2023 events are listed below 

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

jam sessions and banjo workshops
The jam sessions are run on the second Sunday of the month, year-round, alternating old-time and bluegrass month about.  The old-time jam is the first half (2:00-3:30pm) and bluegrass jam the second half (3:30-5:00pm).  You can come for one. or the other, or both! The Banjo Workshops (booking essential) are between 2pm and 4pm.

Second Sunday – Old Time and Bluegrass Music Jam Sessions 
Second Sunday – Banjo Workshop

9th December – Back Porch Bluegrass
25th November – Twango Redux
17th November – The Kist
11th November – Hoot’n’Annies
13th October – Hope and The Hobo
30th September – Luthiers Corner
15th September – West Road
9th September – Barry Saunders
18th August – a Blackboard Concert
5th August – Triske
21st July – Ratproof
8th July – The Madillionaires
24th June – Dave Murphy and Janet Muggeridge
16th June – Faultline Valley
27th May – Frank John and Erin Manu
19th May – The Bitter Brothers
21st April – Holloway Inmates
15th April – Fiddlesticks
1st April – Tango Dance – La Wellington Típica
17th March – Port Hillbillies
4th March – New Valley Stompers
18th February – Sassafras Bluegrass Band (USA)
17th February – a Blackboard Concert
28th January- Harvest Moon
14th January- Criú
13th January- Bidibids


Second Sunday each month – Jam Sessions and Banjo workshop

Held on the second Sunday afternoon of each month between 2pm and 3:30pm for the Old Time Music jam session and 3:30pm to 5pm for the Bluegrass Music jam session – at the Petone Community Centre.

And Banjo Workshops are available – needing advance booking for a  2pm to 4pm workshop – at the Petone Community Centre.

return to top of page


Saturday 9th December – concert – Back Porch Bluegrass

Many years ago, Paul Trenwith set up a music group in Hamilton and named it Back Porch Bluegrass. It has been running for over fifteen years, meeting on the fourth Sunday of the month, with Paul at the helm. Invited guests perform and many groups and individuals have appeared at Back Porch Bluegrass over the years, and there is always a jam session to finish.

I invited Paul to come and perform at the WBS, which quickly morphed into Paul inviting a whole band to come as well, who turned out to be the house band for Back Porch Bluegrass, hence the name of the band for this concert. As a result, I decided to cancel the Society night for December and instead feature this great lineup, who are:

Paul Trenwith – banjo, vocals
Paul began learning ukulele from his Mum when he was twelve years old. When a friend gave him a ukulele-banjo, he thought he was a banjo player. Early musical interests included “anything with banjo in it”, such as the Kingston Trio, the New Christy Minstrels, and Dixieland Jazz bands.
The theme song for that famous 60s television sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies, played by Earl Scruggs on banjo, did the trick, and together with high school friend Alan Rhodes, they pursued bluegrass music and helped establish the Hamilton County Bluegrass Band* in NZ and later Australia.
Paul still plays music with the HCBB, with his sons, and as a bass player in the Celtic band Reelmen, and hosts a weekly radio show, also called Back Porch Bluegrass.

Barry Paterson – guitar, lead vocals
Barry is Dunedin born and raised. In his early years he played in pop/rock bands and always had a keen interest in country music. In the mid 1970s he joined the fine NZ band The Bluegrass Expedition*, who recorded two albums with the iconic NZ record label Kiwi Pacific. His interest in bluegrass developed and became his main musical focus.
Venturing to Australia, he continued playing bluegrass with like-minded musicians. Returning to NZ some 33 years later, with several folders full of his favourite bluegrass songs, he met up with Paul, and a mutual love of the music ensured a lasting friendship, which continues through Back Porch Bluegrass.

Keith MacMillan – mandolin, vocals
Keith was born and raised in Hamilton. At school he played bass in rock bands and drums in a few pub bands. After watching the HCBB play on the television series The Country Touch in 1969, Keith bought his first mandolin. He then joined the Kontiki Folk Club, which is now the Hamilton Acoustic Music Club, where he contributed on guitar, mandolin and vocals.
In 1987 Keith began his career as a luthier, and is one of a small handful of experts in the field of making and repairing stringed instruments from his Hamilton workshop Keith MacMillan Stringed Instruments.
Since 2011 Keith has been the resident mandolinist in the HCBB and currently plays mandolin and tenor banjo in the Celtic band Reelmen.

Tom Ingram – fiddle, vocals
Tom has some thirty years of playing under his belt, in bands from bluegrass to gypsy jazz, country to Western Swing. He is an aficionado of acoustic swing and appears as a fiddle-playing wraith at the occasional Back Porch Bluegrass session.

Andrew Bicknell – bass
I’m standing in for Michael Trenwith, who was to be part of the band, however was unable to make the date. As a result, Paul invited me to fill this role.

Paul’s music group is not the only connection that has that name. Quite a few years ago, Paul branched out and set up a radio programme on Access Radio in Hamilton, also with the name Back Porch Bluegrass, where he presents a one hour bluegrass programme every week. Wow, what an exhaustive schedule!

return to top of page


Saturday 25th November – concert – Twango Redux

Following last year’s much acclaimed performance at WBS as Twango Deluxe, the Twangos are back with a slightly different line up, in the process renaming themselves Twango Redux.

