2015 events are listed below
(either page down or click on specific event for more detail)
Second Sunday each month – Old Time Music Jam Session
11th December – Caroline et Renaud
20th November – Brian and Jodie Gummer
31st October – Valley Bluegrass
16th October – Roesy and The Seisiun
18th September – Blackboard Concert
12th September – Dancing and Drinking Society
21st August – Kate and Bob
17th July – Jack MacKenzie
11th July – The Rag Poets
19th June – The Wilding Pines
22nd May – Kim and Dusty
16th May – The AGM
15th May – Resonator
2nd May – The Remarkables
21st April – Hannah Johnson
18th April – The Bombadils
17th April – Blackboard Concert
29th March – Lonesome Pine Specials with Archer
27th March – Gordie MacKeeman and his Rhythm Boys
22nd March – Christie Burns and Micah Spence
20th March – The Prowse Brothers
8th March – Ezza Rose Band
20th February – The Proximity Trio
Second Sunday each month – Jam Session – Old Time Music Jam Session
This is a new venture for the WBS, having come together after years in the making.
It will be held on the second Sunday afternoon of each month between 2pm and 4pm at the Petone Community Centre. See Event Detail page for more information.
Over many years the WBS has organised Old-time banjo camps, then Old-time music camps and many Old-time instrument workshops. There has been a calling for an Old-time jam session to also be held. At the last Old-time music camp, we had a jam session on the Saturday night of the camp, which worked well. The task was then set, however over the last two years the problem has been finding a venue suitable and willing for us to have a jam session. Many pubs and venues were checked, with the resultant venue being where many of the workshops and camps have been held.
Embrace this opportunity and the jam session will flourish accordingly.
Friday 11th December – society night – La Voix de L’Amoureux
The Wellington Bluegrass Society welcomes Caroline et Renaud.
Renaud “R” began performing on stage at the age of sixteen. His rich experience with many groups as a guitarist, singer and songwriter has given him a great range of musical inspiration. He conducts writing workshops and music, far from seeking technical achievements, he bears interest on the intuitive hand in the creative process. He has practiced meditation since the age of 20 and it is a great source of inspiration for him. Today, his universe is sound, as is his voice and guitar. This minimalism allows us to be closer to his world and closer to him. Singing songs is more than a job, it’s an extension of his being, an existential necessity …
Renaud and his life partner Caroline will present to you their nomadic show – a journey around the outer and inner worlds.
Friday 20th November – society night – Brian and Jodie Gummer
The Wellington Bluegrass Society welcomes father and daughter duo Brian Gummer and Jodie Gummer for their first headline spot.
Brian Gummer grew up in London and from a young age was influenced by the smooth sounds of the beach boys, Jackson Browne and Gram Parsons. These influences shaped Brian into the singer songwriter he is today, putting an emphasis on melody, lyrics and harmony to create an easy listening and emotive list of original songs. Along with his originals, Brian will also be paying tribute to his heroes by covering his all time favourite songs in his own style.
Jodie Gummer shares the same passion for music as her dad, completing her Bachelor of music at Otago University. Whilst in Dunedin, Jodie became well known on the pub scene, singing covers and originals with a country pop rock feel and now plays regularly around Wellington.
Brian and Jodie offer a mix of originals and covers with an emphasis on harmony as well as rootsy rock and roll.
Saturday 31st October – concert – Valley Bluegrass
Valley Bluegrass are based in Dunedin. They say they are the southernmost bluegrass band in the world. This may actually be true.
It is just two years since they played their first gig and since then they have been in demand to play at festivals and featured concerts as well as the usual round of bars and private functions – weddings, parties etc. In keeping with the spirit of the music, they busk most weeks at the Otago Farmer’s Market where their upbeat tunes and songs have customers and stall-holders tapping their toes and smiling. They entertained the crowds at the Dunedin Craft Beer Expo in September 2014 and were feature guests at the Whare Flat Folk Festival for 2014/15.
Read Hudson (guitar, Dobro) is a renowned in New Zealand country and roots music circles. In the days when local television played real music he was a regular on live music shows. He has toured in New Zealand, Australia and the United States with various bands. Last year he has received standing ovations for his Dobro and pedal steel playing with Bevan Gardiner’s John Denver tribute show “Take Me Home”, which toured around New Zealand and Australia.
Robbie Stevens (banjo) is the beating heart of the band. He has been playing banjo and listening to bluegrass for 45 years. His regular trips to the US keep him in touch with the roots of the music. Bluegrass legend Jens Kruger once told him “You are a good banjo player.”
Richard Dingwall (mandolin) keeps the backbeat and plays the odd rattling solo on his new custom-made Berghman mandolin, made by Steve Barkman. He wrote the only original song in the group’s set, being the infernally catchy Step Aside.
