Jazz and art draw crowds

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Oamaru has been the place to be over the past few days for those with a penchant for music and art.

The Harbour St Jazz and Blues Festival wrapped up on Sunday with a burlesque-style cabaret night at the Loan & Merc, while the Waitaki Festival of Visual Arts finishes today.

Jazz and blues festival organiser Julie Barclay said this year’s event, being held for the third time in its present form, was a huge success, with about 70 performers in town as well as plenty of people enjoying the festivities over Otago Anniversary weekend.

“It’s been better than I expected, it’s just fantastic. Everyone who has come has just loved it. People were up and dancing with the buskers, it was just great.”

She said some of the highlights included performances from Doug Caldwell and his trio of musicians, who opened the festival at Cucina 1871 on Friday evening, as well as Auckland-based band Freaky Meat and Wellington duo Don Franks and Alfred Memelink.

The cabaret night was a huge success, she said.

“We sold out the dinner with 180 people, and more coming for the dance,” she said.

The festival attracted musicians from all around the South Island and beyond.

The Waitaki Festival of Visual Arts and Outside Art Festival 2015 also attracted strong numbers, which has delighted organiser Alice Lake-Hammond.

“It’s been awesome, I’m really pleased with how thinks have come together.

“It’s been a pretty inspiring weekend I would have to say.”

Miss Lake-Hammond said although she wasn’t able to see all of the events, those she had seen were well-attended, with people enjoying what was on offer, such as open art studios and demonstrations, exhibitions, workshops, and Vai Moana, created by artist Michael Tuffery and his team of Mike Busy and Darren Foster, as well as audio artist The Nomad.

The art festival saw the Customs House building in Harbour St turned into living, moving canvases through digitally projected animations.

She said Oamaru was gaining a reputation as a creative hub.

“I think it is a destination. There’s a strong creative arts community here and the festival aims to put that on show. The community should be very proud of their creative artists … the artists who’ve come her are very impressed by the town, which is great for the community.”

By Daniel Birchfield

PHOTO: CAROL EDWARDS – Dunedin’s Rebecca Stewart and Elise Broadbent enjoy a performance by Jim Lischner and Don Hughes, from Ashburton, on Itchen St on Saturday. The pair were playing in Oamaru as part of the Harbour St Jazz and Blues Festival.