Chris Prowse and Andrew Delahunty on Fender guitars, Nick Bollinger on electric bass and Andreas Lepper on percussion. Expect a trip back into the late 50s and early 60s with reverb-drenched guitar instrumentals surfing their way through classic spy themes, Latin standards, and Beatles tunes, all reimagined in their own twang-tastic style.

The Twangos will be joined by guest vocalist Eva Prowse.

Eva Prowse is best known for her solo albums, also through her performing and recording with Fly My Pretties. She has performed at many major festivals including Byron Bay Blues Fest and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

return to top of page


Friday 17th November – society night – The Kist

The Kist present sensitive, authentic songs, channeling the human condition through music.

“The sadder the better. We like humour well enough, but think it has its place. The audience instinctively knows that unrestrained joy is dangerous. The Kist curbs joy, with the most soulful songs we can find.”

The Kist are:
Jude Madill – fiddle, banjo, guitar and sings
Rusty Tönz – cello and sings
Pat Higgins – flute, guitar, whistles and sings

Pat has been playing traditional acoustic music for thirty years. In 2021, at the Wellington Folk Festival, he heard the sound of a cello through the trees. There in the backwoods was Rusty playing his 17th Century cello.

The Kist were born when Pat invited Jude Madill to form a new trio. Pat had worked with Jude previously through the quartet Folk Roots Collective, who also included Tony Hillyard and Nigel Parry .

It makes sense to hear a cello in the woods, and that pastoral setting is reflected in their music, which is rooted in Irish traditional, Gaelic, Te Reo, American old-time and includes some original songs by Pat.

The Kist find appreciative audiences in Wellington music venues, music clubs and have performed for the Irish Embassy.

Their sound is acoustic, gentle, sensitive for the most part, with a smattering of up-tempo numbers. The Kist will be uneasy if they rock your day. Instead, they will be content with a reflective nod of recognition, that says “Yes, that’s what life is, love, loss, life, death, grief and joy.”

return to top of page


Saturday 11th November – concert – Hoot’n’Annies

Living by the motto #LadiesKickBrass – the Hoot’n’Annies are ready to take you on a music and dance adventure like no other. Feel the power of the second line brought to you by a dozen amazing brass and percussion playing wahine. Come join the party!

Hanging out at the pub in September 2018, a group of female amateur musicians agreed to put together a New Orleans style Brass Band with a twist – being all female!

Since the initial idea, the group has grown, jammed, grown some more and have had heaps of fun in the process. Hoot’n’Annies have started off playing with some covers of well known songs and getting into the groove of playing together.

Hoot’n’Annies currently are a twelve piece lineup, who are:

Head-Honcho-Annie – Meg-Annie (Megan Brownlie)
Trump’n’Annies – Hel-Annie (Helen Quaggin-Molloy) and Lynd-Annie (Lynda Carter)
Trombon’n’Annies – Sonya-Annie (Sonya Giles) and Kate-Annie (Kate Blincoe)
Sax’n’Annies – Di-Annie (Diane Gamble), Jeanette-Annie (Jeanette Spicer) and Steph-Annie (Steph Greig)
Sous’n’Annie – Paula-Annie (Paula Hay)
Smack’n’Annies – Jamie-Annie (Jamie Berwick Shackleton), Rebecc-Annie (Rebecca Routhan) and Clare-Annie (Clare Ward)

The Hoot’n’Annies are amped and ready to take you on a musical adventure, through New Orleans jazz and funk through to their own take on pop tracks. The Annies will have you grooving and singing along with their horns and percussion. Wellington’s own all female Second Line Band. #LadiesKickBrass.

return to top of page


Friday 13th October – society night – Hope and The Hobo

Jo Sheffield and Phil Hope share their life experiences and perform original songs, supported by guitars and mandolins.

Jo met Phil when he was performing with The Rag Poets, a gig that was planned to be his last appearance with the band. At that gig, Phil handed Jo his music card. Fate dealt it’s hand and a week or so later Jo phoned Phi. It transpired that Jo was living near Phil’s childhood neighbourhood of Pinehaven. They struck a good rapport, swapped new songs and old, and sparked the dense forest of the surrounding hills.

Jo Sheffield had just released her first CD Gypsy Mind, produced by Tony Burt, who is a good friend of Phil. As it turned out, there were many other threads going on, which will be revealed during their Guest Spot. Whilst Phil did not play on Gypsy Minds, the songs break down perfectly to a duo format.

Hope and the Hobo regularly update their repertoire, adding new songs to each performance, along with humour and a relaxed confidence each time they appear.

Society Night a week early this month due to Labour Day holiday weekend

return to top of page


Saturday 30th September – concert – Luthiers Corner

It was the early 70s and two young men more than ten thousand kilometres apart were being influenced by both the folk music and the associated musical instruments that became so popular at the time. They are Peter Madill and Jack MacKenzie, who became very involved in both the music and the construction and repair of instruments that were used. As it turned out, their respective universes were not only parallel but converging.