Erin Morton (bass) is known to most through her other band Delgirl. In Valley Bluegrass she holds down the beat on the bass fiddle and enriches the vocal diversity of the band, adding rich harmony to the traditional tunes.
New to Wellington audiences is Carola Dunbar on fiddle. Both of Carola’s sisters play orchestral music but she has long since strayed to the dark side playing bass in country bands and now fiddle with Valley Bluegrass.
“We practice twice a week and have a regular gig at our local wine bar, the Pequeno Lounge Bar, where the usual fare is cool jazz – but they love us. We play out most weeks at the Otago Farmers Market. Our first gig was last year at a charity dinner for the Howard League for Penal Reform, where we shared the billing with Sir Geoffrey Palmer. Since then we have performed concerts, house parties, dances and plenty of busking… playing any place we can.”
Friday 16th October – concert – Roesy and The Seisiun
Seisiún – a gathering of musicians playing traditional Irish music, often held in Irish pubs.
Irish singer and songwriter Roesy is one of Ireland’s most respected touring artists. Over the past 20 years Roesy has released eight albums and performed in more than 1000 cities worldwide, sharing the stage with luminaries such as Ron Sexsmith, Billy Bragg, John Martyn, Joan Armatrading and Donovan. His work bears the influence of the ancient Irish guilds of storytelling, lyric poetry and folk song.
Joining Roesy for The Seisiún will be acclaimed Irish musicians Pat Coyne (guitar and vocals), and Gráda members Stephen Doherty (flute, whistle, melodeon, bodhrán), David Doocey (fiddle, concertina), and Andrew Laking (double bass, guitar, vocals).
Renowned Irish dancers Liam Scanlon and Charlene Morrison will complete this exhilarating performance.
Friday 18th September – society night – Blackboard Concert
A blackboard concert is an evening of floorspots, i.e. where anyone can come along and perform two numbers – bluegrass, Old-time, country or Americana.
Each act must come up with a special name for the night – one that you haven’t used before, nor your own personal name. Anyone unable to come up with a name, the audience will be asked for ideas.
* 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
Saturday 12th September – concert – The Dancing and Drinking Society
The Dancing and Drinking Society have been bringing their swing blues sounds to dance floors and craft beer bars across the capital since late 1913. When they take to the stage, guitar, horns, vocals and kick drum blend as The Society present their favourite old rarities with exactly the sort of vigour you want for some stress relieving dance times. They’ve cultivated a decent reputation for generous and openhearted live performance. If you feel like a decent drink and a leg shake or two, this would make for a pretty good option. Now with added Album! Recorded by monkeys in Russia, this Album weighs 25 kilos and has over 5000 indestruktable photos. Only $20.00 for an album!
The Dancing And Drinking Society are:
Nils Olsen – clarinet and tenor sax
Dan Yeabsley – bass saxophone and hi-hats
Mat Enright – trumpet, guitar and harmonica
Adrian Jensen – guitar, bass drum and banjo
Friday 21st August – society night – Kate and Bob
Kate and Bob
Kate and Bob are a duo based in the Wairarapa who regularly play gigs around the southern half of the North Island, either just as themselves or masquerading as part of Hard Candy. Their song list veers between swing sounds of Texas, mixed with the blues, bluegrass, something approaching jazz and some pop songs served up in the Bob and Kate way.
Bob Cooper-Grundy plays guitar and sings some of the songs, and has pursued obscurity now for some 40 odd years. He started out playing blues, but found himself quite by accident in a Rockabilly band in the eighties and quite deliberately in a couple of country bands in the nineties. He just loved the stories and even began to write some himself. He’s been known to say “I sing country songs and play ragtime and blues guitar, usually at the same time.”
Kate Marshall started with classical piano and singing in choirs and now plays violin, accordion and flute, and sings quite beautifully. You don’t have to listen that carefully to hear Bach and Mozart lurking behind Bob Wills and Merle Haggard.
Together they have recorded three albums – Over Yonder, as part of the B-Side Band; 100 Cups of Coffee, with Hard Candy and It Ain’t the Blues: a rough guide to Bob and Kate, as Bob and Kate.
They have played at most of the folk clubs in the Wellington area, at the Wellington, Auckland and Dunedin Folk Festivals and at Jazz in Martinborough.
Bob and Kate have just returned from a trip around the North Eastern United States where they spent some time playing around Augusta, Maine with their New England alter Egos “Married with Chitlins”.
They have lost count of how many times they’ve played the Bluegrass Society, but are looking forward to this upcoming show.
Friday 17th July – society night – Jack MacKenzie
Quite simply, bluegrass guitar doesn’t come any better than Doc Watson. But how many of us have jammed with Doc? Jack MacKenzie has. As manager of McCabe’s Guitar Shop in southern California during the early 70s, this singer, songwriter and picker extraordinaire had close personal contact with some of the all time great bluegrass and country music performers, including Doc, Clarence White and Norman Blake.
