AJ Lee and Blue Summit coming to Kiwigrass

AJ Lee and Blue Summit
AJ Lee and Blue Summit

We are excited to announce that AJ Lee and Blue Summit are coming to Kiwigrass!

2019 Freshgrass Band Contest Winner, IBMA Momentum Vocalist of the Year (AJ Lee), and 2nd Place at the Winfield Guitar Competition (Sullivan Tuttle) illustrate the kind of recognition this Bluegrass/Americana band has been getting recently. Headed by singer, songwriter, and mandolinist AJ Lee, the band has been deeply involved in the California bluegrass scene since they were toddlers, and since then have developed their sound and added influences outside of bluegrass, including swing, folk, blues, jazz, country, soul, and rock. Since their formation in 2016, they have performed all around the US as well as in the UK, Ireland, and France. In 2019, they came out with their first album, “Like I Used To,” which consists entirely of AJ’s original songs. The rest of the band includes Sullivan Tuttle and Jesse Fichman on acoustic guitar, Chad Bowen on standup bass, and Jan Purat on fiddle.

Reporting to you from Cambridge

Yesterday I went to the new Kiwigrass venue, Lake Karāpiro. It’s lovely and I’ll tell you more about that soon, but first I want to talk about what has long been one of my favourite New Zealand small towns: Cambridge. I don’t know what it is, but I have always found Cambridge absolutely charming. Even after the Highway 1 bypass went in, I would detour back into Cambridge on that long drive between Auckland and Wellington, just to visit the Super Loos.

While I was there, I stopped in at the iSite and talked to Karina. I know many of you are already calling around the area looking for accommodation. Karina is your woman. Give her a call or e-mail (+647 823 3456, info@cambridge.co.nz), she can help you out. She has seen over 95% of Cambridge accommodation and they have 145 accommodation members on their website, www.cambridge.co.nz. They can cater for any budget or group size, and can give you options to meet any requirements.

If you’re planning on camping, you can book that directly through Lake Karāpiro.

My tip for Cambridge is to make sure you take some time to walk across the Victoria St bridge, the river gorge is quite spectacular there.

Barry, Nat and I are off to the IBMA World of Bluegrass in Raleigh, North Carolina this month. I’ll write again in a week or so with more exciting Kiwigrass news. In the meantime, get that accommodation booked for Kiwigrass (30 January – 2 February 2020) and Kiwigrass Academy (29-30 January 2020), and consider a couple extra days to explore Cambridge and the rest of the amazing, fun, beautiful, adventurous Waikato region.

– Jenine

Kiwigrass Academy and Festival 2020

Hot Diggity Bluegrass Band in performance at Kwigrass 2019
Hot Diggity Bluegrass Band

After the amazing excitement of the first Kiwigrass Academy and Festival in 2019, we are going to ramp it up in 2020, with a bigger and better festival at a bigger and better venue in Waipa, a few minutes drive from Cambridge.

As soon as we have more news, you’ll hear about it, but you can be confident there’s going to be a Kiwigrass Academy to help you and inspire you to higher things, and a Kiwigrass Festival that will build on last year’s winning combination of participation and performance.

So mark it on your calendars now and book that annual leave.

Kiwigrass Academy

Wednesday 29th January 2020 – Thursday 30 January 2020

Kiwigrass Festival

Friday evening 31 January 2020 – Sunday afternoon 2 February 2020



Take me back, take me back

Take me back to Narrow’s Park one week ago! It feels a little bit like a dream. All I remember is a sea of smiles all around me, and the sound of beautiful bluegrass music!

I want to send out special thanks and love to everyone who contributed to making Kiwigrass the marvellous weekend that it was. Thank you to our brilliant performers, lovely vendors, all the volunteers who kept things running so smoothly, the Narrows Park staff, and of course each and every attendee. Together, we made New Zealand’s first bluegrass festival in 40 years a raging success!

Thank you to everyone who has sent in their feedback and suggestions. I’ve received some excellent ideas already for making Kiwigrass 2020 even better. You can still e-mail me with your specific recommendations, or if you want something more structured, you can fill out this handy dandy feedback form:

Give Feedback

Video and Photos

We’ve got a Youtube channel where we will upload videos when they are ready, and we’re building a playlist of other people’s videos. If you have video you’d like to share, send us a link!

Watch Kiwigrass 2019 Video Playlist

Same goes for photos. Right now Ian Fisk’s fantastic photos are available on our website, and we will add more as we unload the cameras. If you have some photos to share, get in touch!

See Ian Fisk’s Photos and More

I’m also sharing photos to the Kiwigrass Facebook Page. Simon Travaglia has uploaded some real beauties in an album on Facebook.

See Simon’s Photos


We ran out of shirts at the festival, and 15 people signed up to get one if we made more. That isn’t quite enough to do another run. If you missed out on a Kiwigrass t-shirt and really really want one, e-mail to request and if I get up to about 30 I’ll do another print run.

Thank you for being a part of our first Kiwigrass, and I look forward to seeing you all again next year, if not sooner. Keep in touch, you know how to find me.

Winners of the Kiwigrass Raffle

Congratulations to Phillip Watkins, winner of the Kiwigrass branded van der Gaag mandolin!

Other winners:

Jan Helena: Banjo Babes Calendar and CD

Maxine Sutton: Banjo Babes Calendar and CD

John Allen: Guitar Strap and tuner

Kay Ogilvie: Paul Trenwith practice banjo