2018 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

14th December –  Cameron Dusty Burnell
8th December –  Tattletale Saints
1st December –  Sonoran Dogs
17th November –  Frank Povah
16th November –  Isabel
27th October –  George and Noriko
26th October –  Melissa and The Dr
12th October –  Don Milne
6th October –  Across The Great Divide
29th September –  The Downunderdogs
21st September –  Pete Denahy
8th September –  The Pipi Pickers
2nd September –  Jake Blount – Libby Weitnauer Workshops and jam session
1st September –  Jake Blount and Libby Weitnauer
17th August –  Harvest Moon
4th August –  Jim and Roni Perkins
28th July –  The Easy Leaves
21st July –  Gumboot Tango
20th July –  Russell Self
7th July –  The Cattlestops
15th June –  Paul Schreuder
26th May –  Kate and Bob
18th May –  Blackboard concert
12th May –  Cindy Muggeridge Album Launch
28th April –  Bill Lake and The Right Mistake
20th April –  Alan Downes
14th April –  Martha Louise and the Backseat Drivers
16th March –  Dan Moth
10th March –  Mark Mazengarb BG Band
3rd March –  10 String Symphony
16th February –  Jude Madill
10th February –  Dan Walsh
3rd February –  The Lonely Heartstring Band
13th January –  Jan Preston
12th January –  Barry and the Crumpets


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

This is a new venture for the WBS, having come together after years in the making.

It will be held on the second Sunday afternoon of each ‘odd’ month (Jan, Mar, May, Jul, Sept,Nov) between 2pm and 4pm at the Petone Community Centre.

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

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

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

This is a new venture for the WBS, having come together after years in the making.

It will be held on the second Sunday afternoon of each ‘even’ (Feb, Apr, Jun, Aug, Oct, Dec) month between 2pm and 4pm at the Petone Community Centre.

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

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

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Friday 14h December – society night – Cameron Dusty Burnell

Cameron Dusty Burnell, known to many as Dusty, got his nickname through earlier years of his professional life as a newspaper photographer, after scrambling around the slopes of Mount Taranaki on assignment and arriving back at the office with the required photos, all covered in dust. The staff of the day thus coined his nickname, which has stuck ever since.

However Dusty has always played an instrument, starting with guitar, then mandolin, fiddle, resonator guitar and banjo. For the past five years he has performed on stages throughout New Zealand and Australia. He has played in many lineups including The Federal String Band, The Frank Burkitt Band, Anxiety Club, Hard Core Troubadours, with Bill Hickman, Whiskey Falls, Kim and Dusty, with David Calder, T-Bone Trio and Cowboys In Exile. He has performed at every major New Zealand Folk Festival, some multiple times, though some of these lineups. All of this achieved in addition to maintaining a life, a family and a professional career.

That was then. Now he is about to head out with The Frank Burkitt Band on a 75 date tour of New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom. Dusty will be absent for quite some time and when he returns he is planning to to record an EP, along with putting together his own band ‘Dusty and The Sepia Tones’ later next year, with a shifting lineup including the core being Rhodeworks, Michael Muggeridge and Kim Bonnington. He will be calling on all favours from his favourite musicians and they will also be touring throughout New Zealand later next year.

Over the last few months Dusty has performed a series of small intimate solo shows, the last of which will be this Friday at the Wellington Bluegrass Society. His diverse background ranges from Cajun to indie rock, but is always layered with a heavy dose of blues and Americana. Dusty will be bringing all of this together and exploring the music that has influenced his musical journey. Audiences will be taken on a trip through the American song book, touching on high lonesome ballads, jazz standards, old time, traditional folk and “country songs that hurt so much you’ll empty the bottle”.

“I’m kinda sad this will be my last solo gig. However I am really looking forward to setting up my own band, later next year.” – Dusty, 9th December 2018

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Saturday 8th December – concert – Tattletale Saints

December 2018 sees Auckland born, Nashville based Tattletale Saints return home, performing 14 intimate acoustic duo concerts around the country in support of the release of two new singles.

This tour marks a return to the acoustic duo sound that first introduced the Saints’ music to New Zealand audiences in 2012, earning them the Tui for Folk Album of The Year in 2014.

Cy Winstanley (guitar/vocals and APRA Silver Scroll nominee) and Vanessa McGowan (bass/vocals) have been based Stateside for the last five years, living and working alongside Nashville’s best. This time in Music City USA has brought a new depth of artistry and polish to their performances and songwriting.

Nashville’s thriving music scene has afforded Cy and Vanessa the opportunity to work outside their own band, and they have each spent the last 18 months touring heavily with many different artists. Cy has spent time on the road with Aubrie Sellers and Ashley Campbell, touring through the US and UK/Europe, opening for Miranda Lambert and performing at Bonnaroo, Folk Alliance, Americanafest and The Grand Ole Opry. Vanessa performed throughout the US, Canada and the UK with multi Grammy nominee Brandy Clark, also opening for Miranda Lambert and performing on the Opry stage. With Brandy she opened for Dwight Yoakam, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill and Willie Nelson, who she was privileged to join on stage in a group vocal. In August Vanessa joined Grammy winning band Sugarland on their US tour, finishing up with them in time to re-join forces with Cy and prepare for their homecoming tour.

Audiences can look forward to a mix of old and new songs, along with the band’s takes on classic country, pop and American songbook hits.

“..elements of folk, good old Appalachia style music, and a splash of country…well-written songs with stirring vocals.” No Depression Magazine

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Saturday 1st December – concert – The Sonoran Dogs

From the USA and formed in 2011, The Sonoran Dogs have exploded on the US bluegrass scene. They have performed and headlined many festivals and concert venues in the Southwestern US, touring as far as Australia, from Melbourne to Brisbane and beyond.

The “Dogs” are made up of seasoned veterans who have come together to enjoy bluegrass music and friendship, often at times adding one or more “strays” on fiddle or dobro. With every show, The Sonoran Dogs play with expertise, often improvising and showcasing original songs, traditional and contemporary music as well as an eclectic mix of bluegrass, folk, Americana, Celtic and newgrass.


Peter Mclaughlin – guitar/vocals
Peter started playing the guitar at the age of eight and was very soon jamming at early bluegrass festivals and fiddler’s contests. Several years later, Peter started entering guitar contests, and he eventually went on to take top honors at the National Flatpicking Championship in Winfield, Kansas in 1988, after taking second place there in 1986. Peter has also played music with banjo player Ross Nickerson in various bands, including the Titan Valley warheads. In 1991 Peter again met up with Tom Rozum and joined Laurie Lewis, touring nationally and internationally for six years as guitarist and harmony vocalist with her band. In 1992. Chris Brashear moved to Tucson. He and Peter struck up an immediate and lasting friendship with a strong musical bond. In 1995 Peter released his first solo album, a CD entitled “Cliffs of Vermilion”, produced by Laurie. She, along with Tom, Chris, Peter’s brother David, and father Bill and others appear on Peter‘s stellar CD. Peter is a 2013 inductee to the Tucson Musician’s Museum in the Bluegrass/Americana category.