Cut to the 2019 Wellington Folk Festival, where Peter and Jack first met, became aware of each other’s music and the potential that existed between them. Both had committed to displaying their luthiery work at the Festival. However both were also taking part in the Festival as performers, Peter with the Madillionaires and Jack with the Downunderdogs.

Following this, a relationship between them developed through their guitar building. Peter, being the more established and experienced of the two, was kind and generous and began helping Jack develop his skills. Sticky problems were solved through collaboration and Peter’s formal woodworking skills were shared with each visit.

But a relationship of respect and admiration developed along with the guitar building side of things, and both men had an interest in each other’s music. As a mutual agreement, they decided to try a short stage performance at the last Mid-Winter Holler, which took place in late February 2023. Their music was very well received. As a result of encouragement and suggestion, an experimental concert at the Wellington Bluegrass Society then resulted.

Although both men have different approaches to the music, the common thread of the folk music tradition allows an intuitive understanding of the music. Because of this, adaptation to each other’s repertoires followed naturally. This music is underpinned by vast repertoires, harmony vocals, solid flat picking and the possibility of an appearance of the pedal steel guitar that Jack has been teaching himself to play. It will be an interesting and rewarding evening, steeped in a combined rich history of decades of involvement in this art, complete with unique stories and a perspective born of the pursuit of both luthiery and music.

return to top of page


Friday 15th September – society night – West Road

West Road are Ron Craig, Andrea Coop and Christine Roseveare, who have played together for so long they can’t remember how it all started. Possibly Ron and Andrea, who had been performing together for some time, eyed up the new bass player on the scene at the [Wellington] Folk Club and invited her for a jam, then everything just fell into place.

They’re delighted to bring out their light from under a bushel, to play for everyone at the Bluegrass Society on 15th September. They offer three-part harmonies, Ron’s renowned finger picking, Andrea’s lyrical fiddle and Christine’s sympathetic (with a bit of a groove) electric bass playing.

Their music is mostly Americana – songs from Buddy Miller, Julie Miller, Susanna Clark and Guy Clark – with a bit of Richard Thompson and Joan Baez thrown in. Expect a well-rehearsed set with smooth harmonies and songs worth listening to.

return to top of page


Saturday 9th September – concert – Barry Saunders

Barry Saunders started his music career in Christchurch. His first public performance was singing “Green –back Dollar” at the Lincoln Coronation Hall, aged eleven. He played around Christchurch, in mostly blues-based bands, during his teenage years. He sailed on the good ship Australis to the UK in 1974. He played the Irish Trad and Country circuit in London for three years. He returned to New Zealand, and joined Wellington band Rockinghorse for a brief time.

This was followed by a stint in the Tigers, travelling to Australia with them and touring relentlessly, including an Australia-wide tour with Eric Burdon. Upon his return to Wellington in 1987, he formed the Warratahs. The band became known for Saunders’ compositions, such as “Maureen”, “Hands of my Heart”, “St. Peter’s Rendezvous” and many others. After nine albums, they are still very much alive.

He recorded solo albums Weatherman, Red Morning, and Zodiac, touring them extensively. Barry has appeared on the bill with Tony J. White, Bob Dylan, Patti Smith and Jock Cocker, and has also performed at SXSW in Austin, Texas. The last three years have included the Church Tour (alongside Marlon Williams, Tami Nielson and Delaney Davidson), and the Last Waltz Tour, celebrating and performing the songs of The Band.

In 2019 he released the highly acclaimed album Word Gets Around, an album written and recorded with Delaney Davidson. In 2019 Barry was commissioned by Kokomai – Wairarapa Creative Festival to develop a touring performance designed for presentation in small rural halls. He created As Far As The Eye Can See with Ebony Lamb and Caroline Easther. For their collaboration Word Gets Around, Delaney Davidson and Barry Saunders received the 2020 Tui for Recorded Music NZ’s Best Country Artist.

return to top of page


Friday 18th August – society night – a 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 pm

free entry for anyone performing a floor spot! After the floor spots, a jam session follows.

Society Night – a Blackboard Concert
Friday 18th August 8:00pm
Wellington Bluegrass Society, 54 Richmond Street, Petone
$FREE for performers, otherwise $15 – tea and coffee included
(Please bring cash as we have no eftpos facilities)

return to top of page


Saturday 5th August – concert – Triske

Triske are a Celtic group from Wellington. They came together in 2021 around an eclectic range of music. Their original songs are a uniquely Kiwi take on the Celtic sound; they mix these with delicate traditional songs and foot-stomping dance tunes from Ireland, Scotland and Brittany. In 2023 they released their debut EP Flightless, a collection of original and traditional songs. One can listen to this via Spotify, iTunes or the band’s own website. Their launch party for Flightless will be at the Wellington Bluegrass Society on Saturday 5th August 2023.

From Whangarei, Em Griffiths‘ ancestors travelled to New Zealand from County Armagh in 1843. After eleven years of classical violin in Auckland, Em moved to Wellington where she began learning traditional Celtic music at Victoria University Vicfolk club and the Welsh Dragon Irish sessions. Em plays fiddle and whistle with Triske. Now teaching violin and fiddle, Em also plays with Celtic bands Ceann an Éisc, Crossroads and Otherwise Brilliant, and plays céilís with The Great Beag Céilí Band.

