2010 events are listed below
(either page down or click on specific event for more detail)
17th December – Kathmandu Blues
11th December – Jess Chambers
4th December – ReInTarNayshun
20th November – Old Time banjo Workshop – Helena Faust
19th November – Mountain Chain
30th October – Coolgrass
29th October – Pipi Pickers
15th October – Pitchfork
17th September – Dixie Lix
20th August – BB & Graham Lovejoy
24th July – Legal Tender Band
17th July – Fiddle workshop – Colleen Trenwith
16th July – Colleen Trenwith
26th June – The Cattlestops
26th June – Fiddle workshop – Colleen Trenwith
25th June – Old Red Rooster String Band
18th June – Jess Chambers
21st May – Jackie Bristow
8th May – Wires & Wood
17th April – Guitar workshop – Jack MacKenzie
16th April – Jack MacKenzie
19th March – Alistair & Catriona Cuthill
7th March – Richard Adams & Nigel Gavin
19th February – BB & Alex
13th February – Saints & Sinners
15th January – Chris Priestley, Julian McKean & Phil Powers
Friday 17th December 8:30pm – society night – Kathmandu Blues
“It seemed a crazy enterprise … to take a camera to a country I’d never been to, and try to film an event that even the organisers didn’t seem to know much about. But when Rotorua bluesman Mike Garner called me up and asked if I’d be interested in documenting his trip to the Himalayan Blues Festival, my first instinct was to say yes. I did not regret it.
I love the blues, and I’ve done a couple of movies about the blues before, so here was a chance to do another with a fresh spin.
But it was my head that was spinning like Linda Blair in the Exorcist, almost as soon as we touched down. Kathmandu is a city of sensory overload. Colours, smells, sounds. Everything is vivid.
Capturing a sense of that extraordinary, colourful life on camera became an essential mission; I hope some of the visual sequences in Kathmandu Blues serve as a bracing introduction to those who’ve never been to Nepal, and a nice reminder tho those who have.
I had to keep reminding myself my central mission was recording musical performances. I did this in many different settings, none of them easy on my own. I’m used to working with multiple cameras and multitrack audio to record live performances. Here I had to rely on Kiwi ingenuity and advanced editing techniques. Not to mention coping with the city’s frequent power cuts.
Every shade of the blues is represented here. Acoustic to electric. The festival organisers can’t afford headliners, but the people they invited to play are all very good at what they do. They include Australia’s incendiary Jimi Hocking, Parachute XIV, a fantastic power trio from Bangalore who convincingly channel Cream era Clapton, and Austin ‘Walking Cane’, a one legged delta blues singer from Cleveland who learned his craft at the feet of Robert Jr Lockwood, the stepson of Robert Johnson. Throughout, Mike Garner and his band mates give the movie a Kiwi perspective, often commenting wryly on unfolding events.
One quiet ambition I had was to somehow document a fusion of western blues and Nepalese music. I had no idea going in if such a thing existed. But thanks to dumb luck and big ears I stumbled into a collaboration between an extraordinary Norwegian guitarist Knut Reirsrud and Vajra – a combo of Nepal’s leading traditional players. They kindly consented to me filming them recording a new album.
Unfortunately, the day they were recording coincided with my coming down with a bad case of Kathmandu Belly. I was forced to shoot in excruciating agony. Knut thought I was lying on the floor to get some interesting angles, but the truth is I thought I was going to die in there. The studio was a humid 30 degrees, and the toilet was a concrete hole and a bucket. But my pain is your gain. The sounds of Knut and Vajra are extraordinarily beautiful.”
– Costa Botes
Special Guests: Mike Garner & Costa Botes
On the night, Mike Garner played a bracket of blues and was joined by Costa Botes for a few tunes, who then presented the film, with both answering questions after the film.
Saturday 11th December 8:00pm – concert – Jess Chambers
Recently returned from exploring the diverse music scenes of New York, Seattle and San Francisco, Jess Chambers is back in NZ for the summer with fresh material and new inspiration. Accompanied by Peter Hill from The Woolshed Sessions on mandolin, Jess plays a sophisticated mixture of folk/country. With a live show that has a reputation for being intimate and heartfelt, Jess and Peter draw you into a world all their own.
Whether playing solo and as a member of the Woolshed Sessions, Rhian Sheehan’s ‘Standing In Silence’ or The Upbeats, Jess has captured hearts all over New Zealand with her award winning songwriting and mesmerising performances. In 2009 she won the New Zealand Country Music Award with her hit “Stringing Me Along” and was a ?nalist for the prestigious APRA Silver Scroll Award for her song “Island”.
Driven by her continuing quest for new challenges and inspiration, Jess will be leaving NZ shores to base herself in the US early next year. Catch her playing at the Wellington Bluegrass Society on Dec. 11th for her most intimate show this summer.
