2013 events are listed below

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

13th December – The Valley Stompers
30th November – Well Strung
22nd November – Archer
15th November – The Fairlanes
3rd November – The Southgate Band
18th October – The Band With No Name
20th September – Frank Sillay
14th September – Mayflower and Gazebo Girls
31st August – Rural Delivery
17th August – Catherine Bowness – Banjo workshop
16th August – Catherine (BB) Bowness
10th August – Barn Storm
19th July – Colin Speir
13th July – Hamilton County Bluegrass Band
29th June – Roseneath Centennial Ragtime Band
21st June – Hard Candy
17th May – Amirh with Don Franks
21st April – Tattletale Saints
20th-21st April – Old-time Music and Stringband Camp
19th April – Helena Faust and The Old Red Rooster Stringband
13th April – Black Soap Boys
24th March – Nairobi Trio and The Dixieland Gipsy Band
15th March – Legal Tender
24th February – Karen Lynne Bluegrass Circle
15th February – Dave Murphy
11th January – Eb & Sparrow


Friday 13th December – society night – The Valley Stompers

131213 The Valley Stompers
Mix a march from the American Civil War with a stately measure of quadrille, a Creole love call and a double dose of the blues. Blend through three horns and serve over smoking hot rhythm garnished with fun. Do that and you’ve cooked up a mess of New Orleans jazz.

Wellington’s leading traditional Dixieland jazz band was formed in 1971 and has played at charity fund-raising and local festival concerts, jazz festivals, jazz clubs, garden parties, wedding receptions, and commercial promotions including events at Parliament, Government House and Old St. Paul’s.

The Valley Stompers features trumpet/vocals, clarinet/sax, trombone, banjo, sousaphone and drums, and the band’s repertoire includes standard Dixieland jazz from the early 20th Century, with a selection of more modern arrangements. The music is clean, bright and exciting.

It is a complete mystery just what valley the band is named after. Some think it is the Hutt Valley. Others claim they can prove it is the Ngaio Valley, Wilton Valley, Plimmerton Valley, Aro Valley or any one of the hundreds of valleys in Wellington.

Many will remember the band from their student days when the Stompers were a leading part of the Dixieland jazz revival in Wellington. From 1975 they featured every Wednesday evening for 13 years in what was then the Western Park Tavern in Thorndon. The Wellington Jazz club hosted the fortieth birthday party for the band in April 2011.

Mike Bain joined the Stompers in May 2003. Mike plays clarinet and other reeds. He brings a wealth of experience to the group. It is rumoured he can even read music! Watch this space! The Stompers are adding new material to their repertoire featuring Mike’s exciting dexterity.

Howard Thompson joined the Stompers about seven years ago as drummer. Howard has many years experience with our style of music and brings the added dimension of rhythm to the excitement of the band.

Roger Metcalfe, (sousaphone) has been with the group for nearly 40 years. His pride and joy is his vintage side valve V8 powered Holton Bb sousaphone, which gives the group its distinctive line up. Probably more importantly Roger is the major source of the band’s swing. The sousaphone literally rocks from side to side with Roger operating with one hand in his pocket!. Roger has the only trained voice in the band.

Mike Green‘s membership totals 29 years. He is a Kenny Ball supporter and budding composer. He also leads the group on stage and does 99.99% of the vocals. He can prove that his trumpet is the loudest sound source in the band. He is the best looking band member by far.

Chris Caudwell (trombone) joined the group in the late 1990s. He is a Jack Teagarden fanatic but usually follows Kid Ory’s style to keep the groupies happy. He suspects that his trombone can make more noise than Mike’s trumpet but is too polite to try and prove it. He has a remarkably limited range of vocals confined to two tunes recorded by singing trombone players. He has been known to play other instruments when no one is looking.

Wayne Robinson is the band’s most recent member, having joined the lineup earlier this year. Wayne’s membership is so recent that the band do not have a current photo with him in it! The above picture shows the previous banjo player, Alistair Carr. Wayne continues the tradition and plays banjo with the traditional Dixieland sound on which the group is based.

For a taste of the real thing catch the Valley Stompers Dixieland Jazz band. The Stompers have been cooking the righteous recipes for over 42 years; Joe Oliver, Kid Ory, Sidney Bechet, Louis Armstrong and many more. They are always developing new arrangements and adding numbers. This type of jazz is fun and tunes are never played the same twice in a row. It is high energy music with improvisation from all the instruments.

see http://www.valeystompers.co.nz/ for latest information on the Valley Stompers personnel.

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Saturday 30th November – concert – Well Strung

131130 Well Strung

Well strung, are from left to right: Mark Mazengarb, Nigel Gavin and Colin Speir. They have all performed at the WBS in the last few years and now return as a trio.

Mark Mazengarb is an Auckland based professional musician and guitarist. Originally from Tauranga, Mark completed his Bachelor of Music at the Wellington Conservatorium of Music. After graduating in 2006, he visited the U.S. where he has learned from a variety of esteemed guitarists including Tommy Emmanuel. At the 2008 Auckland Folk Festival, Mark received the Frank Winter Memorial Award, given to aspiring young musicians with clear musical goals. The award enabled him to travel to Nashville to attend and perform at the Chet Atkins Convention. Mark then performed in several bands including Beyondsemble, also as a soloist and released his debut album Acoustic Affair. A year ago Mark teamed up with Loren Barrigar from the USA and they have performed throughout the USA, then at the Wellington Folk Festival a month ago. Mark is a feature guest at the upcoming Auckland Folk Festival, then next year Mark and Loren will be performing throughout the US and European circuits.

The distance from Nigel Gavin‘s Long Island, New York birthplace, to Auckland, where he has lived for the past two decades, may explain why the original working title for his first album Thrum was in fact Off the Beaten Track. At first a visitor, now a resident, Nigel has long been a featured player in the New Zealand 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, Below the Bassline, Jonathan Besser’s Bravura and his own Snorkel, among others. Nigel has often performed internationally. He created and mentored the multi-guitar Gitbox Rebellion, which in turn produced some fine guitarists of its own and performed in collaborative ventures such as the free-jazz Vitamin S, often using other instruments such as the Chinese sheng. Floating like a butterfly, stinging like a bee, 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. Nigel is now seen picking his beloved acoustic seven string guitar, hand made from native New Zealand woods by master luthier Laurie Williams.

