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

20th September –  Barry and the Crumpets
14th September –  The Muggingtons
7th September –  Valley Bluegrass
24th August –  Downunderdogs
16th August –  Karl du Fresne
20th July –  Kim Bonnington and the Brooklyn Boys
19th July –  Derek Kirkland
6th July –  Raven Mavens Quartette
21st June –  The Alicetown Three
15th June –  Katie Martucci, Jessica Hindin, Mark Mazengarb
8th June –  Andrew London Trio
25th May –  Harvest Moon
17th May –  Bruce Carey
12th April –  Blackboard Concert
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


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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Friday 20th September – society night – Barry and the Crumpets

Barry and the Crumpets are a foot-stomping, barn-romping country dance extravagance. Playing old-time classics, breakneck standards and swampy blues. All played toe-tapping fast and knee-slapping rowdy.

It all started in Wellington when three friends started jamming together with banjo, mandolin and cajon on a dark midwinter night in 2017. As the night wore on, the tunes got stompier, their friends danced faster and before they knew it a band was born.

After 18 months of gigging around markets, bars and house parties in Wellington, a fiddler joined the fray. The band have since been honing their particular flavour of upbeat, old-fashioned mountain music and three-part harmonies with a smattering of Celtic roots.

Barry and the Crumpets are:

Brendan Schenk: vocals, mandolin
Rachel Evans: fiddle
Donald James: vocals, cajon
Simon Carryer: vocals, banjo, cello Banjo

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Saturday 14th September – concert – The Muggingtons

The Muggingtons formed in 2018 when Kim Bonnington was asked to sing at a wedding. Her flatmate at the time, Michael Muggeridge, would stomp the floorboards out in his bedroom while he sang and played his way through his evenings, so she asked him if he would join her to add some colour to the set. They arrived at the gig to find them listed as Kim Bonnington and Michael Muggington, and so the duo was born.

Having flatted together for 18 months without really playing together, to then discover their vocal blend and natural song choices were naturally complementary, was exciting. Kim has always been known for her beautiful strong voice and delicious harmonies. Likewise Michael for his unmatchable enthusiasm whilst he picked a storm on his guitar. Together The Muggingtons explore the best of Americana with such tight harmonies that even they have to occasionally stop to consider which one of them is singing the melody.

Michael Muggeridge first picked up a guitar at the age of ten. His early influences include Peter Charlton-Jones from Napier, his dad Steve Muggeridge, and having attended the Tahora Music Festival in Whangamomona, Taranaki. He has played as a fill-in for lineups including Albi and the Wolves and has recently been added to the Wellington based band T-Bone with his new friends Richard Klein, Gerry Paul and Aaron Stewart. These days Michael is aiming to play music for love whilst holding down a part time job.

Kim Bonnington was also born into a musical family and has been performing since the age of four. As both a child and a teen, she was a regular competitor in a variety of NZ Country Music Awards and credits her vast knowledge of traditional and old time country music from her many years singing with her Dad at the Tapawera and Nelson Country Music clubs. More recently Kim toured the country both as one half of the popular duo Kim and Dusty and with band promoting her self titled debut EP. She is currently building an impressive reputation with her new band Kim Bonnington and the Brooklyn Boys and as part of the progressive bluegrass band You, Me, Everybody. Kim loves her time with The Muggingtons for the opportunity to sing great harmonies and celebrate the joy of making music with Michael.

The Muggingtons are impressing Wellington audiences with their set choices that celebrate the best of Michael’s picking and their combined vocal diversity. An evening with The Muggingtons will seamlessly travel the historical highway from songs by old time country duet acts such as the Louvin Brothers and move into more modern territory to celebrate the likes of Gram Parsons and Gillian Welch.

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Saturday 7th September – concert – Valley Bluegrass

Valley Bluegrass formed seven years ago, out of a group of mainly banjo players who got together for jams in North East Valley, Dunedin and after few inevitable personnel changes, the band are still playing regularly at bars, restaurants, dances and other venues around Dunedin and through Central Otago with Carola Dunbar on fiddle, Robbie Stevens on banjo, Dave Colecough on upright bass and Bevan Gardiner on guitar.

They prefer to play pretty much straight up bluegrass, some of it from way back and others quite recent.