Saturday 4th December 8:00pm – concert – ReInTarNayshun
Catherine (BB) Bowness fell in love with the banjo the first time she heard it when she was 12 years old. In 2006, BB traveled to the USA to attend bluegrass camps and festivals where she saw her heros in action and has also spent time studying with such banjo players as Tony Trishcka, Alan Munde and Noam Pikelny. BB won the Uncle Dave Macon Banjo Contest in Murfreesboro, Tennessee and was runner up in the Rockygrass Banjo competition in Colorado. She returned to the States in 2007 to play in the bluegrass band ‘Long Road Home’ for the US summer festival season and played at numerous NZ and Australian folk and bluegrass festivals with ‘Twisted Oak’. Now, BB has just completed her second year of study at the NZ school of music at Massey University in Wellington and is the first banjo student accepted to study Jazz Performance.
Emily Giles has been playing on the Auckland folk scene for the last decade. Trained as a classical cellist, she played with the Auckland Youth Orchestra and other chamber orchestras for years. Since leaving behind the written score, Emily has performed at clubs and festivals all over New Zealand. She has a unique cello style, experimental, funky and fun, having long forgotten her classical training! Emily works as a session musician in a wide range of styles, from bluegrass, folk and funk, to blues, pop and jazz.
Micheal Young became obsessed with the guitar at the age of eighteen, inspired by the likes of James Taylor, Neil Young, Led Zeppelin, Joe Walsh, Chet Atkins and the Beatles. His father used to drag him along to bluegrass festivals in the hills of the Missouri Ozarks and he gained an appreciation for the instrumental skills of the local pickers. Whilst Micheal was never that moved by the old time bluegrass style, he was blown away by the (then) contemporary rock/jazz/blues/bluegrass fusion music coming from the likes of New Grass Revival, The Tony Rice Unit and The David Grisman Quartet. This simmered for years until moving to Auckland, where he finally met a few other musicians who were both capable and willing to play in those styles. He is happy to be ReInTarNated and taking the old sounds into new places. Besides ReInTarNayshun, Micheal also plays in the bands Too Far Gone and Wires & Wood.
*Lott* has been a professional musician for twenty five years playing guitars, percussion, drums, double bass, tenor sax and voice in numerous projects ranging from rock, hip hop, blues, bluegrass, funk, jazz, glam, punk, drum and bass, electronic, singer songwriter, to theater pit band, symphony orchestra, improvised silent movie accompaniment, improvised poetry slam accompaniment. He currently plays with: F3 (Fickle Finger of Fate), The Slippery Noodle trio, Glide, Julian Harris and others. He also tutors students in guitar and double bass @ St. Peters school in Cambridge.
Saturday 20th November 1:00 – 3:00pm – Old-time banjo workshop – Helena Faust
Each tune will first be taught at beginner level to everyone. This covers the basic clawhammer technique and several chord shapes.
Guitars can pick up these chords also and will be shown the basic oldtime “boom-chang” rhythm. Fiddlers will be encouraged to find the melody by ear, but please bring a clothes peg or other muting device.
I will then teach the same song at a more advanced level which will include hammer-ons, pulloffs double thumbing and slides.
If other instruments are with us we can then play the songs together and get a little taste of the oldtime band experience.
I hope to cover about 4-5 songs depending on how the group goes, and may also play others at the end for recording.
Friday 19th November 8:30pm – society night – Mountain Chain
There’s nothing like the entrancing rhythms and haunting songs of the old Appalachian music. Mountain Chain have come together from four different countries to form what could be the first purely Appalachian old-timey string band in New Zealand.
Old-time music predates bluegrass by several hundred years and has qualities that distinguishes it from the more stagy bluegrass. For example, old-time uses the on-beat rather than the off beat, emphasises playing together rather than having instrumental breaks, uses clawhammer banjo and is generally slower. The result is a more participation oriented and often quite hypnotic experience, particularly on the fiddle tunes.
Franzi met Setha and Roddy in 2009 whilst living in the Wairarapa, where their passion for organic agriculture and sustainable living brought them together. They are now working and gardening for the Koanga Institute and are all living on a farm in caravans, until the group locates a suitable piece of land to settle. Just over a year ago, at the 2009 Wellington Folk Festival, Setha and Roddy walked past a woman singing the most beautiful ballad. Wasting no time, the three started playing and before long it was clear a fusion had already taken place – confirmed by the group who had gathered round to listen. The woman singing was Helena Faust. It was around this time that Setha met Franzi Corker and after singing together, asked Franzi to join the band. As soon as they were all living in Hawkes Bay they began playing regularly and the music just keep getting better.
With their sizzling vocal harmonies, unusual double banjos, and passion for old-timey music and culture, they present an exciting opportunity to bring this music alive and to give kiwis a real taste of that old timey Appalachian string band experience. The music of Mountain Chain has a timeless and captivating quality which is apparent every time they play – apparent by the people of all ages who stop to listen.
