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For the past seven years during May Dunedin musicians have stepped out from their regular circuit of bars, cafes and clubs to bring free live performances to the Dunedin Public Libraries. From folk to funk, classic to Kapa Haka, an enormous amount of time and effort is donated in exchange for an opportunity to reach a new audience - and a chance to make some noise amongst the bookshelves!
Since its inception in 2005, celebrations of NZ Music Month in our local libraries have grown from a few performances safely tucked away in an unobtrusive corner, to a month that welcomes over a thousand fans and curious music lovers through a variety of prominent weekly gig nights and acoustic lunchtime sessions at the City Library. As well Mosgiel Library brims with budding young performers from surrounding schools, while the Port Chalmers, Waikouaiti and Blueskin Bay Libraries offer more intimate settings for their local music scene.
The longevity and success of these celebrations is due in no small part to the continued generosity of the musicians and local music community – including local sound company, Strawberry Sound, who supply all the technical equipment free of charge, and a dedicated member of dunedinmusic.com, who compiles the programme and helps to run the events. The Dunedin Public Libraries also contribute with their fantastic collection of New Zealand Music, all of which is FREE to members during May.
This year sees a return of such well-known artists as Matt Langley, King Leo and Bob Scott, as well as bands like Black Boy Peaches and Both Sides of the Line. Newcomers playing in the Library will include Hana Fahy, The Great Jali and Nanny State.
Libraries may seem an unlikely place to host a month long programme of live music, but customer support far outweighs the handful of complaints that staff receive each May.
“We try to tailor our programme to suit the spaces we have for public performance. Most customers seem to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere - and desk shifts for staff during performances can be quite sought after” explains Lynette Hartgill, Marketing Co-ordinator for Dunedin Public Libraries. “In May it’s not unusual to see staff dancing behind the Library’s counters!”
A programme of events is available at www.dunedin.govt.nz