No wonder Jack says, “Overseeing the surge of popularity of bluegrass, folk and country music of the 70s as it took place at McCabe’s turned out to be an invaluable privilege.”
These artists have provided the principle influences on Jack’s guitar style. If one aspires to play this music the way it should be played, one certainly needs superb technical virtuosity in both flatpicking and finger style picking.
But it’s more than just a barrage of notes—more (and less) than “drinking from a fire hose”, as Frank Sillay has described some contemporary styles.
One needs to have taken in enough of this music to know—to feel—how to work the notes as well as the spaces between.
Also required is ownership of the wonderful variety of bluegrass guitar rhythms—in turn, driving, rolling, dancing, lilting. Of course there is the ability to reach deep down into the well and to sing these beautiful and passionate songs that run the range of human moods and experience.
Spend 45 or 50 years doing all of this, as Jack has, and you’ll have a shot at getting this music right.
These days, most of Jack’s guitar picking takes place at home or with friends on a casual basis. A favourite musical challenge of Jack’s is to arrange existing material into the ‘Doc Watson’ style and learn to play it.
Still writing new songs and tunes, a well equipped home recording studio has allowed Jack to generate four high quality CDs. Occasional performances keep the technical picking style disciplined and provide the ongoing challenge of presenting new material.
Currently withdrawing from work as a freshwater fishing specialist at Manawatu Hunting and Fishing, the current shift in Jack’s scene is toward more guitar repair and construction, a skill he acquired as one of the principle repairmen at McCabe’s. The satisfaction of rescuing quality musical instruments has made many of the major restoration projects he has completed worthwhile. You’ll hear some of the results at his WBS performance.
You’ll hear music from a man who digs a little deeper in the well.
Saturday 11th July – concert – The Rag Poets
The Rag Poets are Clinton Brown, Carl Evensen, Dave Murphy, Alan Norman and Vic Singe.
They have all been around for a while now, starting in the 1960s and 1970s. They have played in bands including Fourmyula, Kal-Q-Lated Risk, Rockinghorse, The Warratahs and the Windy City Strugglers, or they played with musicians such as Sharon O’Neill, Renee Geyer, Clarence Gatemouth Brown and Champion Jack Dupree. They have the best part of 300 years of NZ music history in them. With the voices and musicianship that comes from decades of being at the coalface, they have now come together to find a musical home in Rag Poets.
They play songs by Neil Young, Sam Cook, The Springfields, The Beach Boys, Hank Williams, Vince Gill and the Windy City Strugglers, amongst others; they take old songs and create something new from them and play their own originals. Their style ranges from country and blues classics to 1960s and 1970s pop to folk music, roots, gospel and country rock, with the soaring notes and vocal harmonies, guitar picking, squeeze-boxing, drums and bass that go with all of these. They attract warm and lively audiences wherever they perform in their regular gigs in cafes and bars around Wellington.
They have all lived a few lives and have more than a few stories to tell, but mostly it’s about the music, keeping faith with it and having fun along the way.
Friday 19th June – Society Night – The Wilding Pines
The Wilding Pines
are a three-piece string band from Wellington. Playing old-time, country blues and gospel standards, as well as some more recent classics, they focus more on the dark and spooky portion of the canon. Songs including You Led Me To The Wrong(Ola Belle Reed), Shove That Pig’s Foot A Little Further In The Fire and Saint James Infirmary Blues. With banjo, mandolin, cello, and vocal harmonies, they have a classic string band sound.
Simon Carryer – old-time banjo, vocals
Brendan – mandolin, vocals
Maya – cello, vocals
Friday 22nd May – concert – Kim and Dusty
Since forming 18 months ago, Kim and Dusty have become familiar faces around Wellington and throughout New Zealand. In Andrew Bicknell’s own words “They’ve toured from Bluff to Invercargill…. as well as Whangarei”.
Playing as a duo, Kim and Dusty have established themselves as a compelling act. Spectacular harmonies are the bedrock of their sound which encompasses country, blues, bluegrass and folk. This year they have performed alongside Tami Neilson, Mel Parsons, Gerry Paul and as members of The Hardcore Troubadours featuring Wayne Mason and Rob Joass.
Dusty suffers from a rare permutation of a severe condition known as Musical ADHD, which drives him to try his hand at any instrument with strings. He has lost count of the amount of projects he is currently involved in (Including The Federal String Band and The Frank Burkitt Band). “I’m kind of like the town bike….. just cheaper”, but says that Kim always brings out the best in him. “It’s truly rare to find someone with whom you can share a perfect vocal blend”.
Kim has been performing in the country music clubs of the top of the south since she was old enough to talk and grew up on a healthy diet of Emmylou Harris, The Judds, Merle Haggard and Marty Robbins. “Be it Emmylou and Gram, Naomi and Wynonna, Merle and Bonnie or my Mum and Dad, I had great role models when it came to finding harmony that tracks and compliments”. She has true clarity in her voice and is in high demand as a harmony singer.