Saturday 30th October 8:00pm – concert – Coolgrass
Coolgrass win and delight audiences with their hilarious take on bluegrass and are favourites throughout Australia and New Zealand. They have featured at Australia’s National Folk Festival, the Auckland Folk Festival, Port Fairy, the Harrietville Bluegrass Convention, the Redlands Bluegrass Festival, the Fairbridge Folk Festival, the Tamworth Music Festival and many more, plus many folk clubs, wineries, town halls, arts councils, pubs and so forth across Australia and New Zealand. They have recorded three CDs – Toad Rage (2004), Jaguar Breakdown (2006), and Never Put The Banjo Down (2009).
Doug Wallace (guitar, dobro, vocals) has one of the longest histories of any Australian (well, Scottish) bluegrass musician, having been part of the Hayes Brothers (generally regarded as Australia’s first bluegrass band) not to mention many other top outfits over the past few decades, including “The Promised Band”, “The Melbourne Bluegrass Band” and the atrociously named “Blue Grass Souls”.
Jim Golding (banjo, vocals) challenges the traditionalists with bebop-banjo, rock ’n roll-banjo, bossa-banjo, Mozart-banjo, etc and he also belts out many a fine bluegrass break. Among Jim’s other claims to fame are his extraordinary parodies and other comic songs such as “The Banjo Picker from Hell”. Jim is frequently called upon to conduct workshops on the banjo at conventions and festivals around Australia.
Angus Golding (double bass, vocals) is the youngest member of Coolgrass, but he already has a wealth of music experience under his wing, including singing in the Da Capo Singers, playing keyboard in an emerging heavy rock group, and presenting music-for-children shows round the state. Angus brings extra strength (and mischief) to the vocal harmonies.
Bruce Packard (mandolin, vocals) has recorded and travelled widely with “New Dogs Old Tricks”, folked-up jazzers “Straight Ahead” and trad bluegrass band “Sleight of Hand”. He’s equally comfortable on double bass and mandolin, and plays mandocello in Concordia – Melbourne’s classical Mandolin Orchestra. He has composed and recorded music for film and stage, and also finds time for a bit of acting and sound engineering.
Friday 29th October 8:00pm – concert – Pipi Pickers
The Pipi Pickers are a hard-out bluegrass band from Leigh, a fishing village north of Auckland. They’ve played together as a band since 2006. Led by the powerful vocals of bass player Jenine Abarbanel, the band plays contemporary bluegrass with a Kiwi twist. Their influences include Claire Lynch, Gillian Welch, Tony Rice and Allison Krauss.
Dual guitarists Barry Torkington and Garry Bigwood put out a bluegrass wall of sound that turns heads. Garry plays a booming Martin with years of blues experience from his time with the Leigh Buoys, while Barry’s Collings drives a sweet sound through his solos and accompaniment. Nat Torkington admits influences from Bela Fleck, Alison Brown and Earl Scruggs, and loves his banjos: an archtop Gibson 1929 Mastertone and a Nechville Nextar.
They have opened for Forbidden Joe, appeared on the Kim Hill show on Radio New Zealand and are regulars at the Matakana Farmers Market, where their “Matakana State of Mind” (an adaption of Claire Lynch’s “Alabama State of Mind”) is a crowd-pleaser. Yes – they’re not above pandering.
A note from Jenine: “We were very excited to have played at WellyFest last year because our HERO Tim O’Brien headlined the Festival. Tim is a powerhouse musician and songwriter, and the opportunity to get close to him had our heads spinning!”.
Friday 15th October 8:30pm – society night – Pitchfork
Helena sings and plays traditional music from the Appalachian Mountains of America. She spent ten years in West Virginia soaking up the music and styles of the area. She has performed at festivals and has lead banjo and singing workshops at events from North Carolina to upstate New York. These included the Augusta Heritage Center, Clifftop Appalachian Music Festival and the West Virginia State Folk Festival, both as a solo act and as a member of the award winning old-time string band “The Raincrows”. She was also lead singer of “The Raging Acorns” whose final radio show performance was acclaimed by the producer as uniquely authentic old time music.
Helena has been back in New Zealand for the past five years where she completed a degree and now works in special education. “Music has had to take a backseat for a while but I don’t ever want to let it get too rusty, I worked too hard for this music and besides, the people who gave it to us expect us to carry it on”.
Helena met Jeff Reid at a jam session a friend’s house where he said that he didn’t do much on the guitar, just noodled around. “Having no particular reason not to believe him, my attention drifted elsewhere, that is until he began to play, then I was blown away. Then we played a few tunes together and that oldtime sound really came home”. Since then the pair have regularly practiced together and have done a number of well received performances around Hawke’s Bay. This was their first performance outside of Hawke’s Bay.
Friday 17th September 8:30pm – society night – Dixie Lix
With the current popularity of roots and acoustic music, a new and younger audience are getting exposure to more traditional styles and instrumental lineups. Recent tours by Old Crow Medicine Show played to full houses of mainly younger people just discovering this exciting music.
