2020 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
16th October – Tony Burt
10th October – Andrew London
26th September – the Downunderdogs
19th September – Barry and the Crumpets
18th September – Carol and Costa
21st August – Stephen Riddell
1st August – Kelburn Viaduct Municipal Ensemble Jug Band
17th July – Shane Delaney
20th March – Blackboard Concert
14th March – You Me Everybody
7th March – Gene and Gayla Mills
29th February – Jackie Bristow
21st February – String Fellows
16th February – Workshop – Rachel Hair and Ron Jappy
15th February – Rachel Hair and Ron Jappy
1st February – Richie and Rosie
17th January – Tim O’Brien and Jan Fabricius
11th January – Mickey and Michelle
10th January – The Melling Station Boys
Second Sunday each ‘odd’ month – Old Time Music Jam Session and clawhammer banjo workshop
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.
Second Sunday each ‘even’ month – Bluegrass Music Jam Session and bluegrass banjo workshop
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.
Friday 16th October – society night – Tony Burt Lockdown Lullaby
Tony Burt is an adventurous character! Over the years he has followed his passion for the creative arts and challenged the boundaries to create a unique voice in music and film. Tony manages to combine his multi disciplines as musician, composer, documentary film maker, videographer, photographer, film editor, sound designer, producer and performer, to entertain and inspire. This is now culminated to create the world of KettleWink.
As a musician, Tony is well known in folk music circles for his work on the resonator guitar and in recent years as a member of the band Across The Great Divide. Tony’s resonator and guitar performances cover a wide range of styles from drawn from Americana, Celtic origins along with many original compositions.
Tony was instantly hooked on the resonator and worked to uncover the mysterious versatility that produces speed, bite and exquisite melody. Over the last six years he has travelled to Nashville for ResoSummit and studied under the tutelage of some of the best resonator and steel players in the business including Rob Ickes, Sally Van Meter, Mike Witcher, Andy Hall, Cindy Cashdollar, Randy Kohrs and Jerry Douglas.
On his first trip to Nashville Tony managed to book a spot at the world famous Bluebird Café. On being invited back to the stage for the final number, he went out on a limb, threw caution to the wind and sang his own song Why Why Why Wairarapa, a performance that had the whole audience learning Maori place names and joining in a rousing chorus that brought the house down.
Tony’s first short film, Te Aurere me te Papaa (Passion and Conflict), was selected by National Geographic for their All Roads Film Festival and premiered at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. Inspired by the film makers and adventurers he met, started Tony on a journey of feature documentary films, indigenous and social justice projects and media that made a difference. This culminated in the unique film “The Snapper Sandwich”. Arguably a world first documentary feature film where narration and music was performed live onstage by the director.
Drawing inspiration from the fanciful adventures in a corner of the KettleWink world, Tony Burt – Lockdown Lullaby is a curious musical in the making. Welcome to a place in time and history where the lines between reality and fantasy are osmotic. With a mix of musings, stories and some seriously adventurous musical performance on resonator and guitar, Tony will entertain for at least 45 minutes! ( which may appear longer, shorter or closer than you think!) Joining Tony on stage during the performance will be Karen Jones, one of the best supporting rhythm guitarists either side of the osmotic line.
Saturday 10th October – concert – “Let’s Talk About Me” the Songs of Andrew London Book Launch
Over the last three decades, Andrew has written an enviable catalogue of songs, produced over a score of albums and performed a countless number of concerts. Now for his first book, fresh off the press, with seventy five of these songs plus one poem compiled into this volume, with a Foreword provided by none other than The Right Honourable Sir Geoffrey Palmer, KCMG AC QC.
Born in Whanganui in 1961, Andrew London’s first stage appearance was at age 11 as one of the Three Little Maids in a primary school production of The Mikado.
Despite this early setback, he went on to become a full-time singer, guitarist, songwriter and entertainer, based mostly in the Wellington area but travelling and performing extensively throughout New Zealand, and occasionally abroad.
He began writing satirical and comedic songs with his Hot Club Sandwich trio in the early 2000s, and continues despite objections.
Comparisons have been made to Tom Lehrer, Tim Minchin and Noel Coward, even the late John Clarke confessed to being a fan. A Radio New Zealand technician once quipped “You’re Flight of The Conchords for Rest Homes”.
