The Pipi Pickers Play Whangarei Folk Club

For anyone living north of Wellsford NZ, The Pipi Pickers will be doing a guest slot at the Whangarei Folk Club on Friday, May 15th.

Door charge for non-members is $12.

Where: Kamo Soccer Club, 595 Kamo Road, Kamo, Whangarei.
Time: Floor spots in the first half starting at 7:30. Pipis on about 9:00.

This is their first visit to the Whangarei Folk Club, so they’re hoping to get to see all of their friends up there whom they don’t usually see.

Check the website or drop them a line if you have any questions or just want to say hi back. The Pipis love hearing from you.

Nullarbor Mountain Boys

Nullabor Mountain BoysWA is not without its fair share of bluegrass and old-time musicians and aficionados. Indeed WA musicians played a leading role in the early introduction of the music to Australian audiences.

Here is news of a new band from Western Australia:

Perth’s newest and hottest acoustic sensation The Nullarbor Mountain Boys saddle up and ride into town to deliver hip-shootin’, pistol packin’ bluegrass from their mythical hideout in the mysterious and rarely visited Nullarbor Mountains.

Members of the band include Rod “Rodeo” Vervest; Andrew “Slim” Winton; Bob “Badlands” Thomson; Dave “Dangerfield” Clarke; Russell “The Rustler” Holmes and Charles “The Sherrif” McCarthy.

Headline Acts for MountainGrass 2015

Laurie LewisThe MountainGrass Festival team have advised that they have just secured major international acts for the 2015 MountainGrass Festival to be held from 20th to 22nd Nov. 2015.

First up Laurie Lewis and the Right Hands featuring Tom Rozum, Andrew Conklin and Patrick Sauber will head the bluegrass line up, while the Orpheus Supertones take up the reigns as the international Old-Time act.

Laurie Lewis and The Right Hands

Laurie Lewis, songwriter, fiddler, vocalist, teacher and producer almost quit music altogether the year she graduated early from Berkeley High School and moved out of the house. Her father, an accomplished classical flute player, encouraged all of his kids to take up instruments. But after “a botched run-in with the piano” at age seven, and five or six years of classical violin lessons starting at twelve, Laurie was ready to move on to something new, something that wouldn’t ask her to read a key signature. While for the moment that meant putting down the violin and moving on from music altogether, it would turn out that she had already found what she was looking for, and it was just down the street every summer on the UC Berkeley campus – The Berkeley Folk Festival.

Laurie recalls “you could hear all kinds of music, and it just really grabbed me. That was the first place I heard Doc Watson, the first place I heard Jean Ritchie, maybe the first bluegrass band I heard, the Greenbriar Boys. And then there was Jesse Fuller and Reverend Gary Davis and Mississippi John Hurt. It just totally busted my ears open and got me really excited about folk music as a teenager.”

Inspired by the folk festival, Laurie picked up guitar, fell hard for bluegrass banjo, and joined the folk song club at school. She and her best friend taught themselves Irish songs and harmony singing, and even took their act out on stage at some of the best known Berkeley folk clubs of the Sixties.

You can read the full biography on Laurie Lewis Website.

Orpheus SupertonesOrpheus Supertones

Pete Peterson is a highly respected three finger banjo player, guitarist and traditional singer. He has extensive knowledge, skill and experience playing traditional old time music. Pete is highly sought after as a teacher and contest judge.

Kellie Allen is an accomplished old-time singer and sought-after backup guitarist and bass player. She lives in Oxford, Pennsylvania with her husband, Pete Peterson. Kellie started playing old-time tunes with her brother, fiddler and banjo player Greg Allen, while she was in her teens and was inspired to sing and play by her musical family.

Hilary Dirlam has enjoyed a long career in music. She has studied guitar with Stefan Grossman in New York in the 1960’s, then played bass, piano, and guitar in the Arm and Hammer old-time string band in Vermont in the 1970’s. During the 80’s and 90’s she played bass with North Carolina Heritage Award winners Caroll Best and Luke and Harold Smathers.

Clare Milliner’s came from a family where all of her siblings were taught to play an instrument. Clare started playing piano at age four and violin at age eight. She was giving piano and violin lessons by age sixteen and went on to major in music in college. Despite all the musical training, she was able to learn how to play the fiddle sometime in the early ’80s and has been doing so happily ever since.

Walt Koken started playing banjo in 1959. He joined the Busted Toe Mudthumpers in the late 1960’s. In 1969, after losing his friend, fiddler, and band-mate in a car accident, he took up the fiddle in earnest. By 1972 he formed the widely acclaimed Highwoods Stringband as fiddle palyer. They toured the U.S. as well as Latin America and Europe, and recorded three LP’s on Rounder Records.

Here is a video of the lineup coming to Harrietville this year:

Here are a few more clips of Laurie Lewis and band:

Orpheus Supertones:

Paul Duff Presents at Monroe Mandolin Camp in USA

PaulDuffPaul Duff & Will Kimble present The Art of Mandolin Construction.

In this year’s Monroe Mandolin Camp there will be a special presentation by master luthiers Paul Duff Western Australia) and Will Kimble (Ohio USA).