Mark Miracle – mandolin/vocals
Mark has been playing music all his life in the southwest US region; having played concerts in Arizona, California and Colorado. Mark has won numerous mandolin contests, and his band, Shady Creek, won the SW Regional Division of the PIZZA HUT Showdown (now lBMA) Battle of the Bands in the late 90s. Mark is also the founding member of CLEAR , which won the Telluride Band Contest in 2000. They were invited to open the festival in 2001. He also spent years in Ohio, playing in three bands and extensively touring the area. His return to Arizona brought him to becoming a founding member of Sawmill Road, touring throughout the US, Canada, and Europe and producing two stellar recorded projects. “Sawmill Road 1″ and “Sawmill Road – Fire On The Kettle”.

Tyler James – banjo, vocals
Tyler who comes from a musical family, started playing music at a young age. After experimenting with several different instruments, he received a banjo on his fifteenth birthday and immersed himself in bluegrass music. In 2008 he “came up for air”, competing in and winning the Rockygrass Banjo Championship in Lyons, Colorado. He went on to take first place in the Arizona Banjo Championship that same year. Tyler did it again, winning the 2010 Huck Finn Festival banjo championship and attaining top five finalist status at the Winfield National Banjo Championship.

Bruce Packard – bass/vocals
Their bass player will be Bruce Packard from Australia, who is an excellent bass player and has performed at the WBS several times before, with Coolgrass and the Karen Lynne Bluegrass Circle, both groups are based in Australia.

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Saturday 17th November – concert – Frank Povah

Frank Povah was born in the year that Australia joined WWII (the second event attracting more notice than the first) into an Australia that has now largely vanished. Among his forebears and relatives are a crocodile trapper, a drover who moved cattle from the Snowy Mountains to Lor’ Vestey’s empire on the Victoria River; an indomitable woman who with her husband – himself a descendant of the ‘Afghan’ cameleers – managed a PNG plantation in the early 20th century; and a legendary bush mechanic, to name just a few.

He spent his childhood in places that are now the stuff of legend and others whose history has been largely forgotten, among them Cockatoo Island in the Buccaneer Archipelago and Wundowie, site of a large and primitive DP (Displaced Persons) camp for European refugees made homeless by WWII, and whose voracious charcoal iron industry saw wholesale destruction of the largest Wandoo forest in Western Australia. His teenage years were spent in Fremantle, then a quiet seaport and haven for the working poor: the lumpers (as wharfies were once known in Western Australia), seamen, and the working girls who made their living from them, and the 1001 other characters who worked in and around the port in the tiny offices of shipping companies that were once household names, infamous and famous, such as the ‘Kanaka Company’ Burns Philp and McIlwraith MacEachern.

He served an apprenticeship in a printing company opposite the gates of the wharf where the great liners berthed and watched the P&O Lines SS Canberra, and other ships, disgorge thousands of Italian immigrants and the “proxy brides” who had married their new husbands’ photographs back in the Old Country.

His apprenticeship completed, Frank roamed Australia and New Zealand for many years, earning his living by music and when the pickings were slim, working at his trade and other occupations as diverse as deckhand, cook, meatworker, fish and chip shop jack of all trades, fruit picker along the Murray-Darling,, to name just a few. For a while in the 1960s and throughout the 1970s he lived and was a well known performer in New Zealand and, for over five years, in rural Kentucky in the USA.

His background and life experiences colour both his music and his writing and have given him a strong sense of social justice.

Frank Povah’s Music
As a small child, Frank loved the sound of poetry song, and as was once common at Australian family gatherings, was always ready to “do a turn” – either a recitation or song – at social get-togethers. Many members of his extended family were singers or musicians and he still holds in his repertoire some of the songs learned as a child. He also sings others based on fragments he remembers hearing on the radio 60 and more years ago.

At about age 16 he discovered blues (he is thought to be among the first in Australia to publicly perform traditional blues outside the field of jazz) and a couple of years later, the music of Appalachia. He was actively singing and playing at about the time of the so-called “folk revival”, and figures in papers written on its impact on Australian music at the time.

He has travelled and performed widely throughout Australia and New Zealand, Canada, and the USA. Described as a “talented instrumentalist”, he plays guitar, autoharp, ukulele, Appalachian dulcimer and banjo. With his long-time friend Chris Cruise, in the 1960s he formed one of the first two jug bands in Australia.

One reviewer noted that “a performance by Povah combines a captivating musical experience along with a lesson in social history you don’t know you’re having”. Another wrote “…he sings and plays blues with an Australian accent, in a voice like gumleaf smoke on gravel”.

A concert might include traditional blues, music from Appalachia, Australian tunes, songs learned as a child, along with a grab-bag of tunes picked up, shaken and recycled during a his years as a nomadic performer – the whole peppered with anecdotes and sometimes poetry.

Over the years Frank has performed at many major festivals in Australia and New Zealand as well as venues of many kinds from impromptu performances in outback pubs to house concerts and educational visits to schools. He is also well-known for his encouragement and mentoring of young and novice performers. He has been filmed and recorded for the Archive of the Australian National Library, Canberra; first in the 1980s by the late John Meredith, then again – by Rob Willis – in 2013 after Frank’s return from America and in 2015, when the National Library invited him to do three days of recording in Canberra. He also gave a public performance to a packed house at the Library and four concerts at the National Folk Festival. Some of the films can be viewed on the ANL website.

Incidentally, whilst working “in the grapes” at Coomealla NSW in the 1980s, Frank won the Australian Yarn Telling Championship and was presented with a trophy by the then Mayor of Bourke, Wally Mitchell.

Frank now lives in Molong, in the central west of New South Wales, and works part time for the local newspaper as well as performing and writing.

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Friday 16th November – society night – Isabel

Isabel Corfiatis grew up in a musical family, where there was always music in the house ranging from blues to opera, various forms of folk and the music of the 60s, 70s and 80s. Going through school she was particularly drawn to music by artists such as The Doors, Bob Dylan and the Beatles.
Her Dad taught her some guitar, and she had piano lessons for few years but eventually got booted out by her teacher when she couldn’t (or wouldn’t) read music. She then decided to go it alone and focused on learning by ear. She had a brief stint with Ieti Leu’u, a fantastic singer and wise teacher, who amongst other tricks, taught her the secret of raising one’s eyebrows to sing higher.

Isabel plays a range of styles – blues, country, folk, classical, jazz and rock, but her performance will focus on country, rock and blues.

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Saturday 27th October – concert – George and Noriko

George and Noriko break all the rules. This duo brings something unique, something unexpected.

Known as the Japanese Blues Cowboy and the Tsugaru shamisen player, George Kamikawa and Noriko Tadano have been kicking up a storm wherever they play. George’s lightning fast blues licks on resonator guitar and growling harmonica are enhanced by Noriko’s percussive sounds of the traditional shamisen, the traditional Japanese banjo, has morphed into a fast hard country blues with a Japanese twist.

George and Noriko’s banter and easy audience interaction makes them a popular choice with audiences. George is thumping his resonator guitar and alternating between vocals and harmonica, with Noriko bending into the sound with her shamisen and sharing vocals, they are an arresting sight and their sound is something you haven’t heard before.

Their first joint album‚ ‘East West’ was released in 2010 and received four stars after being reviewed by ABC Limelight magazine.
They were finalists on ‘Australia’s Got Talent’ and their second joint album ‘Howlin’ Sun’ was released in 2016.

