2012 events are listed below

(either page down or click on specific event for more detail)

14th December – The FEDZ
8th December – The Pipi Pickers
24th November – Unsung Heroes
16th November – The Eastern
24th October – The New Worlds
14th October – Old-Time Concert
14th October – Old-Time Banjo Camp
13th October – Old-Time Banjo Camp
12th October – Don Milne
6th October – Peninsula Envy
28th September – Mike Harding
21st September – Blackboard Concert
8th September – Hot Club Sandwich
25th August – The Snapper Sandwich
17th August – The Prowse Brothers
21st July – The Cattlestops
20th July – Dixie Lix
7th July – Tales of Tennessee
30th June – Aly Cook
16th June – Hamilton County Bluegrass Band
15th June – Andrew Bicknell’s 50th Birthday!
9th June – The Johnny Possum Band
26th May – Jan Preston presents “The Kid Stakes”
18th May – Blackboard Concert
6th May – Peter Hicks and Twice Bitten
29th April – John Smith
28th April – Noriana Kennedy Trio
20th April – The Gazebo Girls
1st April – The String Contingent
24th March – Beverley & the Clench Mountain Boys
18th March – Banjo Camp Concert
18th March – Old-Time Banjo Camp
17th March – Old-Time Banjo Camp
16th March – Helena Faust
17th February – Eb & Sparrow
11th February – Donna Dean & band
4th February – Sandpaper Tango
13th January – Kim Bonnington
7th January – Karen Lynne Bluegrass Circle


Friday 14th December – society night – The FEDZ

Taranaki’s foremost Americana band: The FEDZFrank John, Erin Manu and Dusty Burnell.

“While Frank was working at Lewis Eady’s in the 1980s, he met Nigel Gavin during a product presentation with Gary Verberne. Frank later enrolled at the Creative School of Musicianship, where Nigel was a tutor. It was after this that Frank joined Gitbox Rebellion, briefly.

Frank and I met while working at Mainline Music in the mid 1990s. Within a few years we were working for the Rockshops – he in sales and I in administration. Frank commissioned a Laurie Williams original for me – check Laurie’s website:

We started to play music together and discovered that we had “a sound”. Once a month Frank and I would jam with some musos who introduced us to a full range of Americana music. We would meet at Janek Croydon’s Photography studio. Fellow jammers included Cameron Bennett, Wayne Gillies, Lorina Harding, Harmen Hielkema, Mark Dombroski, Peter Parnham and of course Nigel Gavin. Having seen the Flying Burrito Brothers in concert in Amsterdam in the 1970s, Frank feels that he has come full circle.

When we relocated to New Plymouth in 2005, we couldn’t find anyone who could play Americana music, so we set about playing a few gigs. We have since performed at TSB Bank Festival Of Lights, Parihaka Peace Festival, Bowl of Brooklands, G-TARanaki, Womad Performers BBQ and the NZ Women’s Surf Champs. We used these opportunities to expose our audience to Americana music. Our instrumental repertoire includes tunes that are inspired by Doc Watson and Chet Atkins.

Whenever Frank is not managing the local Rockshop, we run fingerstyle workshops, perform and teach. Recently Frank received a letter of thanks for his high level of sales of Martin Guitars in New Zealand.

Even though I started playing the guitar at the age of seven, I was very involved in sport, so didn’t have time to pursue music. Administration roles in the retail industry also did not inspire a musical path. Instead, encouragement and patience from Frank – please a decent set-up and strings – has been my impetus to rediscover music. A natural sense of rhythm has become my platform.

Cameron came into my shop one day and dropped his pants! Really! The word is that he sought out Frank and I. I’m not sure about that. What I do know is that last year, I owned a Sewing business and Cam came in to have some trousers altered. I was playing the DVD Down From The Mountain on my shop computer. Cam recognised a track by Alison Krauss and we struck up a conversation. I directed him to Janet Muggeridge for extra mando lessons and we all came together at Mike Harding’s summer solstice jam last year. A few months later Cameron, a Fairfax photographer, was shooting a slip on Mt. Taranaki. When he arrived back to the office he was covered in dust – hence the nickname Dusty. The rest, as they say, is history.

Frank and I have always played under our own names. Own the music…we call it! However, when we started adding Dusty to our gigs, the length of our names was too much for most people. We settled -hastily! – on The FEDZ, as a mixture of our initials, like ABBA. Plus, all the good names had already been taken. We are currently in the process of recruiting a double-bass player by the name of Zebediah, Zachary or Zane. Some friends think we are the FBI or The Federales. I like to think that we run the Federal Store.

Frank and I still play many private functions that request a duo. But, in addition, we decided to cultivate the sound of The FEDZ and we have included Cam in most of our gigs since this year. Including the New Plymouth Boardriders Club, Hollard Gardens Harvest Festival, The Great Eltham Cheese Festival, Levin Folk Club, Rosies Irish Bar, AmeriCARna. All the usual places where our sound complements the event. We are including Dusty in our Festival of Lights gig in January. We also hope to cover all the Music festivals during this summer.

Note The FEDZ are not strictly bluegrass. There is so much good American music we like to include in our sets from blues, country, mountain, traditional and alt country.”

– Erin Manu

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Saturday 8th December – concert – The Pipi Pickers

The Pipi Pickers have been laying down their energetic, contemporary, “full-bodied” style bluegrass since 2007. They have played the main stage at the Wellington Folk Festival, Warkworth Kowhai Festival, Harrietville Bluegrass and Old Time Country Music Convention and the inaugural Great Alpine Pick, both in Harrietville, Victoria, Australia. They’re a regular feature at the Bunker in Devonport, playing for both the Folk and Bluegrass clubs. Residents and visitors to the Matakana Coast region will likely have run into them playing the Leigh Sawmill, Matakana Farmer’s Market, and other local events. Often praised as the “second best free band in Leigh,” they’re a favourite at such local fundraisers as the Leigh Fishing competition and the Whangateau Hall annual country faire.

The Pipi Pickers are Barry Torkington on guitar, Garry Bigwood on mandolin, guitar and vocals, Nat Torkington on five string banjo, and Jenine Abarbanel on double bass and vocals.

Barry Torkington first heard bluegrass as a young lad when the National Radio programme would play their one Flatt and Scruggs record every day just as he was milking the cows. Realising this was the music for him, he bought himself a five string banjo and taught himself to play it. He is currently teaching himself to play dobro.

Nat Torkington (Barry’s son) picked up (or, in Barry’s words, Nat Torkingtonstole) the banjo at age 17, forcing Barry to switch to the guitar. Nat has studied with Pete Wernick and jammed with Bela Fleck, and is widely considered to be the best five string Earl Scruggs style banjo player living on Ti Point today. In all honesty, there are few greater joys than listening to Nat tear up “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” seven ways to Sunday.

Garry Bigwood comes from a blues tradition, formerly playing with the Leigh Buoys. He thrashes his Martin like he means it and brings a true bluesy groove to the Pipi Picker sound. In 2010 he bought a mandolin and taught himself to play it, adding a much needed authentic bluegrass element.

Jenine Abarbanel came to music late, learning to play the stand-up bass in 2006 so the guys would let her hang out with them during jam nights. A singer since childhood, Jenine has become widely respected for her strong and solid lead vocals. What she lacks in talent and skill she makes up for with energy and chutzpah.

Ed: this is a welcome return for the Pipi Pickers, who last appeared at the WBS in Oct 2010. Bookings have been flowing in – don’t miss this awesome group!

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Saturday 24th November – concert – Unsung Heroes

The Unsung Heroes results from a project initiated by Chris Priestley, involving many musicians, a Creative NZ grant application, recording to CD and concerts. Songs portray the heroes and heroines, villains and rogues, magicians, disasters and events that helped shape our nation. Songs are sung in English, two will have some Maori language content and one song will be sung in Maori. The songs recall and bring back to life stories of our past that have been either largely ignored, overlooked, or forgotten.

Some of the subjects of these songs are:

1. Huria Matenga – local heroine who swam and rescued shipwrecked sailors of the Delaware, 1863.

2. Gustavus Ferdinand von Tempsky – colourful Prussian artist and soldier, killed in the New Zealand wars, 1868, aged 40.

3. Kimble Bent – soldier, deserter, Pakeha-Maori, fought with Titokowaru’s party, opposite Tempsky, 1868.

4. Joshua Morgan, who died on duty as surveyor and was buried where he died, on the remote, winding ‘Forgotten World Highway’, 1893, aged 35.

5. Darling Jennie – performer who toured New Zealand as magician and drowned in the Waitaki River, 1875, aged 20.

6. Minnie Dean – baby farmer and the only woman in New Zealand to be hung for murder, 1895.

7. Rua Kenana – Tuhoe prophet, illegally arrested in the Uruwera, his cousin was shot dead, raising issues of justice and Maori autonomy, 1916.

8. Ghosts of Arrowtown – the discovery of gold by Maori Jack, the hardship and successes of miners, 1862.

9. Phantom Canoe – a phantom Maori war canoe, seen on Lake Tarawera leading up to the deadliest one-day eruption of Mount Tarawera, killing 150 people and covering the Pink and White Terraces, 1886.