“Devilishly clever wordplay”
– Downbeat U.S.A. 2005
“One of the wittiest songwriters NZ has produced”
– Bing Turkby, NZ Musician 2010
“Each song a telling vignette of truth, but told with such clever lyrics and lively melody lines that the audience was often on the edge of their seat waiting for the punch line”
– Manawatu Standard 2006
“Witty lyrics that would draw quiet laughs of agreement from Mose Allison and Dave Frishberg”
– Downbeat U.S.A. 2014
“This book owes its existence to lots of people who have been asking for it over the years. (They really have). The most recent was Lloyd Chapman who unknowingly gave himself a hospital pass, and has ended up doing the ‘grunt’ work compiling and setting out the words and pictures etc, and coping with all my pedantic edits with such good humour and patience. Every week for several months he has received at least one ‘Oops I forgot this one’ email from me.
“I’m enormously grateful to Sir Geoffrey Palmer for providing such a generous foreword, and for demonstrating such impeccable taste and discernment in attending so many of my gigs over the years.
“Huge thanks to the legendary Bob Brockie who contributed such priceless illustrations. I’ve been a fan of Bob’s political cartoons for years, and to have a trio of ‘bespoke’ Brockies featuring in this book is pretty special.
“I’m forever indebted to all my musical collaborators in Hot Club Sandwich, The Cattlestops and Too Many Chiefs, who so enthusiastically embraced these songs and brought them to life with their talent and expertise, especially Terry Crayford who was so encouraging in the early HCS days.
“Lastly thanks to my lovely wife and bass player Kirsten, for being such an invaluable sounding board, and for letting me know when I get too provocative and have to pull my head in.”
– Andrew London, August 2020
The musicians joining Andrew for this occasion will be:
Saturday 26th September – concert – the Downunderdogs
Like their music, Jack, Peter and Cathy are American born and bred. They enjoy discovering, digging into and arranging ‘Americana’, country, bluegrass, old-time and swing music. Their repertoire includes originals by Jack and Peter.
Jack’s flat-picking is inspired by Doc Watson. He has picked with Doc and a host of other stars at McCabe’s Music, the legendary venue Jack managed and performed at in Los Angeles from 1971 to 1980. Jack has recently added the sweet sounds of pedal steel to the musical array. Otherwise he keeps busy building his own line of hand made Simian Ridge branded guitars.
Peter plays rhythm guitar and loves singing and yodelling songs by Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers and others from those times. In addition, two of his best known compositions are “Go Ahead and Cry” and “The Immigrants’ Song.”
After years of listening to Peter and Jack play, Cathy finally added the big double bass and chimed in to create gorgeous three-part harmonies.
The Downunderdogs have featured at the Wellington Folk Festival, Wellington Bluegrass Society, Auckland Bluegrass Club and Kiwigrass.
Saturday 19th September – concert and album launch – Barry and the Crumpets
It all started in 2017 on a dark midwinter Wellington night, when three friends Brendan Schenk, Simon Carryer and Donald James started jamming together with mandolin, banjo and cajon. As the night wore on, the tunes got stompier, their friends danced faster and before they knew it the band was born. After 18 months of gigging around markets, bars and house parties in Wellington, Rachel Evans joined the fray on fiddle. 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 and swampy blues.
Barry and the Crumpets are:
– Brendan Schenk: vocals, mandolin
– Rachel Evans: fiddle
– Donald James: vocals, cajon
– Simon Carryer: vocals, banjo, cello banjo
Friday 18th September – society night – Carol and Costa
Carol Bean is a guitarist, singer and songwriter, who was recently seen at the Bluegrass Society with the Kelburn Viaduct Municipal Ensemble Jug Band and is presenting a range of her own songs, along with those of recording artists who have influenced her song writing such as Kevin Welch, Shaun Colvin and John Haitt. Joining her is guitarist Costa Botes, vocalist Holly Carrington and percussionist Andreas Lepper.
Costa Botes is best known as a documentary film-maker and has toiled over a string of quirky movies about stubborn eccentrics who pursue their unreasonable passions to a point where material failure starts to resemble a kind of nobility (Forgotten Silver, Struggle No More, The Last Dogs of Winter, Act of Kindness, Angie). However not many people may know that Costa is a dedicated guitar nut and has spent most of his life playing stringed instruments.
In 2008, Carol and Costa, together with Robbie Duncan of Braeburn Studios fame, produced the music documentary ‘Yes That’s Me’ about Kiwi bluesman Dave Murphy, which was accepted into the NZ International Film Festival that year. During the production process, Carol sat in Costa’s editing studio, annoying him endlessly by one by one taking his musical instruments down off the wall and playing them. Finally Costa joined in and they quickly found they could weave together the music that they most enjoyed. After the film release, Carol invited Costa to play banjo in her Mount Misery String Band, who had their debut at the Wellington Folk Festival.
