2019 Past Events


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2019 events are listed below

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

Second Sunday ‘odd’ months – Old Time Jam Session and clawhammer banjo workshop
Second Sunday ‘even’ months – Bluegrass Jam Session and bluegrass banjo workshop

31st March –  Fiddle Workshop with Krissy Jackson
30th March –  Hot Diggity
15th March –  Polly and the Minstrel
9th March –  Smith & McClennan
15th February –  Dennis Duigan & Ramblin’ Ash
19th January –  The Lonely Heartstring Band
11th January –  The Melling Station Boys



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Second Sunday each ‘odd’ month –  Old Time Music Jam Session and clawhammer banjo workshop


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 ‘odd’ month (Jan, Mar, May, Jul, Sept,Nov) between 2pm and 4pm at the Petone Community Centre.

Over many years the WBS has organised Old-time banjo camps, then Old-time music camps and many Old-time instrument and Bluegrass workshops. There has been a calling for jam sessions to also be held.

Embrace this opportunity and the jam session will flourish accordingly.  For this year, Bluegrass jam sessions are on “even” months, and Old-time Music jam sessions are on “odd” months.

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Second Sunday each ‘even’ month –  Bluegrass Music Jam Session and bluegrass banjo workshop


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 ‘even’ (Feb, Apr, Jun, Aug, Oct, Dec) month between 2pm and 4pm at the Petone Community Centre.

Over many years the WBS has organised Old-time banjo camps, then Old-time music camps and many Old-time instrument and Bluegrass workshops. There has been a calling for jam sessions to also be held.

Embrace this opportunity and the jam session will flourish accordingly.  For this year, Bluegrass jam sessions are on “even” months, and Old-time Music jam sessions are on “odd” months.

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Sunday 31st March – “Beyond the Tune” – Fiddle Workshop with Krissy Jackson


Krissy Jackson is a classically trained violinist who discovered fiddle music at the age of 14. Now her diverse style of fiddling is a reflection of her many musical passions. Touring extensively around NZ and Australia, Krissy is a sought after musician for her ability to slot into any style. In 2017 she sought to hone her craft with an extensive tour through Ireland, Boston, San Fransisco, Germany, Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island – studying many styles and genres from teachers around the world.

Going beyond a ‘traditional’ fiddle workshop where you often learn the tune devoid of technique, in this workshop Krissy will cover:
+ some of the essential bowing techniques to create better tone
+ fiddle back-up – the ‘chop’, double stops, counterpoint in the spaces of the melody
+ improvisation – variations on a theme
+ likely a new tune or three

The workshop will be available for any string player with an emphasis on the fiddle, so cellists and viola players would be most welcome.

An intermediate level of playing would be beneficial as would the ability to pick up a tune by ear.

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Saturday 30th March – concert – Hot Diggity

Hot Diggity are the only all female bluegrass band in New Zealand. They perform in the bluegrass tradition, vintage style. They play original songs by Heather Carrigan (mandolin, guitar and vocals) and Deborah Mackenzie (guitar and vocals) along with plenty of bluegrass favourites. The lineup also includes Jenine Abarbanel (bass and vocals), Sue Drake (banjo and vocals) and Krissy Jackson (fiddle and vocals). They put out a powerful, lively sound with hot instrumentation and tight harmonies.