10. Captain Moonlite – gold prospector and soldier, later turned celebrity criminal and executed in Australia, 1880.

11. Captain Lorraine – first New Zealand born balloonist, died at sea after loosing his parachute in a ballooning air accident, 1899.

12. James MacKenzie – shepherd, drover and sheep stealer, sentenced in Lyttelton in 1855 and pardoned in 1956.

The lineup for their Wellington concert are:

Chris Priestley is a singer-songwriter, guitarist, and music and hospitality entrepreneur. Chris started his first business, Real Groovy Records, with partner Chris Hart at the age of 25. He moved on to create Vulcan Lane’s Kerouacs (Now Melba Café), Java Jive Restaurant and Live Music Venue in Ponsonby, Atomic Café in Ponsonby and Café One2One in Ponsonby. His professional life has supported his development as a fine musician, singer and song writer in a musical career spanning over 30 years. His early work with folk group Acoustic Confusion, which included Brendan Power, Mahinarangi Tocker, Wayne Gillespie and Chris Thompson led to the release of the LP Hazydays (1985). This was followed by his first solo album release Argentina to Invercargill (1995), which was nominated the RIANZ Tui Award finalist best folk album. His second solo album Uncovered (2005), recorded with high profile guest artists Brendan Power, Nigel Gavin, Mark Laurent and Brenda Liddiard, was also nominated for the Tui Award finalist best folk album. The fourth release Emile Bliss and Charlie Bean (2008) was a collection of 17 children’s songs, including Hirini Melbourne’s Purerehua. All of Chris’s three solo albums are collections of songs written by New Zealand artists.

Nigel Gavin was initially a visitor from Long Island, New York. Nigel came, saw and fell in love with New Zealand. Now a resident, Nigel has long been a featured player in New Zealand’s music scene, particularly in Auckland, playing guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass – indeed, almost anything with strings – with the Nairobi Trio, the Fondue Set, the Jews Brothers, the Blue Bottom Stompers, Lorina Harding, Wayne Gillespie, Below the Bassline, Jonathan Besser’s Bravura and his own Snorkel, among others. He has also found time to create and mentor the multi-guitar Gitbox Rebellion and to perform in collaborative ventures such as the free-jazz Vitamin S, often using other instruments such as the Chinese sheng.

Nigel has contributed scene-stealing solos to an astonishing variety of musical groups and settings, bringing with him the dedication to the guitar that earned his place in Robert Fripp’s legendary League of Crafty Guitarists. His solo albums are ‘Music for Flem 2’, ‘Thrum’, and ‘Visitation’ (2007).

Gavin is a guitarist with remarkable versatility who is respected by other players around the world, and who excites audiences with jaw-dropping solos. He continues to work both in New Zealand, Europe, Australia and the United States. Projects include The Jews Brothers, Nairobi Trio, Bravura, Richard Adams, Whirimako Black, Lorina Harding, Carolina Moon, support to KD Lang, 3 Penny Opera, Pacific Curls.

Cameron Bennett is a media consultant and News & Current Affairs journalist based in Auckland. He is one of New Zealand’s most experienced journalists, with a wide-ranging journalistic career from 25 years of television reporting. He was Television New Zealand’s Europe Correspondent through 1991-95 and presenter for a range of foreign affairs and news programmes, including Sunday, 60 Minutes and Foreign Correspondent.

Cameron holds a strong belief in the arts and culture as an important vehicle for transcending barriers. In 1997 he filmed a feature on the re-formed remnants of the Sarajevo Philharmonic after the war and its preparations for a landmark concert in Paris. This deeply-moving statement of the sheer power of arts and culture to heal, deliver hope and understanding won Bennett a Qantas Award – one of many over the years.

In tandem with a journalistic career, Cameron has also nurtured a passion for making music, which has recently blossomed into songwriting. Along with old friends Richard Kelsey and Wayne Gillies, they form an acoustic based trio called “One More Dollar”, playing an eclectic mix of folk and Americana style music with strong three part harmonies as their point of difference.

Cameron plays and performs regularly on acoustic guitar, lap steel guitar and fiddle. He recently recorded with the Auckland-based band The De Sotos.

Ed: this body of work is one of the most significant contributions to NZ folk music over the last few decades and is pivotal NZ folk music in the making.

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Friday 16th November – society night – The Eastern

The Eastern are a string band that roars like a punk band, that swings like a gospel band, that drinks like a country band, that works like a bar band, that hopes like folk singers, and sings love songs like union songs, and writes union songs like love songs, and wants to slow dance and stand on tables, all at the same time. Whether roaring as their big six piece string band or swinging the loud lonesome sound as a two piece and averaging over 200 shows a year, The Eastern can hold it down in all settings for all comers.

Constantly on tour the eastern have played in every nook and corner of the good isles of New Zealand, and have broken strings and dented floors in parts beyond. From Papanui to Portland, Shirley to Sydney they’ve seen more than their share of barrooms and street corners, but treat any opportunity to hold it down and play as a gift and one they’d be fools to waste. They play like they mean it, like its all they know how do…because they do and it is.

The lineup for this show will be: Jess Shanks(banjo),  Adam McGrath(guitar) and Jono Hopley(bass).

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Wednesday 24th October – concert – The New Worlds

There’s something incredibly infectious about music created by close friends, and it is surely the shared joy, as well as the collective musical virtuosity of the band members that characterizes progressive string band The New Worlds. Taking their name from a phrase that evokes wonder and historical significance, The New Worlds have dug deep into the musical past of North America, as well as the promise of new discovery within it’s ageless music traditions.

The band brings together some of Nashville’s most in-demand acoustic musicians. Dave Goldenberg (mandolin), Christian Sedelmyer (fiddles/vocals), Shelby Means (bass/vocals) and Rachel Baiman (banjo/fiddle/vocals), have overlapping backgrounds in bluegrass and old-time music, but also bring individual expertise in Scottish, classic country, folk rock and roots music.

Dave Goldenberg, who is returning for his second tour of Australia, is a graduate of the Berklee School of Music in Boston, and is a past winner of the Rockygrass Mandolin contest and the Telluride Bluegrass Contest.

Christian Sedelmyer, originally from Erie, Pa, is well known for his years as a member of acoustic pop group The Farewell Drifters and is currently touring part-time with Australian bluegrass sensation The Greencards.

Shelby Means is a current member of Della Mae, an all-female bluegrass band signed to Rounder Records who were recently nominated for the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Best Emerging Artist award.

Rachel Baiman, a two-time Illinois State Fiddle Champion, is a graduate of Vanderbilt University with degrees in Music and Anthropology. She is a founding member of acoustic quartet Belfry Fellows as well as 10 String Symphony, along with her duo fiddle/voice project with Christian Sedelmyer.

After years of late night jams and playing together in various band formations, the four merged to explore their collective sound. The result is an explosive and emotional musical experience that blends old-time rhythms, modern pop melodies and thoughtful improvisation. Although sometimes challenging to define, the music of The New Worlds is the sound of life, love and hardships, shared between friends, with the spirit and historical tradition of America, the New World.

For this concert, Vanessa McGowan replaced Shelby Means.

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Sunday 14th October – Old-Time Concert

The weekend will be topped off by a free old-time music concert, starting at 4:30pm on Sunday 14th, for one and all to present old-time music to an appreciative crowd. This will be open to everyone to either participate in or just attend and is entirely free for one and all. This is especially an opportunity for those who have participated in the weekend to present old-time music to an appreciative crowd. The concert will be held at the same venue as the banjo camp.

Old-time concert: Sunday 14th October, 4:30pm
Where: Petone Community House, 6 Britannia Street, Petone
Cost: FREE to one and all!

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Saturday/Sunday 13/14th October – Old-TIme Banjo Camp

This is an exceptional opportunity to immerse yourself in old-time banjo and learn from some of NZ’s most experienced old-time banjo players and teachers. With Helena Faust, Don Milne from Dunedin, Wayne Robinson and Dan Moth, attendees will be well catered for. The tutors will present a series of workshops for beginners, intermediate and advanced players. This will be a fabulous and unique opportunity for all to learn and advance your skills with old-time banjo.

The daily schedule is:
10:00am – 10:15am: welcome, introduction and plan for the day
10:15am – 12:15pm: workshop 1
12:15pm – 1:00pm: lunch break and informal session
1:00pm – 3:00pm: workshop 2
3:00pm – 4:00pm: informal session

Beginners, intermediate and advanced workshops will run in parallel during the workshop slots. The workshops have been tailored so that you can attend as much or little of the programme as you want. However for maximum benefit, it is recommended you attend the full weekend.

Absolute beginners are most welcome, as are experienced players – there will be a teacher to cater for all needs.

Other instrumentalists are welcome too. Whilst you won’t be taught how to play your instrument, you can join in to learn the tune(s) presented at the workshops.

What to bring:
banjo (or other instrument)
something to drink, e.g. water in a bottle
music stand
pen and paper
recording device
lunch, or food is available at the many cafes in Petone

water, tea, coffee and biscuits

This an exceptional opportunity to learn old-time banjo.