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Friday 26th October – society night – Melissa and The Dr

Take two keen country music aficionados from two different countries, generations and stylistic leanings, season with lead and harmony vocals reminiscent of Emmylou Harris and Gram Parsons, Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner, Tammy Wynette and George Jones, add a dash of chemistry and you have the duo that is Melissa Partridge and The Dr (Hyram Twang). Both have years of performing experience under their hats, that is if they wore hats. Together they play a collection of stripped down classic country duets as well as alt-country and Americana tunes – some sweet, some bittersweet, some downright tragic – all delivered with feeling and style. Melissa and The Dr have performed together at a number of gigs including stage shows, festivals, bars, cafes, small halls and back streets, and are looking to take their sound to the honky tonks and country bars of the greater Mosgiel area and the world.

Melissa has been singing and playing in the country music club scene since she was a youngster, winning and placing in many competitions including the Gold Guitar Awards. In 2007 she was inducted into the Old Time Music Hall of Fame in the USA and in 2008 her debut album “Melissa” won the Tui Award for Country Album of the Year. In 2012 Melissa graduated from The Academy of Country Music in Australia and spent some time there singing and playing until returning to New Zealand. Melissa is a hair stylist by day, country singer by night and has coached and mentored many of the young performers coming through the Silverpeaks Country Music Club, who are now going on to win awards themselves.

The Dr (Twang) aka Hyram Ballard has been a member of NZ folk band The Chaps for over 25 years. With them he has played every major and some minor folk music festivals in NZ, as well as toured parts of Europe three times, but he has another side. Playing guitar since he was a young boy growing up in Los Angeles, he listened to Buck Owens, Merle Haggard and George Jones on the AM radio on the way to school and rounded out that listening with Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane and Joni Mitchell after school. In the last few years he has been seen performing solo at various folk music festivals and gigs, instigator of The Saddle Hill Billys (bluegrass) and Dr T and The Twang Tones (Tejano spiced California country) and accompanying songwriter with Bill Morris on tour.

Melissa attended a Chaps show when she was about eleven years old. Many years later Melissa and Hyram met up again in the local country music club and ended up working together at club nights and concert shows put on by the club. It was clear they were both on the same musical wavelength so they decided to work up some tunes and find some gigs. Since their appearance last year at the Whare Flat Festival they have building up a steady calendar of work and are looking to record a live show next year for audio and video release. You’ll likely see and hear more from them over the next few years.

“Melissa and The Dr performed at Whare Flat Folk Festival 2017/18, performing a number of American classics including tunes by Roy Orbison, Hank Williams and others.  Their short set quickly transfixed the audience – with Partridge’s near-flawless vocal delivery elevated by The Dr’s sensitive-yet-tough guitar, tasteful mandolin accompaniment and vocals.  Partridge is without a doubt one of the finest singers of country music in New Zealand. Her emotive, understated, delivery is reminiscent of a young Emmylou Harris, with the added dimension of a warm Kiwi earthiness. The good Doctor has this music in his pedigree – a southwest desert wind blows through every strummed chord or keening harmony and he knows just when to pull back and let Partridge’s vocal soar.
As a duo, Melissa and The Dr bleed authenticity – this is Americana unfiltered, straight from the source. Hank would shed a tear.”
Bill Morris, singer, songwriter, filmmaker and author

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Friday 12th October – society night – Don Milne

“I’m looking forward to being back at the Wellington Bluegrass Society for another opportunity to share some of the tunes and songs that have come my way in the last couple of years.

Last year I was lucky enough to spend a month or two in the Appalachian mountains of the USA, meeting up with old friends and making new ones at festivals and jams along the way. It certainly is exciting playing so many tunes you’ve never heard, with so many players you’ve never met before. They are generous folks, putting up with this odd New Zealander (“OH we must come down there !!”).

It was hard to come back home, such was the warmth of the mountain folk’s hospitality. Old Time Music is deeply embedded in their culture, as it is in ours, since there are so many connections to the Scottish-English-Irish music that the immigrants to both countries brought with them long ago. My own forebears came from Scotland, Shetland and the English Border, which perhaps is why it has a hold on me. I hope to pass some of my enthusiasm on to you.”

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Saturday 6th October – album launch concert – Across The Great Divide

‘Across The Great Divide’ are the New Zealand duo Karen Jones and Tony Burt. Their musical backgrounds stem from differing paths. Karen, with her Celtic roots and many years of living, learning and playing in Edinburgh, developed a love and great respect for traditional folk music. Tony’s repertoire of Americana folk and music composition stems from the love of the resonator guitar as an expressive instrument, and also from exploring the world through film and music respectively. Having studied from some of the best artisans of the resonator guitar, he now incorporates this instrument into his production music and compositions.

Tony and Karen have always enjoyed the challenge of interpreting each other’s music, ever since their first session on one warm summer night, at the beach at Mission Bay in Auckland, when first they played together. Somehow the enigmatic allure of the Celtic harp and crisp bite and presence of the resonator guitar seemed to somehow gel. Over time they not only got to understand the background and idiosyncrasies of each other’s musical styles, but also took on the many challenges of working together musically, with Tony learning jigs, reels and all manner of arrangements on the resonator, as much as Karen adding distinctive Celtic guitar style rhythms and chordal arrangements to Americana influenced tunes. Tony’s background in both film and music composition added an original flavour, and his tunes became an integral part of their repertoire.

Collaboratively they have enjoyed their journey of bringing such diverse instruments and music styles together, whilst exploring the unique expressions created by them. Whether it be from delicate harp and resonator, combining and paying tribute to traditional airs or Celtic alternate chordal guitar rhythms, or bringing a fresh approach to Americana style tunes, the combination reflects their love for the music.

Across the Great Divide have always enjoyed merging the music and styles they were respectively familiar with, to come up with something a little different. Karen took up the challenge of applying Celtic guitar to fast rousing bluegrass, Americana tunes and Tony’s original compositions. Tony in turn arranged resonator guitar for Celtic airs and fiddle tunes, to accompany Karen’s exquisite harp performance and blistering paced guitar fuelled jigs and reels.

Behind the album
It is fair to say that if one half has been immersed in honest folk music and the other in all manner of Americana and music for film, that this presented a challenge in itself. The reality was finding a creative approach to the album to combine this presently and honestly, whilst including the grand and dramatic elements. Finding common ground was a task and took a degree of compromise, respect and understanding, after which a different sound began to emerge. The answer was unexpected and something which encompassed all the above attributes. When combining both how the music sounds and how it is put together, the album title Uncommon Ground was fitting for all the diversity landing on one disc. In the film world there is a saying ‘Music provides the emotional underscore to a movie’. In as much, the tunes and songs on Uncommon Ground could provide an emotional underscore to life and moments.

The Concert
Their debut album Uncommon Ground will be released on Saturday 6th October, 2018 at the Wellington Bluegrass Society.    Joining Tony and Karen on their ‘Uncommon Ground’ Launch tour and adding to this exciting dynamic will be saxophonist and Swedish folk artist Hanna Wiskari Griffiths, bringing the rhythms and traditional style melodies borne from her Scandinavian homeland. The trio create a new unique sound in addition to that of Across The Great Divide, intricately woven, all the while retaining respect for the traditions. A true folk fusion.

Photography by Mary Livingston

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Saturday 29th September – concert – The Downunderdogs

As per their music, Jack MacKenzie, Peter and Cathy Dyer are American—born and bred.  As per their name, they have all settled in New Zealand.

