February 2019 will see the first ever Kiwigrass festival at Narrows Park along the Waikato River in Hamilton, New Zealand.
It has been organized by a group of bluegrass lovers in the island nation just southeast of Australia, with the goal of increasing the understanding and appreciation of bluegrass among New Zealanders. Bands from Australia and New Zealand will perform, along with a visit from The Lonely Heartstring Band from the US.
Bluegrass fans here in the states may not be aware of the strong and growing scene down under. Dozens of groups play the music in cities across both countries, with new recordings being released all the time. BB Bowness, prodigious banjo picker with Mile Twelve, is a native New Zealander, and is helping to persuade stateside grassers of the talent hidden away back home.
Kiwigrass will be held February 1-3, hosted in the charming Narrows Park, which boasts of 120 cabin beds, 24 powered campsites, and acres of rough camping for attendees.
Organizers have also scheduled a two-day Kiwigrass Academy, offering pickers in New Zealand the chance to study with professional bluegrass musicians. The members of The Lonely Heartstring Band will serve as faculty, along with Australia’s Bluegrass Parkway band, and Kiwi guitarist Mark Mazengarb. Instruction will be available for banjo, mandolin, guitar, fiddle, and bass, plus elective classes in harmony singing, band dynamics, songwriting, and other useful tactics for the budding grasser.
Tuition for the Academy is $150. Breakfast and dinner are included in the fee, but you must arrange accommodations at the park for the January 30-31 camp.
Hopefully, Kiwi bluegrass lovers will support the festival in large numbers – and bring their friends! – so that Kiwigrass can become an annual event.
Tickets are available now, and full details can be found online.