Ceara McAuliffe Bickerton grew up in Nelson in a musical family and was surrounded by Irish music. At a young age Ceara picked up tin whistle and then later flute, playing in bands Bana Nua, Criú and Triske. She has performed at festivals including Wellington Folk Festival and Cuba Dupa.

From Wellington, Bob McNeill is a guitar player and singer who has toured internationally with Gillian Boucher, Ben the Hoose and Fasta. He has released several albums and has won Best Folk Album three times at the RIANZ Tui Folk Music Awards (NZ’s Grammys). He plays with Criú, Crossroads and with Rennie Pearson as the duo Half Light.

return to top of page


Friday 21st July – society night – Ratproof

Ratproof are a group of twenty and thirty somethings who grew up at folk festivals. They started jamming together at Wellyfest in 2021 and have been playing music together ever since. A band of five, Ratproof play acoustic folk/Americana and are inspired by The Be Good Tanyas, Gillian Welch and others.

Made up of Cara Brasted, Rose Dohig, Phoebe Smith, Alex Howie and Rachel Dohig, they bring a unique mix of instruments and harmonies which have appeared round many kitchen tables, bonfires and more recently the stage, and feature solos on fiddle, banjo, flute, harmonica and mandolin.

Where the name Ratproof came from is unclear, even to the band themselves – is it because Rose caught several rats and a weasel and on her trapline? Or because one day they’ll turn punk? Or because their first gig was at a seed swap? Who knows…

return to top of page


Saturday 24th June – concert – Dave Murphy and Janet Muggeridge

Dave Murphy and Janet Muggeridge play their own brand of Americana, blues and originals. As a couple they combine a formidable musical skillset. Their sound is underpinned by Dave’s driving fingerstyle acoustic guitar and huge earthy vocals. Janet adds spice to the mix with her shimmering harmonies and mandolin, played in her own style.

Both are accomplished musicians in their own right and had known of each other over the years, but when they connected at a party, they realised what a unique and beautiful sound they had, which irresistibly drew them together to make music. At their first gig at Thunderbird, Wellington in 2017, Robbie Duncan said: “There was magic here tonight”.

return to top of page


Saturday 8th July – concert – The Madillionaires

The Madillionaires are Peter Madill, Jude Madill and Joseph Coleman – three generations of the same family, plus Jenny Kilpatrick, original Madillionaires’ band member and kazoo soloist extraordinaire. Combining dynamic and diverse musical styles with strong vocal harmonies they perform original songs as well as a wide range of music from elsewhere.

Peter Madill, renowned luthier and musician, has been playing and singing since the late 60s, starting in the Dunedin folk scene then movied to Auckland in the 1970s. He performed with a number of successful bands over the years including Gentle Annie and Late Harvest. He has been a member of The Madillionaires since the band began in around 2014, although being resident in the South Island for a time meant he couldn’t make it to every gig. Now living in Levin, Peter has once again joined the lineup on a permanent basis.

Jude, the next generation Madill, plays and sings with great feel and an equal enthusiasm and love for music. Living in Wellington since 1990, she has played both solo and in groups around the local acoustic, folk and Americana scenes for several years now. Jude also writes her own material, most of which falls somewhere in the folk/alt-country box.

Joseph Coleman, the most recent band member, is the third generation of ‘Madill’ and as such could not avoid joining the band. Although still in his teens, Joseph has a few gigs under his belt. As well as being an integral part of The Madillionaires with his intuitive backing on accordion, mandolin, and singing, Joseph has played festival spots, The Interislander, and a gig in a bookshop with Jude (his Mum) as Madillionette.

Jenny Kilpatrick, an original Madillionaire, has stuck with the many and various band lineups over the years. She has been part of the folk music scene in New Zealand since going to festivals as a teenager. As a Madillionaire, Jenny adds her fabulous voice to the mix and keeps the band grounded on bass. She is also a member of duos The PJs, and Portable Panic, singing and playing around the Wellington folk scene.

The Madillionaires play guitars, fiddle, accordion, banjo, octave mandolin, bass and attitude. They will entertain you with songs of heroism and hardship, murder and survival, loves lost and won. You will be regaled with re-imagined ballads of yesteryear and hear tell of more recent times as well.

return to top of page


Friday 16th June – society night – Faultline Valley

Faultline Valley feature quirky banjo licks, Boss-like guitar riffs, bumping bass and intricate melodies. They’re weird in all the right ways. An eccentric trio with eclectic influences, Faultline Valley are a rare treat who play genre spanning favorites and upbeat originals. They fuse Americana with Kiwiana to give a distinctive and unique sound.

