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nick nickolas
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Melbourne Australia
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Auckland International Buskers Festival 2007

‘Twenty One, Twenty Two, Twenty Three, and one for luck” was the final cry as birthday boy Scoot was lowered to the ground and more drinks were drunk during a Buskers lock in after the Monday night show at O Hagens.
This years Busker Festival was more than a success. We had 4 packed night shows and over 80 Street Shows around Auckland, including 2 nights at the Classic comedy Club.
The Cast this year included

Site Acts
- The Space Cowboy (AUS)
- Gary Knights (UK) )
- Scoot Show (AUS )
- Brant Matthew's (Canada)
- Arizona Jones (USA)
- Basketball Jones (NZ)
- Tony Roberts (AUS)
- English Gentleman (UK)
- Andrew Elliot (AUS)
- Lurk ! (USA)
- Oz Star Airlines (Aus)

- Nick Nickolas (UK)

Pavement Artists
- Ulla (AUS) )
- Debbie (UK)

Special Guests
-Shelley Swttzer- Canadian Festival Producer
-Mackenzie Mulddon-Canadian Festival Producer
-Captain Keaneo- 5 Star veteran Street Performer

Crackerjack Team
-Pam Glaser

I arrived with Ulla the evening before, we met Andrew Elliot and Captain Keaneo at Auckland Airport and shared a Taxi to the digs, sipping Captain Morgans and Coke.
The Columbard Hotel we have used the last 2 years has been taken over b ymotel chain Formula I and they have 10 staff trying to do a 2 man job, with what seems like no training.
After gentle persuasion we took the path of the least resistance and paid ‘em a few bob for the extra night and checked in.
Same as last year bed, cooker, tv, stereo, shower, washing machine all compacted into 20sq meters, but this year the washing machine didn’t work, nor did the phone and you were required to pay a $40 deposit and $15 fee for cutlery, pots, pans etc.

The first night started with a few drinks in Shelleys room, then food and more drinks at a restaurant at the Viaduct Harbour. It finished for me with Keaneo and Andrew in a room 8 floors up finishing Captain Morgans and seriously denting a bottle of Grants, fun and frolics finishing I retired at 5ish I think.
Night one at the Classic Comedy Club showcased, Tony Roberts, Andrew Elliot, English Gents, Basketball Jones and Brant Matthews. The venue was 3/4 full, we rocked the room, people stayed for drinks, photographs were taken, some autographs were signed and liquid consumed. I felt like a cat with a molten fur ball on the way home, Captain Morgan was seriously repeating. ( personal note stay away from Rum).

The rest of the cast played the Classic on night two, slightly smaller crowd but the room rocked again especially when The Space Cowboy swallowed a neon tube.
Street Shows took place at the usual pitches Aotea Square, Vulcan Lane, Westfield Downtown,Princess Wharf, Viaduct Harbour and O’Hagans Market Square with pavement artists outside BNZ Tower and the Ferry Building.

The BNZ Tower is Queen Street Aucklands oldest pavement art pitch ( as far as I know). It has to the side of it a jewellers whose boss hates any sort of pavement artists ( why is it always the jewellers and the fur shops?). I found Ulla nearly in tears after the jewel man had stood over her and let forth a barrage of verbal negativity and finger shaking, Keaneo was sitting close by taking notes, the building manager came down apologised and was furious wanting to take action against him for verbal assault. After 5 hours of work Ulla decided to call it a day. The next morning I get a call from Pam saying she is having a meeting with the building manager at 10am.
Arriving at around 11am I find Ulla and Pam standing on as the wishing well fish pond is being hosed away. Apparently part of the picture(12inches) was on private land not council oh burocrosey and bigots. It was a large hiccup but Ulla battled on, starting again a few feet over and went on to have a successful festival. The spinless jewellery man went on holiday!

My job was to mc the 4 night shows and keep the crew happy, I’d wake up around 2pm have coffee and go and check on the acts, not straying too far from the hotel I’d pop up to Aotea Square a fantastic pitch especially on Friday and Saturday market days.
Tony Roberts was there Saturday Afternoon, Tony’s a cook turned car salesman, turned comedian, turned magician, turned street performer.
He certainly turned some heads bound in 2 tennis rackets, handcuffs, electrical tape, padlocks and chains. A curtain was put up to his chin and dropped after 2minites. Tonys left standing hands in pockets an escape houdini would have been proud of.

I’d pop in and see Ulla and her fish pond then go across the road to Vulcan Lane, arguably Aucklands oldest pitch. Martin Ewen ‘Lurk!’ played it 20yrs ago, So I thought I’d schedule him to be on first and last.
10ft tall, whitefaced, and a bag of cynical bitterness. Lurk hides round corners waiting for his comedic prey. When the crowd has hit maximum he may wander into the streets and clean a windscreen or line some kids up for a car wash. “20 years ago they tried to stop me now people are waitng with programmes to see me. Who would have believed it?” Martin Exclaimed.