Colin Speir started performing with a group called The Moving Folk while still at school and has been involved in live performances and recordings since then. He has accompanied a number of musicians through the years, both live and on recordings, from folk, bluegrass, rock to choirs. He mainly plays acoustic guitar, but also electric guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass and keys. Colin plays a wide variety of original material, which has featured on various recordings through the years. Colin has produced one solo CD of traditional hymns “Deep Deep Love” – available if you ask him! Two more CDs are in pre-recording stage: one featuring hymns and the other featuring original bluegrass, ragtime and Celtic music. He has recently finished a CD for NZ performer Jules Riding and is currently working on his anti-whaling song for Youtube (up soon).

Well Strung have coined their one and only concert ‘Guitarology’.

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Friday 22nd November – concert – Archer

131122 Archer1
“Born in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Archer moved to Australia as a wee little fella into the ‘never never’, the great stretch of land in the inland NSW that was feared by the early settlers. Archer spent his early years wandering the country, learning the timber cutting trade and plenty of other kicker jobs. Archer always sang from when he was a tiny little baby but it wasn’t until living in the far north of Australia, under the tutelage of the long grass islanders, that a voice rose up out of him, out of the bedrock and flowing through the waters and shooting into sky out into the great beyond. Archer has sung in the gutters and billabongs and the bars and the shining towers of western civilisation. Taking his lead from the legendary New Zealander Tex Morton, he plays old country songs, blues folk songs and songs of his own making. Recently he has supported and played with other renowned artists such as C W Stoneking, Justin Townes Earle, Paul Brady, The Black Sorrows, Beccy Cole, Spencer P Jones, Delaney Davidson and Bill Chambers (father of Kasey Chambers), who holds a songwriter showcase at the Tamworth Festival, of which Archer was the most popular performer. Archer has made appearances at other festivals across Australia, such as the Woodford Folk Festival in Queensland, Chopped Hot Rod and Custom, Bendigo Blues Festival, Bruethen Blues Festival, the 14th Millennium Concert at Melbourne Town Hall 2011, Maldon Folk Festival, including several sold out shows at the Spiegeltent Tent. After a chance meeting with Kiwi Delaney Davidson, his destiny was spun the way of crossing the Tasman waters and getting on back to where it all began. If you like the old style hillbilly blues folk songs then Archer is your boy.”

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Friday 15th November – society night – The Fairlanes

131115 The Fairlanes

Based around Brian Gummer‘s vocals and guitar, The Fairlanes perform a combination of material from LA based artists and Brian’s own original compositions. They are essentially an acoustic band featuring lead and harmony vocals, guitar, Dobro, bass and percussion.

Brian Gummer discovered a passion for country/folk rock music by listening to Laurel Canyon and Bakersfield, back in his native Cambridgeshire countryside, in the hazy daze of the late 60s and early 70s. The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Poco, Jackson Browne, The Band and a whole bunch of other cosmic cowboys were all major influences on both his music and the various bands with which he toured through the length and breadth of the UK during the Pub Rock heyday, just prior to total Punk domination.

Garrett Evans began playing bass in his late teens and found bluegrass music in 1967, when he was influenced by Flatt & Scruggs, Doc Watson, The Dillards and the Hamilton County Bluegrass Band. In 1972 he worked with singer Steve Gilpin, who gained fame as the voice of 80s band Misex. In the mid 70s Garrett played guitar, banjo, Dobro and pedal steel in the electric/acoustic Hutt River Band playing country & bluegrass. In the 80s, Garrett formed Panama Red with Wayne Robinson on banjo, Mike Gough on mandolin and Miles Reay on bass. Then in the early 90s it was rock and reggae bands Stone The Crows and The DC3s. For the last decade Garrett played guitar and Dobro in country and bluegrass band Dixie Lix.

Dave Wellington has been in the entertainment industry for over 45 years. He is an accomplished musician in voice, guitar, bass, drums and keyboards. Dave has a long history in bands dating from the 60s and was a member of such groups as Cellophane – National Battle of the bands winner 1969, Country Flyers with Peter Coulton & Midge Marsden, High Country, and Coup De Grace, and a backing musician and MD for touring shows with Patsy Riggir, Brendan Dugan, Eddy Lowe, Suzanne Prentice and many other major shows and tours. He is also an accomplished musical director for a multitude of Wellington regional theatrical productions, working with many musical theatre groups in the Wellington region. He is currently also a member of the popular group Short Term Memory.

Sharon Evans has a talent for harmony singing and has performed in bands with Dave Wellington for many years. Their harmonies perfectly complement Brian’s unique vocal style. Sharon also has an extensive background in theatre as an actor and director. Bands include the Hutt River Band, Out By Five, The DC3s and Crème Brulée with Dave and Karen Wellington.

Robert Antonio was born in Fiji and emigrated to New Zealand at the age of 19. Of Rotuman/Fijian ancestry. He started his music studies in New Zealand with the late Norman Gadd (Percussionist with the NZSO) and later fulfilled a long-time dream and goal by heading to the US, where in 1997 graduated from the Los Angeles Music Academy (LAMA). Robert’s other musical involvement includes drums for top Wellington cover band Short Term Memory, percussion/drums for the swing jazz X7s Dance Band and is the President for the North City Country Music Club.

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Sunday 3rd November – concert – The Southgate Band

131103 The Southgate Band
The Southgate Band is a collaboration of top American and Irish musicians whose varied musical backgrounds combine to create a beautiful mix of traditional music styles. They are led by singer Emma Beaton of the high flying Boston based string band ‘Joy Kills Sorrow’. Virtuoso fiddler Sean Regan (Sharon Shannon, Mike McGoldrick Band) and guitarist Colm O’Caoimh (Caladh Nua, Solas) provide a strong Irish connection that is rounded out by double bassist Andy Laking’s warm, contemporary undertones (Gráda, Fionn Regan). Rounding out the group is Nic Gareiss, a singer, bouzouki player extraordinaire and step dancer. Nic has performed at over 1500 festivals and venues worldwide in a career spanning well over a decade, working with luminaries such as The Chieftains, Darol Anger and Bruce Molsky. Quoted from The Irish Times: “A leftfield tourdeforce with irresistible wow factor”.

The band members have collectively performed over 5,000 shows in 3,000 cities worldwide.

Emma Beaton won the top young Canadian artist of the year award in 2008 and was nominated for best singer in the open category in 2010. Her band Joy Kills Sorrow was voted by the iconic Sing Out magazine as their first choice string band for festivals in the USA. Aside from singing, Emma studied cello at the prestigious Berklee College of Music and also plays clawhammer banjo.