Paul Magarity hails from the small town of Mackinaw, Illinois and learned to play banjo at the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago. He sought new adventures and experiences and moved to Napier in 2015, where he was warmly welcomed into the musical community, playing alongside singer and songwriter Stretch, the Ellie-Ukes, The Bluff Hillbillies and an Irish band known as The Bold Deceivers. He relocated to the Hutt Valley in 2019 and was eager to meet other likeminded musos. He started a jam session at Epuni Hall known as the Acoustic Eclectic Jam Session, where he met his future band mate and guitar extraordinaire Hugh Haworth. Hugh grew up in Wanaka and moved to Wellington to pursue a degree in jazz guitar, alongside studying percussion, bass and keys. They became friends, having shared musical influences ranging from Bob Dylan to Bill Withers. The third member of the group is Araiyah Moana, who is from Gisborne and is a gifted singer and songwriter, who enjoys her own busy schedule. When Paul saw her perform at a local music club, he was blown away by her vocals and multi-instrumental abilities and asked Araiyah if she’d be interested in joining, and luckily she agreed. Araiyah recently made it to the semi-finals for the show “Five Minutes of Fame” which aired on the Maori TV channels. She adds bass guitar, guitar and sings some of her own heartfelt originals.

Faultline Valley have been enjoying a steady schedule playing at bars, markets, Town Halls, barber shops and bowling allies. They have opened for The Caramello Blues Band, who are based in the Kapiti Coast. This year they’ve performed at Te Horo and St. Peters Hall in Paekakariki, and most recently at the Tuatara Brewery in Paraparaumu.

return to top of page


Saturday 27th May – concert – Frank John and Erin Manu

Originally from Amsterdam, Frank John brings his technical brilliance to this New Plymouth-based duo, while his Taranaki-born wife, Erin Manu, provides the driving rhythm guitar and has a reputation for her unique style on the banjo – described by Albi (of Albi and The Wolves) as having ‘a kinda swagger’.

The couple hit the festival circuit in 2012 as founding members of The FEDZ, with Cameron Dusty Burnell. By 2014 the band expanded with the inclusion of Wellington Bluegrass Society President, Andrew Bicknell, resurfacing as The Federal String Band. Current projects include an all-female Eagles Tribute folk instrument band for Erin, aka The Eagals, and the pair are busy working on a studio recording of Frank’s originals. Frank continues to support local musicians in his role as Manager of the New Plymouth Rockshop. Erin teaches guitar, banjo and ukulele.

Whether it’s a sizzling acoustic instrumental or the soulful delivery of a ballad, they capture the essence of “guitar and song”, through the variations of the acoustic genre – folk, blues, country, bluegrass, swing, classical. All wrapped into a neat Kiwi-Dutch package. They perform some hidden gems, well-known standards, and their own compositions.

For this concert, Frank and Erin will be joined by Robert Greenfield on bass.

return to top of page


Friday 19th May – society night – The Bitter Brothers

The Bitter Brothers are a fictional musical family. Sometimes comic, sometimes deadly serious, we play traditional and original, folk and country hits.

Playing and writing both traditional and original music found within the realm of what would often be called Americana, we design our shows such that we offer more of a variety performance, bringing a touch of theatre to the mix, whilst constantly changing the mood and sound, so that we don’t force the audience to have the same boring entrée over and over again and instead we offer a more entertaining variety of musical fare; sometimes guitar songs, sometimes banjo, sometimes accordion, fiddle, ukulele, harmonies and differing vocal arrangements. With our line-up somewhat fluidly changing as we from time to time discover new Bitter family members, we bring a variety of different musical backgrounds and thus push along the edges of the Americana genre, sometimes more honky-tonk, country and western, sometimes a touch of swing, but we generally tend to play and write music in an old time American style. Every show, every family reunion, is one that you can most certainly be assured will be an entertaining one.

return to top of page


Friday 21st April – society night – Holloway Inmates

The Holloway Inmates are a ragged assortment of questionable individuals whom have been incarcerated in Holloway Road for over a decade.

For identification purposes, the motley group are (left to right):
Andrew Campbell – guitar
Zane Oosten – lagerphone and harmonica
Verena Watson – violin
Simon Carryer – banjo
Don Franks – bass
Odessa Owens – guitar

They’re permitted outside of their Holloway Road confines about once every five years, with good behaviour. All are considered recalcitrant recidivists and should be approached with due caution.

They are pictured outside of what used to be the Post Office, then later a general store, back when Holloway Road had a village.

return to top of page


Saturday 15th April – concert – Fiddlesticks

Fiddlesticks present twin fiddles, a melting pot of styles, originals, vocals, bass and guitar.

“On our honeymoon, Fiddlesticks was the name we came up with for our musical vision, a twin fiddle duo being, us Karen and Alistair (Jacko) Jackson. Since then what a journey! Fiddlesticks played professionally for ten years as a duo, inevitably developing into a family band as sons George and Mackenzie accompanied us around the country. Fiddlesticks and Double Trouble toured NZ and Australia for another ten years until the boys flew the coup. Whilst living in Alice Springs Australia, Fiddlesticks morphed into a four piece band. Now back in NZ, Fiddlesticks are a trio which includes wonderful Carol Rose.

We loved our sixteen years in Australia, cherished the many challenges and opportunities that presented with music, partnerships and influences. Some of the highlights of our time in Australia include: performing and touring r the Queensland Arts Council; being very involved in the Fiddle Club community around Australia; founding and directing the Sunshine Fiddle Camp; in 2018 running the Fiddlers Rally at the National Folk Festival and having been members of the Shetland Fiddle group Hjaltibonhoga in the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo the two times it toured Australia.

