daily posting of one-offs, oddities and lost classics at From the Vaults.

Since you last looked . . . the actual King's speech, old Dylan reconsidered, Son House, Galaxie 500 covering the Rutles, cult stuff and more. Have a trawl.

I must get round to posting that Rumblefish track from '92 which I have scheduled onto my slot on Kiwi FM.

It's them doing Grace Jones' Pull Up to the Bumper. Differently.

Just heard as I was posting: this seems frivolous in the light of Christchurch. Sorry, but I got this far so . . . Hope you are all well, safe etc.

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