Carola is from family of classical musicians but she put that aside for many years until discovering old time and bluegrass fiddling, just in time to join the band. Robbie got his first banjo about 50 years ago, after hearing the Hamilton County Bluegrass Band in Alexandra, but really got into it after attending some of the Australian Bluegrass conferences in Maleny ten years ago plus a few banjo camps in the USA. Dave has been with the band for three years and Bevan a little over a year. Both he and Dave are full time guitar and music teachers, great singers and well known in the country music scene, Bevan especially for his lead role in the John Denver Tribute Shows.

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Saturday 24th August – concert – Downunderdogs

The Downunderdogs are Jack MacKenzie, Peter Dyer and Cathy Dyer. This three-part vocal/instrumental blend features country, bluegrass flat picking guitar, old-time country, swing and originals. Not to mention yodelling and cowboy poetry!

Like their music, Jack, Peter and Cathy are American born and bred. For decades Jack and Peter have been discovering, digging into and helping revive the wonderful music that is now labelled “Americana”. Jack grew up in Southern California. His splendid flat-picking evokes, amongst others, Doc Watson. This is no coincidence, as Jack has picked with Doc and a host of other stars in the musical firmament at McCabe’s Music—the legendary venue in Los Angeles that Jack both performed at and managed from 1971 to 1980. Peter’s roots are in “Little Dixie”—a region of Missouri settled in the early 19th century by his Dad’s Virginian and Kentuckian ancestors. Peter plays rhythm guitar and loves singing Hank Williams and Jimmie Rodgers, as well as his own compositions. These include “Go Ahead and Cry” and “The Immigrants’ Song.” Cathy Dyer hails from the heartland. Born and raised near Detroit, she grew up learning classical violin whilst listening to Motown. After years of listening to Peter and Jack play, she finally picked up the double bass and chimed in for three-part harmonies.

The Downunderdogs have featured at the Wellington Bluegrass Society, Auckland Bluegrass Club, Bent Horseshoe Cafe, Cafe One2One, then festivals including Tahora, Te Rangi, the Mid Winter Holler and the 2018 Wellington Folk Festival. Laughs are an important part of each performance. As their motto says: “We’re not happy ‘til you’re not happy.” [sic]

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Friday 16th August – society night – A Road Tour of American Song Titles, by Karl du Fresne

Karl du Fresne grew up in Hawke’s Bay in the 1960s, listening to the Lever Brothers Hit Parade and the Sunday request session on radio Station 2ZC. He bought his first long-playing record ‘Crying’, by Roy Orbison, with his earnings from a paper round and was taught guitar by New Zealand country music legend Rex Franklin. Music aside, he has spent his working life in newspaper and magazine journalism as a feature writer, columnist and editorial executive. He is a former editor of Wellington’s Dominion and wrote that paper’s official centennial history in 2007. His other publications include The New Zealand Wine-Lover’s Companion and The Right to Know: News Media Freedom in New Zealand, for the Newspaper Publishers’ Association. Karl lives in Masterton with his wife Jolanta, who is also his travelling companion.

After a childhood of listening to songs about American towns and cities such as Kansas City, El Paso, New Orleans, Detroit and Tulsa. He found himself wondering what sort of places they were and what had motivated pop composers such as Jimmy Webb, Hal David, Neil Sedaka and Chuck Berry to write about them. With a career in journalism as a base, also being a former musician and keen amateur musicologist, he eventually decided to find out for himself. Thus was launched a serial pilgrimage that took him on three American road trips that covered thousands of miles and took him to 24 towns and cities, from Abilene to Wichita and Memphis to Mendocino.

The result was his book ‘A Road Tour of American Song Titles From Mendocino to Memphis’, where each chapter is devoted to a specific hit song and the town that inspired it. Karl combines information about the songs – who wrote them and why, who recorded them, how well they did on the pop charts – with astute observations on US history and culture. He explores the rich musical connections of cities such as New Orleans, Memphis, Nashville and Detroit and describes detours to out-of-the-way places such as the gospel church in the Louisiana Delta where a young Jerry Lee Lewis performed for the first time, the Tallahatchie bridge made famous in Bobbie Gentry’s ‘Ode to Billie Joe’ and the lonely Mississippi graveyard where the legendary bluesman Robert Johnson lies buried under a pecan tree.

This book is a celebration of the pop music that provided a background soundtrack for so many New Zealanders of the author’s generation.