Jack grew up in Southern California. His splendid flat-picking evokes, amongst others, Doc Watson. This is no coincidence as Jack has picked with Doc and a host of other stars in the musical firmament at McCabe’s Music—the legendary venue that Jack both managed and performed at in Los Angeles from 1971 to 1980. During those years Jack took full advantage of the unique opportunity to soak up and master the blend of musical styles people later began to refer to as “Americana”. Jack moved to New Zealand in 1984.

Peter’s roots are in “Little Dixie”—a region of Missouri settled in the early 19th century by his Dad’s Virginian and Kentuckian ancestors. His active engagement with the music of his Iwi began in the mid 1970s. Cathy Dyer hails from the heartland. Born and raised near Detroit, she grew up learning classical violin whilst listening to Motown. She and Peter moved here in 2004.

Jack and Peter met over ten years ago at the Levin Folk Club. There was instant musical sympatico. Countless hours of jamming followed and a number of gigs—as a duo and with others, including Graham Lovejoy, Allen Castleton and Kim Bonnington. Like Jack, Peter is a fine songwriter and an accomplished rhythm guitarist. His songs include “Go Ahead and Cry” and “Yodeler’s Waltz”—one of several that feature a yodel.

After years of hearing Peter and Jack play, Cathy picked up the double bass. The fun was tripled when she brought this and her lovely vocal harmonies to the group.

The Downunderdogs toured Auckland in June, including a show at the Auckland Bluegrass Club. They will be appearing in October in a feature concert at the upcoming 2018 Wellington Folk Festival over Labour weekend. In the meantime, they are very much looking forward to some serious fun at the Wellington Bluegrass Society, featuring a new repertoire.

Photo courtesy of Peter Parnham

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Friday 21st September – concert – Pete Denahy

Pete Denahy is a five time Golden Guitar winner and has attended every Tamworth Country Music Festival since 1991. His regular gig there for the last six years has been presenting a bluegrass breakfast show every morning for the ten day duration of the festival.

Pete toured with Slim Dusty for four years, playing fiddle and performing a comedy spot in the show. The sound of Paul and Colleen Trenwith on Slim’s earlier records sowed the seeds of Pete’s love of bluegrass music and in 2015 he won a Golden Guitar for Bluegrass Recording of the Year with his song called Singing’ Shoes. Pete now presents his own show, which includes much comedy and also features his fine original songs, many of which are songs inspired by the history of Yackandandah, Victoria, where he lives. His song about a teenager talking to his father, “Sort Of Dunno Nothin’” has had over a million hits on Youtube. He continues to tour his show throughout Australia and lately has been hosting musical journeys to Japan to explore the bluegrass scene there.

The show is a blend of Pete’s original songs which are best described as Australian bluegrass with a splash of old time, dotted here and there with his ridiculous comedy songs. His two latest solo bluegrass releases are “Wishbone Road” and “Singin’ Shoes” and his brand new comedy record is called “You Actually Burn More Calories Eating Celery Than You Get From The Celery Itself”.

This will be Pete’s first trip to NZ to play music and he will be joined on stage by good friend and upright bass player, Aron McLean who assists Pete in taking the audience on an enjoyable and sometimes weird journey.

“This guy is both a great musician and HILARIOUS! …his show will be perfection incarnate…
Pete has a wicked sense of humour and has written funny songs as well as serious ones. You’ll get a mix of that in his first ever concert series in New Zealand! He’s in the Australian Country Music Hall of Fame, and deservedly so. One of his comedy songs went viral a few years ago but he’s taken a lot of vitamin C and seems to be on top of it now.             Be there…!”
– Nat Torkington, from his Facebook page

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Saturday 8th September – concert – The Pipi Pickers

The Pipi Pickers play a blend of contemporary and traditional hard driving bluegrass with solid instrumental chops and an engaging performance style that puts a smile on everyone’s face and infuses even the most dreadful of murder ballads with a sense of joy and energy. The Pipis bring a love of the genre and a desire to share that love with as many people as possible.

The Pipi Pickers have been laying down their energetic, contemporary, “full-bodied” bluegrass since 2007. They have played the main stage at the Wellington Folk Festival, Warkworth Kowhai Festival, Harrietville Bluegrass and Old Time Country Music Convention and the inaugural Great Alpine Pick, both in Harrietville, Victoria, Australia. They’re a regular feature at the Bunker in Devonport, playing for both the Folk and Bluegrass clubs. Residents and visitors to the Matakana Coast region will likely have run into them playing the Leigh Sawmill, Matakana Farmer’s Market, and other local events. Often praised as the “second best free band in Leigh,” they’re a favourite at such local fundraisers as the Leigh Fishing competition and the Whangateau Hall Annual Country Fair.

The Pipi Pickers are Barry Torkington on guitar, Garry Bigwood on mandolin, guitar and vocals, Nat Torkington on five string banjo, and Jenine Abarbanel on double bass and vocals.

Barry Torkington first heard bluegrass as a young lad when the National Radio programme would play their one Flatt and Scruggs record every day just as he was milking the cows. Realising this was the music for him, he bought himself a five string banjo and taught himself to play it. He is currently teaching himself to play dobro.

Nat Torkington (Barry’s son) picked up (or, in Barry’s words, stole) the banjo at age 17, forcing Barry to switch to the guitar. Nat has studied with Pete Wernick and jammed with Béla Fleck, and is widely considered to be the best five string Earl Scruggs style banjo player living on Ti Point today. In all honesty, there are few greater joys than listening to Nat tear up “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” seven ways to Sunday.

Garry Bigwood comes from a blues tradition, formerly playing with the Leigh Buoys. He thrashes his Martin like he means it and brings a true bluesy groove to The Pipi Pickers’ sound. In 2010 he bought a mandolin and taught himself to play it, adding a much needed authentic bluegrass element.

Jenine Abarbanel came to music late, learning to play the stand-up bass in 2006 so the guys would let her hang out with them during jam nights. A singer since childhood, Jenine has become widely respected for her strong and solid lead vocals. What she lacks in talent and skill she makes up for with energy and chutzpah.

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Sunday 2nd September – workshops and jam session – Jake Blount and Libby Weitnauer

Libby Weitnauer and Jake Blount, who performed at the WBS the night before also presented workshops the next day, followed by an old time jam session.

Jake Blount is a fiddler, banjo player, singer and scholar based in Ithaca, New York. He has performed and recorded with acclaimed fiddler Tatiana Hargreaves and award-winning old-time string band The Moose Whisperers, in addition to having served as a guest lecturer on music history at numerous museums and universities. In 2018, he and Hargreaves opened a series of shows for GRAMMY winner and MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient Rhiannon Giddens. He centres and venerates his racial and ethnic heritage through his approach to music and its history.

Fiddler and singer Libby Weitnauer has degrees in classical violin performance from DePaul and New York Universities, but finds her voice in the traditional music of Appalachia. She has performed in a wide range of venues and concert halls, most recently the Smithsonian National Museum of American History after a summer of research and music-making under the supervision of Grammy Award winner Dom Flemons.

Old time fiddle workshop
“This workshop will use the process of learning a fiddle tune to explore a handful of bowing patterns and ornaments from the old time fiddling style.”

Clawhammer banjo workshop
“Jake will give a workshop that uses the work of bygone clawhammer banjo masters to explore the rhythmic and melodic possibilities of the banjo. We’ll listen to rare field recordings, learn their contents, and discuss the functions of the banjo as a solo instrument and in ensemble contexts.”