Will and Paul will perform this year leading up to “MonManCamp“.

Attendees will be taken on a step-by-step time-lapse journey through the building process of a mandolin. You will hear and see how these luthiers approach the different stages of mandolin construction in a different way and order, giving you a glimpse into the meticulous thought, planning and patience that goes into every mandolin creation.

Paul and Will will offer participants an intimate up-close and personal ‘hands-on’ tactile experience of the different elements that go into making their own ‘boxes of joy': semi-carved top and back plates, rim assembly, neck blanks, peg head veneers, pearl inlays, etc..

They will each be available to answer the questions you have always wanted to ask about mandolin construction, and what special magic goes into them to make them sound different and have their own voice.

There is so much more in store for you this year at the Second Annual MonManCamp. I heartily invite you to come be with us, and share in the celebration of the musical legacy of the Father of Bluegrass – Mike Compton.

The camp hopes to provide—but can’t yet confirm—a ‘multi-media’ experience, with video of a couple of building processes.

Hunter and Suzy Owens Contest Finalists at Merlfest

Merlfest The Chris Austin Songwriting Contest is held each year as part of the Merlefest Americana Music Festival in Wilksbro North Carolina. This year The Chris Austin Songwriting judges have announced its list of finalists for 2015. Among the list is a couple from Australia whose music has been enjoyed by festival goers over the years. Hunter and Suzy Owens have been listed among the finalists in the Country Music Category with their song “It Would Be Easier”.

Hunter and Suzy entered the competition in an effort to take their songwriting to a wider audience and Merlefest which attracts upwards of 80,000 people over the four-day festival period.

We spoke to Hunter this week who said that the whole process has been straightforward and the communications with the Merlefest administrators excellent.

Hunter and Suzy entered several songs across a few different categories category.  “It Would Be Easier” was written a while ago, according to Hunter but it has always been a favourite of those who attend their concerts.

We will be performing our song live before a panel of three at Merlefest for the final judging and we understand that we will get to perform it again. Just being able to go to Merlefest is dream come true, but to be part of this competition makes it even better – Hunter Owens.

The Merlfest website lists the following as finalists for the 2015 Chris Austin Songwriting Contest:Hunter & Suzy Owens

Bluegrass Category

  • Donna Hughes (Trinity, N.C.) – “Blackbeard”
  • Buddy Guido (Mohawk, N.Y.) and Paul Kelly (Santa Fe, N.M.)– “Deer in the Headlights Look”
  • David Morris (Gaithersburg, Md.), Mitch Matthews (Hamtramck, Mich.) and Dawn Kenney (Waltham, Mass.) – “Something About A Train”

Gospel/Inspirational Category

  • Robert Holthauser (Popular Springs, N.C.) and Rick Pardue (Popular Springs, N.C.) – “Brother Paul
  • Benjamin Lauckhaupt (West Harrison, Ind.) – “Oh, Lazarus”
  • Dave Herring (Charlottesville, Va.) – “Though I Walk”


  • Hunter and Suzy Owens (Sydney, Australia) – “It Would Be Easier”
  • Savannah Smith (Asheville, N.C.) – “Mississippi”
  • Carri Smithey (Burlington, N.C.), Josh Coe (Saxapahaw, N.C.), Ryan Burgess (Burlington, N.C.) and Keith Ingalls (Burlington, N.C.) – “No More.”


  • Kristen Grainger of True North Band (Salem, Ore.) – “Doris Dean”
  • Laura Kaufman (Boone, N.C.) – “Through the Grave”
  • Carter Sampson (Oklahoma City, Okla.) – “Wild Bird”

MerleFest offers songwriters the opportunity to have their original songs heard by a panel of professional songwriters and others from the Nashville music industry by participating in the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest!

Net proceeds from the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest go to support the WCC Chris Austin Memorial Scholarship. Since its inception the Chris Austin Scholarship has helped 75 students and awarded over $34,000.

Wirrina Festival On The Move

Wirrina Bluegrass FestivalNews from the folk at the Wirrina Bluegrass & Acoustic Festival is that they are moving the festival location.  The festival will move to  Wirrina Cove Holiday Park for the festival weekend. Everything including camping and cabins, food & drink, undercover stage, spaces for sessions and open mic, will be available on one site. Organisers assure us that there will still be quiet areas for camping, so if you really want to sleep, or retreat for a bit of peace and quiet, you’ll be able to do that.

Organisers believe the new location will provide for a great weekend for everyone.

Wirrina Bluegrass & Acoustic Festival in September. is set for the first weekend of September. 4th – 6th Sep.

Applications are now open for the 2015 program. Organisers have already received a host of interest from various artists and groups from across the country.

Preference is given to acts who play acoustic Bluegrass music or related traditional forms. Eg, Old-timey, traditional string band styles, traditional country.

The festival program will include performers who are prepared to be on site for the duration of the festival, mix with people and participate in many aspects of the festival. Particular preference will be given to performers who can contribute to the festival in ways other than performing in the concerts. As a new festival organisers are keen to see ideas to help develop the overall festival experience and acoustic music atmosphere.