Banjo Camp: Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th October, 10:00am – 4:00pm
Old-time music concert: Sunday 14th October, 4:30pm

Where: Petone Community House, 6 Britannia Street, Petone
Cost: * full weekend: $120 / $100 members or children
* one day: $60 / $50 members or children
* half day: $30 / $25 members or children – Tea, coffee and biscuits included

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Friday 12th October 8:00pm – society night – Don Milne

“I took up the banjo back in the ‘sixties’, attracted by the bright sound of Dave Guard’s (Kingston Trio) and Pete Seeger’s (Weavers) playing. There were not many playing in Wellington at the time but I managed to get a lesson or two before being told that if I wanted to learn I would need to follow my own trail as it were, find my own music…. I’m still on that trail more than forty years later.

An American sailor from an Antarctic Icebreaker shown me the frailing style, that is playing the notes by striking down on the strings rather than picking on them and this is what I have stayed with, drop-thumb frailing, clawhammer and more recently the tunes from the minstrel music of the 19th century.

It has been, and still is, a fascinating journey, making so many good friends along the way, bands, solo gigs and marvellous times with some great players ‘just passing through’.

I look forward to playing some of this old music for you all, hopefully with some friends joining me, in one of my favourite venues, the Wellington Bluegrass Club”.

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Saturday 6th October 8:00pm – concert – Peninsula Envy

Peninsula Envy (aka Imogen Coxhead and Sue Galvin) play silly, sordid, and sentimental songs from the folk, blues, and a-little-bit-country collections of the world. If they can’t find the song they are looking for, they have been known to write it themselves. They sing about chocolate, men, dogs, vegetables, sex, fish, and other strange and twisted subjects. They accompany their stunning harmonies with superb guitar, occasional dulcimer, a very loud banjo, and a variety of plastic toys and animals.

Sue picked up a guitar as a youngster and didn’t look back. With clever fingers now teasing brilliant sounds from a fine Barkman guitar, she brings a melodic grace to the music. Her capacity for finding the perfect harmony at the same time makes her a marvel of multi-tasking.

Imogen developed her acting skills while seeking attention as the youngest child in a large family, and honed her expressive voice while milking a tethered Jersey cow. After several years of singing unaccompanied she managed to entice Sue to join her on some Christine Lavin songs, which they unleashed on the unsuspecting audience at Cardrona Festival in 1997. Both were surprised to find the audience crying for more, and it has been all downhill from there. In those days they lived conveniently close on the Otago Peninsula and were in hot demand at folk clubs and festivals in the South Island (Whare Flat, Whitestone, Tui, the Ceilidh Room, Waipara, and Cardrona). Nowadays geographical distance gets in the way of actually rehearsing, but they still manage to get together for rare and wonderful occasions of musical madness.

One successful CD and two South Island tours later, they are – well – older. At least that’s to be expected, which is more than you can say about their concerts. The paradox of these Southern Belles’ classy indecorum will keep you in your seat in the hope that more evidence will help you work out what to make of it all. Expect anything; bring tissues.

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Friday 28th September 8:00pm – concert – Mike Harding presents “Kiwimusicana”

KIWIMUSICANA is a solo acoustic performance of songs from the lighter side of Kiwi ‘culture’, the daggier end of homegrown wit. Songs from small towns and back country roads, from the radio and the rodeo, the city and the shed. Love songs, pub songs, pop songs, dog songs, Down the Hall on Saturday Night songs. Songs from Kiwi songwriters who have helped us to love and laugh at and ourselves and where we live.

MIKE HARDING is a musical storyteller at ease with his instrument, his audience and his mission to sing the songs of the present and the past, taking us from our folk roots to where we are now.

Born sixty years ago in the Eketahuna Maternity Hospital and named Michael by his parents, Mum and Dad. Allowed to freely grow up in a small town New Zealand way – rugby at the domain, swimming at the river and playing at the dump. At school Gilbert and Sullivan, at home Barry Crump. Shearing gangs, possum trapping, country roads and country pubs. Tiraumea, Pleckville, Alfredton, Newman, Eketahuna. The Tararuas. Pahiatua, Pongaroa, Akitio. Masterton, Castlepoint, Riversdale. The Rimutakas. Wellington.

Palmerston North, first guitar, long hair and lectures. A short, shorts and walksocks High School Teacher career. Camped outback then enticed to Auckland by bohemian folk singers. Musical apprenticeship began. Poles Apart, Cook Street Market, street music in Parnell Village and on K. Road.

An OE or two and Mike, as he was now known, asking “where are my songs?”. On a Summertime Blues Sol search of New Zealand seeking the answer was asked to show off musical mates on 1984’s Time On The Road. The road then taken, hitchhiking and busking State Highways One to Ninety-nine, with solo shows of homegrown folk and popular song to the centres and edges of Godzone country. Along the way L.P.s were recorded on the City Folk label, programmes and cassettes for National and Replay Radio and “When the Pakeha Sings Of Home” for Godwit Press. The Rowan Studio recordings followed, some with Taranaki combo Gumboot Tango. In more recent years Mike has found his home in New Plymouth, a family and vocation teaching young people to explore music and their muse through the guitar.

Now it’s road time again. Kiwimusicana and Mike doing what he does best, songs of home with humour and affection, spontaneity and musical skill, celebrating New Zealand, its people and their stories.

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Friday 21st September 8:00pm – society night – Blackboard Concert


Society night featuring a Blackboard Concert

The last blackboard concert in May was so popular, the evening ran from 8:00 – 11:00pm!! An opportunity for one and all to perform in front of a receptive crowd.


Please note the following:

* two numbers per act
* bluegrass, old-time, country, Americana
* every act must come up with a performing name for the night – one they haven’t used before

Bluegrass jam session to follow – bring your instruments and join in.

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Saturday 8th September 8:00pm – concert – Hot Club Sandwich

Hot Club Sandwich started out quite sensibly back in the early 1990s when singer/guitarist Andrew London and pianist/bass player Terry Crayford recorded some songs for Radio NZ in the ‘Hot Club’ swing style popularised in the 1930s by gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt and violinist Stephane Grappelly. Such a splendid time was had that a few gigs were booked with a variety of instrumental soloists providing the Sandwich ‘filling’.

The turning point came about ten years ago when London began writing whimsical songs about rugby fans, television evangelists, politicians, weddings, male insecurities, technophobia, youth culture, household appliances, pretentious socialites, coffee and various other issues of concern to your average middle-aged middle class Kiwi bloke.

The songs send up many of mainstream New Zealand society obsessions and taboos with gentle affection – occasionally packing a satirical barb as if from an imaginary kindly but curmudgeonly uncle.

While the humour is immediate, the extraordinary musicianship of this versatile and experienced trio wraps it in a deceptive package. There are scorching improvised solos, finely-crafted three-part vocal harmonies, tight arrangements and infectious swinging rhythms.

HCS have played all over Australasia at arts and jazz festivals and have released eight CDs and a live DVD. Their 2004 album, ‘Toasted’, rated a four star review in Downbeat USA, the world’s longest-running and most widely-read jazz publication. Their songs have been used in feature length movies (Second Hand Wedding, No Petrol! No Diesel!) and year 13 Correspondence School English courses.

In 2010 they were flown by the New Zealand Embassy to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, to present a slice of Kiwi culture to an international audience. One of these shows represented their 1000th live performance.

The trio now describe themselves as a combination of jazz, blues, country and old time English music hall, with influences ranging from Nat King Cole to Gilbert & Sullivan, Django Reinhardt to Flanders & Swann.


Bob Heinz settled in Christchurch in the mid 1960s and has since been engaged in professional jazz and commercial music as a band leader, solo performer, sideman, and teacher. His experience as a studio musician has included a considerable amount of work in radio and television. He has composed and arranged for his own groups on National Radio and has toured several times with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra as a casual player. Bob is a co-founder of the Christchurch Jazz School where he teaches guitar and music theory.

Artists he has performed and/or recorded with include Johnny Dankworth, Ron Goodwin, Russ Garcia, Tommy Tycho, Sir William Southgate, Jackie Trent and Tony Hatch, Dame Kiri TeKanawa, Dame Melvina Major, Bic Runga, Suzanne Prentice, Sir Howard Morrison, Tina Cross, Jackie Clarke, Frankie Stevens, Max Merritt, Ray Columbus, Tommy Adderly, George Golla, Don Rader, George Washingmachine, Martin Taylor, Holly Hoffman, Gordon Brisker, Bruce Paulson, Doug Caldwell etc. etc., not to mention ‘The Sandwich’.

Image courtesy of Ross Collins.

Also performing on the night was Tait Jamieson, with vocals, backing vocals and a multitude of instruments.

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Saturday 25th August 8:00pm – concert – The Snapper Sandwich

Tony Burt is a musician, composer, songwriter, multi instrumentalist and film maker. Taking the Kiwi adage of turning his hand to more than one thing, Tony has had a varied career including composing music for film and television, accomplished finger style, resonator and steel slide guitarist and film maker, directing and producing short and feature documentaries in New Zealand and Australia. To top this off he is also a professional project manager and managed secondees from Corporate Australia to work Aboriginal communities on projects as diverse as financial income management, traditional knowledge recording and education reform.

