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.

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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!

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US and Aussie bands top amazing bluegrass guest list for 2020

Performers and Instructors

We are pleased to announce our 2020 Kiwigrass artists.

  • Lonely Heartstring Band (US)
  • AJ Lee and Blue Summit (US)
  • Bluegrass Parkway (AU)
  • Coolgrass (AU)
  • Nine Mile Creek (AU)
  • Jean-Luc Leroux & Friends (New Caledonia)
  • Bluegrass & Beyond (NZ)
  • Downunderdogs (NZ)
  • The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band (NZ)
  • Hot Diggity (NZ)
  • Kaimai Express (NZ)
  • Melling Station Boys (NZ)
  • The Pipi Pickers (NZ)
  • Rhode Works (NZ)
  • Valley Bluegrass (NZ)
  • Wires and Wood (NZ)
  • You, Me, Everybody (NZ)

Academy Instructors

  • Guitar: George Clements, Sully Tuttle, Jesse Fichman
  • Banjo (3 finger Bluegrass): Gabe Hirshfeld, Paul Trenwith
  • Mandolin: Maddie Witler, AJ Lee, Paul Duff
  • Fiddle: Patrick M’gonigle, Jan Purat, Maria Duff
  • Bass: Charles Clements

Australian Bands Announced

Silly map of Australia labelling it as the west island of New Zealand

Kiwigrass is the home of bluegrass for all of New Zealand, and that of course includes the little spoken of West Island.

It is with much pleasure that we bring to you our Australian bands for Kiwigrass 2020:

The first two bands will be familiar to returning Kiwigrassers: Bluegrass Parkway and Nine Mile Creek! Bluegrass Parkway bring their strong traditional bluegrass performance and impeccable style. They will also be joining us as instructors for Academy once again, with one small change in the line-up. Mick Patrick (formerly of bluegrass super-group The Company) is taking over duties on the fiddle. Mick is an outstanding mandolin player and vocalist as well, so he brings an immense bag of skills to this legendary band.

Nine Mile Creek bring the more contemporary side of bluegrass with an excellent blend of original songs and canon covers.


And finally, we are so excited to announce that Coolgrass will be at Kiwigrass 2020. Yes, the sultans of silly, the lords of hot licks, the chiefs of chops! Bruce Packard, Jim Golding, Doug Wallace and Angus Golding are packing up their hats and their deep repertoire of parody and tradition to share the lighter side of bluegrass with us. Don’t let the comedy fool you, this foursome are masterful pickers and singers as well. Coolgrass are the highlight of any show or festival, and we’re sure they’ll feature among your favourites at Kiwigrass.

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,, she can help you out. She has seen over 95% of Cambridge accommodation and they have 145 accommodation members on their website, 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