Local band Dixie Lix have performed this style of music in and around the Wellington region for the last seven years. Dixie Lix are an acoustic country and bluegrass band with a repertoire ranging from traditional music to songs from more recent artists. Dixie Lix cover songs from, modern artists such as Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, Alison Krauss and the Dixie Chicks.
Their lineup includes:
Wayne Robinson on banjo and guitar. Wayne first discovered bluegrass music at the age of sixteen and has recorded in studios for albums as well as TV and radio jingles, along with teaching banjo for the last twenty five years.
Wanda Menchi has a background in country music and touring shows, plays mandolin, guitar and adds additional colour with accordion.
Garrett Evans first discovered bluegrass music whilst at college. Not knowing anyone else with the same interest, he spent the next few years as a bass player in rock and dance bands. Garrett plays guitar and Dobro.
All members sing and the group feature full harmonies.
Dixie Lix were joined by George Barris – bass player extraordinaire!
Friday 20th August 8:30pm – society night – BB & Graham Lovejoy
“Another great night at the Bluegrass Society! And how appropriate to mark our twentieth anniversary – a long-time stalwart of the scene paired with a dedicated up-and-comer barely as old as our club.
Sometimes the predominance of greyed heads makes me wonder about the future of the genre in New Zealand, but a night like this sweeps such cares away.
What a contrasting duo. Graham the guitar-pickin’ grandaddy and BB, a barefoot banjo belle – joined across the generations by a mutual love of classic bluegrass. If you met them on the street you’d probably wonder what they could have in common, but there was no doubt about that on Friday night.
They brought us a grab-bag of songs and tunes from material they’ve been playing together recently. A little Monroe, plenty of Flatt and Scruggs, a dollop of the Stanley Brothers and a smidgen of Jimmy Martin.
F & S’s Head over Heels (in Love with You) kicked things off and before long we were head over heels in love with them. During the songs you could have heard the proverbial pin drop as an appreciative audience soaked up every note, then waves of warm applause washed over the stage.
Graham gave us an intermittent commentary on the provenance of the songs, occasionally owning up to memory-blank on the composer’s identity – but he seemed to have good recall of the particular recording he’d first learned them from.
If I Lose (Let Me Lose), with BB warming to unexpected harmony vocals, was the first of several Stanley Brothers songs, followed by a sprightly Follow the Leader, the first instrumental of the evening, which gave both of them plenty of scope to shine, and led on to Honey Babe (I’m Bound to Roam).
More Flatt and Scruggs with Poor Rebel Soldier, slowing things down and shifting into 3/4 time, and then up to what Graham described as “the classic bluegrass key” of B natural for Don’t You Call My Name.
Then out came Graham’s mandolin for Monroe’s Hornpipe, and some reminiscences of his time with HCBB and their trip to Nashville in 1971. Playing on the Grand Ole Opry saw them backstage with the Monroe Band and other stars of the day. Graham shared an anecdote relating to the tune. Picking with 18-year-old banjoist Bobby Hicks in Monroe’s tour bus (known to the band as The Bluegrass Breakdown) Hicks mentioned that Bill had them rehearsing some of the material from his earliest recordings, enquiring whether Graham was familiar with any of them. They were playing Hornpipe when Monroe himself turned up. “How was that?” asked the teenager nervously. Dead-pan his leader replied “I think you missed a note in the B section.”, before striding off across the carpark into the night.
Graham switched back to guitar for a change of pace. Before I Met You, and another old-timey sounding number – I Wonder Where You Are Tonight?, both familiar to us from the Flatt & Scruggs versions, although both were also recorded by mainstream country acts.
Then Andrew joined them on bass for Down the Road, and then Nashville Blues (not the Delmore Brothers song), which saw BB re-tune to D minor. Then the big finish with a lively rendition of How Mountain Girls Can Love (the Stanley Brothers again). Of course they weren’t getting away that easily – energetic applause brought them back for a double encore: Doin’ My Time, recorded by many over the years but, as Graham pointed out, indelibly associated with Jimmy “The King of Bluegrass” Martin, and a final instrumental, the Bill Monroe / Byron Berline Goldrush.
A pleasure for the audience, but also for the players, who plainly enjoyed sharing their considerable talents with people who know what they’re about.
And at the end of the night Andrew announced that he’d decided on the traditional Kiwi celebration to mark the passage of the double decade – a twenty first birthday celebration this time next year. See you there!
30th August 2010
Saturday 24th July 8:00pm – concert – Legal Tender
Ian Campbell has performed with various lineups since the early seventies and teamed up with Moira Howard in 1997. The couple decided to combine their unique blend of voices, abilities and individual approaches to music and have become known for their powerful vocal harmonies, real ‘down home country’ renditions and toe tapping versions of songs from artists such as Guy Clarke, Gillian Welch, Alison Krauss.
Over the past thirteen years their musical experiences have been shared with many notable musicians including the legendary NZ blues icon Bullfrog Rata and his drummer Earl Pollard. For a number of years the four with bass player Ross McDermott, followed by Willie Syfert, performed at major festivals, cafes and events in and around New Zealand including Blues, Brews and Barbecues. This lineup also supported Campbell and Howard to open for Charlie Pride when he appeared in Wellington – “one of the highlights of my musical career” says Campbell.
