Fid­dle, punk banjo and­har­mony com­ing to city


Au­then­tic Amer­i­can roots mu­sic is com­ing to Palmer­ston North on Thurs­day night, but the tunes may not nec­es­sar­ily have the orig­i­nal lyrics.

New York State-based folk fid­dle and banjo duo Richie Stearns and Rosie New­ton, who play to­gether as Richie and Rosie, have been tour­ing their dis­tinc­tive style of mu­sic around New Zealand since mid-Oc­to­ber.

‘‘A lot of tra­di­tional old time fid­dle mu­sic has lyrics that are racist, sex­ist and just plain stupid,’’ Stearns said.

‘‘So, we’ve re­placed those lyrics with some­thing more sen­si­ble. It’s South­ern USA and Ap­palachian hill­billy mu­sic with a con­tem­po­rary twist to it.’’

‘‘We write and play our own songs as well, tak­ing no­tice of all the in­flu­ences,’’ New­ton adds.

They teamed up eight or nine years ago.

‘‘We found we were able to read one an­other’s minds, write to­gether and share a great dy­namic,’’ Stearns said.

‘‘We’re two peo­ple, one for­mi­da­ble en­tity.’’

It’s the pair’s first visit to Aotearoa and they are en­joy­ing ev­ery mo­ment of it. ‘‘It’s been great - won­der­ful peo­ple, great re­cep­tion, won­der­ful au­di­ences,’’ Stearns said.

Au­di­ences could ex­pect an au­then­tic ex­pe­ri­ence from the two self-ap­pointed cul­tural ambassadors.

Both claim vir­tu­oso sta­tus for their re­spec­tive in­stru­ments.

Their New Zealand chauf­feur and tour guide, Palmer­ston North’s Peter Lock­hart, de­scribed New­ton as ‘‘a fe­ro­cious fid­dle player’’, while Stearns, an in­no­va­tor of the 5-string banjo, was an ‘‘out­ra­geous banjo play­ing leg­end’’.

To­gether Lock­hart said they pro­duced ‘‘beau­ti­ful vo­cal har­monies’’.

Twenty-seven years ago, Stearns founded the Grass­roots Fes­ti­val of Mu­sic and Dance.

It was an an­nual four-day mul­ti­cul­tural world mu­sic roots fes­ti­val, held near Ithaca in up­state New York, that in­tro­duced and nur­tured up-and­com­ing per­form­ers, along with rais­ing money for wor­thy causes.

Stearns still plays a lead­ing role in or­gan­is­ing the fes­ti­val.

Richie and Rosie play the Al­bert St Hokowhitu Bowl­ing Club on Novem­ber 2, with $20 book­ings for the 7.30pm show via steve@ben­thorse­, 06 329 8808 or 027 368 2361.

New York-based mu­si­cians Rosie New­ton and Richie Stearns are com­ing to Palmer­ston North.

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