Whilst rehearsing with Costa for their upcoming WBS Guest Spot, Carol looked out her window and saw her gardener Andreas Lepper carefully pruning her old lemon tree. “There’s our percussionist!” she cried out to Costa. Carol enticed Andreas into the house with promises of coffee and as he entered she put a drum into his hands. Andreas is a highly respected and experienced percussionist and a renowned music tutor. Unbeknownst to her, the man had recently fallen in love with bluegrass music and being the pro that he is, he promptly picked up the tempos of their songs like a duck to water. Joining Carol on a couple of songs will be Holly Carrington from the Skiffy Rivets. They recently joined voices at Tony Burt’s Mid-winter Holler.
Friday 21st August – society night – Stephen Riddell
Stephen Riddell was born in Christchurch and has been telling stories since he learned to talk. He started studying classical music at the age of five, mostly with focus on the piano, with a few years of guitar lessons, and continued to play music until his last year of high school. At this point the pressure and competition of classical music became too intense and he stopped playing entirely.
Having given up on music, Stephen turned towards filmmaking and sound engineering. He graduated from Victoria University in 2014 with a BA in Film and created Riddell Productions, a production company that he runs with his twin – Michael Riddell. The two of them then got to work creating Portrait of a Knight (2018), a feature film musical about a painting that comes to life, as well as many music videos and documentaries that can be seen via their website.
After releasing Portrait of a Knight, Stephen happened to catch a few gigs at the Wellington Bluegrass Society and fell in love with the storytelling of folk music. By the end of the year he had bought himself a $20 harmonica and picked up a few old-time tunes. Since then he has expanded his harmonica collection, started re-learning the guitar and piano, written a number of songs and arranged many traditional ballads.
Stephen has been steadily building his repertoire by producing a series of EPs that he released digitally on Bandcamp. The response to these has been quite positive, including a few plays on local radio. One of his songs Buddha of the Backwoods, has recently been picked up as a single by an American distributor, so it may even make it to international radio. Buoyed by this, Stephen has organised for his best tracks to be re-mastered into a single album titled Sonic Spaces that is now available on CD.
photo courtesy of Michelle Mae Cameron
Saturday 1st August – concert and CD launch – Kelburn Viaduct Municipal Ensemble Jug Band
In July 2013 Pip Payne, who had made a name for himself in various blues, gospel and swing jazz combos in Wellington, as well as in far off lands including Mother England, spoke to Neil Worboys, ex-Bulldogs All-Star Goodtime Band member, about the possibility of getting a jugband together to play at the Kelburn Village pub. Neil immediately contacted other sometime juggers Bill Wood, Maurice Priestley and Steve Carlyle, and told them that they were in the band. Pip designed a poster and the Kelburn Viaduct Municipal Ensemble Jug Band was born.
Before the band had their first practice, in 2014 they were booked to play at jazz and blues festivals in Palmerston North and Upper Hutt by entrepreneur Roger Fox. Irregular gigs at the Kelburn Village pub and Thunderbird Cafe also in Wellington, kept the requisite skills honed on kazoo and tea-chest bass and they added gigs at other Wellington venues including The Rogue and Vagabond, RoomFullaBlues at the Bristol, Moon and the Cross Creek Blues Club in the Wairarapa later that year.
2015 started with a Summer City Gardens Magic concert at the Wellington Botanical Gardens where they shared the bill with the reformed Bulldogs All-Star Goodtime Band. This led to the KVMEJB being invited to entertain the film crew on the set for the Disney film Pete’s Dragon. Another highlight for the KVMEJB later that year was being invited to present their own concert on the programme of the Wellington Folk Festival.
The year finished off with the band recording and releasing a LP CD “Stomp Around the Floor”. The songs on the album represent a sample of the music they play including songs of Robert Johnson, Leadbelly and other inspirational pioneers of blues and jug band music, alongside original material by Pip, Neil and Steve. The end of 2015 saw Pip moving on from the band and replaced in 2016 by Carol Bean, installing her own trunk load of jug band and string band songs and experience.
Kelburn Viaduct Municipal Ensemble Jug Band music is a mix of original songs, which intentionally and vaguely follow the styles of Robert Johnson, Leadbelly, the Jim Kweskin Jugband and other inspirational pioneers of blues and jug band music, and cover versions of the above-mentioned heroes.
They recorded their second album in 2019, which will be released at the Wellington Bluegrass Society as part of this concert.
