Aranui Library has a great community vibe. On Wednesday I arrived there to find the doors open to the late afternoon sunshine and the sound of reggae floating out to the street. The library was full to capacity with students, Mums and babies, locals wandering in off the street and a smattering of people from the other side of town who’d come to join in.
An eight piece band called Imprint was performing in one corner. It was hard to believe they were Aranui High School students, I’d have picked them as professionals if one of them had not been in uniform. Someone whispered to me that they’d been jamming there all afternoon and that everyone was having a great time. The kids were doing a bit of dancing, the audience was moving to the music, clapping and calling out appreciation when something particularly impressed them. Imprint play a mix of soul, reggae, r+b, and the occasional re-worked hymn, all with Pasifika flavour, some in Pacific tongues.
The students were followed by Merchants of Flow, an impressive professional reggae band who had generously agreed to perform for library patrons at minimal cost. They play upbeat high energy classic New Zealand roots. Beautiful harmonies and love pour off the stage. Google them to see what I mean. They’re playing at The Bedford this evening (Fri 24 May).
By this time it was five o’clock, the sun was going down and people were starting to slip away to give their children their tea. I left with music ringing in my head, dancing a bit on the way back to the car. Nice.
What do Lauryn Hill, Sean Kingston and I all have in common? Apart from the obvious, we are all human? Well, we were all lucky enough to be enjoying the sunshine in Rotorua last weekend! On the Saturday just gone, the so-called Māori capital of Aotearoa played host to some of the most respected Rasta reggae artists of this century!
On a slightly cloudy and overcast morning, approximately 30,000 Rastafarians turned out to celebrate the many Rasta-ways! Smooth reggae beats were complemented by the scorching NZ sun as the red, yellow and green of flags flew high in the air!
Sean Kingston was a crowd favourite, but I enjoyed the quick-tongue of the sista, Lauryn Hill, as she performed a collaboration of lyrics from Miseducation. My ultimate fave though was the pimp-styles of Mr Lurva-Lurva himself, Shaggy! His lyrics sent some of the female folk into frenzies, which was definitely entertaining to watch!