Both as individuals and as a duo, they have been regular performers at festivals throughout New Zealand. With no sign of stopping any time soon, Kim and Dusty are set to finally record an EP – much to the delight of friends and fans. After much discussion and planning, they decided there was no place they would rather do this than at the Wellington Bluegrass Society.
Dusty says: “It is such a wonderful room and a fantastic crowd we couldn’t think of a better place to go. We were worried that we wouldn’t be able to recreate in the studio the energy that we get from being with people we know and appreciate what we do”.
Kim and Dusty will take their favourite five songs from two 45 minute sets made up of traditional and contemporary tunes, to create “Live at the Bluegrass Society”. Their arrangements of both well known and obscure songs are unique. Combined with original material, Kim and Dusty’s sound stops you, turns you around and warms the soul.
Saturday 16th May – concert – The AGM – Support by George Rose
The AGM are essentially an acoustic roots project that brings together an intimate soundscape to deliver a mix of original compositions and other material from the folk, country and jazz genres. They are a blend of three instruments and voices, all delivered with passion!
The AGM are:
Richard Adams (fiddle, vocals) – Richard’s enthusiasm for music extends to other art forms such as painting and acting. Musically he received critical acclaim with Neon Quaver, and with his own Richard Adams Quartet he had the opportunity to play with legendary flautist Paul Horn and the Wellington International Arts Festival. It is the focal point of the Nairobi Trio that Richard’s performance excels which naturally overflows into his performance with The AGM.
Paul Gurney (vocals, guitar, mandolin, blues harp) – “The voice is just genius….seriously the best vocalist I’ve heard in a long time” – Manu Taylor, National Radio
Paul combines his singing skills with insightful acoustic guitar and songwriting duties. He has had many influences over his playing and listening life – the warmth of a James Taylor, Neil Young in his acoustic mode, Jackson Browne, Ryan Adams and many others. He performs with The DeSotos. He uses a mix of acoustic and resonator guitars plus blues harp to deliver his distinctively warm, rootsy sound.
Stuart McIntyre (bass, vocals, Wazinator) – Stuart is the bass player in New Zealand’s own Americana band, The DeSotos. His early bass player influences included the late Gary Thain and Glenn Hughes and his listening preferences include Tom Petty and the rootsy John Mellencamp.
Stuart provides backing vocals to The AGM sound and does a lead vocal on occasion. He has a collection of bass guitars which include a Gretsch White Falcon Bass and a 1962 (re-issue) Fender Jazz Bass. When not being a musician, he works as a holistic life coach.
In September 2014, the band released a five track EP titled ‘UNICHORD’, which showcases the band’s versatile sound. UNICHORD is available on iTunes and also at live performances.
Friday 15th May – society night – Resonator
Resonator are five Wellingtonians in search of an authentic, acoustic bluegrass/Americana/country blues sound. Having jammed for years, and played in bands in different genres, these boys finally saw the light. It might have been “Oh Brother Where Art Thou?”, or Steve Earle, Ry Cooder, The Band, Old Crow Medicine Show, Del McCoury… or a bottle of Famous Grouse late one night around a Wairarapa campfire. At any rate, when Rod Prowse’s guitar amp caught fire, he bought a mandolin. Craig McAnderson dropped the bongos for a banjo. Bill Vella added an upright bass to his stringed instrument collection. Bernie Napp put away his Spanish guitar for an Epiphone Dove and Simon Bannock turned up with a tri-cone resonator.
Put it together and you have a distillation of pure mountain soul, raw in tone and honest in spirit. With a whole heap of influences, we should at least have a pretty interesting set list on the night.
Saturday 2nd May – concert – The Remarkables
“We are named after the Remarkables mountain range, which none of us have climbed. We started out with Neil Finlay on acoustic guitar, Bryan Christianson on banjo and Peter Parnham on bass. It started one Saturday afternoon with three mates having guitar, banjo, bass and a small measure of brown coloured throat tonic. Next thing you know the afternoon evaporated, the sun was sinking low and a whole new musical genre had evolved – bluegrasscountryswing.
In January 2013 Peter decided it was time to have another round of OE and headed off to the depths of the English winter. His replacement, Garry Trotman, has been a friend of ours for many years, having played in various lineups with Neil and Bryan throughout that time.
Then one day we jammed with Robbie Lavën and there you go – this missing link was added.
Be prepared for a pleasant surprise when you hear our treatment of familiar tunes and new favourites. Expect anything from bass slappin’ fast country, to thoughtful ballads and swing banjo, seasoned with a sprinkling of bluegrass.”
“When I was 16 years old I went along to the Devonport Folk Music Club and discovered old time blues music. The fascination I have for the music played by those old bluesmen, from another time, place and culture, has never left me, and what I have learnt from the recordings I found could be easily incorporated into other musical styles.