Karl will talk about his experiences, exploring the rich musical history behind the classic American songs of the 50s, 60s and 70s on this road tour of song titles. Karl will also perform a few of the songs and will have copies of his book for sale, at a heavily reduced price, especially for those who attend.

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Saturday 20th July – concert – Kim Bonnington and the Brooklyn Boys

“Kim is steeped in the deep tradition of country and bluegrass, you can hear the years of singing honky tonk music every time she opens her mouth. I love this woman!”
– Tami Neilson

Kim Bonnington has firmly established herself in the Wellington folk and country music scenes as the girl with the golden country voice. She is celebrated as a solo artist but also for her harmonies, where she has worked with artists including Bill Hickman, Anxiety Club, Tami Neilson, Rob Joass, Mel Parsons, The Frank Burkitt Band and with Cameron ‘Dusty’ Burnell as Kim and Dusty.

In her early years, Saturday nights began with a quick nap on a beanbag while her parents played gigs in the small country halls around Nelson. When awoken to join the post gig jam sessions, it was here that Kim learnt her craft and established the substantial repertoire that she draws upon today. Reared on a solid diet of Emmylou Harris, Merle Haggard and Gram Parsons, Kim’s roots are firmly planted in traditional country music, country rock of the 1970s and the neo-traditional 1980s. Through her childhood and teens she was a regular contestant in New Zealand country music awards before moving to Wellington to pursue a career in education. In 2014 as Kim and Dusty they released Live at the Bluegrass Society and in 2016 she released and toured her self-titled debut EP.

“The songs sound like ones that we’ve heard before, or definitely should have, a testament to Kim’s work with numerous bands and her ability to craft songs that sound like classics”
– Second Hand News

Kim Bonnington and The Brooklyn Boys celebrate the traditional country music that Kim grew up with and they are a vehicle to sing the songs she has known for years but never performed. Featuring dynamic acoustic instrumentation, the band have a repertoire that celebrates the best of Kim’s voice and the talents of Laurence Frangos-Rhodes (guitar), Sam Frangos-Rhodes (mandolin and fiddle) and Tommy Joass (bass). Expect to hear the best of a brotherly blend in harmonies as Kim Bonnington and the Brooklyn Boys celebrate the traditional sound heard in the early days when the Grand Ole Opry was held in the Ryman Auditorium.

“Kim’s voice seems to have the history of classic folk and country embedded within it, something most singers could only dream of. Soulful songs stacked with integrity; meaningful and uplifting”
– Barnaby Weir

photo courtesy of Ebony Lamb

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Friday 19th July – society night – Derek Kirkland

“Derek was born in 1939 to non musical parents. Most of his life he has lived on the small farmlet on a hill overlooking Plimmerton. Derek has never joined the drift to the city, instead the city has drifted towards him, as all the empty farmland surrounding him has been filled with suburban sprawl. He never married and has spent his life shearing in the Wellington region, in recent years tending the sheep on Plimmerton and Pauatahanui lifestyle blocks.

“In the 1960s he joined the Wellington Country and Western Club and began writing songs. He also learnt guitar, fiddle, autoharp, mandolin, mouth harp and double bass. He later joined the Plimmertion Bush Band and the Celtic Cowboys, performing at barn dances and ceilidhs. He has also been in country singing duos for many years.

“He has written over 100 songs. His songwriting closely observes the daily rural life about him, with clever rhyming and quiet humour. Ragwort and pet lambs, council roadmen, mice in the mash tin, pony clubs and daggy bum ewes are all part of his songscape.

“His ballads, like those about his Uncle Mervyn and Winks Jones, paint vivid pictures of farming life around Wellington in days past and he also has the knack of quickly getting a topical song to air using a parody of an old but instantly recognisable song.

“Paddy the Wanderer” was one of his compositions with his friend Ed Budding of Tawa, recorded in 2018. This was about an Airedale terrier who roamed the streets of Wellington during the depression years. Paddy was a friend of cabbies, workers and seamen alike, who took turns at paying his annual dog licence. Paddy was known for greeting sailors in Wellington harbour and accompanying them as a stowaway on their coastal steamers.

“Derek has no intentions of changing his lifestyle in any way. He is happy with his life and spends his non working time pottering in the garden and glasshouses and tending his horse. He has a 1965 Ford Galaxy convertible, but mostly uses one of his 1979 minis for daily transport. He has a collection of three to choose from.”