This was followed by an Old time music jam session

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Saturday 1st September – concert – Jake Blount and Libby Weitnauer

Jake Blount and Libby Weitnauer are embarking on a tour of Australia and New Zealand to share the fiddle and banjo music of Black and Native American communities and explore their mutual fascination with rhythm and resonance. The two discovered a shared enthusiasm for the traditional acoustic music of the American South at a friend’s birthday party in 2016. After nearly two years of sharing archival recordings online and playing music together every few months, Blount and Weitnauer decided to formally join forces for a tour of Australia and New Zealand.

Jake Blount is a fiddler, banjo player and scholar based in Ithaca, New York. He has performed and recorded with acclaimed fiddler Tatiana Hargreaves and award-winning old-time string band The Moose Whisperers, in addition to having served as a guest lecturer on music history at numerous museums and universities. In 2018, he and Hargreaves opened a series of shows for GRAMMY winner and MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient Rhiannon Giddens. He centres and venerates his racial and ethnic heritage through his approach to music and it’s history.

Fiddler and singer Libby Weitnauer has degrees in classical violin performance from DePaul and New York Universities, but finds her voice in the traditional music of Appalachia. She has performed in a wide range of venues and concert halls, most recently the Smithsonian National Museum of American History after a summer of research and music-making under the supervision of Grammy Award winner Dom Flemons.

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Friday 17th August – society night – Harvest Moon

Harvest Moon are a supercharged six pack of local country musicians who have all been performing for over fifty years. They recently formed this band and are road testing their well rehearsed repertoire at the WBS, before launching to bigger venues around the country. The lineup includes George Packard, Robert Antonio, Dave Wellington, Garrett Evans, Wayne Mills and Rob Reid and they will perform a tasty repertoire from some of the greats including Neil Young, The Louvin Brothers, Don Henley, James Taylor, The Marshall Tucker Band, Randy Travis, Brooks and Dunn, Brad Paisley, Vince Gill and more.

Here is the chance to see a concert on a Society night, at Society night prices! The band will have a full PA for the occasion.

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Saturday 4th August – concert – Jim and Roni Perkins

Jim and Roni Perkins have been playing music for a number of years but only in the more recent years have started performing together. After becoming frustrated with certain aspects of his musical life, Jim started exploring county music, in particular the genre of bluegrass and became fixated on learning as much as he could from whomever he could. This came as a surprise to his friends and family, especially his wife Roni. But his resolve and enthusiasm persuaded her to join in and now they perform regularly in this type of genre.

Roni has been involved in the performing arts for most of her life. Being a Cook Islander, she has been steeped in cultural dancing and music from a young age. Her family are very musical. All four of her brothers play instruments ranging from drums to saxophone, so it is no wonder she is very talented herself. Currently Roni is focusing on singing and learning the mandolin, as demanded by her slightly obsessive husband.

Jim began playing music at around the age of eight. The early years proved a bit off and on but once he found the guitar he never looked back. Jumping from genre to genre as the mood and the quest for knowledge took him, he studied rock, heavy metal, commercial music, reggae, jazz and now country, Americana and bluegrass. With no sign of slowing down, Jim is currently working on a recording project to capture his latest compositions.

Jim and Roni currently live in Titikaveka, Rarotonga where Roni teaches music at Tereora, which is the National College of the Cook Islands. Jim is self employed teaching privately and composing music. They gig two to three times per week at resorts around the island, so if you get the opportunity to visit the Cook Islands, do check them out.

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Saturday 28th July – concert – The Easy Leaves

The Easy Leaves are Sage Fifield and Kevin Carducci and are the very top of the Country heap in San Francisco, headlining and filling big rooms including the Great American Music Hall, The Independent, Mystic Theatre and the main stage set at last year’s Outside Lands Festival where Willie Nelson told them ‘We should play together again’! CMT premieres their videos and they write, record and perform incredible songs. Songs that are meticulously crafted and have great capabilities of just plain moving people. Under the guidance of Merle Haggard’s music and countless other important poets, The Easy Leaves have written their own great collection of poetry for the common man.

The 78 Project, a documentary currently on the festival circuit, is by Spike Lee’s music supervisor and recreates Alan Lomax’s journey to capture important American Folk music on its home porches. They found and recorded The Easy Leaves for their film – alongside Rosanne Cash, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Loudon Wainwright III, Justin Townes Earl, Richard Thompson, John Doe of X and other great talents. NPR, Wall Street Journal and The New York Times have featured it and The Smithsonian, Library of Congress, and the Alan Lomax estate are active advisors.

The Easy Leaves have been hired as sole support on shows and runs by Dwight Yoakam, Ry Cooder, Ricky Skaggs, Junior Brown, Robert Earl Keen, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Asleep At The Wheel, Kasey Chambers, Blind Boys of Alabama, Jim Lauderdale, Los Lobos, Langhorne Slim and Lake Street Dive. The Easy Leaves are fantastic live!

Finally, they’re grounded Sonoma County farm boys, low key, classy, charismatic and professional. They’re a joy to see performing live.

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Saturday 21st July – concert – Gumboot Tango

Gumboot Tango are an acoustic combo from Godzone celebrating New Zealand songs and songwriters with a farmyard-infectious humour, guaranteed to put a smile on your feet and the swing back in a Taranaki gate. They present good-time home-grown music, from rustic roots and big-smoke blues to regional originals and classic kiwi rock. Foot-tapping ditties from the family knee and the cowshed wireless at milking time. Songs from 78s and sing-alongs, from back-country roads, the bush and the big smoke.

Gumboot Tango were formed in 1994 when Mike Harding joined Alan Muggeridge, his wife Janet and brother Steve, to assemble and record a set of ten Taranaki songs in Alan’s Rowan Studio and then perform them at the 1995 Taranaki Festival of the Arts. The band also had their first performance at the Beehive as part of the promotion for the Festival.

Further musical adventures followed. Following the ‘Taranaki Top Ten’ cassette, came ‘Rattle Yer Dags’ and appearances at many folk and music festivals, including the Second Annual Great Urenui School Possum Hunt and WOMAD 99. Along the way the addition of ‘other band’ member and friend Wayne Morris on drums for a while before Alan became ill with cancer and tragically died in 2000.

At this point the band took a break, but in time decided to continue with the remaining line-up, remembering Alan’s part in band members’ lives by playing several of the songs he wrote and recorded whilst living in South Taranaki, including ‘No Warships’, ‘Gravy Train’ and National Radio hit ‘Just One Little Number (To Blow the Boys Away)’.

Gumboot Tango are experienced entertainers having performed at weddings and wakes, birthdays and garden parties, bottle openings and school closures, from Ohura to Tongaporutu, Whangamomona to Rahotu, well received at campfire sing-arounds and the Beehive, WOMAD 99 and the Second Annual Great Urenui School Possum Hunt.

In 2008 Gumboot Tango recorded their latest project Rubber Sole, featuring songs by Alan Muggeridge, Steve Muggeridge, Mike Harding, Bob Cooper-Grundy, Bic Runga, Peter Cape, Murray Grindlay, Rod Derrett, The Front Lawn, The Swingers, Ray Columbus and the Invaders.

Gumboot Tango are an earthy yet sophisticated musical experience. Seriously good home-grown fun.

