I spent the last few days (well actually the 23rd and 24th) of last weekend at the Soundsplash Eco Reggae Festival in Raglan a surfer town known to many.I left Turangi on Thursday and not long after leaving the outskirts of the city I had some rad feral hippies scream out of their car window if I wanted a ride (read: the use of feral is common in these parts by hippies and I [they agreed] attribute that to something like how black people call themselves niggers). Plus I’m feral as well and that happens when one doesn’t actually need to shower everyday I suppose. These two womyn have to be the best ride I’ve had so far in New Zealand. They made a detour to the *free* hot springs on the way up to Raglan, which I definitely didn’t object to doing. We all dived into these beautiful waters mixed with cold river water and hot water coming from the volcano and honestly it was the coolest/weirdest feeling I’ve felt in a while. I had no swimming outfit (well it was in the bottom of my bag) so I just used my underwear which made for a good swimming suite. I probably would have gone naked but there were people around so decided against it.

Then off we went to Raglan ot the land of chilled out vibes, surfing bays, beautiful country-side, and some great peeps. The entire weekend was chalked full of some really amazing music including the highlight for me – Mihirangi!

Mihirangi performs acoustic soulful-roots and funky world-r’n’b with a rare performance style. She creates her own band sound – live in front of the audience. Using a loop pedal she layers her vocals into intricate harmonies with beat boxing and vocal bass lines, along with acoustic guitar and tribal rhythms, to accompany her R’n’b infused vocals.” – Mihirangi’s website

I’m telling you this performance was worth missing Blue King Brown (one of the reason’s why I originally headed to Raglan) for. She had a lot of energy, love, and good vibes coming from her performance. I kinda wished that I had an opportunity to chat with her afterward but things were crazy that night and at the very least she put me in a great mood. So thanks for that Mihirangi. And on a rad plug note check out her website El Canado Kids cause she’s coming to a place near you. AND she has good promo deals for those that are willing ot help her out with her gigs (they are all in March folks).

Also, amongst all these rad folk festivals I have attended I’ve noticed a common theme. Basically, that they are taking the environment really serious. So I’ve been in contact with the Calgary Folk Festivaland have been trying to encourage them to do some more things to help the environment beyond what they are doing now. Here’s a list of the things I came up with. If you have other suggestions fire them my way and also send them to info@calgaryfolkfest.com or send them this list if you want to see these things happen at your local festival!

  • People to monitor recycling bins – At all the festivals I have gone to now in both countries they have someone monitoring the composting, recycling, and waste bin. They are all clearly marked and the waste bin is usually the smallest of all the bins. I suspect that Clean Calgary might be able to get a partnership going with Blue Mountain to take all the compost from the event (unless you already have a source).
  • Bamboo cutlery – These are more sustainable to use than bio-degradable cutlery because they don’t require petroleum products to create, are using a renewable product, and are biodegradable. Composting toilets!! – While this might seem weird, foreign, or strange this is an amazing movement at most festivals out here.
  • Composting toilets – require no water, are a good introduction to sustainability, and also help reduce the impact of the festival on the environment. Finding a source to take the compost shouldn’t be that difficult and I bet you could find a sourcing (as in a business that will setup/maintain/take down)
  • Workshop space – I don’t recall the Folk Festival having a space where people could attend workshops. This is also totally common at festivals out here and are great opportunities for NGO’s of all kinds to talk about issues that they want to bring to peoples attentions.
  • Native content – I was inspired by the Maori dance and bands that were included at the recent Reggae festival in Raglan. It made me realize that of all the festivals that I have seen in Canada I actually haven’t seen any Canadian First Nation content. It would be beautiful to see them do a presentation for everyone about a story they want to share with us. In the case of Raglan the Maori told a story about whaling and how they wanted them to be protected. It was beautiful and pretty emotional (i.e. I cried). This kind of integration shows our respect for their unique contributions to Canadian culture I think.
  • Compost bins on grounds – I think that the existing composting program only includes the food eaten by volunteers, but I have seen wide scaled composting at both the Soundsplash and Peats Ridge Festival. They were able to find a source for the compost material, grind everything up, and then cart it all off for future use. Reuse reuse reuse – One pretty cool thing I noticed at the Soundsplash and Peats Ridge festival was the use of recycled material/paints to make signs, and material to create sun umbrellas that were free to use by peeps at the festival.


– Shane

PS – I thought of some of you while I was bustin up a groove on the dance floor (Kristin you would have gone ape)!