Hot Diggity were formed in 2014. All five members are veteran musicians, having played for years with numerous other bands and in a variety of musical styles. Heather comes from a musical family and since childhood has been active in the country music scene. In her 20s she discovered bluegrass and truly fell in love. She has played with bands in Australia and the United States and now lives in Dargaville. Hot Diggity is her brainchild and she does most of the heavy lifting, musically speaking. She writes powerful songs for and about women, a rarity in the bluegrass world. At the same time her music is fully steeped in the classical bluegrass tradition and sounds like it could have been written in the golden age of bluegrass. Deborah has always loved to sing. Growing up in the Salvation Army gave her a great introduction to music and harmony. Previously Deborah sang in a three part harmony trio in Auckland called the Wendy Lus. In 2010 she released an album of originals “The Ride” with Peter Neumegen. Deborah also plays in an acoustic group called Rainberry Pie who explore many acoustic styles, from alt-country to western swing. She is a singer songwriter who enjoys her guitar, but LOVES to sing. She takes pleasure in writing songs particularly about themes that resonate with other women. Living in the tiny seaside village of Leigh, Jenine came to music later in life, learning to play the stand-up bass in 2006 so she could jam with her bluegrass playing family. A singer since childhood, what she lacks in talent and skill she makes up for with energy and chutzpah. Sue lives in Whangarei and is a “camper from way back”. Active and athletic, she brings energy and dedication to her playing. Sue has played guitar for decades in a number of bands, in both the rock and country genres. In 2012 she picked up the five string banjo and bluegrass music, as she says “to keep life interesting”. Indeed that is what it is all about! From New Plymouth, Krissy has been playing violin since the age of two and is proficient in numerous genres of music. Hot Diggity is her first bluegrass band and she enjoys the challenges and new techniques which this presents. In 2017 Krissy released her solo debut album “Have Fiddle, Will Travel”, with tracks featuring all of her various musical partners, including one titled “Ghost Railway” by Hot Diggity.

Devoted to the bluegrass tradition and the time period of it’s birth, the Hot Diggity ladies only perform whilst kitted out in the finest 40s and 50s vintage style attire.

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Friday 15th March – society night – Polly and the Minstrel

Polly and the Minstrel
are Siobhan Sweeney and Nathan Torvik, who are a longstanding duo from Nelson.

Siobhan’s heartfelt vocals and original songwriting, together with Nathan’s sensitive guitar accompaniment and instrumental abilities have endeared them to audiences around the country and abroad.

Nathan is an expert instrumentalist who might possibly play a mix of guitar, mandolin and cello but may also play anything else he has available to him. His dexterity is amazing and he achieves a sound that is complex and interesting. Nathan has played guitar and mandolin for years, in a range of styles but when he took up the cello a few years ago, it was without any attempt at the traditional approach. Sometimes it is like a guitar, sometimes like a bass and only occasionally like a cello.

Siobhan has a truly beautiful voice that can be both powerfully big and rich as well as gentle and lilting. Siobhan has been singing all her life and perhaps her Irish heritage has given her such a lovely voice. Whatever the case, Siobhan‚s voice is velvety, lyrical and effortless. Together they create music with heart.

Their 2019 summer tour will feature Siobhan’s original modern folk songs alongside favourites from their wide ranging repertoire, anything from roots based traditional folk and bluegrass flatpicking, to the baroque era and African grooves. Siobhan will be deftly underpinned by Nathan’s multi-role guitar accompaniment, including simultaneous chords, melody, bass and percussion. Siobhan and Nathan’s on-stage chemistry and relaxed and unassuming delivery makes for a warm and engaging atmosphere.

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Saturday 9th March – concert – Smith & McClennan

Multi award winning Scottish singer Emily Smith and New Zealand born songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jamie McClennan have been making music together for over fifteen years. Having spent much of 2016 off the road with Emily on maternity leave, the couple took time to focus on writing new material. The fruits of their labour are two albums, the first ‘Unplugged’ was released on in April 2018. ‘Unplugged’ features ten tracks with seven previously unrecorded songs and includes three preview tracks to their studio album coming out in 2019.

The duo’s new sound features originals by McClennan and reworked traditional material from Scotland and New Zealand, drawing on influences from the folk tradition, Americana and beyond. With rich vocal harmonies, accordion, fiddle and sublime guitar backing, they are one of the most vibrant duos on the UK folk scene today.

Smith’s accolades include BBC Radio Scotland’s Young Traditional Musician of the year, two BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards nominations and twice winner of Scots Singer of the Year at the Scots Trad Music Awards. Meeting in 2002 when McClennan moved from NZ to Scotland, fiddle player Jamie soon became an integral part of Emily’s sound, taking on the role of lead guitar and backing vocals and producing several of her albums. They have performed throughout Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Russia and North America.

