The Topp Twins will headline this summer’s Wairarapa Country Music Festival. Katie Farman talks with Lynda Topp about home-grown vegetables, shepherd huts and meeting interesting kiwis.
Having spent most of the year filming season three of their hit television series Topp Country, Lynda and Jools Topp can’t wait to return to the stage.
The identical twins – aka The Topp Twins – are one of New Zealand’s most-loved musical and entertainment duos and have even been described as “National Treasures”. This January they will blend their original country music with comedic characters and wonderful yodelling as the headline act for the family-friendly, three-day Wairarapa Country Music Festival being held at the Tauherenikau Racecourse. And it can’t come soon enough for the pair who say the lure of a live audience is irresistible.
“We’ve been filming series three of our TV show where we travel New Zealand in search of great food and great company. We filmed January through to May and then have been editing and doing voice overs … and it’s a long process. You don’t see the end result until it goes to air so we always miss that immediacy of connecting with audiences,” says Lynda.
“Therefore we can’t wait to come back to the Wairarapa to perform a mixture of new and old material. Because it’s a country music festival we’ll be bringing our oldest characters the Gingham Sisters as well as the Buck Brothers. Ken and Ken will probably make an appearance as will Camp Mother and Camp leader but we also have some new characters we can’t wait to introduce to the crowd and some brand spanking new material we’re saving up to perform.”
The Topp Twins are no strangers to performing in the Wairarapa. The last time they did a concert was part of the NZ International Arts Festival in 2012 – it was a sell-out. Before that was their Summer Hoe Down Tour in 2011 at Gladstone Vineyard and the Golden Shears in Masterton the year before that. Lynda loves visiting heartland New Zealand and meeting new people.
“We just did a show in the Putaruru Theatre with around 550 people. It was really neat and people thanked us for performing there. I get a real buzz from that.”
In many ways their TV show is an extension of the joy and inspiration they get from travelling and learning about what makes fellow Kiwis tick.
“I’ve always enjoyed looking into other people’s backyards. There’s some amazing people making cool stuff all over New Zealand. I think the great thing about Kiwis is they are prepared to give things a go,” explains Lynda. “The people we met were doing really great stuff such as the couple making fruit port … they were so passionate. I guess Jools’ and my job is to make these people feel comfortable in front of the camera so they can share their stories. They are the stars of this show.”
Lynda lives with her partner in Staveley, a Canterbury township nestled under the shadow of Mt Somers. They have a 17 acre property where they grow their own vegetables and have cattle. You could say it’s the “good life”.
“We’ve always liked cooking. Our mum bakes the best gingernuts in all of New Zealand and we’re keen on having meat that is home grown and veges grown in our garden. From filming the series I think there’s more people getting back to that self-sufficient lifestyle and learning valuable growing and harvesting skills,” she says.
With the Festival being held at Tauherenikau Racecourse, which is also a motorhome and caravan park, Lynda is hoping to bring the shepherds hut she has built from scratch.
“I think growing up in the country you’ve always got a project on the go and this shepherds hut is my latest project. The frame is finished and I used to have a cabin on wheels so have used that trailer as the base. As kids we never went camping but as we’ve got older it’s something we’ve come to love,” she says.
“I think this will become my little home away from home and I always love it when you pull into a camp ground and see these dinky caravans and meet the interesting people inside them.”