Music can be a bit of an obsession and within a few years I found myself sitting in the back of various trucks and vans armed with a Fender Telecaster and amp, playing blues, country and rock and roll, in a process that went on for more years than what it probably should have. Amongst these stints have been tours with some great Kiwi performers like country singer Al Hunter and the Topp Twins. I’ve had solo tours and taken off with mates to play blues and country wherever they would have us.
For several years from the mid 80s on, the Cotton Club Jazz Society and Real Groovy Records started to bring a lot of my heroes from the country and blues world out to New Zealand and I had the pleasure of meeting and playing with some of them. I had the honour of touring New Zealand with Brownie McGhee as well as concert appearances with Townes Van Zandt, Billy Joe Shaver, Champion Jack Dupree and played support for others including Buddy Guy and John Hammond Jr.
At the heart of my musical interest is the old time blues played on an acoustic guitar and I’ve had the real pleasure of guesting at all the major folk festivals in New Zealand and a few of those smaller festivals too.
These days I’m playing guitar in a dance band called Roger Skinner and the Motivation, where I’ve played for about ten years. The band itself has been going since the sixties. When I’m not doing that there’s still lots of acoustic blues to be played and then of course there’s the new adventure The Remarkables.
The Remarkables is a chance to play what we love to play but in a way that frequently takes us outside the comfort zone. Garry, Robbie, Bryan and I are having a great time with this band and if you get a chance I hope you’ll come and see us.”
“I fell in love with bluegrass music the first time I heard it being played live. That was Easter 1970 at National Banjo Pickers Convention, held at The Claudelands Showgrounds in Hamilton NZ. It is remarkable that many of the performers I saw there are my friends to this day.
Soon after that eventful Easter, I acquired my first five string banjo – a no-name instrument made somewhere to the west of the international dateline. It was good enough to get me hooked and was well used during my years at university. Learning banjo is a perfect adjunct to studying engineering.
Some time during this period I upgraded to a Fender Artist (a banjo that I wish I still had – silly me for selling it).
A move to Wellington in 1978 saw the formation of Urban Renewal. We gigged around the capital for 2 or 3 years, playing the folk clubs, several festivals and a lot of square dances.
In 1981 I set out to see the world. I ended up in Washington DC (where I had a day job at The World Bank) and stayed there for the next six years. It was an amazing time. I got to hear, see and pick with my heroes, making many new friends. The bluegrass community in the USA is just like here, only bigger, and once people got over my strange accent, I felt quite at home. Whilst in the USA I acquired my beautiful 1929 Gibson Granada banjo.
After returning to New Zealand in late 1986, I played with a couple of different bands (Southern Cross, The Terraplanes and numerous ‘pickup’ bands), playing regularly at the Auckland Bluegrass and Old Time Country Music Club, folk festivals, square dances and other venues around Auckland.
I took time off from music in the mid 90s and for the next seven or eight years, rarely thought of either my banjo or bluegrass music. In 2003 I realised there was a huge gap in my life and once more immersed myself in the New Zealand folk scene. This soon lead to the formation of Wires & Wood, with whom I still play regularly.
In 2009 I joined Neil Finlay, Al Young, Beverley Young and Garry Trotman to play in Beverley and The Clench Mountain Boys. Neil left the band in early 2010, but we continued on and are still active, playing our favourite songs from Bill Monroe, The Stanley Brothers, Gillian Welch and Garry Trotman.
In 2010 Neil, Peter and I got together to have a pick, and realised we had a sound that is different from any one else playing around New Zealand, and so The Remarkables were born.
Playing banjo in three different bands is a lot of fun. There is not much overlap in the styles and it gives me a lot of opportunity to express myself in different directions, knowing I will in each case have supportive musicians (and friends) to play with.”
Garry Trotman joined us in early 2013 and has admirably stepped into the huge hole left when Peter decided to travel. Garry is well versed in the older musical styles that we love, having been a member of other bands that also included Neil and Bryan. In addition to his work with The Remarkables, he is also currently pounding the doghouse with Beverley and the Clench Mountain Boys, award winning bluegrass group Wires & Wood and also with the C.O Jones Blues Band.
He writes great songs and has a solo album Brand New Tradition featuring his original work.”
Robbie Lavën was a special guest of ours for a few gigs after we had a jam one day. Special guest’ is of course a musician code for not part of the hard grind of regular practices – a necessity since we live in Auckland and he lives in Tauranga. But somehow, with Robbie on board it lifts the band a notch or two, and he kept coming back, so gradually a special guest turned into a regular guest, and then into part of the band.
It is not hard to see why, when you see Robbie’s pedigree and collaborations. Google his name, or Bonjour Swing, or take a look at www.marionarts.co.nz
In The Remarkables, Robbie plays all the fiddly bits on violin, mandolin, washboard and singing-saw. On occasion he has also been heard adding a rather good baritone vocal part.”