Tony has brought his diverse background together in an innovative documentary and live music performance that combines original compositions with a series of heart warming stories woven together in an autobiographical journey. This is the very personal story of a musician and filmmaker setting out with a camera and music with the conviction to make a difference. “Very early on I found that filming real life was so much more interesting than drama, especially when it comes to finding the real heart in a story and reflecting this back.

“The Snapper Sandwich is a different type of documentary film, in fact probably something that has not been presented before and this first performance is certainly going to test the waters for a hybrid art form.

“The inception of the idea started with having so many stories, projects to complete, a live music show to prepare and personal projects that were in the pipeline. In the process of developing a live music performance I was looking to add some background images to spice up the show. This in turn added the stories which had inspired the music. The eureka moment happened when I threaded the stories together and realized that there was a definite narrative with these richly passionate and heartwarming stories. Each is quite different but somehow interconnected. So why not combine it as live musical / documentary performance and take the audience to somewhere they maybe never expected to go”.

Tony says: “Much of the music that I have written has come about from experiences I have had over the years, life experiences, profound, inspiring, enlightening and some just damn funny, it is the roller coaster of life. Much of this is result of work in the field with a camera, from filming the passion of the Hikoi in Wellington to working with aboriginal organisations and communities in the Cape York region of Far North Queensland, finding the extraordinary in the ordinary, such as a summer at Urenui motor camp in Taranaki and an Aboriginal couple in Aurukun on the Gulf of Carpentaria in far north Queensland.

“This is an interesting way to preset a documentary, quite experimental. What I do like about it is that I get to be with the audience, I have to be as this is such a personal journey. Another advantage is each performance will be unique and over time the show will change and adapt.

“Normally when you finish a film the hard work is over and you can sit back and watch. With this show, the hard work has only just begun, but then that’s where the fun starts.

“As to the significance of the title, “The Snapper Sandwich”, all I can say is it marks the start of summer, to understand its real meaning you will just have to see the show”.

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Friday 17th August 8:00pm – society night – The Prowse Brothers

The Prowse Brothers
These five brothers have all followed their own musical paths for many years, but also teaming up, over the years in many different combinations. Chris and Richard have performed together in folk and blues outfits, Richard and Daryl have played jazz and classical music together, Rod and Richard have joined forces at concerts and Chris, Robert and Richard have performed, over the years, in different lineups.

Chris (guitar/vocals) won a Recording Industry Association of NZ Folk Tui Award for best folk album in 2009 for ‘Trouble on the Waterfront’. He has been actively involved in the Wellington folk and blues scene. He has had long collaborations with blues singer Marg Layton and harmonica player Andrew Delahunty. He has recently performed and recorded with his daughter Eva Prowse of Fly My Pretties fame.

Richard (double bass/vocals) has spent many years playing improvised music, especially jazz and folk music. He has performed with Rodger Fox, Gordon Brisker (USA) and many other jazz and folk musicians. He is probably best recognised for his virtuoso arco playing.

Robert (violin) has a long history of playing in pit orchestras for shows and performing in different genres. He and Richard first performed together in the 1960s playing, among other things, Baroque violin duets.

Rod (mandolin/guitar/vocals) has spent a lot of his time playing mandolin and bass guitar in country bands around Wellington. He has also turned his hand to songwriting and his songs are a feature of The Prowse Brothers’ repertoire.

Daryl (banjo/piano) performs with equal proficiency on saxophone, guitar, piano, double bass and banjo. He has toured New Zealand as musical director for a variety of international artists including The Drifters and The Inkspots. He also runs a very successful cabaret band with his wife Fran.

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Saturday 21st July 8:00pm – concert – The Cattlestops

The Cattlestops
When Colleen Trenwith moved to the Kapiti Coast in 2004 the word got out pretty quickly on the local musician’s grapevine. With still-vivid memories from the early 1970s of Colleen’s television appearances with the iconic Hamilton County Bluegrass Band still haunting their addled fifty-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 bluegrass credentials, London & Cameron’s jazz leanings and Berry’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 London 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 2006 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 RIANZ Country Album of the Year award in 2008 and received rave reviews from other sources.

Embarrassed by the band’s success, Colleen immediately fled to the USA to dodge the limelight and to study Old Time Fiddle and Appalachian Ethnomusicology at East Tennessee State University, 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 with new songs being written. Once again for 2012, with Colleen back on “summer” break from now teaching at the esteemed ETSU, there is a flurry amongst the ‘Stops and a handful of reunion gigs have been booked for June and July.

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Friday 20th July 8:00pm – society night – Dixie Lix

Dixie Lix are a Lower Hutt based acoustic band who play country and bluegrass music. They started in 2002 when Wanda Menchi and Garrett Evans got together to perform authentic old-time country music duets by artists such as Charlie & Ira Louvin. Their first outing was at the Wellington Bluegrass Society where, as a warm-up act, they performed a Louvin Brothers duet and a Carter Family song. That night they called on their old friend Wayne Robinson to play banjo with them. Wayne plays five string banjo in both old-time frailing style and also in the bluegrass style of Earl Scruggs.

As the band developed, their repertoire began to include up-tempo bluegrass music. Dixie Lix have been together for over ten years, employing various bass players and current bassist Wayne Mills is a very experienced pianist, who after discovering bluegrass music, took up bass and was introduced to Dixie Lix. He has brought a new energy to the band, contributing fresh songs and fine vocals.

Dixie Lix have appeared several times as the feature act at the Wellington Bluegrass Society. They have performed at concert venues and fairs all over the lower North Island. The band have entertained at weddings and other functions, teaching and playing square dances. Dixie Lix’ music appeals to all ages including younger people who have been exposed to similar music from bands like Old Crow Medicine Show.

Dixie Lix performed during the 2011 Rugby World Cup on the Fan Zone stage, prior to a US Team game. A week later they played for a party hosted by the US Embassy at the Chicago Bar. The Americans in the audience loved hearing a bluegrass band, with one lady telling Garrett that they were “the next best thing to Texas”.

also check for them on Facebook
and YouTube

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Saturday 7th July 8:00pm – concert – Tales of Tennessee

It is not often that a New Zealander gets taken seriously in the American music scene, let alone achieve sufficient status to teach University courses in such a bastion of country music heritage as Tennessee, USA. In a classic ‘Coals to Newcastle’ story, Kiwi fiddler Colleen Trenwith is doing just that.

Her pedigree was established in this country in the late 1960s when as a founder member of the Hamilton County Bluegrass Band, she embarked on a musical career that saw the band host their own television series ‘Country Touch’. They went on to tour Australia with Australian Country music icon Slim Dusty, then travelled to Nashville to perform at the ‘Grand Ole Opry’ – the ultimate for any country musician.

In 2008 Colleen took up an opportunity to study music at East Tennessee Sate University and after two years was enlisted as a full time tutor. Prior to leaving New Zealand she spent several years on the Kapiti Coast, collaborating with several local acts including country rock duo ‘ Legal Tender’, guitarist Andrew London’s swing trio ‘Hot Club Sandwich’ and five piece country band ‘The Cattlestops’.

Taking advantage of Colleen’s flying visit to NZ this winter, Legal Tender’s Ian Campbell (guitar) and Moira Howard (bass guitar) have teamed up with Andrew London (guitar, banjo, piano and mandola) to join Colleen in a show called ‘Tales of Tennessee’, in which she presents a selection of stories and music accumulated over a forty year career on the stage, focusing on her most recent experiences in and around Tennessee.

Their repertoire will range from country, western swing and bluegrass tunes popularised by artists including Guy Clark, Gillian Welch and Alison Krauss, to original songs by Andrew London, who is well known for his humourous and satirical slant on Kiwi culture.

“As far as we’re concerned, Colleen is a National Treasure. She has trodden a path that most Kiwi musicians can only dream about – especially in such an American dominated genre as bluegrass music. It’s an honour to walk out on the same stage.” – Ian Campbell

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Saturday 30th June 8:00pm – concert – Aly Cook

concert featuring Aly Cook
Brand New Day is Aly’s debut full length album, released on her own label Futures in Australia on WJO May 2011 and via ODE in New Zealand. her single “Midnight Sun” became an Australian Top 20 hit on the Australian Top 30 Country Track Chart, based on Airplay (currently at number #14 as of May 27th).

In the last twelve months, Aly performed in Australia at Tamworth, Blue Water, Port Pirie, Canberra & Urban Country Music Festivals. Aly has also performed in NZ with the Coalrangers at the Wildfoods Festival, Tekapo Country Blues and Nelson Jazz and Blues Festivals. In late 2011 Aly was a finalist for Next Magazine’s New Zealand Woman of the Year and in May 2012 Aly traveled to Sydney to attend MusicOZ Awards at the Sydney Opera House as a finalist in the international section.

She has enjoyed a year of performance, airplay for her music on radio and video on Sky63 in New Zealand and CMC Country Music Channel in Australia.