Following the untimely death of Willie, Moira became an integral part of the band rhythm section as the bass player. This change brought another dimension to the performance and the couple began to follow their true alternate country roots.
In 2005 kindred country spirit and New Zealand music legend, Colleen Trenwith, of Hamilton County Bluegrass Band fame joined the pair as fiddle player and third harmony vocal. Graham Lovejoy, also of Hamilton County fame, joined not long after and this four piece lineup saw the release of the band’s second CD – Live at the Wellington Bluegrass Society.
The lineup for the Wellington Bluegrass Society includes two other very accomplished and well-known musicians. Ian, Moira, Colleen, Graham and Earl will be joined by Carylann Martin on keyboards, piano accordion and vocals, who originates from Taranaki and was an integral part of the well known band Banana Republic. Ross McDermott (previous bass player, member of ‘That Eighties Band’ and producer/engineer/owner of Audiosuite) brings his lifetime of musical and sound engineering knowledge to the fore, playing lap steal guitar.
Saturday 17th July 10:00am – 12:00noon – Bluegrass Fiddle workshop – Colleen Trenwith
The Bluegrass Fiddle
“I have been teaching a class on “Fiddle Harmony” at East Tennessee State University, and have touched on the many genres of music which have given bluegrass music its “sound”. Bill Monroe himself was influenced by the blues, celtic, spirituals, gospel, and old time string bands. I will give a brief overview of these roots, especially as related to fiddle playing.
Best of all – I will teach some classic bluegrass fiddle tunes, and if time, the concept of twin fiddling (two fiddles playing in harmony). You will be more prepared for a bluegrass jam session some time in the future!”
Note: non-fiddlers can also attend – whilst these are fiddle workshops, other instrumentalists can attend and bring their instruments if they’re interested. Everyone can play the tunes together towards the end. For example, those who play clawhammer banjo would be interested in hearing about some of the history of the music of East Tennessee. Whilst you won’t be taught how to play the clawhammer banjo style, you can be included at your own level. Colleen will be teaching fiddle tunes to fiddlers, and can call out the chords to others.
Friday 16th July 8:30pm – society night – Colleen Trenwith
Colleen Trenwith was born and brought up in Wellington, learnt and played classical music as a soloist and in orchestras in the Wellington region. In 1966 she was introduced to American old time and bluegrass fiddling at a time when the folk music scene in NZ, and Wellington in particular, was a heady, exciting time. The folk revival was also happening in America, and there was a resurgence of passion for preserving the music being played by the older musicians, who themselves had preserved the music from previous generations.
Fortunate enough to meet such old time players as Frank Sillay and Don Milne back in the late 1960s, she listened to their recordings of old time string bands such as Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers and Gid Tanner and the Skillet Lickers, and learnt to play fiddle as close to the style of the old time fiddlers as she could. Colleen has loved old time fiddle ever since she caught the “old-time-fiddle bug”. Forty years later, Colleen is currently studying the old time fiddle styles of the East Tennessee region, and teaching old time and bluegrass at East Tennessee State University (ETSU).
Colleen joined the Hamilton County Bluegrass Band (HCBB) in 1966. The band travelled to the US in 1971 and played at Bill Monroe’s Bean Blossom Festival and others, and performed on the Grand Ole Opry. The band are still currently performing and with four original members – Colleen, Paul Trenwith, Alan Rhodes and David Calder, plus Tim Trenwith (their number three son). They recently returned as a band to the USA and performed at festivals in Sacramento and Kentucky.
One unique feature of the fiddling styles of the Bill Monroe era of bluegrass music, was the twin and triple fiddle tunes (two and three fiddles playing in harmony). This feature is seeing somewhat of a revival in the bluegrass program at ETSU, and Colleen and some Wellington friends will present a bunch of these triple fiddle tunes at the Wellington Bluegrass Society on the 16th July.
Saturday 26th June 8:00pm – concert – The Cattlestops
When Colleen Trenwith moved to the Kapiti Coast in 2004 the word got out pretty quickly on the local musicians’ grapevine. With memories still vivid from the early 1970s of Colleen’s television appearances – with the iconic Hamilton County Bluegrass Band still haunting their addled 50-something year old collective consciousness, Kapiti musicians Andrew London, James Cameron and Dave Berry tracked Colleen down to Otaki Beach, where she was gently but firmly coerced into forming The Cattlestops.
With Colleen’s impeccable country and bluegrass credentials, Andrew & James’ jazz leanings and Dave’s rock & blues guitar stylings, an eclectic repertoire of covers and originals was hastily compiled in order to do justice to half a dozen gigs that Andrew had enthusiastically booked for the nonexistent band.
