2018 events are listed below
(either page down or click on specific event for more detail)
Second Sunday each month – Old Time Music or Bluegrass Jam Sessions
28th April – Bill Lake and The Right Mistake
20th April – Alan Downes
14th April – Martha Louise and the Backseat Drivers
16th March – Dan Moth
10th March – Mark Mazengarb BG Band
3rd March – 10 String Symphony
16th February – Jude Madill
10th February – Dan Walsh
3rd February – The Lonely Heartstring Band
13th January – Jan Preston
12th January – Barry and the Crumpets
Second Sunday each month – Old Time Music or Bluegrass Jam Session
It will be held on the second Sunday afternoon of each month between 2pm and 4pm at the Petone Community Centre. See Event Detail page for more information.
Over many years the WBS has organised Old-time banjo camps, then Old-time music camps and many Old-time instrument and Bluegrass workshops. There has been a calling for jam sessions to also be held.
Embrace this opportunity and the jam session will flourish accordingly. For this year, Bluegrass jam sessions are on “even” months, and Old-time Music jam sessions are on “odd” months.
Saturday 28th April – concert – Bill Lake and The Right Mistake
Bill Lake has been an original voice in New Zealand music for more than five decades, from the country blues of The Windy City Strugglers to the brassy funk of The Pelicans. He is noted for his uniquely rhythmic acoustic guitar style, while his songs, often co-written with Arthur Baysting, have enhanced the repertoires of Midge Marsden, Darren Watson, Kokomo and Marg Layton, amongst others.
But no one plays Bill Lake like Bill Lake.
With an acclaimed new album “As Is Where Is”, Bill will be surveying his songbook in the intimate setting of the Wellington Bluegrass Society, accompanied by a versatile group of stalwarts – Andrew Delahunty (mandolin, guitar, harmonica), Andrew ‘Clyde’ Clouston (saxophones) and Nick Bollinger (bass).
“Gentle, sometimes witty and just as often moving reflections at every turn”
– Graham Reid, Elsewhere
Friday 20th April – society night – Alan Downes
Alan Downes was a long-time country boy. He spent his first five decades living in the back blocks of Hawke’s Bay, hearing stories and telling a few tales of his own, when the locals got together for a country dance or a party.
After he moved to the city, Alan picked up a guitar and started writing songs to capture the memories. Following the story telling traditions found in bluegrass, country and folk music, his songs are narratives on the ordinary and extraordinary people that don’t make the history books.
Performing his own original work, Alan sings lyrical ballads about the New Zealand that we need to remember, the good times and how the bad times can give you the best yarns. They are essentially true stories of people and places, told with careful observation, a good dollop of humour and a little nostalgia.
Alan has three CDs of original music. The Best (2013), Moving On (2014) and Road Trip (2017). The songs keep coming.
“Poetic and in it’s own way romantic and it might be the closest thing to authentic New Zealand country music I have ever heard”
“His songs capture the details of rural New Zealand life and those who have lived it”
– Nick Bollinger, The Sampler, Radio New Zealand, 2013 and 2014
Saturday 14th April – concert – Martha Louise and the Backseat Drivers
Martha Louise is returning to the WBS with her Appalachian dulcimer and guitar, to sing a mix of original songs from her two CDs, along with favourites by some of America’s iconic story telling songwriters including Steve Earle, Townes Van Zandt, and Gillian Welch.
This time Martha is bringing a group of friends to add instrumentals and stellar harmonies. They are Paul Symons on guitar and vocals, who you will remember from the group Too Far Gone; Cameron Bennett on Dobro and vocals, who along with Paul are both wonderful singer songwriters in their own right. Joining them is Stuart Grimshaw on five string resonator bass, who Martha met last year playing at the Thursday night open mic sessions at Chris Priestley’s renowned One2one café in Auckland.
The result is a special blend of music, friendship and respect for each other’s talents. They have put together a set of music from the quietly contemplative Gillian Welch song ‘Everything Is Free Now’ to the high energy original tune ‘Down the Road’, and a little gospel too.