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Friday 20th July – society night – Russell Self

Russell Self loves the feel of the blues for it’s interaction with the soul and the mongrel sound of a slide on resonator guitar. Russell also plays harmonica and fingerpicking guitar and poetry is peppered throughout and intermingle with self penned songs, blues and jazz at his gigs.

As a youngster, Russell’s grandfather on his mother’s side played in orchestras. His mother had a piano in the house and insisted on Russell learning to play piano, saying that he would be well looked after at any pub as all had a piano and he would be forever plied with food and drink. After having piano lessons as a child, he didn’t like it, then got a guitar at the age of 16 and loved it. Russell has always been able to sing.

He busked and played in bars around Europe, Scandinavia and England during the 70s, 80s and 90s. He bought his first resonator when busking in Paris as it would sound and he didn’t need to use an amp, but it gave him sciatica. Ry Cooder turned Russell onto playing slide, as did Robert Johnson.

He opened for John Renbourn in London at the Troubadour, also in London for Dave Swarbrick of Fairport Convention fame, played support for Wizz Jones, a big time folk music guitarist in the UK, played support for Neil Innes, ex Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, and for Monty Python, who can be seen amongst other places in The Holy Grail.

Also Chris Whitley was influential, who won a Grammy for first album, was booked to play in the Ponsonby Blues Fest and was turned away, however Russell played there 1983. Chris was inspirational for Russell as he makes up his own tunings, as does Joni Mitchell.

Russell came to NZ to live in 1993, settled in Auckland, performing there and around the North Island. He toured with and opened for Emma Paki and Roni Taylor. After realising Auckland was just another big European city, travelled around NZ to appreciate the countryside, including a season of fruit picking in Nelson, then in 1998 settled Wellington, where he has been ever since. He had a residency at the Treehouse Cafe in Cuba Mall on Saturday nights, also ran the open mike sessions at the same venue on Thursday nights. Russell played in bars, festivals and clubs around both the North and South Islands and made a CD Rhymingstuff, which sounds like it is poetry but is in fact a full album of songs.

Russell taught English whilst in Paris, then again when in Auckland, which got him into songwriting through the use of language. Russell then progressed into poetry. Russell was in his 30s when wrote his first song but didn’t let that hold him back. He spent the last 14 years as a part time cleaner at a school. He took the job on so he could write songs for gigs but it wasn’t good for him.

He is currently developing different styles on resonator. His favourite artists include Tom Waits, Kelly Joe Phelps, Dylan, Mike Cooper, John Coltrane, Ry Cooder, Johnson, Woody Guthrie, Dave Davis, Loudon Wainright III, who is the father of Rufus Wainright.

His resonator is made by Russ Mattsen, a luthier based in Nelson.

(Photo courtesy of Donald Laing)

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Saturday 7th July – concert – The Cattlestops

After almost a decade’s hiatus, local band The Cattlestops re-emerge with a new line up and a new album. Originally formed on the Kapiti Coast back in 2005, The Cattlestops focused on a country-rock and Western swing repertoire, consisting mostly of original songs penned by bass player James Cameron and guitarist Andrew London. Legendary Hamilton County Bluegrass Band fiddle player Colleen Trenwith provided a signature sound which, combined with fiery lead guitarist Dave Berry and drummer Evan Williams can be heard on two albums, the first is Cattlestoppin” released in 2005, then Back to Rosetta Road released in 2007. The latter contributed significantly to the soundtrack of locally-shot feature film Second Hand Wedding and was nominated as a finalist for Country Album of the Year. The band played Arts and Music festivals around New Zealand and featured at the Norfolk Island Country Festival in 2007.

The Cattlestops went into recess around 2009, but Cameron and London continued to work together, often with other local musicians including Wayne Mason (keys), Ross McDermott (steel guitar) [not appearing at this concert], Lance Philip (drums) and guitarist Nick Granville. This new line-up has recorded eleven Cameron/London songs at Audiosuite studios in Paraparaumu, two of them boasting some wonderful vocals by Natalie Black of Rangiora, and one featuring original fiddler Colleen Trenwith.

The new album ‘Dance in the Rain’ shows both songwriters in pensive and occasionally nostalgic mood, with genres ranging from rural acoustic country and JJ Cale style swamp grooves, to driving blues and country rock reminiscent of B.B King and the Allman Brothers.

‘Dance in The Rain’ was officially launched at the Paraparaumu Golf Club. The entire six-piece played songs from the new album, also selections from their previous albums and a few of the band’s current western swing and blues-based favourites.

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Friday 15th June – society night – Paul Schreuder

Paul Schreuder started playing in Wellington band Orange when he was in his teens, and started songwriting in the late 70s. In 1980 he won an APRA Silver Scroll for his song ‘You’ve Got Me Loving You’. The same year he had another song ‘1973’ in the finals. In 1983 he recorded his second album for Festival which was produced by Clinton Brown and featured top Wellington musicians. It was not until 1996 that he recorded his next album ‘Rosetta Road’ at the famous RNZ studios of the day, which was produced by long time friend Gary Taylor. For the next ten years Paul was busy studying psychology at Massey University, and later education at Waikato University and commenced a career in lecturing in social services and addictions. His song ‘Forever Friends’ was runner up in a national song writing competition and his song ‘Dig A Little Deeper’ won a national competition.

Paul played with Don Wilson, of Wellington band The Heartbreakers, and they recorded a satirical song ‘Hey Mr Lange’ which gained lots of publicity. He then played with James Cameron of The Cattlestops, in a duo Short People for several years and still plays with James on occasions.

He is currently recording his tenth CD of original songs and continues to play both solo and in several bands. He is part of the popular Kapiti trio The Jukebox Gypsies with Carylann Martin and Ross McDermott (who produced and engineered his last six albums). Paul has just finished recording an album at Ian Campbell’s off the grid studio and intends to keep writing and playing, as it is medicine for the soul.

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Saturday 26th – concert – Kate and Bob

Kate and Bob are based in the Wairarapa and play gigs regularly around the southern half of the North Island. The song list veers between the swing sounds of Texas, mixed with the blues, influences of bluegrass, something approaching jazz and some Pop songs, served up in the Bob and Kate way.

Bob Cooper-Grundy has pursued obscurity for some 40 odd years, playing blues guitar and singing country songs.

Kate Marshall plays violin, accordion and flute and sings quite beautifully. She started with classical piano and singing in choirs and you don’t have to listen that carefully to hear Bach and Mozart lurking behind Bob Wills and Memphis Minnie.

They have played at most of the folk clubs in the Wellington area, at Tahora and Ti Rangi, the Wellington and Dunedin Folk Festivals, and at Jazz in Martinborough. Check out their Bob and Kate Facebook page for details and Sound Cloud for some sounds.

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Friday 18th May – society night – Blackboard concert

A blackboard concert is an evening of floorspots, 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, 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
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Saturday 12th May – concert – Cindy Muggeridge Album Launch

Wellington’s queen of the blues piano, Cindy Muggeridge, will be launching her latest CD of original songs, crafted in Robbie Duncan’s Braeburn studios, and supported by a selection of our finest local musicians.

From blues to ballads and boogies, Cindy’s songs tell their own stories, woven together with her inimitable and infectious piano playing and soulful vocals.

Joining her at the Bluegrass Society will be Marian Carter on vocals and clarinet, Neil Billington on harmonica, Michael Muggeridge on guitar, George Barris on bass, and Anje Glindemann on drums, giving it everything they’ve got in an evening off musical celebration.