Sean Regan has been touring internationally since the early 1990s and has performed with top Irish traditional artists such as Sharon Shannon, Mike Mcgoldrick, Frankie Gavin, Arty McGlynn and Damien Dempsey.

Andy Laking was born in New Zealand and later emigrated to Ireland, where he established his musical career, releasing six albums and touring worldwide with Gráda, performing hundreds of shows annually. He has worked with a large array of top artists including John Gardner (James Taylor band), Greg Liszt (Bruce Springsteen band), Tim O’Brien, Bill Whelan (Riverdance) and Fionn Regan.

Colm O’Caoimh is best known for his work with Winifred Horan (Solas) and Mick McCauley (Danu). He tours regularly with Caladh Nua and is also an accomplished pianist and violinist.

Nic Gareiss is one of the world’s foremost percussive dancers. Based in Michigan, he studied anthropology at university and has a Master’s in Ethnochoreology – the study of world dance traditions. His teachers have been from Spain (Andalusian flamenco), the west of Ireland (sean-no´s dancing), Quebec (Quebecois gigue) and Southern US (clogging and flat-footing).

“Emma Beaton is a truly gifted musician in many genres and on many instruments”
Natalie Haas

“A veritable distillation of all that has always been wondrous about English Folk”
The Irish Times on Andy Laking’s music

“Gareiss is a total joy to watch”
Last Night’s Fun

Website: www.southgateband.com

Ed: The Southgate Band’s Wellington concert is a special show for two reasons – this will be their last show for their NZ tour and will feature a repertoire especially arranged to showcase Old-time music and dance.

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Friday 18th October – society night – The Band With No Name

131018 The Band With No Name

Jack MacKenzie has been playing guitar for nearly 60 years and performing at various venues for most of that time. He has taken the stage dozens of times at McCabes, in Santa Monica California and at WBS for nearly the same over the past decade. Jack has developed a precise flatpicking style that is a fusion of Doc Watson, Clarence White and his own influences, since he first heard Doc play in the early 1970s. Having been personally involved musically with Doc and Norman Blake through his time at McCabes, Jack has been writing tunes and songs in this style since early 2000.

In 1982 Kim Bonnington’s Dad started the Tapawera Country Music Club, where at the age of four, Kim first performed in public. “Singing in that living room to a bunch of people who were only a few feet away taught me everything I know about music and pleasing a crowd” she says. “I was a part of the country music club scene and entered the Country Music Awards that existed in the top of the South. I won some too but Mum and Dad always kept the emphasis on using the competitions as an opportunity to perform and a reason to find new songs and improve, and for that I’ll always be grateful. Mum played drums and Dad played guitar in the local band ‘Homebrew’ and it was not uncommon for me to spend Saturday nights with them either at a gig or at a Barndance, singing and dancing in the local Druids Hall.”
“Now living in Wellington, it is great to know so many musicians who play such a variety of country instruments that I have never really had a chance to work with before. Playing with Peter, Jack and Cathy is allowing me to recall songs that I grew up listening to and singing in those jam sessions. It takes me back to the core of who I am in every sense.”

Peter Dyer has been playing music ever since the mid 1950s, when he climbed up on the stool at his Grandmother’s piano on the farm in west central Missouri. The goal was to figure out which keys to plink to copy what he had just heard her play. He started playing guitar in much the same way as a teenager in the 1960s, when folk and rock were everything and everywhere. In the early 1970s Peter reconnected with his rural musical roots and has since been playing, singing and writing music that reflects each of these traditions. Along the way he has been lucky enough to have jammed and played on stage with a great many talented muso friends who set the musical bar high, and just as important – know how to have a good time. None more so than this group.

Cathy Dyer grew up near Motown and is happy to be playing her half size Kay bass. Thanks to Jack for getting the bass in working order.

Ed: Jack has just finished a brand new CD, which he will have for sale on the night. Recorded at Braeburn Studios, this is fabulous! If you are into seriously good flatipicking, wonderful singing, songwriting, arrangements and production, then this CD is for you. Anyone who would like a CD and can’t make the night, please send me an email for your order and I will arrange to have a CD posted to you.

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Friday 20th September – society night – Frank Sillay

130920 Frank Sillay

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, educated at MIT, the US Marine Corps and public bars throughout the world, in 1966 Frank was brought to New Zealand by the Ministry of Works. Frank is claimed by two nations; The United States claims he’s a New Zealander and New Zealand claims he’s an American.

Frank played in various bands around San Diego in the early 60s (old time and bluegrass) and had to be content with woodshedding on his own, and collecting old material until the first National Banjo Pickers Convention at Te Rapa in 1967 put him in touch with kindred spirits in New Zealand.

He formed the Buckhead Strugglers with Colleen Bain and Don Milne in 1967, then played with various combinations off and on until forming The Antipodean Serenaders with Colleen Trenwith and Graham Lovejoy in 2004. A band that has proved to be very satisfactory in every way except geographically.

Photo courtesy of Julian Ward.

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Saturday 14th September – concert – Mayflower and Gazebo Girls

130914 Mayflower Gazebo Girls

Mayflower, as the name suggests, conveys the ballad tradition as it evolved from the Old Country to the Appalachian Mountains. Using the micro-tonal shadings found in the old vocal traditions that do not use the tempered scale of Western and classical music, and vocal styles absorbed from the oldest field recordings, Helena Faust and Penni Bousfield have come together and forged links between Helena’s Appalachian background and Penni’s traditional Old World folk singing. Mayflower have sought to be true to both traditions, highlighting songs were carried across the Atlantic in the 1600s and those that have a commonality of subject matter, style and mood.

Since they appeared at WBS a year and half ago, the Gazebo Girls (Janet Muggeridge and Penni Bousfield) have continued to develop their sound and repertoire, including some Bill Monroe numbers, early American songs and more originals now grace their concert set-list. As they say, “Some songs are as old as the hills they came from, some were written just yesterday”. Be prepared for those songs to run the range from delicate country waltzes to all-out floor stompers!

[note: Helena Faust broke her wrist just prior to the concert, so the Gazebo Girls performed the concert.]

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Saturday 31st August – concert – Rural Delivery

130831 Rural Delivery
Kapiti Coast duo ‘Legal Tender’ have been collectively performing an eclectic mix of alternate country covers and originals around New Zealand for many years.

