BB and Alex – Our International Guests!

Alex and BB

BB Bowness and Alex Rubin (New Zealand/USA)

Born in the small town of Marton, New Zealand, Catherine “BB” Bowness spent her early years working and living in her family’s Fish-and-Chip shop. Although an unlikely origin for a bluegrass banjo player, New Zealand would offer BB her first introduction to the instrument, sparking a lifelong love and fascination. A world away from the heart of bluegrass, BB spent much of her childhood teaching herself the instrument, and through dedication and tenacity became New Zealand School of Music’s first banjo student. Inspired by her New Zealand predecessors, The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band, BB was always drawn to the five-piece full band, and after heading to America in 2012 she co-founded her current group, Mile Twelve. Immersing herself in the traditions of bluegrass and having studied jazz performance at university, BB’s banjo playing is an exciting synthesis of new and old ideas. “She demonstrates a command of the instrument, and plays with great rhythmic clarity both in the traditional and progressive realms. J.D. Crowe co-mingles with the future,” says Tony Trischka. Her euphoric energy and love of the genre are readily apparent in any of her live performances.

Currently, BB lives in Cambridge, MA. Mile Twelve has won numerous IBMA awards, including 2020 New Artists of the Year and 2017 Momentum Band of the Year. BB won the 2015 Freshgrass Banjo contest and was a winner of the Steve Martin Banjo Prize in 2020.

A member of the April Verch Band from 2016-2020, Alex has toured extensively both at home and internationally, including performances in 49 states and a number of countries including Canada, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Estonia, Australia and New Zealand. Alex’s musical interests as a youth were, shall we say, eclectic but he ultimately developed a love for acoustic and traditional music while attending Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. Graduating with a degree in Neurobiology in 2011, Alex returned to the vibrant Boston music scene, studying privately with Berklee School of Music’s ineffable John McGann

Shindig Trio: you can’t help but dance

Shindig Trio

Shindig Trio (New Zealand)

Kiwigrass expands to include Old Time String music with the magnificent band Shindig Trio.  Inspired by the unvarnished authenticity of early American folk and blues heroes such as Dock Boggs, Roscoe Holcomb and Leadbelly and led by the driving clawhammer banjo and vocals of David Ward (Wheel Of Experience), vital fiddle and mandolin of Dave Khan (Marlon Williams, Reb Fountain), and solid foundation of Bassist Eamon Edmundson Wells (Ruckus), Shindig Trio present stonking takes on old-time folk, blues and country tunes from the American pantheon.

DAVID WARD is a diversely creative guitarist and banjo player who composes for theatre and original projects.  He has performed in numerous musical settings, touring extensively in NZ, Singapore, Australia, India, Germany and the U.S.A.  He is perhaps best known for his long time collaboration with Indian Ink Theatre Company for which he has twice won the Chapman Tripp Theatre Award for “Most Outstanding Composer.” David writes and performs in his original Jazz ensembles such as Onomatopoeia and Ruckus, Old-Time, Folk and Blues projects such as Wheel of Experience and Shindig, as well as numerous roles performing as collaborator and sideman with many of New Zealand’s most talented artists. In 2018 and 2019 David performed as a guest Banjoist with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.

DAVE KHAN is a multi instrumentalist (Violin, Viola, Guitar, Mandolin, Piano, Synths) who over the past 20 years has garnered a firm reputation as a supremely creative collaborator, sideman and arranger for some of NZ’s most respected artists including Marlon Wililams, Reb Fountain, Don McGlashan, Dave Dobbyn, Tim Finn, Gin Wigmore and The Topp Twins

EAMON EDMUNDSON-WELLS is a double bass player who has performed with some of New Zealand’s most successful musicians and international touring artists. Most known for his work in the Jazz end of the musical spectrum, Eamon explores many different genres and approaches to music, some drenched in improvisation and freedom, others in stylistic integrity and faithful reproduction. Regardless of the approach, he is a player that focuses on what’s fundamental to the music: sound, texture, rhythm, harmony, connectivity between humans, and finding peace in the process of creating.  He has recently worked with Leda’s Dream, Troglodytes, Jon Pal Inderberg, Hayden Chisholm, Jeff Henderson, and Tom Cunliffe.

Learn more about David Ward here: 

Win a Laurence Frangos-Rhodes guitar in the amazing Kiwigrass raffle

The Kiwigrass raffle is back with more fantastic prizes. All funds raised from the raffle go to support the Kiwigrass Trust.

Buy Raffle Ticket

First prize: Custom built D-18 Dreadnought style guitar

Laurence Frangos-Rhodes with his guitar.
photo by Ian Fisk.

You’ll see Laurence Frangos-Rhodes playing his blistering solos with Rhode Works and You, Me, Everybody, but have you noticed his guitar?  “His,” as in, he made it.

In addition to being an outstanding musician, songwriter, and singer, Laurence is also a luthier with a growing reputation and backlog of orders for custom made guitars.

Laurence’s custom Kiwigrass guitar is built to Martin D-18 specifications: mahogany back/ sides; Sitka spruce top; and Rosewood fretboard/bridge.

Some progress photos straight from the workshop of our young master luthier:

Second prize: Trenwith practice banjo

These cute little practice banjos are produced by Hamilton’s own Paul Trenwith QSM, to allow new banjo players to practice their rolls and fingerings without driving their loved ones crazy.
Paul Trenwith with practice banjo

More prizes will be announced soon!

Buy Raffle Ticket

Colleen Trenwith 1946-2021

New Zealand’s musical world lost an inspiring pioneer who was friend or family to many of us. A founding member of Hamilton County Bluegrass Band, Colleen’s fiddling was world-class and she repeatedly proved it on stages and albums. Our hearts go out to her family and fellow band mates. “No sad farewells / No tear dimmed eyes / Where all is love / And the soul never dies.”

Kereru Brewing and Kiwigrass

We are very pleased that Kereru Brewing of Upper Hutt have chosen to support and sponsor Kiwigrass!  Each beer purchase will go to helping support the festival so we can bring you even more music!  

Kereru have an astonishingly diverse and delicious range of beers, with varieties for all tastes and occasions.  Gluten free, alcohol free, light session ales, hop heavy IPAs all the way to heavy dark sipping ales, and everything in between!  Kereru beers will be available for purchase at the Don Rowlands Centre.  And we’d love for you to go over to their website, and sign up for their mailing list.  They are the coolest, nicest people you could ever hope to meet, and trust me, their beers are AMAZING.  (I know, because I tasted them all.  For you.  You’re welcome. You see the lengths I go to?)  And they make lovely gift boxes for all occasions!  All shippable overseas as well.  

Let’s all give Kereru Brewing Co. a warm Kiwigrass welcome and a hearty thank you for sponsoring our little festival and Bluegrass music in New Zealand!