With the addition of young and attractive drummer Evan Williams, The Cattlestops rode out to do the gigs. Songs were written and recorded on two albums – ‘Cattlestoppin’ in 2005 and ‘Back to Rosetta Road’ in 2007. No less than six songs from the latter were chosen to feature in the enormously successful movie ‘Second Hand Wedding’ – a natural combination as the movie was shot on the Kapiti Coast, and the songs include references to Kapiti landmarks. Despite one critic expressing discomfort at the presence of local place names in the songs, the album made the final three for the ‘Country Album of the Year’ award and received rave reviews from other sources.
Embarrassed by the band’s success, Colleen immediately fled to the USA to dodge the limelight and study Old Time Fiddle and Appalachian History at the University of East Tennessee, where she studied under some of the finest bluegrass musicians in the world and helped them iron out a few ‘technique’ issues. Her return in May 2010 initiated a flurry of activity amongst the other Cattlestops – new songs have been written and a handful of reunion gigs booked for June and July.
Saturday 26th June 1:00pm – 3:00pm – Fiddle Tunes workshop – Colleen Trenwith
The Fiddle Tunes of East Tennessee
“From early recordings by fiddlers such as Charlie Bowman, Uncle Am Stuart, JD Harris. Charlie Bowman is said to have written East Tennessee Blues, which is still played by fiddlers and bluegrass bands in this region and across the US – even in NZ!
Johnson City, Tennessee, where I have been living, is 40 minutes drive from the borders of North Carolina and Virginia, and in this small region of the US much was going on musically in the 1920s. It was the home of the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers, and many bands and fiddlers were active and busy, playing in concerts and contests, in local dance halls and back yards.
This workshop will provide a brief insight to the general fiddle style of this region, and into the early recording sessions in the 1920s and 30s. Best of all – I will teach you to play some of the fiddle tunes from this region which are still being played in jam sessions today.”
Friday 25th June 8:30pm – society night – Old Red Rooster String Band
Liam is a powerful Australian based mountain fiddler. Liam has been playing old time mountain fiddle for more than 15 years and he is one of Melbourne’s foremost old timey fiddlers. Liam currently performs in two stringbands in both the pub scene and for dances. His style is strongly influenced by Round Peak fiddler Tommy Jarrell and West Virginia player Wilson Douglas.
In the past six years Mike has presented two banjo focused concerts at the WBS, featuring the 1800s styles of playing on various open back instruments – notable was the Petone Municipal Banjo Orchestra. This time he’ll be working his clawhammer style banjo into Liam’s fiddling.
For their New Zealand trip they have compiled a set of prewar duets and stringband music. They are appearing under the guise of the Old Red Rooster String Band.
Friday 18th June 8:30pm – society night – Jess Chambers
Born to an American mother and Kiwi father, Jess Chambers spent equal time growing up in both sunny California and the chilly South Island of New Zealand, before settling in Wellington in 2002. In the close-knit and vibrant environment of New Zealand’s creative Capital, this singer/songwriter seamlessly bonded with like-minded musicians and established herself as a solo and collaborative artist.
As a solo artist, Jess Chambers shines lyrically with her heartfelt compositions. She’s performed nationwide as well as opening for international names such as The Fleetfoxes(Seattle), K.T. Tunstall(UK), Sarah Harmer(Can) and hometown favourite Bic Runga(NZ).
In July 2008 the release of her debut solo album ‘Jess Chambers and the Firefly Orchestra’ helped launch a formidable musical partnership with producer and guitar virtuoso Justin ‘Firefly’ Clarke, who had returned home to New Zealand after almost ten years of living and working in Berlin. Justin ‘Firefly’ Clarke brought together and conducted the ‘Orchestra’ featuring Samuel Flynn Scott (Phoenix Foundation), Rio Hunuki Hemopo (Fat Freddy’s Drop, Trinity Roots), Tessa Rain (Fly My Pretties) and Andy Hummel (Rosy Tin Teacaddy).
The sense of community is palpable, especially on Jess Chambers’ captivating composition ‘Island’, a finalist for the 2009 APRA ‘Silver Scroll Award’. The song ends with an all ages sing-along combining the sweet sound of seven year old Grace Ewens the lilting vibrato of Tessa Rain and the deep bass tones of Rio Hemopo.
‘Jess and the Firefly Orchestra’ made their presence felt at WOMAD 2008, the two live shows receiving standing ovations. Another achievement was having her song ‘Island’ chosen by the Green Party as the soundtrack behind their 2008 election campaign. Although not overtly political in her song writing, Jess has an acute awareness of our responsibility to the earth and our need to protect and respect our environment.
Her latest collaboration is with ‘The Woolshed Sessions’, a band that grew from a jam in a former shearing shed in Takaka Valley and featuring: Age Pryor, Andy Hummel, Justin Firefly Clarke, Peter Hill, Lee Prebble, Brett Skinner and Al Fraser. Their low-fi recordings captured the ambient resonance of the space the music was created and recorded in – a converted woolshed with bare timber floors, lined with plywood and clad in corrugated iron – original New Zealand songwriting driven by lap-steel guitar, vocal harmony sing-a-longs and banjo punctuations. Through this project Jess wrote her most uplifting almost pop flavoured songs to date, of which ‘Stringing Me Along’ won the APRA ‘Best NZ Country Song of 2009’ at the Gold Guitar Awards in Gore. The Woolshed Sessions album was also nominated for ‘Best Roots Album 2009’ in the Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards.