Legal Tender are Ian Campbell on guitar and Moira Howard on bass, who in recent times have performed in concert in venues throughout the country with various well recognised musicians and are known for their unique blend of voice and instruments. Their performance is one of powerful vocal harmonies, real ‘down home country’ renditions and toe tapping versions of songs from artists such as Hank Williams, Guy Clarke, Gillian Welch and Alison Krauss.

Following the success of the ‘Tales of Tennessee’ tours in 2011 and 2012, where Legal Tender joined with Colleen Trenwith and Andrew London, the duo have been preparing for their 2013 tour titled ‘Rural Delivery’, which includes country music duo ‘Rusty and Rose’, who will bring their blend of talented musicality to the mix. Rusty (Ross McDermott) will play lap steel and Rose (Carylann Martin) will complement the sound playing a mixture of keys and piano accordion. Both will be adding vocals to the mix. They will be performing a series of concerts throughout the region.

“We have been privileged to play alongside a wealth of musical talent and experience over the years” says Ian, “and this year it is a real pleasure for Moira and I to perform the show ‘Rural Delivery’ with two of New Zealand’s top ‘country’ musicians.”

For those who are true ‘alternate country’ aficionados, the Rural Delivery show featuring Legal Tender with Rusty and Rose can be ‘experienced’ at the Wellington Bluegrass Society on August 31st at 8.00 p.m.

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Saturday 17th August – workshop – Catherine (BB) Bowness

130816 Catherine BB Bowness

Catherine BB Bowness writes:

“This workshop is both for folks who own a 5-string banjo and have always wanted to play it, or for those players who are already picking but want to brush up on technique and get some fresh ideas. We will cover the basics of how to hold the banjo, left and right hand technique, some basic rolls and we’ll even get started learning a tune.

Some other topics likely to be covered include; the difference between Scruggs, melodic and single string technique, playing with a metronome, reading tabulature, the importance of jamming and listening to music and some basic music theory. It should be ton of fun, all ages and levels welcome.”



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Friday 16th August – society night – Catherine (BB) Bowness

130816 Catherine BB Bowness
In her hometown, Koitiata, New Zealand, Catherine (BB) began her musical studies with banjo tutor, Mark Warren. A few years later she received the Frank Winter memorial award at the Auckland Folk Festival to travel to the USA and study with world renowned banjo players Tony Trischka, Alan Munde and Bill Evans. She won the Uncle Dave Macon banjo competition in Murfreesboro, Tennessee at just 15 years old and came runner up in the Rockygrass bluegrass banjo contest in Colorado.

BB has toured extensively throughout New Zealand and Australia with the bluegrass band, Twisted Oak, in a banjo duet with tenor banjoist, Alex Borwick and most recently with Cy Winstanley and Vanessa McGowan in their country/bluegrass trio, ‘Sandpaper Tango’. In 2010, she recorded her debut album, Village Green, which features original compositions and collaborations with some of the best acoustic musicians from all around NZ. BB travelled on a Massey University scholarship in 2011 to study at the Miles Davis program in Jazz studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. In 2012, BB completed her BMus in Jazz performance at the NZ school of music, being the first person to be accepted on the banjo.

Out of 150 applicants, BB was one of the 16 most promising and talented young string players to be invited to the 2013 Acoustic Music Seminar in Savannah, Georgia. The week of intensive workshops and instruction from world-class artists such as Mike Marshall, Julian Lage, David Grisman and Darol Anger culminated with a concert for festival audiences featuring the students compositions.

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Saturday 10th August – concert – Barn Storm

130810 Barn Storm
Barn Storm

BarnStorm are an exciting Oldtime string band, consisting of Liam Wratten from Melbourne on fiddle and vocals, Helena Faust on banjo and vocals and Liam Farris on guitar (both are from Napier). Liam Wratten was discovered by Mike Hopley, who with Liam became The Old Red Rooster String Band and appeared at the WBS in 2010 and again last April. Helena met Liam at the last WBS Oldtime Music Camp, also held last April, and from their first tune a wonderful, dynamic dance between the banjo and fiddle was underway. They met again when Helena was in Melbourne on a recent two-week trip and during this time they played together at every opportunity and accomplished five performances at local venues. The exchange of influences that began at the WBS continued in Melbourne, with Helena learning some of Liam’s driving Round Peak style dance tunes and Liam learning to play some of the lovely West Virginia tunes and accompany Helena’s songs.

Liam was contracted as the lead fiddler for the recent Oldtime Music Festival held from 2nd through 4th of August in Hawkes Bay, called “Up the Mountain” (refer to www.oldtimeymusic.kiwi.nz) and they decided to maximise the opportunity of Liam being in NZ by officially forming a new group and polishing up some of their shared material for performances. They chose the name BarnStorm as this expresses how they felt about the music, it also reflects on the traditional rural origins and the energy generated when they play together.

There will also be a guest appearance by Kim Bonnington, who will join Helena on vocals.

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Friday 19th July – society night – Colin Speir

130719 Colin Speir
Colin Speir started performing with a group called The Moving Folk while still at school and has been involved in live performances and recordings since then.

He has accompanied a number of musicians through the years, both live and on recordings, from folk, bluegrass, rock to choirs.

He mainly plays acoustic guitar, but also electric guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass and keys. Colin plays a wide variety of original material, which has featured on various recordings through the years.

Colin has produced one solo CD of traditional hymns “Deep Deep Love” – available if you ask him! Two more CDs are in pre-recording stage: one featuring hymns and the other featuring original bluegrass, ragtime and Celtic music. He has recently finished a CD for NZ performer Jules Riding and is currently working on his anti-whaling song for Youtube (up soon).

Ed: Colin last appeared at the WBS in December 2011. Many will remember Colin from when he lived in Wellington a few decades ago. Now living in Auckland, Colin also performs with Nigel Gavin and Mark Mazengarb.

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Saturday 13th July – concert – Hamilton County Bluegrass Band

130713 HCBB
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 13th July.

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 Beverly 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 prime time TV show ‘The Country Touch’, which was broadcast nationwide in the late 1960s, in the days when there was only one channel on the television.

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.

Over the following four decades, the music never stopped. Throughout the years, the lineup has changed and members have played in a variety of bands, whilst occasionally gathering together to play their HCBB music.

Paul Trenwith writes:
“I’ve been delving into the archives recently and finding all sorts of goodies. In the early days of HCBB, we tended to copy our bluegrass music from the albums we were able to import from County Sales, or on rare occasions, purchase locally. We had albums from Flatt & Scruggs, the Dillards, Reno & Smiley, Earl Taylor, the Stanley Brothers and Bill Monroe. The four-album set of ‘Mountain Music, Bluegrass Style’, produced by Mike Seeger, was also a fine resource.