Aly plays the Wellington Bluegrass Society unplugged – just Aly and her guitar.

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Saturday 16th June 8:00pm – concert – The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band

The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band

A lifetime of bluegrass music is what the Hamilton County Bluegrass Band have to offer at their one off concert at the Wellington Bluegrass Society on 16th June.

Back in the early 1960s, Alan Rhodes and Paul Trenwith worked out their version of bluegrass music in the old Trenwith home place at Te Rapa. They enjoyed the current folk music of the times – groups like the Kingston Trio and the New Christy Minstrels. Upon hearing the theme music of ‘The Beverley Hillbillies’ TV programme played on their black and white TV, they were hooked on the sound of bluegrass. Vinyl LPs imported from the USA gave them songs and tunes to learn and friends were coerced into joining them to play this exciting music. Enthusiastic groups developed, culminated in the Hamilton County Bluegrass Band, who have become part of NZ musical history – particularly from their exposure on the TV show ‘The Country Touch’, which was broadcast nationwide in the late 1960s.

Following two years of nationwide performances and national TV appearances, they spent the following two years in Australia working and touring with the Slim Dusty Show, then the band retired and resumed normal life.

But the music never stopped. Throughout the years, the members have played in a variety of bands, whilst occasionally gathering together to play their HCBB music.

The band maintained a high standard of musicianship throughout the years, with each line-up change introducing exciting new additions to their repertoire. In 2005 and 2006 the HCBB featured in two ‘Highway of Legends’ concert tours throughout NZ and in 2008 the band were invited to perform in the USA at the International Bluegrass Music Association’s River Of Music Party International Bluegrass Festival in Owensboro, Kentucky. In 2011 the band were an integral part of the Topp Twins Summer Hoe-down Tour, performing concerts in vineyards throughout NZ. Having performed recently at Sky City in Hamilton, the band look forward to July where they will feature at the Redlands Bluegrass Festival in Brisbane, Australia.

The 2012 Hamilton County Bluegrass Band features two original members of the band – Paul Trenwith on banjo and Alan Rhodes on guitar, and now includes long-time friend Keith MacMillan on mandolin and Pam Crowe as vocalist and guitarist. Their bass player is Tim Trenwith – one of the four talented Trenwith sons.

Colleen Trenwith, also an original member of the band and the renowned fiddle player with the HCBB, has for the last five years been in the USA, first studying then teaching in the bluegrass programme at East Tennessee State University – a rare and distinguished achievement for a New Zealander. Whilst on summer beak from ETSU, Colleen is joining up with her friends for this one off concert at the Wellington Bluegrass Society.

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Friday 15th June 8:00pm – society night – Andrew Bicknell’s 50th Birthday Celebration

I can’t believe I’m 50! I must have been too busy organising bluegrass events to notice the time flying by…. I certainly don’t feel 50, however am happy to celebrate the event.

In fact I have such a busy WBS schedule for the month that I have had difficulty deciding on when to celebrate. With three concerts, each on a Saturday, I have taken over the Society night for June to celebrate and I want you to come. The only presents I ask for is your presence. However if you really want to you can bring a plate.

The picture shows me having a bit of fun with a sticker that was passed on by fellow bass player Cathy Dyer.

Come along and celebrate – and let’s look forward to many more years of bluegrass!

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Saturday 9th June 8:00pm – concert – The Johnny Possum Band

The Johnny Possum Band

Since 2005, The Johnny Possum Band have delivered their own brand of alt country/bluegrass/folk music featuring guitar, fiddle, mandolin, banjo and upright bass. From performances throughout New Zealand, to appearances at festivals and venues in the USA, the band have developed a solid fan base and following.

Taking the role of mandolin player and one half of lead vocals, Bryan Peters lays a solid vocal and instrumental foundation for the band. Keith Taylor lays down the driving rhythms on guitar that are so typical of this particular style of American roots music. Sharing the lead vocals, he also adds a voice full of character and completes the harmony work. Margaret Pickering, on fiddle and vocals demonstrates and shows off her incredibly rich and diverse musical background. Sean Whitaker, adds the syncopated styles on five string banjo that are typical of bluegrass, string band and old time musical styles. Jonathan Rosanowski shows off just one facet of his diverse multi-instrumentalist talents behind a solid upright bass providing the rhythmic bedrock for the band.

The band’s debut CD, ‘Tickets’ released in 2006 featured the band performing mainly traditional bluegrass tunes in their own style and was a finalist for a 2007 New Zealand Music Award for best Country Music Album, and their first original single, ‘Bluegrass Saved the Earth’ was a finalist for Country Music Single of the year.

In February 2008 the band released their second CD ‘Twister’. Building on strong Americana roots this recording branches out and incorporates the band’s own strong original musical offerings and sees the sound of the band begin to reflect influences from bluegrass, folk, Irish, old time and even a hint of rockabilly.

In June 2009 the band released their third CD ‘Live at the HarbourLight’, this time with a DVD. They recorded a live performance at their favourite theatre of old favourites and also plenty of previously unrecorded material. The CD has fifteen of the tracks while the DVD has all twenty seven tracks on it. The recording truly captures the Possums at their best playing live to an enthusiastic audience. Regrefully the fabulous Harbourlight Theatre was destroyed in the Canterbury earthquake of February 2012.

They released their first compilation CD ‘High Lights 2005-2009‘ in 2010. It feautures all the best studo and live tracks from their first three CDs.

They released their fifth CD ‘Short Summer’, featuring mainly original material in February 2012. This latest recording showcases a maturing approach to song writing and how the band is redefining their style. It features a new production team and the end result is one the band are proud of.

The Johnny Possum Band have played extensively throughout New Zealand and gained international exposure with two mini tours of the USA. The first in 2007 saw them receive the ‘Rising Legends’ award from the National Old Time Country and Bluegrass Association. Their second visit in 2008 received rave reviews and a growing fan base as they toured the heartland of this musical style following the Appalachian mountains and travelling through Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland. A return visit is on the cards for the latter half of 2012.

Band members:

Sean Whitaker (vocals & banjo)
Keith Taylor (vocals, guitar and songwriting)
Bryan ‘Bryzy’ Peters (vocals, mandolin & musical director)
Margaret Pickering (fiddle & vocals)
Jonathan Rosanowski (upright bass, guitar)


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Saturday 26th May 8:00pm – Jan Preston presents “The Kid Stakes”

Jan Preston’s aunt, Mag Preston, for many years earned her living playing for the silent movies at a cinema in the far south of the South Island.

Her father Ed had a passion for Buster Keaton. Although the family of thirteen were very poor, he managed to sneak into the silent movie screenings by carrying his older sister’s case of sheet music.

When Jan was a child, her father did perfect Buster Keaton impersonations for her and it was not surprising that years later she became interested in silent movie accompaniments.

In 1989 Jan was asked to compose and perform music for the iconic German silent classic, Fritz Laing’s The Spy, which was ultimately recorded for the Australian National Film and Sound Archive and broadcasted in it’s entirety on SBS TV.

Jan went on to compose more silent classics (see list below) and these performances combine her composers’ sense of filmic dramaturgy, together with her marathon skills as a live piano player. No wonder Jane Campion employed Jan as her piano teacher in the lead up to the making of the film, The Piano!


2011 The Kid Stakes Woodford Folk Festival
2011 The Kid Stakes Pics and Flicks Kiama Jazz Festival
2010 The Wizard of Oz Sydney Opera House
2010 The American Collection NFSA Canberra
2010 The Wizard of Oz Arc Cinema Canberra
2009 The Kid Stakes Adelaide Fringe Festival.
2006 Harold Lloyd’s Girl Shy. Sydney Film Festival (won the SFF audience vote for Most Popular Film 2006)
2005 Harry O. Hoyt’s The Lost World. NZ Film Festival
2005 Erich von Stroheim’s The Merry Widow. Sydney Film Festival
2001 Harry O. Hoyt’s The Lost World. Sydney Film Festival
2000 William Wyler’s The Shakedown. Sydney Film Festival
1995 Franklyn Barrett’s Girl Of The Bush. Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney for Historic Houses Trust of NSW
1995 Alfred Hitchcock’s Blackmail. The Mandarin Club, Sydney
1995 Yakov Protazanov’s Aelita. Chauvel Cinema, Sydney
1994 Alexander Granovsky’s Jewish Luck. Jewish Film Festival, Melbourne
1993 Early Australian Ads. MCA, Sydney
1993 Raymond Longford’s On Our Selection. MCA, Sydney
1991 Ernst Lubitz’s So This is Paris. Sydney Film Festival
1990 Fritz Laing’s The Spy. Chauvel Cinema, Sydney

The Australian silent comedy, The Kid Stakes, is a live action silent comedy based on the Fatty Finn cartoon characters.

This highly entertaining 1927 film is a happy irreverent piece of suburban Australiana with a series of lunatic subplots woven around the schoolboy, Fatty Finn, his friends and enemies, and Hector the Goat.

Tal Ordell’s movie was hugely popular when it was released, and it is an iconic part of early Australian Cinema.