Our last six years in Australia saw us settle in the Northern Territory and we were surrounded by music, culture, and opportunity. Karen worked as a strings teacher and founded the Desert Fiddle Club. The Fiddlesticks Band had a residency at a local recycle café, which seemed fitting. Jacko found a new passion in Klezmer music whilst Karen rekindled her passion of Traditional Scottish music.

Since arriving on the West Coast we have settled into the vibrant culture of Barrytown. We met up with fellow West Coaster Carol Rose, who became the third member of Fiddlesticks, and is a well known and valued Kiwi Folkie, who with her husband Steve, ran the Tui Music Festival for nineteen years and was a founder and member for twenty years of the claimed Celtic singing group Cairde from Nelson. Carol joins us on bass, guitar and vocals.

In addition we are excited to confirm Marg Collins from Australia will join us for our NZ gigs throughout April 2023. She will be joining us on piano and accordion, adding spice to the Klezmer and Scottish Flavours.

We have guested at the Wellington, Waimate and Hamsterfest Folk Festivals and are energised to keep enjoying the wonderful magic of music!”

return to top of page


Saturday 1st April – Tango Dance – La Wellington Típica

Presenting “a night in Buenos Aires without the air fares”.

Bringing a lively tango dance troup to perform many of their great dance moves, including traditional gaucho dance. The band “La Wellington Típica” will be featured as well – it means the Typical tango band of Wellington. Featuring violin, bass, bandoneon, piano and guitar, and a singer from Buenos Aires, presenting an authentic and complete showcase of a milonga of Buenos Aires. Tango is all about the bandoneon so it is great that this instrument is included. There are only four 142 Argentinian bandoneons in NZ, and perhaps only three players, so this will be a special night indeed!

The non dancing audience will get a real show and flavour of a milonga in Buenos Aires, very authentic,  and they will still see and hear the band and singer, who is from Buenos Aires, and so is the guitarist and bandoneon player.

Here is a writeup about the milongas in Buenos Aires:
“Buenos Aires has many milongas (tango dance clubs), where the true spirit of tango comes alive. Ranging from informal, beginner friendly affairs to sophisticated upmarket venues where experts dominate the floor, there is a milonga in Buenos Aires for everyone.
One of Buenos Aires’ best known milongas, La Catedral is famous for its relaxed and informal vibe. Classes are held everyday at 6 pm which are especially popular with beginners. It’s the perfect place for tourists as the casual dress code means no fancy clothes are required, while most participants are of a low to intermediate skill level. La Catedral is busiest on Wednesday and Saturday, although there is something going on every night of the week.
The city’s number one late night milonga, La Virtua doesn’t really get going until about 3 am. It’s
unpretentious though lively, especially on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday when it draws the
biggest crowds. La Virtua is Buenos Aires’ premier tango after-party, the place people go to keep dancing when other milongas have closed. The best dancers don’t rock up until 4 am when they put on some spectacular live performances to show the crowd how it’s really done.”

7:00pm – beginners dance lesson
7:30pm – doors open for general admission
8:00pm – show starts with demonstration dances, then floor opens to one and all

Band and DJ alternate throughout the night

Continuous bar, eatery, water, tea and coffee throughout the evening

Come along to dance, or watch, or both!

return to top of page


Friday 17th March – society night – Port Hillbillies

Emerging from the shadows of the Port Hills, one American Justin Rogers on mandolin, guitar and vocals, one Aussie Gary Elford on guitar, acoustic bass and vocals, met up with a six-toed Kiwi singer, banjo and guitar player Steve Stern to share their love of bluegrass, old-time and Americana music.

The Port Hillbillies formed out of the Christchurch Folk Music Club’s open mic concerts in 2016, where the duo of Steve Stern (banjo) and Kris Brown (guitar and vocals) were joined by Gary “always-looking-for-a-retirement-gig” Elford and recent arrival Justin Rogers. The group started life as a four piece with guitar, bass, banjo and mandolin, getting together each Tuesday night to trade tunes. As with some good happenings, they often morph. The dark shadow of change was cast upon the group when the lead singer/guitarist (Kris Brown) accepted a job opportunity in upstate New York. The three remaining Hillbillies decided to continue as a trio based around guitar, banjo and mandolin.

After playing together for over four years, they have formed into a well balanced trio, driven by Steve’s banjo playing and Justin’s sympathetic and innovative mandolin ornamentation. Gary’s contribution on guitar and bass pulls it all together, forming the tight unit that is the Port Hillbillies. They play a range of songs and tunes from toe tapping recognisable standards to obscure songs from neighbouring genres that are given the once over by the Port Hillbillies.

The band’s repertoire is based on the principle of shared vocals and variety in both instrumentation and style. Whilst each player often plays to their strengths, a song is occasionally mixed up by rotating instruments, or swapping in a bass or harmonica for variety and a more textured performance.