However, influenced by our days on the set of the ‘Country Touch’ TV series, where we backed all sorts of songs selected from a wide range of country music, it wasn’t long before we started to add our own musicianship to the bluegrass music we loved. We started singing songs written by group members, and playing instrumentals we had composed ourselves. We also did versions of songs not necessarily originating in bluegrass music.

This has continued right up to the present day and our current repertoire includes songs from everywhere – originals and borrowed. But there are lots of neat songs back in those archives and we have started re-learning them. Songs we thought we would probably never play again, like ‘Sally, Let Your Bangs Hang Down’ and ‘Barefoot Nellie’ are back on the list, as well as a few of the classics.

So for this ‘annual’ gig for the Wellington Bluegrass Society’s discerning audience, we are presenting an ‘Early Days’ programme. If you’ve got a long memory, you might recognise some of the songs. If you are new to this music, we hope you’ll enjoy them just as much as we did when we first learned them.”

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Saturday 29th June – concert – Roseneath Centennial Ragtime Band

130629 Roseneath Centennial Ragtime BandThe Roseneath Centennial Ragtime Band is excited to be presenting their music for the first time to the Wellington Bluegrass Society at the end of June. This will be their first performance for the club and one of their last before the band go into hiatus for a year as founders Mike Jensen and Dayle Jellyman head overseas.

Formed in 2011, the band have shaped their music and image around the musicians and second line jazz and brass bands found in New Orleans during the early 1900s, and in particular the music and ensembles of Louis Armstrong, The Preservation Hall Jazz Band and contemporary New Orleans musicians such as Professor Longhair and the Meters, as well as artists such as Ray Charles.

The band also adopted the style from that time period and don vintage suits and instruments for all of their shows. For their performance at the Bluegrass Society they will be playing with a stripped back six piece band with a more acoustic sound that will feature Matt Enright on trumpet, Hamish Jellyman on trombone, honky-tonk piano played by his older brother Dayle, trap drums played by Mike Jensen, his younger brother Adrian on guitar and upright bass played by Daniel Yeabsley.

Having started out playing traditional jazz and blues, they have branched out into writing their own original material that they will perform, along with arrangements of the early jazz music from the trad jazz period. Blues and Gospel feature heavily in their set and they will include spirituals and famous blues such as “Glory land”, “Go down Moses” and “St. Louis Blues”.

Roseneath’s point of difference is their rowdy vocals that have become an integral part of their sound and all members share either lead vocal duties, as well as backup vocals on different songs. They focus on playing engaging and entertaining shows and the band never fail to get people out of their seats and moving.

All members play in several other prominent Wellington bands including, Black Spider Stomp, The Wellington International Ukelele Orchestra, Niko Nezna, Twinset, Newtown Rocksteady, Mashtown County and Ricky Boyd and the Boom shack Band.

In 2011 they recorded their first album at The Surgery, in Wellington with legendary sound engineer and producer, Lee Prebble. It features 12 songs and was recorded in one day – “in homage to how they used to make em”. The band is heading back into the studio this month to record a follow up to this.

For more information about the band and to hear their music, have a look at their website: www.roseneathband.com

And also: roseneathcentennialragtimeband.bandcamp.com

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Friday 21st June – society night – Hard Candy

130621 Hard Candy
We often refer to Hard Candy as a Festival Band. This partially explains why we had the improbable idea of forming a band whose members were widely dispersed around the southern part of the North Island. We got together, in different permutations, at festivals around the country – Wellington and Auckland Folk Festivals, Tahora, Tirangi and anywhere music was happening. About three years ago we decided the music was worth the travelling and started arranging weekends of four to five gigs in Wellington, Wairarapa, Kapiti Coast, Wanganui, New Plymouth and Napier – even Taupo and Tauranga.

Bob Cooper Grundy and Kate Marshall accompanied Karen Clarke have separately and together (individually and severally) with her performance of originals and interpretations over many years – since the days of the Songwriters Club in Cuba Street, Wellington. Bob and Wayne Morris usually jam together wherever there were instruments and Warwick Hill joined on bass four years ago at the Tahora Bike Run. Sadly Warwick has recently had to leave the band through transportation misfortunes and has been replaced by Craig Loader, who very ably managed our sound at a gig in Feilding.

Our CD was recorded over a gruelling weekend at Peter Charlton-Jones’ recording facility (shed) and has the virtue of sounding just about the same as the Hard Candy that you’ll see on stage. The music is Americana – even the songs conceived, written and first performed in Raumati Beach or Carterton. It hangs around the edges of blues, country folk, bluegrass, swing (especially the western variety) and jazz.

‘Hard’ refers to the stories of broken hearts and broken laws – rural tales of love, labour, loss and petty larceny.

‘Candy’ refers to some sweet melodies and sweeter singing.

Influences include Gillian Welch, Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell, Chris Knight, Asleep at the Wheel, Maria Muldaur, Memphis Minnie, Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson.

Our sound is three voices, guitars, banjo, mandolin, resonator guitar, accordion, fiddle, flute, bass and anything percussive that Wayne can lay his hands on.

Karen, Kate, Bob and Wayne have all played the Bluegrass Society in other incarnations; come and hear what we sound like together.

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Friday 17th May – society night – Amirh with Don Franks

130517 Amirh with Don Franks

Amirh Isis McNeil is a young singer songwriter from Oakland California.

Don Franks is a highly respected Wellington piano player and band leader.

Last year, Amirh and Don both had separate gigs at DADDY O’s restaurant in central Wellington.

One night they shared a spot and found there was a happy musical groove.

Since then the two have played occasional gigs together, at the Southern Cross, the Bathhouse and other venues around Wellington.

Here is a sample from their repertoire:

1/ Midnight Train To Georgia
2/ What’s Goin’ On
3/ A Blossom Fell
4/ Sunflower
5/ My Baby Just Cares For Me
6/ Don’t Know Why I didn’t Come
7/ Louder Than Words
8/ They Call It Stormy Monday
9/ Trading Places
10/ Blackboard Special
11/ That’s How Strong My Love Is
12/ Feel Like A Man
13/ Belize
14/ Come Away With Me

1/ Blue Moon
2/ I Heard It Through The Grapevine
3/ You Are Beautiful
4/ Halo
5/ Someone Like You
6/ Bhavia
7/ Urban Renewal
8/ A Tisket A Tasket
9/ My Girl
10/ Jail House Blues
11/ Why Can’t We Let It Be
12/ A Change Gonna Come
13/ God Bless The Child

Ed: You’ve got to recognise at least one, if not many of these songs. Be prepared to be entertained on Friday by this exceptionally talented duo.