It was shot entirely on location in New South Wales, except the final Billy Cart race (illegal in NSW so filmed in Queensland), a climactic event which leaves audiences gasping with excitement.

Jan Preston’s original score for piano and percussion (kazoo, tin drum, plastic bags, car horn and woodblock) reinforces the story, characters and comedy of the film.

Recent performances at Woodford Folk Festival, Adelaide Fringe Festival, NZ’s Art Deco Festival and Kiama Pics and Flicks, have had a sensational response from contemporary film going audiences.

Preceded by: Steamboat Willy and a short performance documentary featuring Louis Armstrong – both courtesy of Time Cinema

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Friday 18th May 8:00pm – society night – Blackboard Concert

From the first days of the WBS, I held Blackboard concerts every three to four Society nights. These nights became so well attended that in the mid 1990s I set up a separate Society night, on the first Friday of the month, as the Backboard concert.

These were well attended for the first few years, then popularity declined to the point where it wasn’t viable to run these as a separate night. Following this I vowed to bring the Blackboard concert back to the Society night programme.

Considering the recent demand for floorspots at Society nights, it is now time to reinstate Blackboard concerts as part of the schedule for Society nights.

note the following:
* two numbers per act
* bluegrass, old-time, country, Americana
* every act must come up with a name for the night – one they haven’t used before

Bluegrass jam session to follow – bring your instruments and join in.

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Sunday 6th May 8:00pm – concert – Peter Hicks and Twice Bitten

Twice Bitten, Annie Parsell and Mat Woolley, produce a chemistry on stage that brings an audience to life. Their songs rank in the upper echelon of country music, in the style of Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris; country style with a Tasmanian/Australian flavour.

“We were rehearsing our arrangement of Sin City, a song by the Flying Burrito Brothers, and loved the simplicity of the waltz. We had been talking about writing some of our material and we just started to put some lines down. What ever came into our heads? Within half an hour we had a full song about alcoholism of all things. It really suits the country theme of down and out and continuing to fall.”

Peter Hicks says: “Annie and Mat have a great country/folk feel to their music, with fabulous harmonies and one of Mat’s songs has been getting a lot of airplay on community stations in Nashville. For the Wellington Bluegrass Society, we will be performing songs from their CD. They have a myspace to get a listen: http://www.myspace.com/twicebittentas

Also here is a link to the new CD I have just produced on the convict bushranger Matthew Brady, who roamed the Tasmanian hills and valleys robbing the rich, etc… which features Mat and Annie and myself on lead vocals:

Annie Parsell: guitar and vocals
Mat Woolley: guitar, mandolin and vocals
Peter Hicks: guitar, mandolin, harmonica and vocals

“Twice Bitten’s act is full of beautiful rock solid vocals and great guitar work. They are an international class act and it was a pleasure to work with them recently”
– Keith Potger, founding member of the Seekers

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Sunday 29th April 7:00pm – CD Launch and concert – John Smith “Da Fiddler”

John Smith was born in New Zealand and grew up in Island Bay, Wellington, but has never drifted far from his Shetland heritage. His father was a keen amateur fiddler and John grew up with the sounds of Shetland music frequently heard in the house. At a young age, John exhibited a great talent on the violin and excelled at all levels in his classical training, but it is in the music of the Shetlands that he really finds his musical home. He has twice won the Waipu Highland Games Fiddle Competition, the premier competition for Scottish fiddling in NZ, receiving high praise from the judges.

Over the years, John has played in many bands, often for dancing, and as a solo entertainer at concerts and corporate functions. His extensive repertoire covers many different eras and types of music, all played with a true sense of style and technique. Fiddlers touring New Zealand have always found a warm welcome, great tunes and a wee dram or two in John’s company.

John’s CD ‘Da Fiddler’ is a listening CD, containing some of the very best traditional and modern tunes from Scotland and Shetland, played in John’s inimitable style and with traditional accompaniment on piano and harp.

On the night John will be joined by Lynne Scott (piano and harp), who also joined John for the recording of his CD. Lynne has been involved in music for most of her life, firstly classical then discovering a passion for the music of Scotland. As well as the piano, Lynne also plays the fiddle and a wealth of other instruments, but it is her exceptional ear for harmony and accompaniment that she brings to this recording.

CDs ($25) available for sale at the concert, or may be ordered from Mainspring Audio: info@mainspring-audio.com

John Smith ‘Da Fiddler’
Recorded and mixed: James Scott, Mainspring Audio
Mastered: Neil Maddever, Sounds Unlimited
Cover design: Jumbletree (www.jumbletree.com).
Produced: Mainspring Audio (www.mainspring-audio.com)
Artwork: Glenna Matcham and Iain Matcham

All arrangements by John Smith and Lynne Scott except as noted in the track notes.

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Saturday 28th April 8:00pm – concert – Noriana Kennedy Trio with special guest Gerry Paul

“With a voice that evokes Emmylou Harris, Iris Dement and Gillian Welch, Noriana Kennedy is one of the most prominent voices in our thriving old-time music scene” (Sandy Harsh, RTE 1 Country Time Radio).

Noriana travelled several times to the U.S and learnt most of her old-time songs from singer Kentucky based singer Sarah Wood. In her recent debut album, Ebb n Flow, she combines music from both the Irish and American Folk traditions. She sings with the unrivalled double fiddlers Cleek Schrey of Footworks and Stephanie Coleman of all girl old-time band Uncle Earl. Guitarist Gerry Paul and bassist Trevor Hutchinson of Tim O’Brien’s Two Oceans Trio co-produced the album. The Irish Times lauded Ebb n Flow for its “exquisite phrasing and a songbook as wide as a southern porch”. Noriana was awarded the Irish Music Performance and Touring Award in 2011.

Noriana Kennedy’s music integrates a wide range of old-time songs, ballads, fiddle tunes and jug band blues into every performance. She is influenced and inspired by the direct fusion of Scots-Irish and African music that took place in Appalachia, the Western states and the Deep South from the earliest colonial times through the Second World War. With her style she doesn’t fancy up the music to make it more modern, but instead reaches into the heart of the songs, pulling out the deep emotions that made them so enduring in the first place. Her version of ‘Say Darlin Say’ and ‘Aint got no Use’ unveils a sensitivity that is rarely shown. There is honesty in her music – pure and simple; ingredients that often go missing in this day and age.

Hailed as one of the top acts to perform at the Blue Mountains and Port Fairy Folk Festivals in Australia this year, The Noriana Kennedy Trio, along with special guest Gerry Paul, have worked up a one-off show especially for the Wellington Bluegrass Society, showcasing their astounding harmonies and beautifully crafted arrangements of American folk song.

The Noriana Kennedy Trio includes vocalist, Nicola Joyce of Irish contemporary group, Gráda and revered Irish singer songwriter Noelie McDonnell. In addition she will be joined by New Zealand’s own Gerry Paul.

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Friday 20th April 8:00pm – society night – Gazebo Girls

The Gazebo Girls play a mix of American and Kiwi Alt Country – underpinned by earthy guitar and sparkling mandolin, topped with delicious harmonies.

The Gazebo Girls are Penni Bousfield and Janet Muggeridge, two experienced musicians who began performing as a duo last year and immediately attracted a loyal following in Taranaki. Appearances so far include Singer Songwriters Night in the Famous Spiegeltent during the Taranaki International Arts Festival, the Taranaki International Village Stage for the Rugby World Cup and the New Plymouth Festival of Lights. They were also at the centre of the rather large jam sessions at the Woodzy Rockers tent at last year’s Wellington Folk Festival, which was where Andrew Bicknell, President of the Wellington Bluegrass Society, asked them to guest for the WBS.

Their repertoire spans Appalachian working songs and ballads, fresh takes on iconic Alt Country songs by the likes of Gillian Welch, John Hiatt and Townes Van Zandt and country/folk inflected songs by NZers such as Bic Runga and Mel Parsons. The Gazebo Girls have a rapidly growing reputation for their ability to deliver the goods on both atmospheric songs with ethereal harmonies and driving up-tempo numbers.

Janet Muggeridge (vocals, mandolin, guitar) plays a mandolin handmade in the ‘Naki, and sings songs from all over. She is a member of Gumboot Tango, a group formed for the first Taranaki Arts Festival in the 1990s and which has gone on to perform at WOMAD, The Beehive, The Festival of Lights, Auckland and Wellington Folk Festivals and the 2011 Taranaki International Arts Festival – and many times at the Wellington Bluegrass Society.

Penni Bousfield (vocals, guitar, percussion) has performed with many of NZ’s most notable acoustic music performers including Brendan Power, Chris Priestley and Mahinarangi Tocker. In the 1980s she formed Auckland folk/punk trio Siren, was a member of the Auckland Acoustics Collective and had a reputation as a singer of English Trad. Throughout the 1990s and beyond Penni was a professional rock and jazz singer in Auckland and Queenstown. Now she has gone full circle and come back to the folk fold. Penni has previously performed at Wellington Bluegrass Society with Helena Triplett.

