Oamaru’s streets and venues were filled with top class musicians, both locally grown and from further afield, at the weekend.
Thousands of people turned out for the the annual Harbour Street Jazz and Blues Festival events – locals and visitors alike were treated to a mix of jazz and blues music, against the backdrop of Oamaru’s Victorian precinct.
Putting on a jazz and blues festival is no small feat, particularly when the organising committee is made up of volunteers.
But Oamaru pulled it off yet again, the annual event culminating with a sold-out event featuring The Lady Killers and Paul Ubana Jones at the Loan and Merc on Sunday.
Ubana Jones, who has performed in Oamaru regularly since 1987, said he always enjoyed the trip across the Waitaki River from his home in Southbridge, south of Christchurch. The jazz and blues festival was a highlight on his calendar, he said.
“For me it’s been great .. it’s been nice. I hope they have me back. I could feel the audience with me. That’s why I do it,” he said.
Organising committee spokeswoman Paula Gray loved the buzz the festival created in Oamaru, enhanced by the Gypsy Fair, Oamaru Farmers’ Market and other events over Otago Anniversary Weekend.
Mrs Gray said she got a real thrill “seeing the people walking venue to venue during the day and evenings, dancing and smiling, happy to be there”.
“The things I’ve heard have been great .. everyone was just very impressed by the quality of musicians and bands. The whole environment was such a great vibe,” she said.
“It’s not just about enjoying listening to a wide array of jazz and blues tunes – it’s a festival that brings people together and creates an intimate, safe and connected atmosphere for each of them to craft their own unique experience of music over the weekend, whether they want to just listen, dance, play or learn.”
Musicians also performed in some of Oamaru’s rest-homes, so those who could not attend still enjoyed the magic of live music, Mrs Gray said.
“It makes it accessible for people who can’t make it,” she said.
Mrs Gray said organisers were committed to encouraging and engaging young people to embrace music in all forms, by providing platforms for performance, participation and workshops.
A talent quest on Sunday morning, judged by Ubana Jones and Bill and Heather Hainstock, was won by Isabella Phillips (junior) and Julie Barclay (senior).
Waimate’s Becka Clark came second in the junior section, and Katie Nimmo and Cushla Bridges, both of Oamaru, tied for third place.
The organising committee was meeting last night to discuss the weekend’s events and any changes or improvements that could be made next year.
Mrs Gray praised the “fantastic” organising committee for their efforts over the weekend.
“They’re all amazing; they’re all volunteers,” she said.