The Port Hillbillies have been a popular addition to various festivals over the last few years building up a wide band of followers from the deep south, where they have performed at the Niagara Falls Bluegrass, Blues and Roots Festival and the Riverton Harvest Festival. Closer to home in Canterbury they have performed at the Christchurch Folk Music Club, Balcairn Hall, Oxford Town Hall, Lyttelton Farmers Market as well as the very popular Canterbury Folk Music Festival held every Easter at Waipara.

return to top of page


Saturday 4th March – concert – New Valley Stompers

The New Valley Stompers are one of the longest running ensembles in New Zealand with the original line-up being formed in the Hutt Valley circa 1969. They play traditional jazz, blues and dixie.

The repertoire includes a mix of both classic and unfamiliar gems made famous by artists such as Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong, Merline Johnson, Jelly Roll Morton, WC Handy and many more.

Songs include classics like: Darktown Strutters Ball, Basin Street Blues, Atlanta Blues, Carry Me Back to Old Virginny, St James Infirmary, Do Your Duty, Hesitation Blues [covered by Janis Joplin], It Ain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do, and many more.

The line-up for the New Valley Stompers are:

Bill West – trumpet, cornet, vocals
Dave Thompson – clarinet
Chris Caudwell– trombone
Graham Kelly – piano
Daryl Prowse – banjo
Frances Prowse – vocals, percussion
Marian Price-Carter– saxophone, vocals
Barry Carter – washboard, guitar
Graham Parker – bass

But wait, there’s more!
Not satisfied with being the biggest lineup ever featured at the WBS,
Neil Billington will be joining the band for this night!

“Mike Green, who retired from playing trumpet about two years ago, is adamant that the Valley Stompers formed on April first 1970. There are other opinions about this. I expect the same musos had been playing together in various other combinations before that date. The dates for our 30 and 40 year anniversary gigs at the Wellington Jazz Club were based on 1st April1970.

That makes the Valley Stompers brand name 52 years old by my count. I joined the band in 1999 and am the longest survivor since Roger Metcalfe (sousaphone) pulled out a few months ago.

After Mike left, We had gone through such a major reshuffle, that we decided to add the word “New” to our name.

People of my generation generally remember the band from student days in the seventies performing at the Western Park tavern in Thorndon Wellington, or from the nationally televised Telethon charity fund raisers around the same time.


Chris Caudwell
16th July 2022

return to top of page


Saturday 18th February – Concert – Sassafras Bluegrass Band (USA)

Sassafras are based in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Sassafras are a bluegrass band who pay homage to the Bill Monroe and Flatt & Scruggs era, but also enjoy pushing the edge of progressive Newgrass music as well. Their repertoire includes a range of musical styles including ole-time, country, folk, western swing and originals. Members are Wes Tuttle (mandolin and fiddle), Randy Gambill (guitar), Gray Tuttle (banjo) and Zeb Gambill (bass and guitar).

Sassafras have performed on stage and recorded in studios with a wide range of prominent bluegrass and Americana artist including: Doc Watson, Jack Lawrence, Jim Lauderdale, Tony Rice, Jerry Douglas, Mark O’Connor, Kristi Cox, Mason Via (Old Crow Medicine Show), Darin and Brooke Aldridge, Zach Smith (Town Mountain), Mike Rogers (Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder), Aaron Burdett (Steep Canyon Rangers), Josh Graves, Kenny Baker, Benny Martin, Mac Wiseman, Tut Taylor, Russell Moore, Ronnie Bowman, Doug Jernigan, Jim Buchanan, Kruger Brothers, Wyatt Rice, Justin Moses, Terry Baucom, Pete Wernick, Steve Dilling, Wes Golding (Boone Creek), Kim Gardner (Larry Cordle), Wayne Henderson, Steve Lewis, Roy Huskey Jr. and others.

Sassafras band members have performed at a long list of festivals and venues nationally and internationally including: Merlefest (Wilkesboro, North Carolina), Walnut Valley Festival (Winfield, Kansas), Song of the Mountains (PBS Television Series), Albino Skunk Festival (Greer, South Carolina), Mean Fiddler (London, England), Bass Mountain Festival (Burlington, North Carolina), Denton Bluegrass Festival (Denton, North Carolina), Okeechobee Fest (Florida), Vanceburg Festival (Kentucky), High Mountain Hayfever Bluegrass Festival (Westcliffe, Colorado), IBMA (Raleigh, North Carolina), AGEC Bluegrass (Paris, France), Didmarton Bluegrass Festival (England), Ironbridge Bluegrass Festival (England), Scottish Bluegrass Association (Edinburgh, Scotland), Hamishes’ Hoose (Paisley, Scotland), Nelson McGee Memorial Bluegrass Festival (San Angelo, Texas), Midsummer Bluegrass Festival (Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin), Güglinger Bluegrass Festival (Germany), Wyoming State BBQ and Bluegrass Festival (Worland, Wyoming), Susanville Bluegrass Festival (Susanville, California), Wickenburg Bluegrass Festival (Wickenburg, Arizona) and the Station Inn (Nashville, Tennessee).

return to top of page


Friday 17th February – society night – a 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 pm

now free entry for anyone performing a floor spot! After the floor spots, a jam session follows.

return to top of page


Saturday 28th January – concert – Harvest Moon

Harvest Moon are a six-piece Wellington based band that comprises multi talented and well known musicians who have been playing together for the past four years, however have individually been performing for well over 50 years.