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Sunday 1st April 8:00pm – concert – The String Contingent

The String Contingent play new acoustic music for violin, double bass and guitar. They redefine the possibilities of a string trio through their own articulate and fluent style. The String Contingent aim to broaden the traditional role of each instrument through arrangements involving both structured and improvised elements.

Chris Stone grew up in the country outside Sydney, Australia. He began playing Scottish fiddle music at ten under the mentorship of Bob McGuiness and Aria-Award winning artist Chris Duncan. From 2004 he studied classical violin under Tor Fromhyr at the Australian National University. During this time he co-founded the world music group Eilean Mor and toured twice through the UK, New Zealand and Australia. Chris graduated from the Australian National University in 2006 and toured the UK, New Zealand and Australia with singer-songwriter Frank Burkitt in 2007 through 2009. In 2008 Chris produced and performed on Frank’s debut album ‘a little less care’. Chris’ articulate, inventive and unique fiddle playing has been highly praised in multiple genres.

Holly Downes is from the Blue Mountains outside Sydney, Australia. She began playing piano at six before moving on to the violin, double bass and viola. In 2003 Holly began classical double bass studies under Max MacBride at the Australian National University. She graduated with outstanding marks and high critical acclaim in 2006. Holly has toured extensively through Europe, Asia and Australasia with the band Worldview, as well as the Australian Youth Orchestra, the Sydney Youth Orchestra and singer-songwriter Frank Burkitt. Holly’s elegant and poetic sound has gained her a strong reputation as a performer with taste and style.

Graham McLeod was born outside Aberdeen, Scotland. He has been playing and called for Ceilidhs throughout Scotland for many years. Graham graduated from the Edinburgh Napier University in 2007, where he studied contemporary guitar, improvisation and composition. Graham is a co-founder of Edinburgh based contemporary/traditional band Allaidh Modhan, with whom he tours regularly throughout the UK. He composed for, arranged and recorded their debut album ‘The Astonishing Flying Ring’ in 2006. Graham also works as a session guitarist, composer and music teacher. Graham’s exciting and authoritative playing is in high demand throughout Scotland.

Chris and Holly met Graham when they moved to Edinburgh after touring Europe in 2007 with Australian band Eilean Mor and the Australian Youth Orchestra respectively. They collaborated with Edinburgh based band Allaidh Modhan, of whom Graham is a founding member and toured Scotland and Ireland. Together they subsequently formed The String Contingent and began writing and arranging original acoustic string music. Drawing from celtic, baroque and bluegrass styles, their diverse and flexible expertise brings a fresh perspective to acoustic world music.


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Saturday 24th March 8:00pm – concert – Beverley & the Clench Mountain Boys

Beverley and the Clench Mountain Boys

‘Is that the old mountain you been singing about so much? My Clinch Mountain home?’
Jimmie Rodgers Visits the Carter Family (1931)

Well, no, Jimmie. This is Clench Mountain. It’s in another place and another space from good ol’ Clinch Mountain, the inspiration for country music and bluegrass pioneers the Carter Family and the Stanley Brothers … but it’s also only a step away. The music from Clench Mountain pays homage to the Carters and the Stanleys, but it also reaches out into many other areas of country music, from core traditional to “alt”, and all given the unique Clench Mountain styling.

That styling comes from the vocal talents of Beverley Young, the driving five-string banjo of Bryan Christianson, the multi-instrumental skills of Alan Young, all of it underpinned by the bass-playing of Garry Trotman. It’s a real good band playing real good music … and having a real good time doing it.

Beverley Young – MISS BEVERLEY
She went away to work in the city … something about domino-tricks, at least that’s what we think she said. Now she’s back, and she sure do keep the boys in line. She sings just beautiful, too, and she knows how to get the best out of a song (and a band).

Alan Young – DEACON AL
Show him something with strings and he’ll try to pick it. The only things he won’t go near are the fiddle and the tennis racquet. In the band he plays Dobro ©, mandolin, guitar and autoharp, and he’s not too bad at it. But we don’t let him preach.

Bryan Christiansom – COUSIN BRYAN
You can’t have a country band without a banjo, and we’ve got about the best five-string operator in the land. Get up and swing out as those notes come flying, then settle down again for those great old bluegrass ballads and gospel songs. Fast and slow … he’s got it covered.

Garry Trotman – UNCLE GARRY
He lays the foundation with his rock-solid bass playing on the big ol’ doghouse bass. And he writes a few songs too … just another multi-talented Clench Mountain Boy.


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Sunday 18th March 8:00pm – concert – Helena Faust, Don Milne, Wayne Robinson, Dan Moth & more!

With such a wealth of old-time banjo talent in Wellington through the Old-time Banjo Camp, this is the perfect opportunity to hold a concert featuring one and all – old-time banjomania! Helena Faust, Don Milne, Wayne Robinson, Dan Moth and many more besides. To enhance this opportunity, the door charge is a mere $10, so you have double the reason to attend. What’s more – those who booked for the full banjo camp programme will get in for free.

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Saturday – Sunday 17th & 18th March – 10:00am-4:00pm – Old-Time Banjo Camp

Old-Time Banjo Camp This is an exceptional opportunity to immerse yourself in old-time banjo and learn form NZ’s most experienced old-time banjo players and teachers. With Helena Faust at the helm, joined by Don Milne from Dunedin – a long time banjo player and teacher; and Wayne Robinson, local banjo picker and teacher too. The threesome will present a series of workshops for beginners, intermediate and advanced players. Dan Moth and Bernard Wells will also be assisting so this will be a fabulous and unique opportunity for all to learn and advance your skills with old-time banjo.

The daily schedule is:

10:00am – 10:15am: welcome, introduction and plan for the day
10:15am – 12:15pm: workshop 1
12:15pm – 1:00pm: lunch break and informal session
1:00pm – 3:00pm: workshop 2
3:00pm – 4:00pm: informal session

Beginners, intermediate and advanced workshops will run in parallel during the workshop slots. The workshops have been tailored so that you can attend as much or little of the programme as you want. However for maximum benefit, it is recommended you attend the full weekend. Those who book for the full weekend will receive a free ticket to the Old-time Banjo concert on Sunday night – see details below.

Absolute beginners are most welcome, as are experienced players – there will be a teacher to cater for all needs.

Other instrumentalists are welcome too. Whilst you won’t be taught how to play your instrument, you can join in to learn the tune(s) presented at the workshops.

What to bring:
banjo (or other instrument)
something to drink, e.g. water in a bottle
music stand
pen and paper
recording device
lunch, or food is available at the many cafes in Petone

water, tea, coffee and biscuits

This an exceptional opportunity to learn old-time banjo.

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Friday 16th March 8:00pm – society night – Helena Faust

Helena Faust 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. Helena performed at festivals and has led banjo and singing workshops at events from North Carolina to upstate New York, including 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 the lead singer of “The Raging Acorns”, whose final radio show performance was acclaimed by the producer as uniquely authentic old time music.

She originally went to America to meet her father Luke Faust, who was a folk musician of the “Holy Modal Rounders,” and the “Insect Trust” – a crazy old-time string band from the 1960s. Living in Hoboken, New Jersey, she began learning claw-hammer banjo and old-time singing from him and this quickly became an enduring obsession.

Helena was soon introduced to the lively traditional music festival scene and began listening to different styles from all over the country. At one of these festivals she met her husband to be, fiddler Jimmy Triplett and shortly thereafter they moved to the mountains of West Virginia. There they spent much of their time learning the music. They listened to field recordings and travelled to remote farms and cabins to visit some of the remaining older traditional musicians in the state.

Helena did an apprenticeship with banjo master Dwight Diller. She and Jimmy also spent many dusty hours digging into the Chappell recordings, part of the Regional and History Collection at West Virginia University and discovered many rare recordings of songs and tunes with styles from the 1800s. She developed what has been called “an exceptionally pure traditional mountain style.”

Helena has been back in New Zealand for the past ten years where she completed a degree and now works in special education. “Music has had to take a back seat for a while but I don’t ever want to let it get too rusty, I worked too hard to have this music and besides, the people who gave it to us expect us to carry it on.”

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Friday 17th February 8:00pm – society night – Eb & Sparrow

Eb & Sparrow, led by singer/songwriter Ebony Lamb, are a band that fuse country, folk, blues into a totally original sound from old roots. Hauntingly beautiful songs of life laments.

Ebony is self taught and started playing guitar two years ago, after her boyfriend left her. Since then she also started songwriting and has been writing ever since. Murray Aitken describes Ebony as “A discovery from the Ruby Lounge”, which is where Ebony first performed in public – after being egged on by Laura Collins, who co-owned the Ruby Lounge. From this Ebony has made a lot of friends, including Jude Madill, who worked at Ruby Lounge. Many have since asked Ebony to play with them.

From this first performance, Ebony has gone on to perform at many venues around Wellington, including Meow Cafe and Bar – both for Acoustic Routes and also joining in with the Americana Jam Sessions; opening for Donna Dean at a house concert at Murray Aitken’s house; at Happy; also more recently at the Hop Garden. Ebony has been hugely influenced by both the Americana Jam sessions and the Wellington Folk Festival, also by seeing Alistair and Catriona Cuthill performing a year ago at the Wellington Bluegrass Society.
Eb & Sparrow performed their first outdoor gig a month ago at the Wellington waterfront, which went really well. More recently they performed at Saint Peter’s Hall in Paekakariki.

