The Black Seeds to headline Havelock Mussel and Seafood Festival 2018
Havelock’s famed mussel festival has booked in the ‘sound of summer’ as organisers push the boat out to attract more out-of-towners.
The Havelock Mussel and Seafood Festival has announced reggae-funk band The Black Seeds will headline at the upcoming festival, one of several new additions.
New festival co-ordinator Hans Neilson says he wants the festival vibe to be “palpable” in the portside town on March 17.
“I want people driving through to say, ‘wow, what’s going on here?’,” he said.
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Neilson joins the festival in its 14th year as the committee continues to shake things up after rebranding the event last year, expanding the focus to include seafood as well as mussels.
The town’s former community development adviser says the rebranding is a good opportunity to jazz things up.
“We want it to be the social event of the calendar, and for people from Havelock to walk away feeling proud of hosting the festival. And we’re pretty confident we will do that, but it’s been a lot of hard work.
“This is the first time we’ve had a major act play at the festival. We had a good discussion about the sound we wanted, and we wanted it to be a family-friendly day, for people to enjoy themselves, and it’s an iconic festival so we wanted an iconic Kiwi band. We had a few shortlisted, but Black Seeds was always top of the list.”
The Black Seeds have had a busy year, having just released their sixth studio album Fabric, and are preparing for The Black Seeds and Katchafire Summer Tour which will stop in Riwaka, west of Nelson, on December 27.
Lead singer Barnaby Weir says the band is “stoked” to be heading to Marlborough in March.
“The festival just fits in perfectly with what we’re doing, and we were so pleased to get the offer. Marlborough is a beautiful spot and we love the food as well.”
The band played at the Marlborough Wine and Food Festival in 2015, and already love the region’s vibe, Weir said.
“There is a sense of a smaller community, of friendly folk, and there’s usually a few characters around. It’s just nice not to be in the city, really. It’s one of the good spots. And you get the sense it’s such a special day for the area, a family festival, and that’s great. So we’ll be having a few beers and watching people dance.
“I’m a big fan of mussels. If you chop them up and put them in a chowder, I love that, or just get some garlic on them. I’ll be eating them a whole lot at the festival.”
Alongside The Black Seeds, another new twist to the festival will be a Strongman and Strongwoman competition for mussel fans.
“I don’t know if I’ll be joining the Strongman competition, but with a bit of training I might give it a go next year,” says Weir.
Neilson says an Aquaculture Week is being planned for the days before the festival, though details are still being finalised. A celebrity chef is yet to be confirmed.
“There will be a Mussel Appreciation Day on the Friday, industry displays and food and drinks, and we’re hoping to bring people from Blenheim and across Marlborough out to celebrate our mussel industry.
“The festival is huge for the industry, they love it, and we want people to get more involved. People who love food, people who love mussels and families after something fun they can take the kids to. There’s something for everyone.”
The Marlborough District Council has granted $10,000 for the festival through the Commercial Events Fund, which Neilson said is mostly being used to market the event in other regions.
“We want to make this thing big and pull people in from outside the region, to stay in our accommodation and spend their money here.”
Seasoned festival favourites Wellington-based Celtic duo the Filthy Two will also perform, marking St Patrick’s Day.
“I think they line up perfectly – St Patrick’s Day is all about green, and we’ve got the green-lipped mussels here – so it will be a bit of a green party,” Neilson said.
– The Marlborough Express