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Sunday 21st April – concert – Tattletale Saints

130421 Tattletale Saints posterFrom Nashville skylines to National Highways – Tattletale Saints’ debut album and New Zealand tour begins.

Tattletale Saints have just returned from Nashville, Tennessee where they recorded their debut album entitled How Red Is the Blood.

Now based in New Zealand, Cy Winstanley and Vanessa McGowan were formerly part of acclaimed London based group Her Make Believe Band. The duo present Cy’s songs in their rawest form, with just acoustic guitar, double bass and voices described as “love letters between Amy Mann and a slip-sliding Paul Simon”.

Tattletale Saints recorded at Butcher Shoppe Studios, jointly owned by Grammy award winning engineer David Ferguson and acclaimed singer-songwriter John Prine, and is the birthplace of many Johnny Cash hit recordings.

Cy and Vanessa enlisted the help of top bluegrass/folk songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Tim O’Brien to produce the album. O’Brien won a Grammy in 2005 for his album ‘Fiddler’s Green’.

“It was a huge honour to work with Tim” exclaims Cy. “Vanessa and I have been massive fans for a long time and he’s right up there with the best in the world for our style of music. Plus, to have cut the record in John Prine’s studio in Nashville… that’s serious business!”

To add to a recording experience steeped in history, the plate reverb used on the album is the actual reverb unit from the legendary Grand Old Opry that was bought, and then relocated to the studio.

The money for the album was raised via the crowd-funding website Pledgeme.co.nz. With over 220 supporters, Tattletale Saints’ album project has the highest amount raised by a band through a New Zealand crowd-funding site to date.

How Red Is the Blood is a collection of poignant stories and observations portrayed evocatively by Winstanley. His voice and McGowan’s harmonies possess a delightful complementary clarity as they soar across delicately played guitar and double bass, with an occasional wash of harmonica.

The track ‘Traces Of You’ is a sweet melancholy Cinderella-esque tale of meeting, then losing a loved one at a New Year’s dance and resigning one’s self to dining on the memories.

‘Fell Upon The Fields’ is a banjo driven song that yearns for the open spaces of the country, by describing the bleakness and hemmed-in feeling of a wet winter’s day in a big city and by contrast, the joy when the rain ‘fell upon the fields’. Winstanley artfully welds a wistful, minor pre-chorus to a major chorus as the mood shifts with the protagonist’s thoughts from the hardships of urban life to the freedom and beauty of the hinterland.

“In Cy Winstanley they have a potent songwriter with a voice gently reminiscent of Paul Simon, while fellow Kiwi Vanessa McGowan adds beguiling harmonies”
– Uncut Magazine

“A delightful album…hooks you in with melodies and keeps you there by virtue of the words…very sharp stuff”
– Graham Reid, www.elsewhere.co.nz

“…a masterful blend of Americana fused with Jazz, Soul and Pop… “

“Winstanley’s songs are intelligent and original”
– Country Music People Magazine

“Beautiful melodies with a fragility that is a joy to behold… “
– Crack Magazine UK

“Their songs are as pretty and romantic as the Southern Cross itself. Sweetened by Cy’s mellifluous delivery and double bass player Vanessa McGowan’s gorgeous harmonies, they sound like love letters between Amy Mann and a slip-sliding Paul Simon.”
– The Crypt Sessions

“Celebrated as one of the most exciting new alternative country acts around, Her Make Believe Band have undoubtedly created some beautiful and original tunes…They have the right mix of smart lyrics and sweet melodies that appeal to the old romantic in me.”
– Morning Star


Ed: many will remember Tattletale Saints when they appeared at the WBS as Sandpaper Tango with Catherine BB Bowness in February 2012.

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Saturday/Sunday 20 & 21 April – WBS Old-time Music and Stringband Camp, Jam Session & concert

130420 Old Time Music Camp
* fiddle and banjo workshops and tutoring
* mountain ballad singing workshops
* playing in a stringband workshops
* banjo setup workshop
* free jam session
* free Old-time music concert

This is an exceptional opportunity to immerse yourself in Old-time and Stringband music!!

and learn from some of NZ’s most experienced Old-time banjo players and teachers, including Helena Faust, Don Milne from Dunedin, Wayne Robinson, Dan Moth and Mike Hopley also from Dunedin, along with Liam Wratten, Old-time fiddle player from Australia. 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 fiddle, banjo, singing, in fact the whole gamut of Old-time music!

There will also be workshops on Mountain Ballad singing, playing in a stringband, Minstrel style banjo, reading from dots(as opposed to tab), banjo setup and what to look out for when buying a banjo.

There will be a free jam session on Saturday night 20th April at 8:00 pm. Everyone is welcome to this session – regardless of whether you are part of the Old-time music weekend or not. One criteria – this is strictly Old-time music – no buts! This jam session will be held at the same venue as the Old-time music camp. Come along and be part of this!

The weekend will be topped off with a free Old-time music concert, starting at 4:30pm on Sunday 21st, 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 Old-time music camp.

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

All events at Petone Community House, 6 Britannia Street, Petone

Workshops catering for beginners, intermediate and advanced 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.

Tunes will be taught to separate banjo and fiddle classes, then the classes will be brought together to play the tunes in the company of one-another – in a string band setting.

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, fiddle 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

Booking prior to the day is essential.

This an exceptional opportunity to immerse yourself in old-time music.

Poster courtesy of Helena Faust.

Old-time Music Camp: Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st April, 10:00am – 4:00pm

Cost: * full weekend: $120 / $100 members or children
* one day: $60 / $50 members or children
* half day: $30 / $25 members or children

Registrations: essential & accepted before the day – by email to bluegrass@paradise.net.nz or phone (04) 477-0069

Where:            All events at Petone Community House, 6 Britannia Street, Petone

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Friday 19th April – society night – Helena Faust and The Old Red Rooster Stringband

130419 Helena Faust 15Helena Faust began playing banjo when she went over to the States in the 1980s to meet her father. He was Luke Faust, a banjo player in the “Holy Modal Rounders” – an old-time string band from the 1960s. From there she travelled to West Virginia where she and her partner, renowned fiddler Jimmy Triplett, spent ten years deep in the mountains learning the old music of the region. They traveled to remote farms and cabins to visit some of the remaining traditional musicians in the state.