There will be no greater incentive to tap your toes, clap your hands and leave with a smile on your face.
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Saturday 28th April – concert – Bill Lake and The Right Mistake

Bill Lake has been an original voice in New Zealand music for more than five decades, from the country blues of The Windy City Strugglers to the brassy funk of The Pelicans. He is noted for his uniquely rhythmic acoustic guitar style, while his songs, often co-written with Arthur Baysting, have enhanced the repertoires of Midge Marsden, Darren Watson, Kokomo and Marg Layton, amongst others.
But no one plays Bill Lake like Bill Lake.

With an acclaimed new album “As Is Where Is”, Bill will be surveying his songbook in the intimate setting of the Wellington Bluegrass Society, accompanied by a versatile group of stalwarts – Andrew Delahunty (mandolin, guitar, harmonica), Andrew ‘Clyde’ Clouston (saxophones) and Nick Bollinger (bass).

“Gentle, sometimes witty and just as often moving reflections at every turn”
– Graham Reid, Elsewhere
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Friday 20th April – society night – Alan Downes

Alan Downes was a long-time country boy. He spent his first five decades living in the back blocks of Hawke’s Bay, hearing stories and telling a few tales of his own, when the locals got together for a country dance or a party.

After he moved to the city, Alan picked up a guitar and started writing songs to capture the memories. Following the story telling traditions found in bluegrass, country and folk music, his songs are narratives on the ordinary and extraordinary people that don’t make the history books.

Performing his own original work, Alan sings lyrical ballads about the New Zealand that we need to remember, the good times and how the bad times can give you the best yarns. They are essentially true stories of people and places, told with careful observation, a good dollop of humour and a little nostalgia.

Alan has three CDs of original music. The Best (2013), Moving On (2014) and Road Trip (2017). The songs keep coming.

“Poetic and in it’s own way romantic and it might be the closest thing to authentic New Zealand country music I have ever heard”
“His songs capture the details of rural New Zealand life and those who have lived it”
– Nick Bollinger, The Sampler, Radio New Zealand, 2013 and 2014

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Saturday 14th April – concert – Martha Louise and the Backseat Drivers

Martha Louise is returning to the WBS with her Appalachian dulcimer and guitar, to sing a mix of original songs from her two CDs, along with favourites by some of America’s iconic story telling songwriters including Steve Earle, Townes Van Zandt, and Gillian Welch.

This time Martha is bringing a group of friends to add instrumentals and stellar harmonies. They are Paul Symons on guitar and vocals, who you will remember from the group Too Far Gone; Cameron Bennett on Dobro and vocals, who along with Paul are both wonderful singer songwriters in their own right. Joining them is Stuart Grimshaw on five string resonator bass, who Martha met last year playing at the Thursday night open mic sessions at Chris Priestley’s renowned One2one café in Auckland.

The result is a special blend of music, friendship and respect for each other’s talents. They have put together a set of music from the quietly contemplative Gillian Welch song ‘Everything Is Free Now’ to the high energy original tune ‘Down the Road’, and a little gospel too.

“I’m excited about the group of guys I’ve been making music with this year and the yummy harmonies we come up with. We are three solo singer/songwriters who love the sound of performing together. Cam is playing mainly Dobro and vocals and Paul plays that big blond Lola from Louisiana (the guitar!) and harmonies. Stuart comes from a European edgy band scene and they all three can take off on lead breaks…hence the back seat driving. I’m playing guitar and some dulcimer and lead vocals. We love Steve Earle, Gram Parsons, Townes, Gillian, EmmyLou, Springsteen and my originals.” – Martha Louise

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Friday 16th March – society night – Dan Moth

Dan Moth was born into a musical family where the house rang to the sound of the French horn, the piano and flute. Their domestic soundscape broadened somewhat with Dan’s bass playing in one Australia’s most prominent heavy metal bands, namely Cruciform.

In 2006, whilst sitting at the Silverstream traffic lights in a 1980 Valiant Regal, Dan heard the playing of banjo legend Eric Weissberg, of Duelling Banjos fame. It was like a musical epiphany, beaming down through the vinyl roof of the old Val.

After this awakening, Dan vowed to play banjo. So much so that he re-tuned an acoustic guitar to emulate the instrument he loved, whilst saving for his first banjo, which has since been converted to fretless. Hoping to play three finger style, he took lessons, only to find out his three finger style was not the graceful cascade of notes he had hoped for. However his clawhammer playing was solid, capturing the ‘ragged, but right’ feel that typifies the style. Thus Dan willingly plunged into the world of clawhammer banjo, where he has happily resided ever since.

His passion is exploring all things clawhammer; different styles, tunings, techniques and the myriad of wonderful players.

He has performed at music festivals such as Up The Mountain, with string bands at square dances, on radio commercials to discourage drink driving, on the soundtrack of the award-winning animated short film Spring Jam and on street corners as an avid busker, bringing a skip to the stride of the lunchtime crowds in Wellington.

Dan has also bent the floorboards of the Wellington Bluegrass Society stage several times in the furtherance of old time music and is excited about returning for his first ever solo gig.

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Saturday 10th March – concert – Mark Mazengarb BG Band

Mark Mazengarb, Joe K. Walsh and Andrew Van Norstrand will present a night of bluegrass, old time and swing music, featuring heartfelt songs, instrumentals and vocal harmonies, at the Wellington Bluegrass Society on Saturday 10th March.

Mark Mazengarb is a kiwi guitarist who has been based in the USA for the past seven years, touring full time with his guitar duo partner Loren Barrigar. He has performed and toured with some of the best guitarists in the world, including several tours with the great Tommy Emmanuel. Now based in New Zealand, Mark’s passion is to bring some of the finest musicians from the USA to New Zealand audiences. Most recently, Mark brought ‘The Lonely Heartstring Band’ out to NZ for a sold out tour, wowing audiences up and down the North Island. “It’s really special for kiwis to get the chance to see such high calibre musicianship. It’s not often that musicians of this quality get to come to NZ, especially to perform in such intimate venues.” Mazengarb says.

Joe K. Walsh teaches mandolin at the prestigious Berklee School of Music when he is off the road, and Andrew Van Norstrand was a child prodigy fiddle player, performing on the Prarie Home Companion Radio show at just 14 years old. This will be Andrew and Joe’s first tour of New Zealand.

Mark Mazengarb adds:
“I met Andrew and Joe at various music/bluegrass festivals around the USA, and was really inspired by their playing, especially their musicality and complete mastery of their instruments. At the time, Joe was performing with The Gibson Brothers, and also with Brittany Haas. I had admired his playing from the audience many times before I finally had the pleasure of meeting and playing music with him. Andrew I meet while we were both teaching at the Ashokan Music Camp (where the famous tune ‘Ashokan Farewell’ was written.) It was the first time I had heard serious old-time fiddle playing, and I was completely mesmerised by it! Kind of a mix between celtic and bluegrass – full of groove, and very unique harmonically.

“We first got together as a trio back in July 2017, then in September recorded a 6 track EP in Boston. The best thing about Andrew and Joe, aside from their musical talents, is that they are also top quality guys, which is very important when you are considering going on the road for a few weeks in a small van! So I’m genuinely really excited to introduce them to New Zealand audiences, and I’m equally excited about showing them round our beautiful New Zealand.