Neil Worboys – vocals, banjo, mandolin, blues harps, kazoo, jug, whoops
Carol Bean – vocals, guitar, mandolin, hollers
Maurice Priestley – mandolin, guitar, banjo, vocalisations, kazoo, sounds
Bill Wood – vocals, tea-chest bass, Dobro, harmonised vocalisations
Steve Carlyle – vocals, guitar, washboard, tea-chest bass, squeeze box, harmonised vocalisations
For this concert, Dennis Wraight will join the band on washboard
Friday 17th July – society night – Shane Delaney
Shane Delaney was first properly introduced to the banjo by an American friend who was both a banjo player and a bagpiper. Despite this red flag, Shane started playing the banjo anyway. His friend wouldn’t return to Vermont until Shane bought his own banjo and had learnt some clawhammer basics during a week-long crash course. Shane then took to learning old-time banjo, picking up lessons where he could at Bluegrass Society workshops and festivals.
On a return trip to America, Shane had decided to buy a banjo made by Ome. As fate would have it, the trip included a stay in Colorado and Shane managed to swing a side trip to Boulder, to the Ome banjo factory. There he met the founder of the company and several long-standing luthiers. The workshop had recently suffered severe flooding and production had been on hold during the clean-up. Fortuitously, there were two banjos on hand and Shane was able to walk away with his prized Ome Wizard old-time banjo. With this new instrument in hand, Shane was motivated to play even more.
Now with several small children and a wife who isn’t so keen on the banjo, time for playing is a bit restricted. Shane mostly gets his banjo playing fix in the WBS Society Night floor spots, escaping to the odd festival when he can and by running an old-time banjo club at the high school he teaches at.
Shane plays mostly old-time Appalachian tunes and songs in the clawhammer banjo style, with a healthy dose of modern Americana, a sprinkling of country and even the occasional original.
Friday 20th March – society night – Blackboard Concert
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
Doors open at 7:30 – Door sales only
Come and try out our new condenser mic, donated by Bill and Philip Vella!
A jam session will follow – Bring your instruments and join in
Saturday 14th March – concert – You Me Everybody
Their backgrounds are as diverse as their ages and musical styles. Brothers Laurence and Sam Frangos-Rhodes are best known for their contributions to family band RhodeWorks. Laurence builds and plays beautiful guitars and his songwriting crosses boundaries of effortless and mature in the same breath. Sam oozes musicality, he will play mandolin, fiddle or bass in a nonchalant manner but his talent clearly shatters the illusion of his youth. Nat Torkington is the resident banjo player for the Pipi Pickers. He constantly pushes his own boundaries and encourages other musicians to explore and challenge the bluegrass form. James Geluk is a graduate of the NZ School of Music and an audience member once declared James’ fingers to be like spiders as they travelled their way around his bass. Kim Bonnington has a heart of pure country. She is equally comfortable at centre stage as she is a backing vocalist, and is known as one half of Kim and Dusty but also for providing harmonies for a range of NZ acts.
You Me Everybody celebrate the best of the myriad of talents they possess. You’ll hear traditional bluegrass alongside experimental rhythms. Their musicianship will be evident from their instrumental prowess as well as their close, soaring harmonies. They released their self-titled debut EP in January featuring six original tracks. Their two month NZ tour started at The Auckland Folk Festival in January then headed south before coming back up to the North Island to play venues in New Plymouth, Taupo and Napier before finishing their tour in March.
Saturday 7th March – concert – Gene and Gayla Mills (Virginia, USA)
“Take the cornerstones of acoustic Americana, add a touch of bluegrass, country and folk, mix together with dedication, superb musicianship and then add precise harmonies. If these songs don’t move you, then your soul is made of stone”
– Tim Carroll, folkwords.com
Gene and Gayla Mills play new roots music—modern folk tinged with bluegrass and country, featuring Gene’s award-winning original songs. In their latest album, Walk on Solid Ground, Gene and Gayla appeal to the head and heart with original songs exploring the breadth and nuance of life. Gene’s songs tell rich stories, many based on real people from Virginia—miners, farmers, lovers, and soldiers. The song “Another Day” has won two songwriting awards, and “No Dominion Over Me” has become a rallying cry for those fighting the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. Gene and Gayla’s debut album If Stones Could Talk reached number five on the Roots Music Report Folk Chart and number 11 on the Folk DJ chart.
Gene has won over twenty country, folk, and instrumental songwriting awards, with several award-winners appearing on his debut album ?Waiting for Rain. He is also an accomplished flatpicking guitarist and lead singer. Gayla’s bass playing—solid, rhythmic, and melodic—is accompanied by her tender harmonies. Her book Making Music for Life recounts their musical journey, then provides readers with hundreds of ideas to help them do more with music.