Tuesday 21st April – concert – Hannah Johnson
Hannah Johnson plays traditional old time Appalachian music. She lives in an old farm house less than a half mile from her birthplace in Keezletown, Virginia, nestled between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Alleghenies. She will tell you this and laugh, saying she hasn’t gone far in life, but the truth is that she has travelled the world, swapping stories and music with her new friends along the way. Even though her sense of adventure has drawn her to far and distant places, she feels a deep connection to Virginia, her place of birth and also the homeland of the music she loves.
Hannah began playing the fiddle as a teenager and quickly became obsessed with the traditional stringband music she heard at local fiddlers conventions. She soon picked up the banjo and guitar too, and learned tunes from friends and locals as well as from old recordings of master musicians from previous generations.
She will delight you with a mix of traditional American music, from foot stomping Appalachian fiddle tunes, sweet old songs, and mournful ballads to flat out banjo breakdowns, Cajun melodies and country blues.
Saturday 18th April – concert – The Bombadils
For over five years, rising folk stars The Bombadils have been enchanting audiences around the world with their unique fusion of traditional, world and progressive folk.
Endearingly described as “chamber folk,” the group of cinematic storytellers have intertwined their musical chops rooted in classical and jazz music (all trained at Montreal’s esteemed McGill University) around an approachable performance style that takes listeners on a journey through history and towards the future of Canadian folk.
Each hailing from their own unique corner of Canada, group members Sarah Frank (fiddle, banjo, vocals), Luke Fraser (guitar, mandolin, vocals), Alan Mackie (bass, vocals) and Anh Phung (flutes, harmonica, vocals), first bonded over a shared curiosity and love of traditional music – but have since solidified their friendship with over 50,000 kilometers of touring and countless performances together.
After the release of their debut album, Fill Your Boots! in 2012, the group toured extensively across North America in support of the album, including performances at the Deep Roots Festival, Folk Alliance International, Eaglewood Folk Festival, as well as Fiddles on the Tobique Festival and Ethno Sweden, which took them to Rattvik, Sweden for a week of performing and sharing folk music with musicians from 15 different countries. Throughout their travels, they have shared the stage with notable artists Steve Poltz, Ruth Moody, James Keelaghan, Lennie Gallant, Laura Cortese, Fish and Bird, Kristin Andreassen and Sarah Jane Scouten.
In 2014, an artist residency at The Banff Centre served as the incubator for their sophomore album, Grassy Roads, Wandering Feet, which was released in the spring of 2015. Since then, the album has been creating a buzz in the folk scene, with Penguin Eggs praising the group’s strong original compositions.
Now poised to embark on an international tour schedule that includes the U.K., Australia, Belgium, Sweden and a plethora of stops throughout Canada and the U.S., The Bombadils are set to bring the essence of Canadian folk, rooted in history, influenced by worldly neighbours, and with its own unique story to tell to audiences the world over.
“The Bombadils have all the elements of a great band – a high level of musical proficiency, deep respect for the traditional roots of their material and an engaging repertoire which holds the attention of the listener from beginning to end.”
– Amy Gajadhar, Canadian Folk Music magazine
Friday 17th April – society night – Blackboard Concert
A blackboard concert is an evening of floors spots, i.e. where anyone can come along and perform two numbers – bluegrass, Old-time, country or Americana. Everyone pays $10 entry, then at the end of the night, the audience vote on who they like the best, and the door take goes to that person or group. If there is a good turnout, then the door take could be spilt into two prizes!
Each act must come up with a special name for the night – one that you haven’t used before, nor your own personal name. Anyone unable to come up with a name, the audience will be asked for ideas.
Some possible names:
Peter Dyer and the Tribe
The East Virginia Ramblers
* 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
Sunday 29th March – concert – Lonesome Pine Specials with Archer
‘The Lonesome Pine Specials’ are an old-time music revival. They bring songs steeped in the musical tradition of Southern Americana. They lift their voices with an unadorned purity reminiscent of The Carter Family, and with an honest love of simplicity, they weave their banjos and fiddles with songs of Appalachia and tunes for the old dance halls. At times you will want to throw your feet to the boards and swing your partner beneath the stars and at others you will want to be still and listen to every lonesome lyric.
Indeed it would be easy to mistake the Lonesome Pine Specials for native Virginians, that is until you see them perform live, they are in fact a rambunctious trio from the South Island of New Zealand. Their performances are humorous and heartfelt, and although their love for music runs deep they do not approached it with sombre severity but rather a playful reverie.