“We have a very nice set of music lined up, featuring some classic bluegrass and old time music, along with original music, and even a couple of Dylan and Beatles tunes. Something for everyone, and a nice blend of instrumentals and songs. Hearing fiddle and mandolin played at this level is a rare treat in New Zealand, and I promise you won’t be disappointed. There is no doubting that this will be a very fine concert indeed. Bring friends, bring family, grab a ticket and settle in for a intimate evening of world class acoustic music.”

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Saturday 3rd March – concert – 10 String Symphony

Nashville duo 10 String Symphony began as a partnership of mutual admiration, a much needed creative release valve for Rachel Baiman and Christian Sedelmyer, two 5 ­string fiddle players and veteran sidemen of Nashville’s music scene. Rachel, a former Illinois state fiddle champion in the old time tradition, needed an outlet for the new sort of songs she was writing, while Christian, originally a classically trained violinist, now a current touring member of the Jerry Douglas Band, was looking to get in touch the impetuous spirit of the rock bands he played in before his arrival in Nashville. With the love of the 5­string fiddle and its musical possibilities as its focal point, the band’s mission statement was as clear as it was expansive: Two fiddles. Two Voices. Epic music.


“They do things with fiddles you wouldn’t expect”  and  “The Newest and
Most Promising Voices in Americana”  NPR All Songs Considered

“…a dynamic musical stew that covers a wide spectrum of acoustic-based roots music, hitting
on old-time, folk and bluegrass, all delivered with a dash of rock and roll spunk.”  American Songwriter Magazine

“When each song ended, the two pressed tight into their microhphones, savoring the last
strains of the harmony – and even the bartenders seemed to be leaning forward breathlessly,
awaiting someone to clap first. Their self titled recording aptly demonstrates the power of a
spare, tightly-connected acoustic performance that is given room to evolve – for bluegrass
fans, the lightning fast harmonic runs on dueling fiddle is worth the price of admission alone.
But it’s the off-road experiments, especially from Christian’s biting bow strokes that will make
future audiences take note.” The Bluegrass Situation

“…Stirring together Old-Time flavors with the broader range of influences brought by an
omnivorous musical appetite” The Nashville Scene

“Really, really beautiful.” Ricky Ross, BBC Scotland

“An unassumingly intriguing record…something out of the ordinary” Steve Hunt, fRoots Magazine (UK)

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Friday 16th February – society night – Jude Madill

Jude Madill comes to the Wellington Bluegrass Society toting a bunch of original songs to share with y’all. With a voice that has been likened to both Kathy Matea and Jewel, Jude plays and sings with great feel and an equal enthusiasm and love for music.

Jude has been singing “since forever” and although she has not always performed as a songwriter, she says “for a good part of my life I only sang and played other peoples music – then quite suddenly when I was 30-something I started writing songs myself”. Most of Jude’s original music falls somewhere in the folk/alt-country styles, although her musical inspiration comes from a lot of different genres.

Living in Wellington, Jude has played around the local folk scene both solo and in groups, most recently with The Madillionaires, who perform a wide variety of music – including some of Jude’s songs. This will be the first time for her to play a solo set of all original material. “I feel like I can now call myself a songwriter and am pretty excited to be doing this!”

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Saturday 10th February – concert – Dan Walsh

Nominated for best musician at last year’s BBC Folk Awards, Dan Walsh combines ‘virtuoso playing and winning songwriting’ (MORNING STAR). Describing what Dan does is no easy task but at the heart of it is British, Irish and American folk music delivered with a healthy dose of funky grooves – all performed with his unique and dazzling take on clawhammer style banjo helping to challenge all preconceptions about the instrument. Add to all that poignant songs, astonishing musical departures and lively humour and the result is a truly memorable live show which has wowed audiences across the world from intimate seated rooms to huge dancing crowds in festival fields.

New album ‘Verging on the Perpendicular’ is Walsh’s fourth solo album and again has received much critical acclaim and is accompanied by a hectic touring schedule taking in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Both solo and as a member of the award winning Urban Folk Quartet, as well as guest appearances on stage with Imelda May, Joss Stone and the Levellers, this unique and eclectic musician has stunned audiences across the world.

His eclectic and innovative approach has led to many exciting collaborations alongside his solo work and the UFQ. The latest is with fellow banjoist John Dowling, combining beautiful harmonies with red-hot picking. Other work has included tours with North East concertina legend Alistair Anderson, sensational Indian sarangi player Suhail Yusuf Khan and Canadian country singer Meaghan Blanchard. Dan is also an in demand session musician with recent guest appearances, on stage or in the studio, with the likes of Imelda May, Joss Stone, Seth Lakeman, the Levellers, Duane Eddy, Martin Simpson and even the City of London Sinfonia.

Dan also retains a passion for outreach work and through the prestigious Live Music Now scheme has performed throughout the UK in hospices, hospitals, special schools and care homes. He also teaches banjo both in person and over Skype and is the only international banjoist to be invited to teach at the Midwest Banjo Camp in the USA.

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Saturday 3rd February – concert – The Lonely Heartstring Band

Nourished by deep roots in the expansive canon of traditional American music, The Lonely Heartstring Band embodies the modern American condition — an understanding and reverence for the past that informs a push into the future. This multi-talented group of musicians is a classic Bluegrass quintet—always far greater than the sum of its parts.

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

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

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

Eager to hit the road again in 2018, The Lonely Heartstring Band will continue bringing thoughtful, energetic, and memorable performances to audiences across the country and around the world.

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Saturday 13th January – concert – Jan Preston

Jan Preston:
“I was born in Greymouth on the remote West Coast of the South Island of NZ. Our family had little resources nor opportunity, but I grew up in an era where people would gather around the piano and sing together. From when I was very young I played piano whilst everybody sang along or played the tea chest bass, eggbeaters, combs, violins, even an old saxophone.

I had an Auntie who played honky tonk style, and heard Winifred Atwell along with early rock and roll on our old Columbus Radio in the kitchen. Playing piano from the moment I could reach the keys, and being spurred on by my older sister and brother who both played, I studied classical very seriously, becoming a star student, passing all my grades with distinction and gaining a very prestigious place (one of 4 students from the whole of NZ) to study a 5 year classical piano degree at Auckland University.

Although I loved classical music, by the end of the degree I wasn’t happy to be a concert pianist nor the more likely career as a piano teacher. So I cut off my hair and moved to Wellington, where I experimented with different styles of music, working in an independent theatre group and then rock bands. In 1980 my band “Coup D’Etat” had a number one hit with the song “Doctor I Like Your Medicine”, after which I moved across the Tasman to Sydney, playing in bands and piano bars as well as writing music for films. It was some years later before I found my own voice, as a boogie piano player and songwriter.

So here I am, still resident in Sydney, but constantly touring to play festivals, concerts and shows around the world, (even a recent trip to China), and I am grateful for the success and musical path I have found. I am still enormously passionate about music and have so much more to play, sing and write!”

– Jan Preston

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Friday 12th January – society night – Barry and the Crumpets

The Barry-Tones are Simon Carryer on banjo, Brendan Schenk on mandolin, and Donald James on cajon. The Crumpettes are a loose confederation of scapegraces and ne’er-do-wells, providing occasional vocal accompaniment. Together, they are Barry and the Crumpets, a foot-stomping, barn-romping country dance extravagance. Old-time and folk classics, swampy blues, and breakneck bluegrass, all played toe-tapping fast and knee-slapping rowdy.

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