Special Guest: Peter Hill, who was a founding member of Dunedin reggae band Zuvuya, and has travelled far and wide since then – living in Korea and Japan for long stints. Peter plays bass with folk singer Hannah Howes, Age Pryor and Rhombus, but is most well known for his laid back country bass lines in The Woolshed Sessions.
Friday 21st May 8:30pm – society night – Jackie Bristow
After being first based in Sydney, then in LA, over the past year Jackie has established herself in Austin Texas.
Jackie offers a blend of pop, alt country and roots music that is fresh, modern and uniquely her own. In 2009 she toured the US, Japan and Australia, and is currently touring New Zealand to promote her third album “Freedom”.
The album was recorded between Austin and Sydney and was co-produced by Jackie and Mark Punch. Musicians on the album include: J. J Johnson (John Mayer), Mark Punch (Kasey Chambers), Chris Maresh (Erik Johnson), Matt Fell (Josh Pike), Jeff Young (Steely Dan), Clayton Doley (Jimmy Barnes) and Rob Woolf (Jimmy Barnes).
Jackie has opened for Madeleine Peyroux, Phoebe Snow, Jimmy Webb, Art Garfunkel, Renee Geyer, Mark Seymour and Daniel Lanois. Her songs have been used in many Australian and New Zealand film and television shows such as: The Secret Life of Us, Home and Away, Outrageous Fortune and Shortland Street. Her song “This is Australia” won Tourism Australia’s Song Competition, which subsequently featured in a worldwide promotional campaign.
Saturday 8th May 8:00pm – concert – Wires & Wood
Wires & Wood are a four piece bluegrass band based in Auckland. Their repertoire is drawn from a wide variety of sources – from songwriters as diverse as Bill Monroe, JJ Cale, Robert Earl Keen and Tim O’Brien. Their music ranges from sad and lonesome to driving and dynamic. Wires & Wood cover the spectrum, with superb lead singing by mandolinist Micheal Young, ably backed by Dave Warren on flat-top, Bryan Christianson on the Mastertone and Alec Healy holding it all together on bass.
Micheal Young (mandolin & lead vocals) – moved to New Zealand in the mid 1990s from his native North America and quickly established himself in the local music scene. He brings a wonderfully rich lead voice to the vocals and sparkles with his creative mandolin playing.
Dave Warren (guitar & tenor vocals) – has been playing bluegrass guitar since he was a small boy and features solid rhythm and beautifully styled lead lines.
Bryan Christianson (banjo & baritone vocals) – plays banjo in his own unique style, mixing in the many aspects of bluegrass music that he has come to know over the decades he has been playing.
Alec Healy (bass) – is well known for his on-stage antics and is a natural entertainer. As well as playing double bass he also does a fine job on five string banjo.
Special Guest – Read Hudson went from high school rock ‘n roll in the early 1960s, to rock, then folk music and eventually to bluegrass. Originally a guitar player, in 1971 he switched to resonator guitar with Dunedin band the Bluegrass Expedition. By his own admission, he’s lost count of exactly how many bands he’s played in the past fifty years, but admits there’s been a few…
Friday 16th April 8:30pm – society night – Jack MacKenzie
Saturday 17th April 10:00am – guitar workshop – Jack MacKenzie
Hey buddy; I had such an amazing time on Friday night. The night was just what I needed. Jack MacKenzie brought some of the deepest memories (that I forgot about) back to me… amazing. This is also not to say that the opening acts where anything but blissful. My mate and daughter had a BLAST to boot.
Thank you for your kindness and all. I am hooked on WBS (internal/external doors have opened for me as a result).
I look forward to the next event,
– – – – – – – – – – –
21st April 2010
“Jack MacKenzie, recently returned from a prestigious guest spot at McCabe’s concerts in Los Angeles, graced the stage at the WBS last Friday night. Jack’s flat-picking style is classic old timey, honed and mesmerising. If you close your eyes and drift off a little, you can hear the mellow haunting tones of Doc Watson, Jack’s muse. Doc is still alive and Jack recently had the pleasure of meeting up with him.
Jack’s between-songs banter is laconic and funny; the odd tale of woe, the odd joke (and they usually are pretty odd) and the wistful American stories of times gone past. Politics gets into the mix as well and a few personal songs to give us the human and vulnerable side of a man.
The next day Jack ran a guitar player’s dream workshop. I was lucky enough to sit in on that. After listening to each player he offered up his thoughts about how the song could be enhanced with flat-picking licks that would add tension and release, new transitions to chord changes and listener interest. Thank god he lives in New Zealand!