For their WBS Guest spot they will be playing mandolin, guitars, with drums and bass, “with some quite beautiful songs planned for the night”.

The band for this night are:
Ebony Lamb – songwriter, lead vocals, guitar
Nick Brown – percussion, backing vocals
Jason Johnson – bass, backing vocals
and will be joined by Jude Madill – violin & backing vocals.

“We sound definitely country, folk, old-timey and we’ve been told we sound atmospheric.”

Check out their Facebook page for more information and photos:
and visit their music page to listen to full tracks and download songs:   http://ebandsparrow.bandcamp.com/

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Saturday 11th. February 8:00pm – concert – Donna Dean & band

Donna Dean will be performing with Steve Evans and Derek Burfield and Tony Burt

With either a five piece band, a trio, duo or performing solo on stage, Donna Dean is seasoned at delivering a world class performance. In addition, this gal has lived. She knows first hand about addiction, depression, divorce, rehab, raising kids and the struggle to keep the bills paid.

On 21 February 2011, the Christchurch Town Hall was alive with music. Donna Dean and legendary songwriter Don Mclean, on tour together, were the last two artists to perform at the venue that night before a major earthquake the next day rendered the building unsafe and it may yet be demolished. Donna went on to win New Zealand’s two highest honours in country music for songwriting & recording – the Recording Industry Association of NZ Best Country Album and the APRA Best Country Song, at the NZ Music Awards in June 2011, for her album ‘What Am I Gonna Do?’ and title track with the same name.

The momentum continues into 2012. Next month Donna crosses the Tasman to the beautiful Hunter Valley north of Sydney, for a songwriters week at the invitation of Mushroom Music. She will be writing with several of Australia’s well respected songwriters, including James Blundell. She has also been invited to join a group of established New Zealand writers and performance artists to play at the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany in August 2012.

Donna has credits for writing the title track for 2010 Grammy nominated bluegrass album ‘Destination Life’, recorded by award winning US bluegrass artist Rhonda Vincent. The album reached number two on the US Bluegrass charts.
Donna is the only artist to have won both New Zealand’s Best Country Album and Best Country Song in the same year. She did it in 2003 and again in 2011. Add to that a total of five albums – one recorded in Nashville with The Amazing Rhythm Aces and ten tours of Germany. She has worked alongside songwriting greats Willie Nelson, Eric Bibb, Jimmy Webb, Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham.

for music samples and further information – see her website Donna Dean Website.

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Saturday 4th February 8:00pm – concert – Sandpaper Tango

Sandpaper Tango were formed in 2011 around a cosy fireplace on a cold winter night in Devonport. They feature Cy Winstanley on guitar and vocals, Catherine (BB) Bowness on banjo and Vanessa McGowan on double bass and vocals. With tight harmonies and grooves more stompin’ than a clog-dancing contest, Sandpaper Tango are one new bluegrass band to keep an eye out for.

Cy Winstanley cut his musical teeth in New Zealand singing, playing guitar and harmonica. After a passing teenage obsession with rock guitar, he discovered bluegrass, jazz and blues. Following the urge to discover his Liverpudlian roots, Cy moved to London in 2004 where he spent seven years writing, busking and playing around the country. In 2009 Cy released his first album as a songwriter with Her Make Believe Band, which has been described as a “masterful blend of Americana fused with jazz, soul and pop”.

Originally from Auckland, Vanessa grew up playing in the local jazz scene and studied jazz bass at Auckland University. She performed throughout Auckland and NZ in various groups including the Caitlin Smith band and the Rodger Fox Big Band. In 2005 she received a scholarship to study for a Masters in Music at UNLV in Las Vegas, Nevada. After completing her Masters, Vanessa moved to London in 2007 where she reconnected with Cy, who encouraged her to sing backing vocals on his original songs, revealed to her the simple beauty of a country 2-feel and inducted her into the world of bluegrass, fiddle tunes and the G lick.

BB first picked up the banjo when she was twelve years old. A few years later, upon receiving the Frank Winter Award at the Auckland Folk Festival – presented to the most upcoming young talent at the festival, BB used this to help fund travel to the USA and study with some of her banjo heroes. At fifteen years old she won the Uncle Dave Macon banjo contest in Tennessee and came runner up in the Rockygrass banjo contest. In 2007 she was invited back to the USA to join and tour with bluegrass band Long Road Home on their summer festival circuit. BB has also performed throughout NZ and Australia with bands Reintarnayshun, Twisted Oak and in a duet with tenor banjoist Alex Borwick. She recorded her debut album ‘Village Green’ in 2010 and in 2011 travelled on a scholarship to the University of North Carolina to study Jazz performance. BB is the first banjo student to complete a degree in Jazz performance in NZ.

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Friday 13th January 8:00pm – society night – Kim Bonnington

Kim Bonnington made her stage debut at the age of four singing How Much is that Doggie in the Window in a concert that would fund a swimming pool for the local community. Out of that concert, the Tapawera Country Music Club was born and it was here that Kim honed her skills in entertaining crowds, ably supported by her mother Lyn, and father, Peter.

Peter’s love of Marty Robbins and Merle Haggard and Lyn’s acquisitions of the latest recordings of The Judds formed Kim’s early music tastes and she grew up loving the deep bluesy sounds of Wynonna Judd while appreciating the story telling nature of cowboy songs.

Over the years Kim has won a number of country music awards both as a solo artist and as a duo with Peter under the moniker of Homebrew. University study and a teaching career brought her to Wellington where more recently she has been performing at venues such as Mojo Acoustic and the Museum of City and Sea’s Sampler Series.

These days Kim has a real appreciation for the earlier recordings of Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch and Alison Krauss. The opportunity to work with Andrew Bicknell and Tony Burt is finally giving her the chance to work on the sound she has always believed is at the core of what she does and we’re really excited to offer that to you on a warm January evening.

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Saturday 7th January 8:00pm – concert – Karen Lynne Bluegrass Circle

Karen Lynne Louis is possibly Australia’s quietest achiever. Her career spans two decades, in which she released nine albums, won twelve major Australian awards, become a finalist in over forty major nominations, toured internationally three times, had many Top Ten radio chart hits, a number of overseas chart hits and most recently a place in Australia’s Country Music’s Historic ‘Hands of Fame’.

Karen lives in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney and is Australia’s foremost female contemporary bluegrass artist. She has won many awards and has been a finalist for both her singing and songwriting. She has toured in the UK and Europe, with the most recent being a six week tour – including support for Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder.

The Karen Lynne Bluegrass Circle showcases a repertoire of traditional and contemporary bluegrass and a number of original songs. Karen’s band includes her husband Martin Louis (banjo) – three time Australian National Banjo Champion; George Jackson (fiddle) – last year George won the Australian Bluegrass fiddle contest for the second year running, is a member of Fiddlesticks, Double Trouble and Twisted Oak; Daniel Watkins (guitar) – also a member of Twisted Oak; Bruce Packard (bass) – mandolin player with Coolgrass and bassist for New Dogs, Old Tricks; and Nigel Lever on mandolin.
[Ed – Note Twisted Oak appeared at the WBS in January 2008, in a joint concert with Fiddlesticks. Coolgrass have appeared twice at the WBS – in February 2008 and October 2010.]

Karen’s latest bluegrass album ‘Wishing Well’ was released through ABC Records under their new ABC Heartland Label. It is a compilation album including tracks from her previously released bluegrass album ‘Changes’, along with some new material. Wishing Well received exceptional reviews. It was hailed a “Truly International album, in the class of Alison Krauss & Rhonda Vincent”, with the first three tracks reaching the Top five on the Australian Country Chart. It is a solo contemporary bluegrass and acoustic album, jointly produced by Rod McCormack and Herm Kovac – two of Australia’s respected producers.

There is a special, haunting quality in Karen’s voice. Combining this with a mixture of great songs makes her unique – including her own original compositions and collaborations with some leading Australian writers including Heather Field, Allan Caswell, Richard Porteous, Pat Drummond, along with Mark Selby from the USA.

Previously she worked with Sydney bluegrass band ‘Acoustic Shock’ and their collaboration resulted in the bluegrass album ‘Blue Mountain Rain’, which collectively received nine major Australian award nominations and won the top award for ‘Best Independent Release’ in the 2003 Victorian & [Australian] National Country Music Awards. Most notably this release placed Karen as the first Australian female artist to record a full bluegrass album. Her lengthy career success was recently honoured with Karen being announced as one of the 2008 inductees to the Australian Country Music Hands of Fame – a great honour for an Australian Country & Bluegrass performer.

“As long as you do not expect the high lonesome sound nurtured in the mountains of Appalachia, you will not be disappointed by the music on this (Australian) recording, which does show that the band takes their Bluegrass seriously. This recording stands up well in the genre of contemporary Bluegrass”
Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine – USA – on reviewing ‘Blue Mountain Rain’

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