2024 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

18th May – We Mavericks
17th May – The Bidibids
19th April – Eagals
23rd March – Polly and the Minstrel
24th February – George Jackson and Brad Kolodner (USA)
24th February – George Jackson and Brad Kolodner (USA) – workshops
11th February – Sassafras (USA)
3rd February – Katie Martucci (USA) and Mark Mazengarb
2nd February – The Alum Ridge Boys and Ashlee (USA)
20th January – Mishra Duo and Dan Walsh (UK)
12th January – a Blackboard Concert



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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.

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Saturday 18th May – concert – We Mavericks

We Mavericks make a triumphant return to Aotearoa New Zealand in celebration of their new release “All This Noise”, performing a carefully curated collection of tracks from their forthcoming album “Heart of Silver”.

They are real-life troubadours and masters in the art of connection; Victoria Vigenser (NZ) and Lindsay Martin (AU) interweave effortless strings, soulful vocals and driving rhythms to form a singular, intense musical voice. The duo have been called contemp-folk, alt-country and acoustic-pop, but no words capture their unbelievable musical kinship, or the deeply heartfelt way they relate to their audiences.

Combining both lyrical and instrumental prowess, the Tui and AFMA-nominated couple have an inexplicable appeal that has seen them on a steep rise to festival stages across both home countries. This year sees them touring Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and much of Europe.

“He has a familiar soft folk tenor. She has a strong ringing tone with muscle behind a clear crystalline voice… The violin cries for her and the harmony vocals are divine… We Mavericks are a serendipitous pairing…”
13th Floor, NZ

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Friday 17th May – society night – The Bidibids


The Bidibids are Sarah August on banjo, Simon Carryer on cello-banjo, and Brendan Schenk on mandolin and guitar. A product of the fertile folk melting-pot that is the Wellington Folk Festival, the Bidibids were formed in 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.

Since then, the Bidibids have played some of the best venues for folk music in the region, including the Mussel Inn, the Wellington Bluegrass society, the Newtown Festival, and more.

The Bidibids explore what it means to play folk music in New Zealand. While they’re influenced by Americana and old-time music, they’re trying to nurture a more home-grown folk tradition. You’ll hear classic New Zealand folk songs, contemporary Kiwi covers, as well as original music. Their covers look for different angles and fresh perspectives on well-known songs, or celebrations of under-appreciated gems. Their originals draw from traditional folk roots but combine this with off-beat structures and adventurous arrangements. The band is 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. Soaring vocals, sweet harmonies and some slick playing round out the set, and ensure everyone will find something to enjoy.

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Friday 19th April – society night – Eagals


New Zealand’s only all-female Eagles tribute band, the Eagals, create a nostalgic energy that is guaranteed to have the audience singing along. With a shared love of singing harmonies and acoustic music.

The Eagals blend their musical influences including Celtic, Trad, Americana, country, soul, jazz and blues, presenting their interpretations of classic Eagles hits from the 70s, 80s and 90s.

The all-singing Eagals will be flying in from Raglan, Taranaki, Wellington and The Hutt Valley, and feature:

Nicola Hooker – guitar and percussion
Jenny Kilpatrick– acoustic bass guitar
Jude Madill – guitar, fiddle and percussion
Erin Manu– guitar, banjo, ukulele and percussion
Jo Sheffield – guitar and mandolin
Lynne Wilkins – flute, low whistles, harmonica and guitar

Leave your troubles behind and join the Eagals for one of those crazy crazy old nights, at the Bluegrass Society on Friday 19th April.

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Saturday 23rd March – concert – Polly and the Minstrel

Polly and the Minstrel are a folk duo based in Nelson. Siobhan Sweeney and Nathan Torvik have been making music together for many years now, she with the lovely voice and he with the incredibly accomplished guitar and mandolin picking. They have performed extensively together, touring N.Z. several times.

Nate started out as a pre-teen mandolin picker in a barn dance band, stomping ’round the country halls and woolsheds of Northland, kicking off a lifetime dedication to music. A versatile musician with bluegrass roots, Nate has honed his guitar and mandolin skills to a high level over countless gigs.

Siobhan’s musical roots are in her family heritage. Of Irish descent, she grew up with ‘lift the roof off’ singalongs at parties with family and friends, singing popular and folk songs from each generation, a tradition that continues on strong. Siobhan is a wordsmith and keen observer of humanity, writing folk songs for modern times.

Their WBS concert will feature Siobhan’s original songs with an extra helping of bluegrass via Nate’s guitar and mandolin flatpicking.

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Saturday 24th February – concert – George Jackson and Brad Kolodner (USA)

(Note: afternoon workshops were added for clawhammer banjo and fiddle, see details in the following entry.)

At the heart of all traditional music lies two important coordinates, the time and place of origin; objective definitions in the ever evolving aesthetics of folk music. These coordinates are the concepts explored with infinite new possibilities by New Zealand-born, Nashville-based fiddler George Jackson and Baltimore based American banjoist Brad Kolodner.

The two musicians met years ago in a late-night jam session at the hallowed Appalachian String Band Music Festival in West Virginia and have since formed a musical bond that runs deep, across continents and through a number of recorded projects. From the moment the fiddle bow hits the strings and the fingers grasp the fretboard, George and Brad are locked in, weaving their way through ancient melodies made new again. From trance-inducing moody original tunes to classic barnburners, their show has something for serious or casual folk music fans alike. They play with a mischievous curiosity that keeps listeners on the edge of their seats wondering where they’ll go next.

