“The best newgrass band in New Zealand … They always have an interesting and high quality show – doing songs no one else in the bluegrass world does. Never get bored at a Pipi Pickers show.” – Mike Kear, Music from Foggy Hollow
The Pipis Pickers, know affectionately as the Pipis, don’t take prisoners, they get out there with contemporary and traditional hard-driving bluegrass that puts a smile on everyone’s face and infuses even the most dreadful 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. Out front is Jenine Abarbanel on bass and vocals while husband Nat Torkington is a standout New Zealand 5-string Scruggs-style banjo player, who is ably supported by his father Barry on guitar, and Garry Bigwood on mandolin.
The Pipis have become favourites at New Zealand and Australian music festivals through their vibrant performances, open and inclusive jam sessions, and slow jam workshops. You’ll also recognise Jenine Abarbanel, Nat Torkington, and Barry Torkington as the folks we need to thank for starting the Kiwigrass festival.
Pipis are a delicious edible shellfish gathered when the tide is out in around Whangateau and Leigh, the Pipi Pickers’ home town.
RhodeWorks are an award-winning bluegrass folk band who play fast paced, high energy folk music, presenting a set of traditional and well-loved bluegrass alongside their original material.
That’s the official blurb.
To Kiwi audiences they are the prodigy brothers whose fiery playing just seems to get better – and faster – in the short few years since they began.
Laurence (18), Sam (16) and Nate (13) are largely self-taught multi-instrumentalists, and they have wowed audiences throughout New Zealand and Australia. They are supported on bass by mother Tracy (obscured in the photo above). As well as their dedication to creating unique roots-conscious music they love nothing more than heading to the workshop to craft their own instruments. Check out Laurence’s donated Kiwigrass raffle prize.
Okay, it’s our job to spruik bands on this site. So as proof that we are not making this up, watch the phone video below. It captures one of those Kiwigrass magic moments when professional Berklee degree holders Lonely Heart Strong Band meet on stage with Laurance and Sam Rhodes for a jam.
When Bluegrass and Beyond go to play bluegrass, there can be a little mission creep out past the historically accurate Munroe genre.
The authentic bluegrass is there alright, it’s just that other stuff somehow sneaks in, like bluegrassifcation of 60s songs, or genuine Cameron Bennett originals which have flair for capturing stories in a way that is both genuine Americana bluegrass and somehow could only be Kiwi.
John Olding – guitar, lead vocal
Colin Speir – guitar, banjo, BV’s
Cameron Bennett – dobro, vocals and BV’s
Pete Parnham – bass fiddle, BV’s.