Helena did an apprenticeship with banjo master Dwight Diller and for the next seven years they were only listening to musicians born after 1910. They were living in the woods in an old hunting cabin in Pocohontas County. Rumours soon spread in this isolated area about the “ferriners” who walked in the woods with their cats following them. They were warned to be careful because a lot of folk around there still believed in witches.

However folks were always friendly on the meeting and were happy they were interested in their music. Helena and Jimmy just loved the way the older music sounded and wanted above anything to capture that sound in their own music. Through their dedication and practice they developed what has been described as “an exceptionally pure traditional mountain style.”

Helena has performed at folk festivals and has lead banjo and singing workshops at events from North Carolina to upstate New York, both as a solo act and as a member of the award winning band “The Raincrows”. Her CD “Green are the Woods” was well received. The Old-time Herald included the phrase, “The Tripletts’ devotion to authenticity has created new challenges for the old-time music community, to get beyond merely playing or singing the right notes, to reawaken the spirit of our undaunted Allegheny ancestors.”

Helena has been living in New Zealand since 2003 and is now keen to share the traditions that she learned from her time in West Virginia.

The Old Red Rooster String Band are Liam Wratten(fiddle) and Mike Hopley(banjo). They have been playing together for four years.

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 plays in weekly sessions and with the Flying Engine and Cider House string bands. His style is strongly influenced by Round Peak fiddler Tommy Jarrell and West Virginia player Wilson Douglas. Liam also plays fretless banjo & guitar.

Mike lived in the US for ten years and played banjo for dances with The Raisin Pickers and Doc Hopley’s Caboose Kickers. He studied with Jody Stecher, Geof Goering, Kirk Sutpin, Laura Boosinger and Sheila Adams.

Their style is to lock the instruments tightly together rhythmically, playing fiddle dance tunes and songs in the Round Peak & West Virginian styles. Both are into building banjos.

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Saturday 13th April – concert – Black Soap Boys

130413 Black Soap Boys
The “Black Soap Boys” are Rick Bryant, Gordon Spittle and Chris Grosz, playing their own country blues based songs, with a smattering of classic covers, from early Dylan to Memphis Jug Band.

Rick Bryant has been, to understate the matter, in a lot of bands. “The Windy City Strugglers” are the most relevant here. But the big voiced singer has done every kind of blues, ancient and modern, in 45 years on the road around Aotearoa, in Mammal, Blerta, Rough Justice, Top Scientists, Neighbours, and Rick Bryant and the Jive Bombers, as well as gospel choir Jubilation.

Chris Grosz has lived overseas for quite a bit of the time since he was in the unforgettable and historic Christchurch lineup “The Band of Hope” in the late 1960s, and “The Mad Dog Jug Band” in Auckland in the 70s. Since then he has been active in the Melbourne acoustic blues scene, and a member of Whangarei based electric blues band “Smokestack.”

Gordon Spittle has been writing songs since the 1970s, including Dunedin’s legendary “Lutha”, finalists in the Loxene Golden Disc Award in 1972.. For the last few years he has collaborated with Bryant, writing the repertoire for the last incarnation of “Rick Bryant and the Jive Bombers” comprising their forthcoming album, “The Black Soap from Monkeyburg”, as well as several other albums in progress.

The “Black Soap Boys” repertoire is made up of acoustic versions from this long list of rock, r&b, blues , gospel, ballads, and countryish songs, together with some of Chris’s, in the same range of styles.

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Sunday 24th March – concert – Nairobi Trio and The Dixieland Gipsy Band

130324 Nairobi Trio and Dixieland Gipsy Band poster
New Zealand’s iconic jazz entertainers the Nairobi Trio mark their 23rd year together, with a show featuring material spanning the group’s career to date from their eight CDs – a mixture of skillfully crafted original pieces and Jazz favourites – the distinctive sound and delivery which is the hallmark of the Nairobi Trio.

Nairobi Trio formed in March 1989. John Quigley, Richard Adams and Peter Koopman were at that time joined with Nigel Gavin and Ira Herscher, who went on to form the Jews Brothers Band with Linn Lorkin shortly thereafter, at which point the Nairobi Trio were joined by Andrew Dixon on soprano saxophone. Andrew toured with the band for some 15 years, before leaving to concentrate on other business interests.

In the intervening years the Nairobi Trio (Richard, John and Peter) have performed all over the country, throughout Australia, Asia, The UK and Europe and to this day perform on a regular basis around New Zealand and the world. It was during one European tour that the Nairobi Trio met The Dixieland Gipsy Band and in his capacity as Director of the Waiheke Island International Jazz Festival, John invited them to perform here in 2011. The guys loved the country so much that when the opportunity arose to return and headline the Waiheke International Jazz festival in 2013, the Dixieland Gypsy Band jumped at the opportunity.

Violin, guitar and double bass blend and weave to create the Trio’s own brand of very accessible jazz. Be prepared to be drawn into their world, to be carried away by a performance as faultless as you’d expect from such experienced talents.


“This is a group of exciting performers who are talented musicians and entertainers and it is easy to see why they have impressed audiences around the world. Always playing to the crowd, Nairobi Trio has a winning formula and had the crowd hooked from the start”
– Simon Sweetman, The Dominion Post

“These musicians from New Zealand play with a passion and flair that international audiences adore”
– Stephane Grappelli


The initial plans for The Dixieland Gipsy Band were laid one spring day in April 2006 in Peter Lund’s home in Hornbæk, a suburb of Randers, Denmark.

While having a cup of coffee and a cheese sandwich in Peter’s kitchen, he and Jacob Venndt discussed the potentials of a band reflecting their common admiration for Django Reinhardt and Svend Asmussen. They wanted to revive old traditions of entertaining performances carried by brilliant musical execution. Together with Lasse Høj Jakobsen and Jens Christian Kwella they formed The Dixieland Gipsy Band, a new bright star on the jazz horizon.

How may we describe this swinging, highly energetic musical bomb?

As intense violin solos, crack guitar playing and spirited, charming vocals poetically united with banjo, double bass, crisp harmonica and musical saw. The Dixieland Gipsy Band delivers a fascinating, bold and seductive experience.

A bomb of traditional jazz and swing music of the 1930s and 1940s, it hits right in the heart, leaving splinters of Reinhardt, Grapelli, Armstrong, Asmussen, Mathiesen, Thielemans, Slim and Slam, making us all yell as one: “ohhhh yeahh… and ONE MORE TIME!”