Travelling has been a way of life for George, who was born to musician parents in Christchurch. He spent the better part of his childhood living and touring around in a house bus with his family band “Fiddlesticks”. Moving to Australia as a teen he performed across the country in bluegrass bands and won the Australian National Bluegrass Fiddle Championship three times. An avid student of American fiddle styles, Jackson eventually made his way to Nashville, Tennessee, where he now lives and works. He performs as a band leader and fiddler for hire with artists such as The Jacob Jolliff Band, Jake Blount and Tall Poppy String Band and has released three solo albums of fiddle tunes to acclaim in the USA, where some of his compositions are now close to standard jam repertoire across the continent.

Growing up in a musical family, Brad was exposed to folk music from birth. His father Ken Kolodner is a renowned hammered dulcimer player and fiddler who toured for many years in the folk trio Helicon. When Brad picked up the banjo as a teen, everything started to click into place. Since then, he’s charted a path centred on performing, recording, broadcasting and community organizing. He’s an acclaimed clawhammer banjo player who performs with the chart-topping Irish, Old-Time, Bluegrass fusion quartet Charm City Junction. He’s recorded four albums of Old-Time and original music with his father Ken under the name Ken and Brad Kolodner.

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Saturday 24th February – afternoon workshops – George Jackson and Brad Kolodner (USA)

In addition, afternoon workshops at the Petone Community were available for intermediate and advanced students:

Brad Kolodner – clawhammer banjo
George Jackson – fiddle

see the above entry for further details on Brad and George

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Sunday 11th February – concert – Sassafras (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 and 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. Sassafras band members have performed at a long list of festivals and venues in the US and internationally.

Sassafras have performed on stage and in the studio 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 & 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.

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Saturday 3rd February – concert – Katie Martucci (USA) and Mark Mazengarb

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

All the way from New York, don’t miss Katie Martucci on her tour of New Zealand. Joined by renowned NZ guitarist Mark Mazengarb, 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!” says 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 acapella 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 a kiwi guitarist who recently spent 7 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.

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Friday 2nd February – concert – The Alum Ridge Boys and Ashlee (Virginia, USA)


“They’ve got it – that primal, but elegant approach to their instruments and their remarkable vocal blend that only comes out of a deep and undeniable love for old time country music.”
– Marshall Wilborn (The Johnson Mountain Boys, Bluegrass Hall of Fame)

Mining the fertile common ground between bluegrass, early country music and traditional mountain music, The Alum Ridge Boys and Ashlee are Virginia’s torchbearers of the old time sound. Their powerful harmony singing and energetic instrumentals have captivated audiences around the country and helped the band to win many awards including blue ribbons in the old time band contest at the 85th Annual Old Fiddlers’ Convention in Galax, Virginia and the bluegrass band contest at the 51st Mount Airy Fiddlers’ Convention in North Carolina. Band members have won a slew of individual awards as well, including first prize in the coveted MerleFest Chris Austin Songwriting Contest. Deep knowledge and appreciation for traditional music enables the band to craft tasteful original songs and instrumentals that blend seamlessly alongside the classics. The Alum Ridge Boys and Ashlee cut no corners when it comes to real, hard hitting, old time country music – an approach that is quickly gaining them loyal followers far beyond the reaches of their Virginia mountain home.

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Saturday 20th January – concert – Mishra Duo and Dan Walsh (UK)



Dan Walsh

Dan is one of the UK’s leading lights in melodic clawhammer banjo. Clawhammer banjo refers to playing with the back of either the index or middle finger nail, in a downstroke movement, whilst the thumb concentrates principally on the fifth string, which is a drone string but also picks other strings using a technique called drop thumbing. The hand assumes a claw like shape while the movement comes primarily from the elbow. The style is a very old one used primarily in American old time music, though players like Ken Perlman, Michael J Miles and others, have experimented with other genres using the technique. The good thing about the style is it can cover lead, chords and percussion all in one, so it makes a great solo style.

Dan’s style is very percussive with lots of syncopation. Clawhammer is the foundation for pretty much all of Dan’s playing although he does also use a little of the other primary five-string ‘Scruggs’ bluegrass style, named after the great Earl Scruggs who invented it, which is more akin to guitar finger picking. Many other techniques are used such as pinched harmonics, tapping and Dan’s trademark ‘funkhammer’ style.

So one may ask why did a thirteen year old from the middle of England choose the banjo? Dan had a long standing love of Irish jigs and reels, heard a banjo playing them courtesy of Barney McKenna and Gerry O’Connor, and said to his parents “I want to learn the banjo”. So a banjo teacher was found – the legendary George Davies in Cannock who taught five-string melodic clawhammer style banjo. It was only a year into playing that Dan discovered this was not the instrument he had heard in all that Irish music, that featured the four-string tenor banjo. Indeed Dan had never even heard of old-time or bluegrass music so had no inherent idea of what the banjo is supposed to do. He still plays those beloved jigs and reels, influenced greatly by legendary melodic clawhammer pioneer Ken Perlman, and has added old time and bluegrass to his ever growing list of influences on his playing.

Mishra

Kate Griffin and Ford Collier? formed Mishra in 2018, as a creative partnership at the University of Sheffield, where they discovered a shared fascination of UK folk and Indian classical music and explored the boundaries of their creative abilities.

Kate Griffin on vocals, banjo, and resonator guitar, and Ford Collier on low whistle, calabash, percussion and guitar, draw on their unique base of influences, encompassing folk music of the UK and America, Indian classical music, and soul to create a surprisingly accessible sound that audiences instantly connect to.

The recent release of their album ‘Reclaim’ gained critical acclaim including reviews in Songlines and Mojo. Performance highlights include supporting Jon Boden at Assembly Festival Coventry and performances at Cambridge Folk Festival, Sidmouth Folk Week, Broadstairs Folk Week and more.

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Friday 12th January – 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.

Note:
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.  Bring your instruments and join in!

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