Gene and Gayla have played at the Oak Grove Music Festival, Southeast Regional Folk Alliance (official showcase), Crozet Music Festival, Richmond Irish Festival, Nashville Songwriter’s Festival, and Fredericksburg Songwriters’ Showcase. They’ve played in listening rooms and bars, at house concerts, weddings, and funerals, and with musicians of all stripes.
Married for over 30 years, Gene and Gayla have been playing as a duo since 2004.
?“The dynamic between the both of them is just beautiful. It’s a sweet thing to watch”
— Karen Atkinson, WHAN Radio.
Saturday 29th February – concert – Jackie Bristow
“Jackie Bristow has a very distinctive voice and style that drips with soul and life stories”
– Tommy Emmanuel
Born in New Zealand, transplanted to Australia and now the United States, with a guitar, suitcase and songs, Jackie travels light but packs a heavy punch.
Jackie has had the honour to be the opening act for many of her musical heroes. Opening for Bonnie Raitt in New Zealand on her 2013 “Slipstream” tour was a dream come true. Jackie was invited back in 2017 to join Bonnie Raitt on her “Dig in Deep” NZ tour. Jackie also opened for the Steve Miller Band in the US 2016, and opened for Foreigner in 2017.
Jackie also did a lengthy tour opening for internationally acclaimed guitar legend Tommy Emmanuel in 2011. Jackie and Tommy played to sold-out theatres across USA. Jackie then rejoined Tommy on his nationwide tours in 2015 and 2016.
Jackie has been the opening act for many other well-known names over the years, including Marc Cohn, John Oates, John Waite, Bettye Lavette, B.J. Thomas, Joe Ely, Marcia Ball, Charlie Robison, Rick Springfield, Bob Schneider, Jimmy Lafave, Euge Groove, Ruthie Foster, Howard Jones, Herbert Gronemeyer, Phoebe Snow, Art Garfunkel, Daniel Lanois, Madeline Peryoux, Jimmy Webb, Paul Williams, and Shawn Mullins, amongst others.
Jackie’s live performances captivate audiences. One reviewer of her show on the Tommy Emmanuel tour wrote: “Opening for a musical giant like Emmanuel would seem a daunting task, but Bristow was relaxed as her soulfully-seductive melodies reverberated within the auditorium. Her beautiful voice and earnest songs resonated with the audience, and they applauded her eagerly. Near the end of the show, Bristow joined Emmanuel on stage for an amazing duet that received a standing ovation.”
Jackie’s songs have been used repeatedly in Australian and New Zealand film and television hit shows such as Go Girls, The Secret Life of Us, Home and Away, Outrageous Fortune, Shortland Street and Go Big. Her original song “This is Australia” won Tourism Australia’s Nationwide Competition and was featured in their worldwide promotional campaigns for three years. Songs from the “Crazy Love” and “Freedom” albums were programmed into rotation at 7,000 Starbucks locations nationwide in the US.
In 2014, Jackie was awarded New Zealand Southland Music Ambassador of the Year.
Jackie has proven to be an artist who shows no signs of stopping. In 2017 Jackie relocated to the music mecca of Nashville, Tennessee where she recorded her 5th album, working with producers Viktor Krauss and Rick Price and this was released in 2019.
Friday 21st February – Society Night – String Fellows
Warwick Murray and Dougal Speir are String Fellows, although their full name is The Flying String Fellows.
They play guitars, banjo, harmonica, voices, percussion and blukulele. They perform original blue-tinged music from across the world. Warwick recently caused an online sensation with his ukulele version of ‘Voodoo Chile’ and was recently in the NZ Albums Top 10 with his band The Fabulous Murray Brothers. Dougal Speir is best known for his time with the iconic Mangaweka Junction Blues Band. Dougal also regularly performs with Dave Murphy as the Red Dog Acoustic Duo, which is an acoustic spinoff from their other band the Red Dog Saloon Band.
Sunday 16th February – workshop (harp, fiddle, guitar) – Rachel Hair and Ron Jappy
Embrace this fantastic opportunity to learn from two of Scotland’s most superb instrumentalists and experienced tutors! Rachel and Ron both have years of experience of tutoring group workshops and curate their workshops to suit the level of participants, with a focus on enjoyment achievement.
Scottish Harp with Rachel Hair
Rachel Hair is one of the world’s leading teachers of Scottish harp. Her 15 years of touring has led her to perform and teach at numerous International harp festivals in the USA, Japan, Russia, Europe and at home in the UK. She has released 5 critically acclaimed albums, published 4 harp books and was nominated Tutor of the Year in Scotland a few years ago. This is Rachel’s first visit to New Zealand so don’t miss this amazing chance to learn some of her favourite Scottish tunes from her.