Gary Knights also worked Vulcan Lane, as it’s a perfect Street Magicians pitch. Gary the maker of the Animal Cups has emigrated to Auckland he has a pavement artist wife Debbie who worked the pitch outside the ferry terminal and a daughter called Auckland (really). He performs blinding sleight of hand finishing with the cups and balls all the while chatting about how the world is against him “I’m half bipolar” he says “I’m always depressed” , very funny.

Oh yeh so after getting up at 2 wandering a bit I’d find myself at Westfield Downtown Canapé, the entrance to the shopping mall. Two coffee shops on either side, steps in front and a glass roof, the crowd would come in waves when the traffic lights changed.
Saw some packed shows there, Basketball Jones is a cheeky Kiwi of Maori descent who has been doing it hard round the traps for a few years. It shows. basketball juggling and balancing tricks finishing on a high unicycle dunking baskets, the crowd loved him.

I’d pop back to room 807 around 5ish chill out have a shower and think about the evening show. Dressed and on my way down to the O’Hagens market sq outside Danny Doolans I see Arizona Jones on his pole cracking whips crowd blocking the path way. I must admit I do prefer his straight jacket escape show which rocked on Monday night.

Our sound man each night was Bob a young Gerry Garcia lookalike, Main contact in the Bar was Tommy a top chipper irishman. I’d get there about 6.30 check sound, lights, hospitality, etc. Write 2 run sheets, one taped to the pole and the other on the sound board.
As the people were filtering in we had 15yr old Josh a sax virtuoso banging out some beats. Lurk then kicked in and warmed them some more. I’d come out and do 15/20mins announcing the show was open by tying a bow tie round my neck while balancing a machete on my face reciting the alphabet backwards.

Andrew Elliot opened a couple of nights, an act which starts by him tying a turban, then performs audience interaction involving a womans ring and a cobra climaxing with a sword swallow. The whole thing has you believing he’s the real deal from Delhi until the end, great show.

One of our closing acts was always going to be The English Gentlemen. To strapping young chaps decked out in suits and bowler hats perform the most amazing acrobatics.
Only to strip down to their union jack jocks to reveal all, bodies like waxed statues. The characters of monkey boy Rupert and Pendaville are great, but the one hand handstand on the head with a fold up is out of this world.

We also had a girl duo Oz Star Airlines Stacey and Tracey, high energy, hula hoops, acrobatics and juggling combined with great costumes and shoes.These Aussie chicks made me laugh every time. I think they closed the final night show. My mind was a bit of a blur by then, the past 6 nights finishing work in a bar at 11pm.
I must say the bar staff hospitality was amazing especially on Scoots birthday.

I remember Space Cowboy in the middle of a group bending the venues spoons and forks by bodyheat. They were believers, well why not he’s just been infront of 1500 people doing double whip cracks, swallowing a sword and juggling on a unicycle blindfolded, definite festival highlight.

Scoot bought himself new clothes for his birthday, and looked well smart in the show. I introduced the birthday boy, he came out we passed 7 clubs and then did the knockout from the mouth with celery in her mouth, two hits didn’t fall,mmmm next time use breadstick. He then climbed the 11ft freestanding ladder, juggled, ate the apple, just after juggling 5 clubs.

Later on that night after Brant Matthews, a charming Canadian from Montreal with a ringmasters costume. flipped fire, ate fire, blew fire and had the audience totally with him crying “Oooh yeah!” I got up and had the crowd of 1500+ singing happy birthday to Scoot a cake was brought out by the crackerjack girls and candles extinguished.

After the masses were gone and cash was divided, the evening would carry on, some would close earlier than others, me I would normally go on. A couple of nights ended as morning started, sitting on mine or others balconies contemplating life. One night a menagerie went to the strip club and a group of us went to The Fiddlers, a Pub across from the Casino that gogoes off. People dancing. people singing , people conducting, a true Irish feel, catering for the hospitality trade its open late. The last I saw Shelley Switzer was hugging her, Ulla and Keaneo, singing “You’ll never walk alone” aloud with 70 others at The Fiddlers.
That is so true my street performing brothers and sisters, we will never walk alone.

The wrap party was wrapped and extremely well catered for. We were to find out. Taxied to Pams house there was food, drinks and home hospitality being provided to the max. A few speeches, thankyous etc great food, great festival and we didn’t run out of beer. Nice one guys.

Nickolas 2007
Mario Morris
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Mario Morris
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Whish I was there sounds like a bloody ball, perhaps next year can I put it in my diary? Thanks for sharing it great read.
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