“I’m excited about the group of guys I’ve been making music with this year and the yummy harmonies we come up with. We are three solo singer/songwriters who love the sound of performing together. Cam is playing mainly Dobro and vocals and Paul plays that big blond Lola from Louisiana (the guitar!) and harmonies. Stuart comes from a European edgy band scene and they all three can take off on lead breaks…hence the back seat driving. I’m playing guitar and some dulcimer and lead vocals. We love Steve Earle, Gram Parsons, Townes, Gillian, EmmyLou, Springsteen and my originals.” – Martha Louise
Friday 16th March – society night – Dan Moth
Dan Moth was born into a musical family where the house rang to the sound of the French horn, the piano and flute. Their domestic soundscape broadened somewhat with Dan’s bass playing in one Australia’s most prominent heavy metal bands, namely Cruciform.
In 2006, whilst sitting at the Silverstream traffic lights in a 1980 Valiant Regal, Dan heard the playing of banjo legend Eric Weissberg, of Duelling Banjos fame. It was like a musical epiphany, beaming down through the vinyl roof of the old Val.
After this awakening, Dan vowed to play banjo. So much so that he re-tuned an acoustic guitar to emulate the instrument he loved, whilst saving for his first banjo, which has since been converted to fretless. Hoping to play three finger style, he took lessons, only to find out his three finger style was not the graceful cascade of notes he had hoped for. However his clawhammer playing was solid, capturing the ‘ragged, but right’ feel that typifies the style. Thus Dan willingly plunged into the world of clawhammer banjo, where he has happily resided ever since.
His passion is exploring all things clawhammer; different styles, tunings, techniques and the myriad of wonderful players.
He has performed at music festivals such as Up The Mountain, with string bands at square dances, on radio commercials to discourage drink driving, on the soundtrack of the award-winning animated short film Spring Jam and on street corners as an avid busker, bringing a skip to the stride of the lunchtime crowds in Wellington.
Dan has also bent the floorboards of the Wellington Bluegrass Society stage several times in the furtherance of old time music and is excited about returning for his first ever solo gig.
Saturday 10th March – concert – Mark Mazengarb BG Band
Mark Mazengarb, Joe K. Walsh and Andrew Van Norstrand will present a night of bluegrass, old time and swing music, featuring heartfelt songs, instrumentals and vocal harmonies, at the Wellington Bluegrass Society on Saturday 10th March.
Mark Mazengarb is a kiwi guitarist who has been based in the USA for the past seven years, touring full time with his guitar duo partner Loren Barrigar. He has performed and toured with some of the best guitarists in the world, including several tours with the great Tommy Emmanuel. Now based in New Zealand, Mark’s passion is to bring some of the finest musicians from the USA to New Zealand audiences. Most recently, Mark brought ‘The Lonely Heartstring Band’ out to NZ for a sold out tour, wowing audiences up and down the North Island. “It’s really special for kiwis to get the chance to see such high calibre musicianship. It’s not often that musicians of this quality get to come to NZ, especially to perform in such intimate venues.” Mazengarb says.
Joe K. Walsh teaches mandolin at the prestigious Berklee School of Music when he is off the road, and Andrew Van Norstrand was a child prodigy fiddle player, performing on the Prarie Home Companion Radio show at just 14 years old. This will be Andrew and Joe’s first tour of New Zealand.
Mark Mazengarb adds:
“I met Andrew and Joe at various music/bluegrass festivals around the USA, and was really inspired by their playing, especially their musicality and complete mastery of their instruments. At the time, Joe was performing with The Gibson Brothers, and also with Brittany Haas. I had admired his playing from the audience many times before I finally had the pleasure of meeting and playing music with him. Andrew I meet while we were both teaching at the Ashokan Music Camp (where the famous tune ‘Ashokan Farewell’ was written.) It was the first time I had heard serious old-time fiddle playing, and I was completely mesmerised by it! Kind of a mix between celtic and bluegrass – full of groove, and very unique harmonically.
“We first got together as a trio back in July 2017, then in September recorded a 6 track EP in Boston. The best thing about Andrew and Joe, aside from their musical talents, is that they are also top quality guys, which is very important when you are considering going on the road for a few weeks in a small van! So I’m genuinely really excited to introduce them to New Zealand audiences, and I’m equally excited about showing them round our beautiful New Zealand.
