Nik Bruce-Smith and Rob Harris – medicine men

Nik and Rob- medicine men

By day, Nik Bruce-Smith and Rob Harris look like anyone else in a suit on Lambton Quay. But by night, they are an integral part of Wellington’s burgeoning comedy scene, taking The Medicine stand-up comedy at VK’s Comedy & Blues Bar to become Welly’s hottest, sell out weekly comedy show, winning the Wellington leg of the Comedy Quest and after selling out 5 nights in their last year’s show, they have another not to be missed act in this NZ International Comedy Festival – “Coming of (Middle) Age.”

For more info and bookings on Nik and Robs show in the International Comedy Festival visit http://www.comedyfestival.co.nz/wellington/show/coming-of-middle-age

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Cuba St was closed today

It will be forgiven that half of Cuba streets doors are closed today, as every store, restaurant, spare space, artist and available pair of hands were devoted to transforming the street into an epic weekend for the revival of the Cuba st. Carnival, the Cuba Dupa.

Even though I’ve walked or cycled up and down that street three times a week in the last 25 years, this weekend, Cuba Street shone in a new light.

Out of virtually no hype, zero expectation, and no over excited face book traffic that I could see, the lid on the bottle of the magic mulled for a bit during a drizzly saturday and then as dusk moved in, exploded into a plethora of awesomeness that made one remember why this city is like no other.

What were the magic ingredients that left me with such a delicious taste?

The SPACE; the removal of cars and traffic created a blank canvas to play,explore and be in. I am always amazed at how freeing this act is. ( apart from Viv of course, as a few friends were nearly bowled walking carefree into state highway no1).

The PEOPLE, the PEOPLE, the PEOPLE– the best, the worst, the regulars, the friends, the artists, the extravaganza stars, they all came. And they came with an open attitude, prepared for fun.

The IMPRINT- that was already laid down. Homage must be given to all those who created the early version and vision of the Cuba St. Carnival. So for many it wasn’t a foreign feeling, this is how Cuba Street always was and is. It has just been enabled after being  been cooped up like a battery hen for too long.

The COLLABORATORS – we think it is normal, but it is not. It is quite a talent to drop the ego and work with others. Collaborations were rife, from Steve Logan of Logan Brown making Paua Fritters at the front of Lucky’s fruit shop, to Adam Page conducting the Mass Cuba St. Orchestra made up of nearly every musician in the city, to the actors, choirs and community groups who made The Grand Opening at the Opera House such a riot. I get such a kick seeing musicians running onto the stage of already performing bands, arriving slightly late after a previous performance but determinded to be there non the less.

The CHERRIES; each will have their own but for me, the Hairy Lollies, the Saturday finale on the Upper Cuba St. stage,  were off the hook, with such good Welly musicians and songstress divas, who were there because….. They LOVE it. The second to last song was a funky Mariachi track, with a dirty slide guitar and trumpet that just kept evolving. It was so good I nearly couldn’t take it anymore.

The kids and I trouped back in on the Sunday determined to make it to The Grand Opening . The geniuses of Barbarian Productions took us on a  wild ride to get to a show that we didn’t know we were already starring in. All I can say is I have never experienced anything like that before.

Thank you to all those who consented and contributed to the weekend that was the first Cuba Dupa.  An even bigger thank-you to all those who curated and organised it. I would have lost sleep for months trying to pull that off.

But most of all thank-you to Wellington for being there with the spirit that is the Soul of Cuba street. To me, letting our creative culture reign is part of the long term sustainability and prosperity of our city.

So please may we have another slice of that… PLEASE!!!!!!!.

# Why Wellington # Cuba Dupa

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Kaleidoscope

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Mass Cuba Street Orchestra

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Steve Logan, cooking mean paua fritters at the front of Luckys fruit shop

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the Hairy Lollies funking up a storm

Grand Opening- Jason Muir

Just some of the Cast or crew at the Grand Opening.

Marianne Elliot – Living under Fire

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Not only is Marianne Elliott the smiling face that greets you upon entry to Welly’s most fun restaurant LaBocaLoca, she is the author of Zen Under Fire a book of memoirs about her time as a human rights lawyer in war torn Afghanistan, a Yoga Guide, and she is about take on a new role as change maker with ActionStation.

Part 1 – Before she hits the ground with this next project, I wanted to ask her about her life and death experiences in Afghanistan, how she got through this time and why she came back to Wellington.

 

Part 2 – Marianne Elliott chats about the effects of the organic tequila at her restaurant LaBocaLoca, her new role at ActionStation and some wonderful insights into what she thinks is important right now, especially for women in our community.

Bella Kalolo – a big voice for the Maui’s

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Bella Kalolo is a soulful lady with a big voice and now she is stepping up for those who do not have one, by heading the the WWF New Zealand campaign to save the last 55 Maui’s Dolphin from extinction.

In this interview Bella talks about why preserving our precious native dolphins is so important, how we can also preserve the wellington music industry, as well as what has become important in her life in music.
Thanks to Lou Hatton for this great shot of Bella and all the shots for the WWF Last 55 Maui campaign. Also nice illustration by Lisa Nicole Moes.
You can also help by becoming one of the 52 000 who have already signed here. www.thelast55.co.nz
And here is a link to Bella singing “I’m every Woman” with Chaka Khan.

Brian Morris – the host of Cuba St.

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For a few years now, Brian Morris has made an art of being “Doorman” for one of our most famous bars, the Matterhorn. For me Brian’s welcoming, sometimes cheeky manner has been part of the fun of my evening out experience, but most importantly, he has always made me and others feel safe.

Today I’ll be talking to Brian about how we can preserve the best of Welly’s nightlife, what he see’s on our streets at night, along with a few wise words from one of our few male mentors.

Gabe, Duncan and James – the Newtown vibe

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What do we four have in common? We are all going to have a chat about what it is like living in Newtown, the up and coming Newtown Festival and we try and describe the Newtown vibe.

With Gabe Johnston, owner Baobab Cafe, designer Duncan-McLean and James Coyle, local musician and co-ordinator of the Newtown Festival.

Tim Ward – bars, bands and bees

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Tim Ward, one of the big contributor’s to Cuba St. culture came up for a chat about the last night and history of San Francisco Bath House, life on Cuba St. and bees.