It's all happening in Katikati

Sal Valentine and the Babyshakes

There's only one thing I'll be doing next weekend, and it'll be in Katikati. I'm already quite excited.

Just as everyone has their own favourite restaurants, art galleries, swimming pools, and pretty much everything else, everyone has their own favourite music festival, and mine just happens to be in Katikati next weekend.

Sure, there are bigger festivals. Great beasts running over several days and festivals that headline legendary famous artists.

Then there are those that bring together rare talents from obscure corners of the world, and some with so many stages that you don't know what to choose at any given moment.

They're all a bunch of fun – I've enjoyed many festivals over many years.

But, more recently, my tastes have shifted to something a little less frantic, a little less hyped.

These days good vibes, a bit of tasty food and some interesting music is all I need and the festival where I've enjoyed all those things to the max has been Live Music at the Lettuce Inn.

Its fourth iteration takes place next weekend, on Saturday, November 4.

Alternative music

The Lettuce Inn festivals are the very definition of alternative. They exist outside any sort of music biz shenanigans, and are a totally organic expression of the organisers' ideas and tastes. They pick the eclectic slate of bands, create artworks, and make sure everything runs in a smooth and groovy fashion.

The whole thing takes place over the course of an afternoon – 3-9pm – in the beautiful grounds of an avocado grove on the Liberty Growers' hydroponic lettuce and herb farm at 33 Sedgemoor Lane in Katikati.

There is one stage, set up on a bank so everyone can sit on the lawn, with food and drinks supplied by One Love Catering, Little Miss Jay (hot organic beverages) and Harpoon Cold Brew Coffee.

There are art installations from local artists Kabuki Doll (Jess Covell, festival organiser) and Chris Miller, and from Rotorua-based artist Maggie Covell.

It's cool, relaxed and laid-back.

And the music? Well, after the previous festivals, I can take the rare step of saying that I don't care who's playing. Of the dozen or so bands I've seen I've heard about three of them in advance.

And every one has been terrific, either purely entertaining, solidly rocky or eccentrically wonderful. The organisers sure know how to pick a line-up.

The line-up

Having said that, the festival has actually got a headliner this year that people will have heard of – Sal Valentine and the Babyshakes.

They're really quite astounding – a 10-piece Wellington band playing original rhythm 'n' blues, and you better believe they swing like crazy.

I'm happy to call them one of the country's best live acts. If you want to hear what they do check them out on Spotify or YouTube – great stuff!

But I reckon it'll all be great. There's a rare chance to hear semi-psychedelic Dunedin quartet Alizarin Lizard and two outfits from Wellington.

First is indie-folk duo Grawlixes, extensive tourers who've also played in Europe, Robin Cederman and Penelope Esplin, complete with promising self-deprecating honesty and tasty harmonies.

Meanwhile, Moon Lander is a psych-pop experiment which began as a solo recording project by Anthony Lander.

It's now a quartet influenced by The Kinks, Buzzcocks, The Clean, and The Brian Jonestown Massacre with a self-titled debut album released in August.

On the local front you'll be able to hear singer/songwriter Tenneille Anne and Mount Maunganui Intermediate's Unknown Vibes. And proving that variety is the spice of life, the festival will also showcase contemporary dance from Auckland-based duo Late Dance.

It's all very family-friendly (assuming your kids like good music) with family passes costing $40.

Adult pre-sale tickets are $20 – just email:

There will be limited door sales for $25.

And if you miss that one, local favourites Kokomo are playing their last Bay show before Christmas at The Memorial Hall the following weekend, on November 11, promising a big dance party. Tickets are selling fast on Eventfinda right now.


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