The Lonesome Pine Specials are: Flora Knight, fiddle player and expat of Lyttelton’s hard travelling string band ‘The Eastern’, alongside Hannah Harding, the brains and beauty behind New Zealand’s latest prized musical child Aldous Harding, with Ben Woolley, the humble multi instrumentalist and right hand man for acclaimed globe trotting touring and recording artists Delaney Davidson, Tami Neilson, Marlon Williams and Devilish Mary & The Holy Rollers.
It is not surprising to learn that the trio first collaborated musically in Port Lyttelton, where until recently they all lived. Music has since taken them on many respective journeys, both far and wide, however they are bonded by firm friendship and a creative affinity so it is only natural that they have decided to reunite for a tour of their homelands. A tour, spanning thirty shows that will see them travel the length and breath of New Zealand, all the way from the deep south to The Northlands.
The Lonesome Pine Specials have called upon their true friend and Australian Bush Poet Archer to create a dynamic and potent live show for their New Zealand tour.
Archer, according to himself, is an old-time sing song man. Others note that he’s an outsider. He lives out there for sure, somewhere, no fixed address, anywhere or nowhere. Archer is hard to pin down.
Born in North Carolina, just short an hour from the Appalachian mountains, he’s found a roaming home in Australia. He busks, works on farms, labours, and at present he hails from deep in the Victorian countryside. He plucks guitar, writes and plays country bush blues, and every new song from Archer sounds 100 years old.
Archer’s music is stripped back and simple, sparse. There is no adornment, so all you get is the song and his big, booming voice. His influences skip back generations to the traditional country singers. Tex Morton, Smilin’ Billy Blinkhorn, guys like that. He learned to sing up North, with the Pacific Islanders.
He is a musical drifter, picking up stories wherever he goes, polishing them into honest songs. There is a sense with Archer that his music exists outside of time. Which makes sense, because he exists outside of place.
Last year saw Archer sign to Underground Melbourne vinyl label Pound Records and released his debut LP ‘Old Time Sing Song Man’. Archer also played a string of “best-on-ground” performances at Australian Festivals including Golden Plains, Mullumbimby, Queenscliff, Wave Rock and amongst others.
Provided the trucks and trains and boats slow down enough for him to jump on – Archer is pleased to announce he will be releasing and touring his album on a massive tour across NZ this March and April.
This is a show not to be missed, bring all of your friends and family and throw caution to the wind for a night of dance and song with Archer and The Lonesome Pine Specials.
Friday 27th March – concert – Gordie MacKeeman and his Rhythm Boys
Hailing from Prince Edward Island on Canada’s east coast, the multi award-winning Gordie MacKeeman and his Rhythm Boys serve up old-time roots music in an exhilarating live show that instantly enamours audiences, with jaw-dropping stagecraft and showmanship.
Whilst simultaneously playing the fiddle and exhibiting an outright disregard for the physics of a double bass, in an unforgetable live experience – Gordie MacKeeman’s thrilling ‘Crazy Legs’ dance style mixes with close-harmony bluegrass vocals, Peter Cann’s blistering guitar solos, and the lively multi-instrumental talents of Thomas Webb on vocals, banjo, guitar, pedal steel guitar and double bass, and Mark Geddes on double bass, drums, percussion, mandolin and banjo.
The band’s most recent album, Pickin’ n Clickin’, was honoured with the 2014 East Coast Music Award for Roots Traditional Group Recording of the Year, and the band were awarded the Galaxie Supernova Award at the 2012 Ottawa Folk Festival for their outstanding high-energy performance. The Rhythm Boys have performed at the legendary Glastonbury Festival, Australia’s Woodford Folk Festival, WOMAD, Celtic Connections, and throughout Canada, the UK, Ireland, Belgium, Malaysia and Australia.
In 2015 they return to Australia for WOMADelaide, the Port Fairy Folk Festival, Blue Mountains Music Festival and the National Folk Festival, as well as touring with the Wooford Folk Festival’s Festival of Small Halls, followed by just a few select performances in New Zealand – catch them while you can!
Sunday 22nd March – concert – Christie Burns and Micah Spence
Christie Burns and Micah Spence are old time musicians who, between them, play fiddle, guitar, banjo, hammered dulcimer, and piano. Their repertoire comes from some of the earliest sound recordings made in the American South, showcasing the historic musical styles of Fiddlin’ John Carson, the Stripling Brothers, the Skillet Lickers, and the Georgia Yellow Hammers. These two are frequently found leading community old time sessions, playing for square dances, gardening, and hosting guests from all over the world at their home and studio in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Recognising early on her passion for the musical traditions of the world, Christie studied Ethnomusicology at UCLA, and later followed that up with a masters degree in Folk Studies from Western Kentucky University. Always interested in bringing people together to share musical knowledge and experiences, Christie founded the Cork Dulcimer Festival in Ireland in 2002, and founded the Folk School of Chattanooga in 2009. Most recently she established her own community centered music studio in Chattanooga (www.2200bailey.com) where students of all ages and backgrounds come to learn basic musicianship and international repertoire.
