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Long-time Raglan singer-songwriter Lynne Wilkins doesn’t have to look far for inspiration – it’s right on her doorstep at Wainamu beach.

No surprise then that the lyrics to ‘Black Sand’, the opening track on her latest album with husband Michael Mackinnon, just came to her while walking on the beach one day.

“The song wrote itself,” Lynne told the Chronicle. All she had to do was go back home, grab the guitar, forget about work, and…create. 

‘Restless’ – on the same album – came to her in much the same way, she adds.

Lynne calls them her beach-walking songs – and in the case of ‘Black Sand,’ a nod to the old ‘Raglan by the Sea’ tribute composed by legendary local muso Clarrie Cresswell, which was further popularised by the Raglan Mudsharks and a television documentary of the same name.

The new album’s title track ‘When the West Wind Blows’ is also about Raglan, Lynne confirms, which is no great surprise considering she’s called Whāingaroa home for many years now.

The Canada-born 67 year old reckons she gets all the musical inspiration she needs from the coastal environment she lives in, literally just across the road from the beach in Riria Kereopa Memorial Drive.

Lynne – who last year sold her downtown accounting consultancy, Bizworx – shares with Michael a love not only of their oceanside idyll but also of the folk-grounded acoustic music they regularly perform in Raglan and beyond as WilkieMac. 

The duo is regularly at the Old School Arts Centre’s ‘Live & Local’ showcase evenings, and at open mic nights at the Raglan Club. They also do folk festivals up and down the country where, they admit, the most fun can actually be “the jam, not getting on stage”. 

The pair also plays at birthday parties, weddings, Scottish or Irish social dances called ceilis, and at more intimate house or backyard concerts all over the North Island from Plimmerton and Otaki to Greytown, Napier and New Plymouth.

They do their own blend of contemporary and traditional folk music and covers. 

Lynne writes her own songs and plays the flute. Both play guitar and sing, often bringing other instrumentalists like fiddlers into the mix to enhance the Celtic sound.  

They have a bus to travel in and – now on the verge of retirement – are considering a South Island tour to promote their latest albums farther afield.

Meantime they have a back-up plan in place should the twin effects of coastal erosion and rising sea levels one day overwhelm their idyllic Wainamu beach lifestyle.

They can always head a few hours south to Ohura in the King Country, where there’s a section to build on and fellow musos to meet up with. Not too much out of their way considering WilkieMac load up the bus every summer and camp there in rural peace to escape the madness of Raglan’s peak season.

Of course Lynne’s already written a song about their bolt-hole – titled simply ‘Ohura Tui’ – on their seven-track ‘When the West Wind Blows’ CD. The first five notes copy those of the tui singing there, she says. “I played along with them and the tune just kind of arrived…

“The tui sang in E flat, but I transposed it to G because that is a standard key for Irish-style tunes.”

’When the West Wind Blows’ is stocked at Raglan iHub along with WilkieMac’s other recently recorded CDs, ‘The Pleasure Will Be Mine’ and ‘The Guinea Stamp’.

By Edith Symes