Their signature style is synonymous with a diverse collection of American music broadly within the country genre, featuring covers from such great songwriters including Vince Gill, Buddy Miller, Neil Young, The Beatles, Marshall Tucker and Mandolin Orange.

Their music is timeless and features a dazzling array of country genre instruments including pedal steel, mandolin, guitars, banjo, accordion and resonator guitar. Harvest Moon are on the rise!

return to top of page


Saturday 14th January – concert – Criú

The five piece Irish band Criú combine the sounds of wooden flute, fiddle, guitar, accordion, tin whistles and Uilleann pipes (the Irish pipes) These musicians weave together melodies that have survived in the Irish music tradition, sometimes for hundreds of years. The music is full of life, mystery, playfulness and sometimes sorrow. It will have your toes tapping or your feet stamping at one moment, then the next transport you to some faraway place of deep joy or sadness.

Headed up by Irish flute player Rennie Pearson, Criú are made up of some of Wellington’s very best traditional musicians, with James McNamara (fiddle), Duncan Davidson (accordion), Kris Neilson (Uilleann pipes) and Tui award winning guitarist Bob McNeil. The band was formed with the purpose of bringing the music of Ireland to the stage, with tight arrangements, interesting sounds, driving rhythms and stories and history behind the tunes.

The first seeds of the band were sown in 2011 when Rennie, Bob and Duncan were all teaching at the Celtic music summer School ‘CelticANZ’ in the North Island. They were thrown together along with a few other musicians, including Emily Roughton and Kathleen Wojick and asked to put on a tutors concert. They had all played together quite a lot in jam sessions but this would be the first time they had performed together on stage and how it would go was rather up in the air. Bob McNeil reports having low expectations, however the music just clicked and they locked in from the word go. Partway through the night, lightning struck the power lines plunging everyone into darkness. The sound gear was also rendered useless. Someone brought out a large number of tea light candles and everyone shuffled closer and the concert continued acoustically. It turned into one of the most magical nights which remains in the memory of all who were there.

After the show they talked about forming a band, but it wasn’t until seven years later that they finally reconvened. This time with local Wellington fiddle player James McNamara. The four of them had played together a lot over the years at the late Kitty O’Sheas bar on Courtenay Place. Many a night had been spent over frothing pints of beer playing jigs, reels, polkas, hornpipes, slides and all manner of traditional Irish music. Their first outing as a band was at the Hanging Ditch Pub on Leeds St in Wellington. At that point they were more of a glorified session than a band, with lots of energy and a lineup of very skilled musicians, but with very little rehearsal as a group, they lacked the tight arrangements and variety that they showcase in their concerts now. The original idea was that Criú (meaning Crew) would be an interchangeable lineup that would be able to do various gigs with any good musicians who were available. There were many different iterations of the band as members came and went. With just a few shows each year they weren’t refining the tunes as the members were constantly changing.

In 2021 following another tutors concert, this time at Ceol Aneas, New Zealand’s main Irish music festival, in which both Rennie and Bob were teaching, Rennie was inspired to rekindle the fire behind Criú and take over the band again. Though no longer living in Wellington, he reassembled the original Crew of Bob, James, Duncan and himself and set about organising to play at Auckland folk festival along with a few other shows in the Wellington area. With Duncan Davidson flaking on Auckland folk fest due to family responsibilities, Rennie arranged to add Uilleann piper Kris Nielson to complete the lineup. Once they heard Kris playing in the band it was decided he needed to be a permanent member and Criú became a five piece. The lineup was locked in, no more changing around. The plan was to get the band tight and play awesome shows around the country, bringing an amazing experience to audiences that was rare to find outside of Ireland. All the Wellington shows sold out and the following year they toured the South Island with backing from the Irish Embassy. Later that year they all taught their respective instruments at Ceol Aneas and headlined the final concert as Criú.

return to top of page


Friday 13th January – society night – the Bidibids

The Bidibids are Sarah Urwin (Paperbats) on banjo, Simon Carryer on cello-banjo, and Brendan Schenk on mandolin and guitar (Simon and Brendan previously of Barry and the Crumpets). They are another product of the fertile folk melting-pot that is the Wellington Folk Festival, where the Bidibids were formed through late-night jam sessions in a shared cabin. They came from separate groups, but left with the seeds of a new band stuck to their shoes.

It took a couple of years for those seeds to take root, but now they’re flourishing and the band are producing music that’s as catchy as their namesake. The Bidibids explore what it means to play folk music in New Zealand, knocking out some traditional and Americana standards, whilst also delving into the rich material that is grown closer to home. You will hear some familiar New Zealand hits, some contemporary Kiwi covers and a few originals as well. Always looking for that blend of the familiar and the new, that feeling of recognition and belonging but also reinterpretation and revelation that makes folk music so exciting. Sweet harmonies and some slick playing round out their set to ensure everyone will find something to enjoy.

Come and check out what the Bidibids have sprouted, and they’ll make sure you carry a little bit home with you.

return to top of page