The product of a musical family, Micah has grown up in the tradition of orally transmitted tunes and songs. Micah is a regional award winning fiddler, banjo player, and singer, placing in all three categories at the historic Calhoun Fiddlers Convention in Calhoun, Georgia. A passion for American vernacular music, especially southeastern America, led Micah to explore his agrarian roots. Urban farming and community gardening fills in the spaces between the music.
Friday 20th March – society night – The Prowse Brothers
They say that blood is thicker than water. Blood, or more precisely having the same parents, is certainly a requirement for getting a gig with the Prowse Brothers. These brothers have spent many years fighting with each other, fighting as a team in schoolyard tussles, sharing bedrooms in the old family home in Garden Road, Wellington, before they got their own places (which took a while), getting together for a beer and a sausage at family barbeques (eventually they managed to chat up women and reproduce) and playing music together.
So which brother is in charge of the band? I see four hands going up. Hence a repertoire that covers a variety of styles.
Chris (guitar, vocals) is a prolific songwriter who won a Tui award for his CD Trouble On The Waterfront. His songs make up an important part of the Prowse Brothers repertoire. He and Richard (double bass, violin, vocals) are the older two and both probably think they are calling the shots at practice. Daryl (included among the 14 instruments that he plays are saxophone, clarinet, accordion, keyboard, banjo and double bass) often throws a spanner into the works because no one can predict what instruments he is likely to turn up to practice with. As the youngest brother his vocal contributions at practice (and I’m not talking about singing) far outweigh his status. Rod (mandolin, guitar, vocals) also contributes a number of original songs to the repertoire and might be the sanest brother; but I’m only guessing. Define sane.
So what do these boys play? They sort of set out to play bluegrass. They had the right instruments – violin, banjo, mandolin, guitar, double bass, accordion and clarinet. Hang on, strike out those last two. The trouble was that all the boys came from different musical backgrounds that were formed by years of gigging. The trouble also is they all had different ideas. The trouble is that they were all a bit stubborn.
Oh well, in the end you’ve got to get on with your brothers, they sort of stuck everything together. Chris calls their music Genetically Modified Grass. The repertoire is basically country folkish with a fair whack of other stuff.
Okay, they have their differences, but blood is thicker than water and playing with your brothers is a pretty good thing to do.
Sunday 8th March – concert – Ezza Rose Band
Ezza Rose grew up in Julian, California (population 1500) – a mining town rich in American folk music and renowned for their world famous apple pies. She left home for the big city to fulfill her dream of studying at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, where she was enrolled in their ‘triple threat’ program; dancing, acting and singing her way to graduation in 2007. Drawing on the traditional folk sounds she absorbed in the small Southern California mining town she grew up in, Ezza began writing and performing at open mics throughout Portland. With pipes that critics have dubbed “subtle, yet breathtaking”, an undeniable natural electricity, and a unique style that is a little bluegrass, a little folk and a little something entirely her own, Ezza caught the ears and eyes of anyone who saw her perform. It wasn’t long until she was hard at work singing in a handful of Portland’s emerging musical acts as well as piecing together a band of her own, combining the talents of Craig Rupert, Nathan Hurst and Adam Mack.
Portland has been her home since she graduated from a school for the performing arts five years ago, and it is beginning to make its presence felt. The new album is a bit of a departure from the style of singing and songwriting that she and her band have perfected to such acclaim in recent years; to start, Ezza Rose is laying down her weathered acoustic guitar.
Ezza has toured North America ever since and has just landed after traversing the Alaskan wilderness, playing ‘plugged-in folk’ to all in her path. She arrives in New Zealand, band in tow, to tour the country, performing and incorporating the talents of New Zealand gems Ebony Lamb, Jess Shanks (The Eastern), Matt Langley, Ivy Rossiter and Reb Fountain along the way.
“The progression from folk to something more closely resembling rock has been organic and fluid like the rest of her history, but she is not without a significant amount of stubborn drive. This latest change is just another indicator that Rose is, above all, a consummate musician.”
– Anchorage Press
“[Poolside] is a high, lonesome listen, its stark arrangement showcasing her clear, powerful voice above all. Poolside is dream-like and fairly gorgeous…”
– Portland Mercury
“Ezza is a being capable of surreal creations, using her vocal cords to bend our perception of sound and create an album that actually transports you to a place you never thought you could go.”
Friday 20th February – society night – The Proximity Trio
“The Proximity Trio”
After a half a decade and for only the second time this century, the Wellington Bluegrass Society once again plays host to the celebrated ensemble The Proximity Trio, which includes upon it’s roll not only Graham Lovejoy but also Frank Sillay, bringing you a selection of the finest works of such revered performers as The Delmore Brothers, The Carlisle Brothers, The Hall Brothers, The Old South Quartet, Coley Jones, Irving Jones, and more.