Scottish Guitar with Ron Jappy
Critically acclaimed for his driving rhythm and accompanying of tunes, Ron Jappy is one of Scotland’s most sought after guitar accompanists, having played with many of Scotland’s top bands, including Skerryvore, Manran and The Scott Wood band. So come along and learn his tricks of the trade in guitar accompaniment, as well as learning how to fingerpick a few Scottish melodies yourself.
Scottish Fiddle with Ron Jappy
Ron, from the North-East Scottish fishing village of Findochty, first love is Scottish fiddle workshop, having been schooled in the North-East style from a very young age. So come learn some top rate Scottish tunes from this award winning fiddle player whilst learning about the Tradition he grew up in… we’re sure he’ll even teach you a few curious North-East Doric phrases!
Workshops are by ear, with music given out at the end of class.
Saturday 15th February – concert – Rachel Hair and Ron Jappy
Take the oldest Scottish instrument, the clarsach (harp), and the newest addition to the traditional music arsenal, the guitar, and throw them in the musical blender of Glasgow and the result is Rachel Hair and Ron Jappy. Superb instrumentalists with a shared passion for traditional tunes, they perform as if sharing one mind. Both from fishing villages rich in musical tradition, they sought to expand their understanding and studied music in Glasgow, training formally during the day and attending the famed night-time sessions of the city.
Don’t expect to get a nap in during a performance by Rachel and Ron. Whilst they may lull you for the start of a set into thinking you will hear spa-ready harp music, please don’t be fooled. The first clue is when you notice that Rachel stands while playing. Her hands dance on the strings while her body dances with the harp as she blasts pre-conceptions and breaks out of the box while joyfully exploring the versatility of this beautiful instrument. Passionate about sharing the history of the harp and the culture of Scotland, the duo charm audiences wherever they go. From crisp Strathspeys and heartfelt airs, to virtuosic reels and driving jigs, Rachel and Ron have combined their influences to embrace the rich cultural tradition in Scotland.
Ron, originally and still a fiddle player, grew up in Findochty and was a finalist in several of the UK’s most prestigious fiddle invitational competitions – the Glenfiddich Fiddle Championship and the Highlands and Islands fiddle Masters. He started playing guitar while studying music in Glasgow and has toured with Skerryvore, Scott Wood Band, Jamie Smith’s Mabon, and the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musicians of the Year, Hannah Rarity and Clare Hastings.
Rachel received First Class Honours when she left Ullapool and went to study in Glasgow, where she received a BA in Applied Music. She is regularly invited to both teach and perform at harp festivals around the world. Rachel is regarded as a specialist in Celtic harp, no easy task for someone so young. Rachel has released five CDs and four books of harp arrangements and original compositions.
(photo by Sam Hunt)
Saturday 1st February – concert – Richie and Rosie
Richie Stearns and Rosie Newton grew up a 150 miles and few decades apart. Whilst both were raised by professional cellist, Richie started playing banjo at 14 and Rosie began classical piano lessons at eight, eventually moving to classical viola as a teen. Both shared incredibly unique, musically-immersed childhoods: Richie’s family founded the iconic GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance (which he is now President of) and by her junior year of high school, Rosie was playing fiddle and touring with folk rock band The Mammals. During that time, the two were introduced at Saratoga Springs’ Flurry festival — a meeting that would spark a fated friendship and unique musical bond.
“He left an impression on me because he was wearing Converse. I had never seen an adult wear Converse before” says Rosie, reflecting back on the first time she shared the stage with Richie. As a Woodstock native, she graduated high school and decided to move to Ithaca after being drawn to the thriving old-time scene — which happened to also be Richie’s stomping grounds. While studying viola at Ithaca College and playing fiddle on the side, Rosie started incorporating folk with her traditional Celtic and classical upbringing. Meanwhile, Richie was a well-established singer and banjo player in the community, having performed around the world with Bela Fleck, Pete Seeger, David Byrne, Billy Bragg and Wilco, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Joan Baez. In addition to releasing two solo albums, Richie was adding to his endless discography, which includes three Natalie Merchant records, multiple collaborations with Jim Lauderdale and Donna The Buffalo, and Carrie Rodriguez.
During Rosie’s freshman year, the two finally began touring together regionally as part of the Evil City String Band, where they were joined by bass player Ben Gould, Steve Selin on fiddle (in addition to Rosie), and guitarist Paddy Burke. Eventually they decided to pursue a more intimate project as a duo and in 2013 released Tractor Beam, a 12-track mix of originals and classics, including Townes Van Zandt’s “If I Needed You” and “Say Darlin’ Say”, a traditional lullaby. Being their first exclusive release as Richie and Rosie, the pair wanted to give fans a polished recording of the songs that they played live.