Alongside their solo careers they have performed with many musical greats including Richard Thompson, Barbara Dickson, Jerry Douglas and Mary Chapin Carpenter. TV and Radio appearances include Transatlantic Sessions, BBC Songs of Praise, Good Morning Sunday on BBC Radio 2, Bob Harris Show and The Folk Show with Mark Radcliffe. Emily’s original song ‘Find Hope’ was also chosen as part of the official playlist for BBC Radio 2 in December 2016.

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Friday 15th February – society night – Dennis Duigan & Ramblin’ Ash

Dennis Duigan picks and hollers heartfelt songs of broken love, hardship and sorrow. His characteristic sound is born from a vocal falling somewhere between high lonesome and soulful blues, cast over a foundation of flatpicking and fingerstyle guitar, and clawhammer banjo. Using this platform he draws from the vast canon of American roots music to deliver a selection of old time, pre-war blues and mountain folk songs, which speak to the ever-present woes of humanity. Live performances gravitate between upbeat toe tappers and pensive melancholic ballads, occasionally attempting to deliver an old fiddle tune or country blues rag. An EP with three original songs and two traditionals is in the pipeline for early 2019.

You might find Ramblin’ Ash Constance picking old country songs for grey nomads at a free camp in rural Victoria, or playing at a crowded blues bar in Brisbane city – wherever and whenever she turns up, there is always a story to be told and a tune to be sung. With a voice like birdsong and the rollicking, rough and tumble of a true traveller, she will break your heart then charm your socks off and leave you longing for a life on the road.

From Australia, the two have teamed up for a NZ tour starting at the Wellington Bluegrass Society.

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Saturday 19th January – concert – The Lonely Heartstring Band

Nourished by deep roots in the expansive canon of traditional American music, The Lonely Heartstring Band embodies the modern American condition—an understanding and reverence for the past that informs a push into the future. George Clements (guitar, vocals), Patrick M’Gonigle (fiddle, vocals), Charles Clements (bass, vocals), Maddie Witler (mandolin) and Gabe Hirshfeld (banjo) bring together their own musical styles to create a sound greater than the sum of its parts.

Combining soulful instrumental virtuosity with soaring three-part harmonies, their growing repertoire of original songs and compositions showcases not only their considerable talents, but a dedication to meaningful roots-conscious music.

Since their beginnings in 2012, The Lonely Heartstring Band have been on the rise and shows no sign of slowing down. With their 2015 IBMA Momentum Award and their 2016 release of their debut full-length album, Deep Waters, on Rounder Records, there is every reason to hope that they are at the front edge of a significant career.

Already they have generated a devoted following of music-lovers across North America, performing and headlining at major music festivals and historic venues from Western Canada to California, from Kentucky to New Hampshire. Whether it’s a festival stage, theatre, or intimate listening room, The Lonely Heartstring Band always delivers a dynamic, diverse, and heartfelt performance. Over the last three years of touring, the band has crafted shows that generate a genuine connection and bring crowds to their feet.

Eager to hit the road again in 2019 to promote their second album, The Lonely Heartstring Band will continue bringing thoughtful, energetic, and memorable performances to audiences across the country and around the world.

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Friday 11th January – society night – The Melling Station Boys

photo courtesy of Don Laing

“They’re the best bluegrass band in the lower half of Hutt Valley, by a country mile!”
– Myrtle Ethelbridge

“Melling Station is at the end of the line. Does this have any implications for the band?”
– Frank Scaglione, Saturday 17th November, 10:53pm

“Oh come on, Melling Station is at the beginning of the line! Cup half empty versus cup half full!”
– David McNeill, Monday 24th December, 4:57pm

“They’re not half bad”
“They’re not half good, either!”

– conversation between the two cynical elderly Muppet gents

“Hang on a minute, there are only four of them in the picture. We were told there were five. Fake news!”
– Hortenese Ethelbridge

“Has Andrew become the band’s back scratcher?”
– name withheld

“Bill Monroe was known to have performed some of their repertoire”
– resident bluegrass expert

“I’d pay good money to see them”
– Anonymous

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