– extracts reprinted with courtesy from the Whitby Newsbrief  – photo of Derek (excluding artwork) courtesy of Julian Ward

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Saturday 6th July – concert – Raven Mavens Quartette

Raven Mavens started as a duo with Cindy Muggeridge rocking the boogie and blues on piano and Marian Carter on soulful clarinet. These two fun-loving, versatile performers brought sweet harmony and a sassy, happy-go-lucky slant to their music.

The duo became a trio when they added Anje Glindemann on drums. Anje has the philosophy of playing the ‘song’ and not the ‘drums’ (whilst actually playing the drums), sometimes light, sometimes rocking, but always with a solid feel.

The trio became a quartette with the addition of versatile virtuoso Kate Marshall on accordion, flute, violin and vocals. Kate started her musical life as a classically trained pianist, but had a tendency to improvise the ends of Mozart sonatas. It was decided that she should find some music to play where that was legitimate.

Each of these women is a musician worth hearing in her own right, playing and singing in other lineups, but when they get together there’s a unique and beautiful synergy. Expect this talented combination to dish up a variety of music and styles, from great divas like Bessie Smith and Nina Simone, to their own original songs. The mood will range from sensitive to burlesque, with a bit of story telling and hilarity on the side.

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Friday 21st June – society night – The Alicetown Three

Bill and Phil Alicetown grew up in the dark hollers and deep valleys of Upper Hutt. They spent their days exploring the wild Akatarawa valley, McCurdie’s Castle, the road of Moonshine, the mighty Hutt river, the misty peaks of the Remutukas, the wide plains of the Wairarapa and the scorching south Wellington coast, in search of musical treasure.

Raised on a steady diet of Saint Saens, The Seekers, The Kingston Trio, Donovan and the Clancy Brothers, then discovered the Beatles in the late 1960s. They learned to play music on their dad’s 1956 Hofner President, an old Lyon and Healy five string banjo and two German violins from the 1880s.

They have put together a bunch of songs from some of their favourite artists including Jimmy Rodgers, Hank Williams, Hank Snow, Jim Morrison, Johnny Cash, Lowell Fulson, Marty Robbins and Elvis Presley, plus a few classic bluegrass numbers. They are joined by their distant cousins Doug Alicetown (mandolin), Pat Alicetown (guitar) and Amber Alicetown (bass). Together they make up the Alicetown Three. They never had much time for ‘book learning’ and cain’t count too well neither. They all have an appreciation for Large American cars and great American music from the 1950s.

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Saturday 15th June – concert – Katie Martucci, Jessica Hindin, Mark Mazengarb

All the way from New York, don’t miss Katie Martucci on her brief tour of New Zealand. Joined by renowned NZ musicians Mark Mazengarb (guitar) and Jessica Hindin (violin), this will be a night of world class swing, old time and Gypsy jazz music.

“I’m really excited to be able to bring Katie out to New Zealand – I first saw her perform at a festival in the USA and was blown away by her voice and guitar playing”

“If you like Norah Jones, Django Reinhardt, Swing or Old Time music – you’ll love this show!”

– Mark Mazengarb, who is organising the tour.

Hailing from the rich musical history of the Catskill Mountains in New York State, Katie Martucci grew up singing, and playing fiddle and guitar. The daughter of a jazz pianist, she began performing with her father at a young age. By the first grade, she was writing her own songs and playing for tips. Her musical journeys led her to the Ashokan Western and Swing Week Fiddle and Dance Camp, vocal lessons with Laurel Masse of Manhattan Transfer, a brief stint of collegiate acappella at Skidmore College and ultimately, to the New England Conservatory. While at NEC, Katie studied voice, fiddle and songwriting in the Contemporary Improvisation Department, and had the opportunity to study with Dominique Eade, Ran Blake, Hankus Netsky, Carla Kihlstedt, and Eden MacAdam-Somer.

Mark Mazengarb is kiwi guitarist who recently spent seven years touring the USA full-time with American guitarist and singer Loren Barrigar. Mark has performed with many other world class musicians, including Tommy Emmanuel and Frank Vignola. (www.lorenandmark.com)

Jessica Hindin is one of New Zealand’s most sought after violinists for her versatility and virtuosity. Classically trained, she has performed with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra but is also renowned for her superb improvisation – reminiscent of the great Stephane Grappelli.