After three years of touring and writing, the duo returned to the studio last December to record their second full-length album, Nowhere in Time. The record finds itself at a junction of Americana, old-time, and folk, bringing a new sound to traditional music. Recorded with producer Alex Perialas at Pyramid Sound Studios, the album highlights the incredibly-refined skill of both musicians — and while the majority of the album is a simple combination of fiddle, banjo, and captivating melodies, the duo manages to pack an incredibly full sound.
“At the beginning, we were thinking it might be a project with lots of other people involved, more of a big production. As we went through it, we realised that the magic lies within the duo. We have an intimacy of music and we feel the power of two people playing. That’s who we are” says Rosie.
Nowhere in Time gives fans a look inside the band’s personal lives, with a variety of introspective lyrics. While some songs are more light-hearted, like “Honey Bee”, which Richie wrote to “lure” his girlfriend back to the East Coast, others face more serious topics. Rosie stepped out of her comfort zone for one of the few lyrical co-writes between the two being “No Longer Lonely”, to write about a close friend passing away. “I actually began writing it a couple of years ago — I would give it to Richie, he would tweak it, and we ended up going back and forth maybe six times. It was a different way for both of us to work and humbling to have our creativity challenged by each other. In the end, we came up with something really beautiful that reflects both of our musicality. I needed to see something beautiful come out of that dark moment.”
However, the most interesting story on the album might be the one behind the title track. After receiving an unexpected phone call from the American Association of Retired Persons, Richie wrote a song for the organisation that chronicled ‘life after 50’, in addition to other ultra-specific stipulations. “They set up a recording date for the song before it was even written. So I’m sitting in my living room, crumpling up paper and trying to write a song about reinventing yourself after 50. I thought, ‘I’m going nowhere with this’” Richie says about the song that turned into appreciating the present, “That’s what the song was actually born out of. You can look back and look forward, but we aren’t done with life, we’re just where we are. It’s about focusing on the moment.”
Ironically, the commissioned song became one of their most well-received songs and defined exactly what the duo hopes to achieve — music that many can connect with. With the fated combination of Richie and Rosie’s unique skill, varied musical influence, and honest storytelling, Nowhere in Time does just that. As two musicians in two very different parts of life, Richie and Rosie are proof of two things: the power and magic of two people making music, and that the universal messages that lie within their songs will remain timeless.
Richie and Rosie blend traditional and contemporary sounds, outrageous punk banjo, powerful evocative fiddle with beautiful vocal harmonies. Richie is an innovator of five-string banjo much loved for his “mantra-groove spooky-banjo style”. Rosie is a ferocious fiddler who’s work spans many musical styles.
Friday 17th January – concert – Tim O’Brien and Jan Fabricius
Born in Wheeling, West Virginia on March 16, 1954, Grammy Award winning singer songwriter and multi instrumentalist Tim O’Brien grew up singing in church and in school. Gaining attention in the 1980s with Colorado’s Hot Rize, O’Brien scored a country hit in 1986 with Kathy Mattea’s cover of his song Walk The Way The Wind Blows. Soon artists like Nickel Creek and Garth Brooks also covered his songs. Collaborators include his sister Mollie O’Brien, old time musician Dirk Powell, and songwriters Darrell Scott, Steve Earle, and Mark Knopfler. O’Brien formed his own record label, Howdy Skies Records, in 1999, and launched the digital download label Short Order Sessions (SOS) with his partner Jan Fabricius in 2015.
Notable O’Brien recordings like the bluegrass Dylan covers of Red On Blonde and the Celtic-Appalachian fusion of The Crossing led to Grammy winning CDs Fiddler’s Green (2005) and The Earls of Leicester (2014). In 2017, Where the River Meets the Road paid tribute to the music of his native West Virginia. The 2019 release, Tim O’Brien Band, features well known players Mike Bub (bass), Shad Cobb (fiddle), Patrick Sauber (banjo/guitar) and Jan Fabricius (vocal and mandolin). Shaping Tim’s blues, jazz and Celtic influences within a string band setting, they transform five originals and eight well chosen covers into his own unique brand of bluegrass.
Tim O’Brien performs in a duet setting with his partner Jan Fabricius on harmony vocals. Featuring his solid guitar and fiddle, performances showcase a range of original compositions and traditional arrangements, mixed with stories and Tim’s self-deprecating humour.