“We have a very nice set of music lined up, featuring some classic bluegrass and old time music, along with original music, and even a couple of Dylan and Beatles tunes. Something for everyone, and a nice blend of instrumentals and songs. Hearing fiddle and mandolin played at this level is a rare treat in New Zealand, and I promise you won’t be disappointed. There is no doubting that this will be a very fine concert indeed. Bring friends, bring family, grab a ticket and settle in for a intimate evening of world class acoustic music.”
Saturday 3rd March – concert – 10 String Symphony
Nashville duo 10 String Symphony began as a partnership of mutual admiration, a much needed creative release valve for Rachel Baiman and Christian Sedelmyer, two 5 string fiddle players and veteran sidemen of Nashville’s music scene. Rachel, a former Illinois state fiddle champion in the old time tradition, needed an outlet for the new sort of songs she was writing, while Christian, originally a classically trained violinist, now a current touring member of the Jerry Douglas Band, was looking to get in touch the impetuous spirit of the rock bands he played in before his arrival in Nashville. With the love of the 5string fiddle and its musical possibilities as its focal point, the band’s mission statement was as clear as it was expansive: Two fiddles. Two Voices. Epic music.
“They do things with fiddles you wouldn’t expect” and “The Newest and
Most Promising Voices in Americana” NPR All Songs Considered
“…a dynamic musical stew that covers a wide spectrum of acoustic-based roots music, hitting
on old-time, folk and bluegrass, all delivered with a dash of rock and roll spunk.” American Songwriter Magazine
“When each song ended, the two pressed tight into their microhphones, savoring the last
strains of the harmony – and even the bartenders seemed to be leaning forward breathlessly,
awaiting someone to clap first. Their self titled recording aptly demonstrates the power of a
spare, tightly-connected acoustic performance that is given room to evolve – for bluegrass
fans, the lightning fast harmonic runs on dueling fiddle is worth the price of admission alone.
But it’s the off-road experiments, especially from Christian’s biting bow strokes that will make
future audiences take note.” The Bluegrass Situation
“…Stirring together Old-Time flavors with the broader range of influences brought by an
omnivorous musical appetite” The Nashville Scene
“Really, really beautiful.” Ricky Ross, BBC Scotland
“An unassumingly intriguing record…something out of the ordinary” Steve Hunt, fRoots Magazine (UK)
Friday 16th February – society night – Jude Madill
Jude Madill comes to the Wellington Bluegrass Society toting a bunch of original songs to share with y’all. With a voice that has been likened to both Kathy Matea and Jewel, Jude plays and sings with great feel and an equal enthusiasm and love for music.
Jude has been singing “since forever” and although she has not always performed as a songwriter, she says “for a good part of my life I only sang and played other peoples music – then quite suddenly when I was 30-something I started writing songs myself”. Most of Jude’s original music falls somewhere in the folk/alt-country styles, although her musical inspiration comes from a lot of different genres.
Living in Wellington, Jude has played around the local folk scene both solo and in groups, most recently with The Madillionaires, who perform a wide variety of music – including some of Jude’s songs. This will be the first time for her to play a solo set of all original material. “I feel like I can now call myself a songwriter and am pretty excited to be doing this!”
Saturday 10th February – concert – Dan Walsh
Nominated for best musician at last year’s BBC Folk Awards, Dan Walsh combines ‘virtuoso playing and winning songwriting’ (MORNING STAR). Describing what Dan does is no easy task but at the heart of it is British, Irish and American folk music delivered with a healthy dose of funky grooves – all performed with his unique and dazzling take on clawhammer style banjo helping to challenge all preconceptions about the instrument. Add to all that poignant songs, astonishing musical departures and lively humour and the result is a truly memorable live show which has wowed audiences across the world from intimate seated rooms to huge dancing crowds in festival fields.
New album ‘Verging on the Perpendicular’ is Walsh’s fourth solo album and again has received much critical acclaim and is accompanied by a hectic touring schedule taking in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Both solo and as a member of the award winning Urban Folk Quartet, as well as guest appearances on stage with Imelda May, Joss Stone and the Levellers, this unique and eclectic musician has stunned audiences across the world.
