Off the Scale

It’s intent was to provide an opportunity for local musicians to come together, share their skills and collaborate. However Whitianga Music Club has evolved into one of the hottest tickets in town with the monthly event also attracting a growing audience of non-performers enticed by the fantastic atmosphere and quality entertainment.


Coordinator Len Salt, revived the club 18 months ago after a dormant period of 15 years.


“I didn’t even know there had been a club previously. When I put out the idea of starting it up, Dave Fowell and Ian Thorne who had been involved in the original club got in touch to say they still had a whole load of gear including a drum kit and would we like it. It was fantastic,” recalls Len.


Hosted at the Coghill Theatre on the second Friday of the month, the club includes a 30-40 minute open mic session along with a featured guest act. The Dixieland Band, Dylan Wade, Neighbouring Planets and Fabian Roberts are just a few of the names who have appeared in recent months. The bar is run by Creative Mercury Bay and the line-up is typically a diverse blend of established and up and coming performers. A $10 door charge helps offset costs with a koha being paid to the featured artist or group. As a growing number of artists seize on the opportunity, the club has taken on a life of its own to some extent.


“It’s been difficult to fit everyone in so we are now going to add a more informal session every second month where musicians can just come along and jam, have a play and, if they are beginners, get a feel for what it’s like to perform in front of a group without having to worry about sticking to a particular time,” Len explains.


Len is especially excited about the role the Club plays in nurturing young and emerging talent. 


“There aren’t many places where musicians can go to just play and practise their craft. This gives them a safe and supportive space to come and give things a go, see how they sound, make mistakes. There is no right or wrong and no judgement. One of the most important things for a young musician is experience in front of an audience, that’s how they grow and gain confidence.”


The club also plays a role in hosting and supporting visiting musicians from time to time and will welcome the Waiheke High School Music students on August 17th. It’s part of what Len describes as an evolving role for the club.


“There’s a lot of collaboration that happens. You have Whitianga Music Club, Creative Mercury Bay, the Offbeat Theatre Company, it’s awesome to have so much going on around the arts in the community and everyone is very supportive of each other.”


Len says for those keen to connect with the Whitianga Music Club, the easiest way to keep up with what’s happening is to join the Facebook group. Of course the absolute best way to see what it’s all about is to get yourself along to the next event which is scheduled for Friday, 9th August. 


REMEMBER: If you are involved with an arts related group based on the Coromandel - theatre, music, art, dance etc. - you can have your group's profile featured for free on the Creative Coromandel website. Just add your listing here.


Article published 26th July 2019

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