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Harbour Street to come alive with the sound of music

Waitaki App

Ashley Smyth

19 March 2024, 1:45 AM

Harbour Street to come alive with the sound of musicThe Harbour Street Jazz and Blues Festival organising committee. Photo: Supplied/Facebook

With most of the hard work done, Harbour Street Jazz and Blues Festival co-ordinator Jacob Barwick is looking forward to sitting back and soaking up some music.

The Otago Anniversary Weekend festival opens this Friday night, and draws to a close with the grand finale on Sunday.

While the music is mostly centred around Ōamaru’s Harbour St, which will be jam-packed with artists both inside and out, venues from Weston’s Rockvale Gardens to Ōamaru’s Northstar in the north end are all joining in the party.

“It really is just a big outdoor festival . . . It is a good wander-y festival,” Jacob says.

The 30+ acts are free, except for the Grand Finale Fundraiser Dinner on Sunday night, being held at the Loan and Merc building. Tickets are $95, include dinner, and are available from Rose’s General Store and the Festival Headquarters.

Irish-born Dunedin-based musician Stevie Rice, and 13-piece band Otepoti All Stars will feature on the final night, and funds raised help to ensure the ongoing success of the festival.

Festival Headquarters is in the Grainstore, on Harbour St, and has a licensed bar, and merchandise for sale.

It is never a problem finding musicians to play at the festival, and they are all paid for their time and talent, Jacob says.

There is a mixture of acts from all over the Waitaki, and those who travel to play here - many returning from previous years.

“We have more people wanting to play than we’ve got venues,” he says.

“We've got Paul Ubana Jones, who's coming back, so he should be worth a watch. And the Curio Club, I am curious about them.”

The event has major benefits for Ōamaru, especially food and beverage businesses.

“It has a big impact, because it probably is the biggest weekend of the year in terms of people coming to town and going out, because we put so many bands into all the venues, the flow on is that they are full,” Jacob says.

“And because it's a free event people have more money to spend.”

The event is also a bit of a financial buffer for the businesses, coming into the slower winter months.

“They'll all be full. Criterion will be full, Scotts will be full, you just know it's going to be full . . . they all sign up year after year without question,” he says.

Jacob encourages the Waitaki community to come out in support of the event.


“I want them to turn up, because we put it on for them.” 

Accommodation is in short supply, and Jacob has people messaging him asking where they can stay.

“I tell them ‘you should have booked last year’, because a lot of people just roll with the accommodation year on year.”

As well as performers to watch, there are various musical workshops to take part in for a koha. Most are being held at The Penguin Club, and dance workshops at the Scottish Hall.

Programmes with all the necessary information on acts and workshops will be available for a $2 donation at most of the venues in town, and the information will also be available on the Waitaki App before the festival begins.

There will be music in every nook and cranny around Ōamaru's Harbour Street, and further afield. Photo: Facebook