Performing for the Wellington Bluegrass Society on Sunday 24th March, the two bands will play separately and then converge in a crescendo of spontaneity – definitely something to behold. Don’t miss this extremely rare opportunity to see these two groups perform together.

“This show is not just two jazz bands… we push the boundaries in all ways musically”
– John Quigley, phone conversation 12th March 2013

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Friday 15th March – society night – Legal Tender

130315 Legal Tender poster
Kapiti Coast duo Legal Tender have been performing an eclectic mix of alternate country covers and originals around New Zealand for many collective years.

The band were born in 1973 as a duo in Wellington – Ian Campbell & Steve Thompson. In those days it was commonplace to be resident in one venue for a period of time and for the first couple of years the Romney Arms became their playground. In 1975 they were joined for a period by Marty Jorgensen on drums, Chris Sereson on keyboards, Pete Hollis on bass and Jude Surridge, vocals.

Campbell & Thomson then joined the NZ Breweries pub circuit for a year before heading for Australia to find themselves. They spent the next few years playing clubs and wine bars before going in separate directions.

After returning to NZ, Campbell played a few solo gigs and jammed with mates, until 1998 when he teamed up with Moira Howard. As a duo they played extensively throughout the country and were seen regularly at major festivals and venues, until connecting with well known bluesman Bullfrog Rata in 2000. Starting out as a three-piece performing mainly acoustic covers, they were joined a year later by Earl Pollard on drums and Marshall Ngahere on bass and became much more electric and grunty. Over the next two years Marshall left and was replaced by Gary Lucre, Ross McDermott and then Willy Sieffert, who sadly was killed in a motor accident in 2003.

After a year off, Moira became the bass player, Colleen Trenwith from Hamilton County Bluegrass Band joined the lineup with her awesome fiddle and the band’s direction crystallized. The country/rock heart of the band became much more apparent and two more joined the lineup: Graham Lovejoy on mandolin, banjo and guitar who had also been part of the Hamilton County Bluegrass Band and Aaron Andis, alternating with Bullfrog on lead guitar.

Although the Legal Tender Band are based around the duo Legal Tender, the line-up will continue to vary, subject to the availability of players, to suit the venue and the occasion.

In recent times Legal Tender – Ian Campbell on guitar and Moira Howard on bass, have performed in concert with various well known musicians and are known for their unique blend of voices and instrumental talents. Their performance is one of powerful vocal harmonies, real ‘down home country’ renditions and toe tapping versions of songs from artists such as Guy Clarke, Hank Williams, Gillian Welch, Alison Krauss.

“We have been privileged to play alongside a wealth of musical talent and experience over the years”, says Ian, “however it is a real pleasure for Moira and I to bring our particular country duo style of performance to the Bluegrass Society”.

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Sunday 24th February  – concert – Karen Lynne Bluegrass Circle

130224 Karen Lynne BLuegrass Circle
Karen Lynne Louis is possibly Australia’s quietest achiever. Her career spans two decades, in which she released ten 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. Karen 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) – in 2011 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 and 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.

Most recently, Karen has also featured on the International Showcase at the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Annual ‘World Of Bluegrass’ Convention in Nashville in 2012 and has been chosen to perform with her band on the first Australasian Bluegrass Cruise upcoming in February 2013. Her latest release ‘Shine Your Light’ is a traditional Bluegrass Gospel album recorded in the studios of Tom T & Dixie Hall, produced in Nashville by Jerry Salley and featuring some of the top bluegrass players in the world. She has also been recently honoured as the first Australian ‘Daughter of Bluegrass’, having a track on the third USA based Daughters of Bluegrass Project ‘Pickin’ Like A Girl’, created to feature & promote women in Bluegrass. Prior to that she was the first female in Australia to have a bluegrass album released through a major label. This album was called ”Wishing Well” and was released under the ABC Records ‘Heartland’ Label.


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Friday 15th February  – society night – Dave Murphy

130215 Dave MurphyDave’s finger style guitar work continues to delight audiences wherever he plays. He is equally at home with the gentle blues of Mississippi John Hurt to the more driving blues of Big Bill Broonzy and Robert Johnson.

With over thirty years experience of playing, Dave has performed the length and breadth of NZ as well as in England, Europe, the USA and Australia. He has performed with Marg Layton, Darren Watson, Ted Clarke and international artists such as Champion Jack Dupree, Robert Lockwood Jnr, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Eugene Powell, James “Son” Thomas and Willie Foster.

Dave Murphy returns to the WBS following his appearance in November 2009. Dave’s profile has gone from strength to strength. He recorded his debut album ‘Yes That’s Me’ at Braeburn Recording Studio – an entirely solo recording, alongside a DVD, initiated & produced by Carol Bean, directed & edited by Costa Botes – which featured at the Wellington Film Festival in 2008.

“The blues is a music made by people who have struggled, have hard and true stories to tell and do so in a voice that is compelling. Dave Murphy, 35 years a journeyman on New Zealand’s blues highway, is one of those characters and this captures him at his essence: unadorned, honest and live as he records his long overdue debut album.”
– Graham Reid www.elsewhere.co.nz

Ed: Recently, Dave has been exploring the music of Merle Travis and Chet Atkins. Here is what Dave says about it:

“I am really excited about the new material I am learning. It is a fifty-fifty split of Merle Travis and Chet Atkins. Travis was very inventive – he puts jazz chords in interesting places. I will include some John Hurt as well, who is similar to Elizabeth Cotton – deceptively simple melody line accompanied by a bass line. Travis and Atkins do the same but do more complicated songs. They delve into jazz. Black and white have a different approach. It is hard to explain – you have to hear it to see.

My thirst for learning is incredibly strong. I can’t wait to get home after work to pick up my guitar and am happy playing for two to three hours.”

photo credit: Mike Warman   http://warman.redbubble.com

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Friday 11th January  – society night – Eb & Sparrow

130111 Eb & Sparrow finalEb & Sparrow are a four piece Originals Alt-Country band based in Wellington New Zealand. Led by Singer Songwriter Ebony Lamb, held together by Bryn Heveldt – Lead Guitar & Lapsteel, Jason Johnson – Bass & BV’s, Nick Brown – Drums & BV’s. They bring you life’s loves & laments with a twist of dark country, the smolder of tales still long & the ever present harsh golden truth strung together…


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