I suggest you check out the McCabe’s website for your yearly dose of musical envy:
Friday 19th March 8:30pm – society night – Alistair & Catriona Cuthill
In considering the music of the Appalachian region, ethnomusicologists identify two periods: the traditional music of the Anglo-Celtic immigrants (ballads and fiddle tunes of the 18th & 19th centuries) and the more contemporary ‘Old-Time’ music (an early 20th century blend of parlour, vaudeville music and African-American styles). Alistair and Catriona delve into an eclectic mixture of this Celtic American music.
Originally from Arabia, the rebec(simple violin) originated from the Arabian rabâb. The modern violin emerged from Cremona in the 16th century. A Scottish fiddler named Niel Gow is usually credited with developing (during the 1740s) the short bow saw-stroke technique that defines Appalachian fiddling.
Alistair likes the skirl of the fiddle. Catriona likes the drone. Himself just plays that fiddle graunchy or sweet, as he feels, depending on the tune.
Originally from Arabia (yep, same ancestor as the violin!) the banjo was brought to western Africa by the spread of Islam and eventually ended up in the Appalachians as a five stringed instrument. Anything and everything that was popular music at the time was played on it.
Catriona likes the plonkity-plunk of the banjo. Alistair likes the twang factor. Herself just frails that banjo like there’s no tomorrow; old songs and tunes sent from heaven, some from hell, and a few new ‘uns.
Sunday 7th March 8:00pm – concert – Richard Adams and Nigel Gavin
Richard Adams and Nigel Gavin have worked like few other New Zealand musicians, crafting their art in rehearsal rooms and recording studios, and presented their magic in concert halls and to festival audiences at home, Australia, the US and in Europe.
Violinist Adams is a gifted painter whose work has been exhibited internationally and who believes the visual and musical sides of his personality each set the other on fire. Richard has played for many years in the popular Nairobi Trio and co-founder of Neon Quaver.
Guitarist Gavin is probably well known to more people than they realise: he has played with the Nairobi Trio, the Jews Brothers, Bravura, created the guitar orchestra Gitbox Rebellion, and has been on albums by Wayne Gillespie, Whirimako Black, and most notably with Robert Fripp.
Friday 19th February 8:30pm – society night – BB & Alex
Alex has come a long way since keyboard lessons in Palmerston North at the ripe young age of seven. A multi-instrumentalist, he has studied and performed jazz with some of New Zealand’s foremost jazz luminaries and is the past recipient of several national jazz awards for his trombone playing. Since first picking up the tenor banjo in 2007, Alex has immersed himself in celtic music and is a member of Forbidden Joe – a respected quirky folk trio from Auckland.
BB has been playing the banjo for the past six years, learning at first from her local banjo tutor and later with some well respected players in the USA. On her inaugral trip to the USA in 2006, BB won the Uncle Dave Macon banjo contest. In 2007 she was invited back to the US to join bluegrass band Long Road Home and tour on their summer festival circuit. Lately BB’s musical taste has been expanding; she is the first banjo player accepted to study jazz at the NZ School of Music in Wellington, has just finished her first year and is now preparing for her second year of study.
Saturday 13th February 8:00pm – concert – Saints and Sinners
Saints and Sinners are: Jackie Bristow, Lauren Thomson and Tami Neilson (as shown left to right). This writers-in-the-round show will be an intimate acoustic evening, three solo artists joining forces on stage and sharing the experiences that inspired their songs, from opening for Johnny Cash and Art Garfunkel to touring from Canada to Europe, the USA to Japan. Drawing comparisons with Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch, Patty Griffin and Roy Orbison, these women bring three unique voices together for a rare collaborative show.
Tami Neilson is a Canadian who grew up touring North America with her singing family – kind of country music’s answer to the Partridge Family – and relocated to New Zealand after falling in love with a good Kiwi man.
Jackie Bristow is originally from Gore, but between tours in Japan, Australia and the USA, she is now based in Austin, Texas where she is firmly entrenched in the Austin music scene. She is returning to NZ to launch her 3rd album “Freedom”, an ode to her homeland.
Lauren Thomson is a local girl originally from the Waikato that the critics are calling “a deep talent waiting to emerge”. A standout in Auckland’s live circuit, she has become a much sought after opener and touring partner for prominent musicians.
Friday 15th January 8:30pm – society night – Chris Priestley, Julian McKean & Phil Powers
From this encounter Acoustic Confusion were born. Brendan Power then joined the group who focused on NZ songs – including some from a fine young songwriter we had met called Phil Powers. The group did a couple of Radio New Zealand shows with Phil before he headed overseas to make his fortune.
In 1987 Phil, Julian and Chris were reunited and did a few concerts also with Brendan Power before he headed off overseas to make his fortune(and he did).
Whilst they were together Acoustic Confusion were guests at the New Zealand Folk Festival(held in Wellington), Auckland and Whare Flat Folk festivals.
Julian then moved to Wellington and Phil to Whangamata and here they are 22 years later still singing, writing and enjoying beautiful harmonies.