Breathing new life into the Sunday Sessions

It’s lucky 13 for Finn Jackson and Jana Wernicke as they take on the mantle of promoting a Raglan institution that hit the decks back in the summer of 2010.

No strangers to the music scene, the dynamic duo – known as Dark Faces in the DJ world – is set to make their mark on The Yot Club’s iconic Sunday Sessions.

“I’ve always been a big fan of the Sunday Sessions when Steve Reid used to run them,” Finn says. 

“He ran them wholeheartedly, every summer, and he did a great job of building it from the ground up.”

Born and bred in Raglan, Finn remembers the sessions being one of the first gigs he attended when he was old enough to gain entry.

“It was such a great event. I’ve been going regularly since I was 18,” he says.

One of New Zealand’s premiere summer events, on its reputation alone, the Sunday Sessions has always attracted international acts and garnered a following of music lovers from Raglan and beyond.

Originally from Germany, Sunday Sessions was Jana’s introduction to New Zealand music events when she came into town six years ago – and she loved it.

“It really touched my heart, there was so much beauty behind it and it really brought the community together,” Jana says.

“This is what we want to bring back to the town because we think it’s an amazing way for the community to come together, especially on summer days. So, it’s really important to us to bring that back to life.” 

Finn says Steve was a huge vinyl fan and the early evening DJ sets in the courtyard is something they are keen to continue.

“The vinyl aspect is a legacy of the Sunday Sessions that we will carry on. But we want to bring in acts across the musical spectrum so we can offer something really great for the town.”

As well as international gigs, the pair wants Sunday Sessions to still be the place where local acts can test the waters.

“There are a ton of DJs keen to come and play in Raglan. It’s definitely a hotspot on the DJ circuit. But we want to blend that with quality local acts and nurture up-and-coming talents as well,” he says.

Sunday Sessions has faced some challenging times in the past few years, not only with the Covid lockdowns but local supporters had lost faith in their favourite summer event.

“Understandably, it’s been a bit of a battle to win the community back over but I think we have got them on our side again,” Finn says.

A power cut during a Sunday Session Halloween event and the odd rainy summer Sunday highlighted to Finn and Jana that they were earning back that community support.

“People just stayed kept dancing in the courtyard and kept the vibe going,” Jana says.

It’s that vibe and the energy from others that keeps Finn and Jana getting up on a Sunday morning to set up for the afternoon.

“When you know how stoked the musicians are to come and play here, and when you have people going home at the end of the night and saying they’ve had a great time. Despite its challenges – and it can be really hard work – the ripple effect from that is really fulfilling,” Finn says.

Keeping the punters happy with the awesome beats is one part of what makes Sunday Sessions a great night out; the couple have also got Piace Pizza’s woodfired plant-based pizzas on tap.

“They’re just behind Indis so you can order it at the bar and they deliver it straight to the dancefloor,” Finn says.

The couple are also organising a repeat of their successful boutique music and art festival ‘This Must Be It’ on Saturday, March 23 with tickets on sale soon.

The 30-hour festival brings together local and international acts, art installations and food in the foothills at Ruapuke.

Sunday Sessions run at The Yot Club every Sunday starting at 6pm until 1am. Get in free before 7pm, $10 on the door after.

by Janine Jackson Images by Geraldine Burns

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