I first attended the Whare Flat Festival in 1979/1980 having been asked by a friend to help him run a singing workshop. I had no idea what to expect and was astounded with the range of music I discovered, the instruments I didn't know existed and the quality of the performers. I didn't know I was a folkie but quickly discovered that I loved everything about this festival. I hadn't realised that I could spend four days immersing myself in music and dance and feel friends with people I'd never met before.
That was the beginning of my folk adventure and since that time I have been every year - 37 wonderful New Year celebrations - 20 of them as the director of the festival - and I'll keep going as long as I can.
In 1996 the Pioneer Pog 'n' Scroggin Bush Band were guests at the Australian National Folk Festival in Canberra and I went along as a supporter. Although I didn't get any feel of festival spirit that is a common ingredient of folk festivals in NZ, I was once again blown away by the quality and range of artists to be found there. I realised that as organisers of folk events we had been looking to the UK for most of our artists (Ireland, Scotland and Britain), yet right next door we had a wealth of talent that we could afford to bring across the sea. I came back to Dunedin inspired and put up my hand to take over coordinating our annual event and ended up with if for a lot longer than I'd expected. (See next installment).
Photo: THE PIONEER POG 'N' SCROGGIN BUSH BAND (1996)
(FROM LEFT TO RIGHT) TONY WILSON, GREG WAITE, JOHN STEEL, JOHN DODD, MARK LAWS, LAURA GARTNER, TAREK BAZLEY, LINDSEY SHIELDS, MIKE MORONEY.