His eclectic and innovative approach has led to many exciting collaborations alongside his solo work and the UFQ. The latest is with fellow banjoist John Dowling, combining beautiful harmonies with red-hot picking. Other work has included tours with North East concertina legend Alistair Anderson, sensational Indian sarangi player Suhail Yusuf Khan and Canadian country singer Meaghan Blanchard. Dan is also an in demand session musician with recent guest appearances, on stage or in the studio, with the likes of Imelda May, Joss Stone, Seth Lakeman, the Levellers, Duane Eddy, Martin Simpson and even the City of London Sinfonia.
Dan also retains a passion for outreach work and through the prestigious Live Music Now scheme has performed throughout the UK in hospices, hospitals, special schools and care homes. He also teaches banjo both in person and over Skype and is the only international banjoist to be invited to teach at the Midwest Banjo Camp in the USA.
Saturday 3rd February – concert – The Lonely Heartstring Band
Nourished by deep roots in the expansive canon of traditional American music, The Lonely Heartstring Band embodies the modern American condition — an understanding and reverence for the past that informs a push into the future. This multi-talented group of musicians is a classic Bluegrass quintet—always far greater than the sum of its parts.
Combining soulful instrumental virtuosity with soaring three-part harmonies, their growing repertoire of original songs and compositions showcases not only their considerable talents, but a dedication to meaningful roots-conscious music.
Since their beginnings in 2012, The Lonely Heartstring Band has been on the rise and shows no sign of slowing down. With their 2015 IBMA Momentum Award and their 2016 release of their debut full-length album on the legendary Rounder Records label, there is every reason to hope that they are at the front edge of a significant career.
Already they have generated a devoted following of music-lovers across North America, performing and headlining at major music festivals and historic venues from Western Canada to California, from Kentucky to New Hampshire. Whether it’s a festival stage, theatre, or intimate listening room, The Lonely Heartstring Band always delivers a dynamic, diverse, and heartfelt performance. Over the last three years of touring, the band has crafted shows that generate a genuine connection and bring crowds to their feet.
Eager to hit the road again in 2018, The Lonely Heartstring Band will continue bringing thoughtful, energetic, and memorable performances to audiences across the country and around the world.
Saturday 13th January – concert – Jan Preston
“I was born in Greymouth on the remote West Coast of the South Island of NZ. Our family had little resources nor opportunity, but I grew up in an era where people would gather around the piano and sing together. From when I was very young I played piano whilst everybody sang along or played the tea chest bass, eggbeaters, combs, violins, even an old saxophone.
I had an Auntie who played honky tonk style, and heard Winifred Atwell along with early rock and roll on our old Columbus Radio in the kitchen. Playing piano from the moment I could reach the keys, and being spurred on by my older sister and brother who both played, I studied classical very seriously, becoming a star student, passing all my grades with distinction and gaining a very prestigious place (one of 4 students from the whole of NZ) to study a 5 year classical piano degree at Auckland University.
Although I loved classical music, by the end of the degree I wasn’t happy to be a concert pianist nor the more likely career as a piano teacher. So I cut off my hair and moved to Wellington, where I experimented with different styles of music, working in an independent theatre group and then rock bands. In 1980 my band “Coup D’Etat” had a number one hit with the song “Doctor I Like Your Medicine”, after which I moved across the Tasman to Sydney, playing in bands and piano bars as well as writing music for films. It was some years later before I found my own voice, as a boogie piano player and songwriter.
So here I am, still resident in Sydney, but constantly touring to play festivals, concerts and shows around the world, (even a recent trip to China), and I am grateful for the success and musical path I have found. I am still enormously passionate about music and have so much more to play, sing and write!”
– Jan Preston
Friday 12th January – society night – Barry and the Crumpets
The Barry-Tones are Simon Carryer on banjo, Brendan Schenk on mandolin, and Donald James on cajon. The Crumpettes are a loose confederation of scapegraces and ne’er-do-wells, providing occasional vocal accompaniment. Together, they are Barry and the Crumpets, a foot-stomping, barn-romping country dance extravagance. Old-time and folk classics, swampy blues, and breakneck bluegrass, all played toe-tapping fast and knee-slapping rowdy.