Jan Fabricius grew up in western Kansas. Her father was a wheat farmer and US Postal worker and her mother was a nurse. Her older sister Diane taught her piano and later mandolin. She played clarinet in her high school band and was in choir in school and church. She has attended the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield KS since 1976 and also enjoyed attending various bluegrass festivals over the years, singing and jamming around the camp grounds. She is a Registered Nurse. She raised two sons and has three granddaughters. She started dating in 2011 and in 2013 moved to Nashville. The two play fiddle tunes and bluegrass songs around home. Tim and Jan started a label for singles called ‘Short Order Sessions’ which Jan added harmonies to some of those tracks. Then when Tim made his recording, Pompadour in 2015, she sang background vocals on several songs and was soon singing on stage with Tim. Her early influences include Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Hot Rize, New Grass Revival, Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell and Norman Blake, amongst many others. Her vocals and mandolin are also featured on Tim’s recordings Pompadour, Where the River Meets the Road (2017) and the latest 2019 release Tim O’Brien Band.
Saturday 11th January – concert – Mickey and Michelle
From Australia, Harpist Michelle Doyle and violinist/vocalist Michael O’Donnell have embarked on walking the Te Araroa Trail. They are also bringing their instruments with them to perform a series of concerts along the way. Their six month adventure will take them through the major cities, rural locations and scenic mountains while their instruments are couriered to each gig. The duo are thrilled to be releasing their debut album ‘A Walking Pace’ in this unique way and are donating 20% of sales from merchandise to osteoporosis research, a subject very close to their hearts.
Michelle was born into a musical family and has performed professionally on the harp from the age of eleven. She studied classical performance and has gone on to perform with Paul Kelly, Shane Howard and Fiona Ross. Her compositions reflect the deeply rooted energy of her Celtic upbringing whilst balancing her attention to detail and nuanced phrasing from her classical studies.
Mickey developed a passion for jazz and his playful improvisations are ever-present in his original compositions. His creamy voice is reminiscent of a young Chet Baker as he croons, growls and hums his way through uniquely poetic lyrics and soars through ethereal high notes.
Together the two combine their skills to create a unique and exciting blend of contemporary folk music. Come see Mickey and Michelle in concert as they perform until their fingers are as sore as their feet are.
Friday 10th January – society night – The Melling Station Boys
“We are the best bluegrass band in Wellington. We know this, as there are no other bluegrass bands based in Wellington, hence we rightfully assume this title. At our last appearance at the WBS, we were known as the Melling Station Boys. Since then we have changed our name to The Melling Station Boys, as we feel this makes us sound much more important. Over the last three years we have been hired to perform annually for the Christmas party of a local group, however they decided to get another band last year. Reason: none given. Admittedly they didn’t pay us, so that shouldn’t have been a factor, but we conclude that we got too good for them.
“We are very happy for our adopted sponsor, NZ Rail, who inadvertently gave us a railway station as our mascot, and at no charge (to date). We’re not worried that a train derailed there about ten years ago, when it tried to angle park next to the railway station. That manoeuvre clearly failed, resulted in sick leave for the driver and huge payouts to all passengers on that particular service, and in addition, over the following few weeks, subsequent services having to park about 100m from the station whilst the wreckage was sorted out. Despite this, we continue our support to NZ Rail by performing at least one train song during every performance.
“After our last appearance at the WBS, two people confirmed verbally, and to us directly, that we are not bad. We know there were other comments, all said out of earshot, however we assume they were all positive, but as they couldn’t be heard, also said by people that retreated far enough away from our company, so we have been unable to confirm this.
“For this show, we will have our full five piece lineup. This includes Giacomo (who is not in the photo), who throughout the last year spent more time out of the country with international audiences than here. This is as opposed to the rest of the band, who spent more time in Wellington than anywhere else in the region. Giacomo was so busy that he only attended two band practices last year. However he has attended more than that this this year. Consequently we are positive that things are looking up for 2020.
“Being a Lower Hutt band, we are striving to become as famous as our local hero Gerry Paul, who can play every instrument in our lineup better than any of us, and can muster a much more famous lineup than we could ever hope to. However we are resigned to the fact that at the minimum, all we will manage is to just having that dream.
“At the conclusion of our show, you will be served with a complimentary cup of Dilmah tea, or two. You may even get a slice of our renowned date loaf, if you are lucky, all provided on the house.”
“These guys are fantastic!”
“Wow, I got see must this guys!”
– first Facebook comment for this year, interpreted and traced to someone in Uzbekistan
“We’re famous for not being famous!”
– The Melling Station Boys
“Usually bios are written in the third person. However as The Melling Station Boys were unable to encourage, summon, plead nor pay anyone to write their bio, they wrote their own, in the first person.”
– photo courtesy of Donald Laing