Email the festival on Applications close some time around the end of April so get in touch sooner rather than later.

Wayward Angels

The Wayward AngelsWayward Angels is a four-piece female bluegrass band who have been taking their style of bluegrass with sweet harmonies to Brisbane audiences since 2013.

The band comprises Kay Armstrong on banjo, Jody Bell on mandolin, Brenda “Lee” Kelly on guitar and Anne-Marie Lawton on double bass. The responsibility for singing is shared between them. This allows them to bring their individual vocal strengths to bluegrass, old-timey and alt-country covers and originals.

Anne-Marie grew up listening to country music and watching “Hee Haw” on TV and first heard a banjo played by Roy Clark and she loved the sound. On impulse, she bought a banjo and started having lessons. This gave Anne-Marie her first taste of bluegrass music, which has been her focus ever since.  She plays upright double bass with the Wayward Angels and plays guitar and ukulele with a recently formed group based in Redcliffe, stylishly named The Mullet Gut String Band.

Brenda was introduced to the world of the Carter family and Johnny Cash from a young age. With regular sing-a-longs at home her musical family made sure that “the circle was never broken”.   Brenda is a singer songwriter who plays guitar and ukulele. She likes to write about people and stories of Brisbane and beyond and previously was a semi-finalist in the Tamworth Songwriting Awards.  She also performs as a solo artist and was a member of musical duo “Arton Hillbillies”.  Brenda is happy to have met three other Wayward Gals, who each bring their own recipe to the musical menu of the Wayward Angels.

Jody, inspired by the creativity and virtuosity of Chris Thile and the Punch Brothers, bought her first mandolin and began teaching herself in 2012. Since then, she has enjoyed immersing herself in the bluegrass world of jamming and festivals, and now plays mandolin in three bluegrass bands (Wayward Angels, River Mountain Riot and Blue Trio). Jody has had an eclectic musical background, playing piano and violin as a child and picking up brass instruments during high school. She has sung and toured with chamber choirs and holds a Bachelor of Music (Hons) from the University of Queensland.

Kay grew up in a family of 6, in a rural setting.  Earliest memories of her introduction to live music are of her father singing and playing banjolele.  She has dabbled a little over the years with ukulele, piano, piano accordion, guitar and double bass, however, it was watching a Glen Campbell show on television sometime in the ‘70s, Kay heard THE sound that she fell in love with.  A banjo.  Although attracted to its sound and appearance from an early age, it was decades later that she purchased one and began taking lessons.  As well as Wayward Angels, Kay also performs with Blue Harmony, and Blue Trio.

You can catch Wayward Angels on Facebook.

Vale Lindsay Cullen

Lindsay (Bing) CullenSadly we have to report the loss last week of Lindsay Cullen who died suddenly and unexpectedly at his home in Perth WA.

Lindsay was a keen player and singer of bluegrass music since his time at university and was a mine of information on the subject.

He also made instruments and although not hugely prolific, managed to produce some very decent mandolins which he named “Bing”, a nickname given him from early student days.

His job as a geologist took him to many far-flung parts of the world but he always travelled with his mandolin and would usually find someone to accompany him on guitar in often quite desolate places.

Lindsay was well-known for his mandolin breaks at WA Bluegrass Pickers Club meetings and many’s the time that even the likes of Bluegrass Parkway would have to clear the way when Lindsay would come steaming through with a break when he was “firing on all eight!”

Lindsay will be fondly remembered by Perth based bluegrass musicians and those in Sydney who attended the BTCMSA in Annandale as always a genial, happy and generous person.

He was just a genuinely nice chap and the world needs more like him not less. He was 66His funeral is this Friday (15th March 2015) at Fremantle Cemetery.

 Farewell Bing.

Whitetop Mountaineers On Tour in 2015

WhitetopMountaineersWhitetop Mountaineers Touring Australia from this month through to mid April.

The Whitetop Mountaineers is made up of the duo, Martha Spencer and Jackson Cunningham. They both live in Whitetop in the highest mountains in Virginia . Their shows feature old-time country duet singing, up-tempo old-time fiddle, clawhammer banjo, bluegrass mandolin and guitar instrumentals as well as high energy Appalachian dancing. They have been a regular feature at several Australian festivals over the past few years and gain popularity and friendships with every visit to Australia.

Their current itinerary includes:

Visit the Whitetop Mountaineers website for further information.

Emily Miller & Jesse Milnes on Southern Style

Milnes & MillerJan Dale will be presenting her Southern Style program on Tuesday March 17, between 1:00pm and 3:00pm featuring the music of Emily Miller & Jesse Milnes.

Jesse Milnes and Emily Miller perform country and old-time music, singing close harmony with Jesse’s unique finger-picked guitar style and a healthy dose of old-time fiddling. Emily was raised playing and singing Louvin Brothers and Stanley Brothers songs with her parents while they traveled the world as journalists. Jesse grew up in the world of West Virginia old-time music, learning from masters like Melvin Wine and Ernie Carpenter. They now make their home in central West Virginia.