Mark has previously performed in concert at the WBS as a solo artist, with Loren Barrigar, also with Nigel Gavin and Colin Speir. Mark and Jess have previously performed in concert at the WBS with the group Beyondsemble.

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Saturday 8th June – concert – Andrew London Trio

Saxophonist Nils Olsen joined Terry Crayford and Andrew London’s Hot Club Sandwich trio around 2006, at which point the HCS ‘revolving door’ policy towards its third member was very quickly abandoned. His dexterity and versatility on both sax, flute and clarinet, along with his strong vocal skills made him indispensable and he contributed to four of Hot Club Sandwich’s nine albums before relocating to Germany in 2009. The trio also made forays to Australia and Norfolk Island during this time and completed several nationwide ‘Arts on Tour’ concert tours throughout New Zealand. In 2010 Nils was flown from Hamburg to join HCS in Saudi Arabia for a series of engagements at the NZ Embassy.

He returned to New Zealand in 2012 and quickly picked up where he left off with the newly formed ‘Andrew London Trio’, who have since recorded six albums and travelled extensively up and down NZ, to Australia, the Pacific islands and Indonesia on cruise ships, and to Norfolk Island each year for the Island’s Jazz Festival. Contacts made there over the last few years have resulted in a series of engagements to be fulfilled in the Melbourne area in late June of 2019, from where Nils will once again fly to Germany to rejoin his family – this time indefinitely.

The Andrew London Trio for this WBS performance will be: Andrew London (guitar), Nils Olsen (sax) and Kirsten London (bass)

Andrew and Kirsten are obviously saddened by his imminent departure and keen to celebrate the ‘Olsen years’ with a send-off performance of their favourite tunes at the Wellington Bluegrass Society on Saturday June 8th. The audience can look forward to a mix of Andrew’s cynical and comedic social commentary, and some well-loved standards from their 2018 album ‘Standard Deviations’.

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Saturday 25th May – concert – Harvest Moon

Harvest Moon are a supercharged six pack of local country musicians who have all been performing for over fifty years. The lineup includes George Packard (bass and mandolin), Robert Antonio (percussion), Dave Wellington (guitars), Garrett Evans (pedal steel), Wayne Mills (piano and bass) and Rob Reid (guitar). They will perform a tasty repertoire from some of the greats including Neil Young, The Louvin Brothers, Don Henley, James Taylor, The Marshall Tucker Band, Randy Travis, Brooks and Dunn, Brad Paisley, Vince Gill and more.

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Friday 17th May – society night – Bruce Carey

When he was six years old, Bruce Carey took piano lessons for about a year and then switched to violin, which he played until he was sixteen. He played in his school orchestra each week for assemblies and for most school productions. On leaving secondary school, Bruce stopped playing and did not play an instrument nor follow music for around 35 years. He deeply regrets those lost years of music but upon reflection he attributes his loss of interest to both the constant rehearsal of a certain type of music and the lack of opportunity to interpret works in ways other than what the conductor wished. To rekindle his interest in music, Bruce avoided the previous experience. He attends and enjoys many gigs as an audience member. If performing, Bruce plays his own songs.

Around 2010 Bruce decided to have a go at playing guitar. Following this he enrolled in a Community Education songwriting course, which developed his interest in writing songs. Near the end of 2014 he was encouraged to perform songs at an open microphone event and has been doing so ever since.

Bruce writes songs about family, people, love, loss, places, events from NZ history, injustice and protest. Sometimes, an idea will develop from a simple thing such as a photograph, a conversation, a news report, a movie or a visit to a place. He has started recording songs in the home environment and is experimenting with adding still images on a video time line.

The photo shows Bruce at Shield’s Flat in Otaki Gorge, in the location of the dry wall stockyards, built by men in the great depression work scheme of the 1930s. It relates directly to lyrics in his song ‘Hautere Turnips’ – which he will be singing at the WBS.

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Friday 12th April – society night- Blackboard Concert

(one week early, due to Easter weekend)

A blackboard concert is an evening of floor spots, 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 they haven’t used before, and not your own personal name. If anyone is unable to come up with a name, the audience will be consulted for suggestions.

1. Two numbers per act
2. bluegrass, old time, country or Americana
3. every act must come up with a name, one they haven’t used before

A jam session will follow
Bring your instruments and join in

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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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