BLUE­GRASS BY THE RIVER

Ki­wigrass a top sum­mer pick

Waikato News - - FRONT PAGE - Geoff Lewis

Ki­wigrass — billed as New Zealand’s first na­tional blue­grass fes­ti­val — is at­tract­ing a host of well-known lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional acts to the scenic set­ting of the Nar­rows Park camp near Hamil­ton in Fe­bru­ary.

The Ki­wigrass idea was hatched last year due to the as­so­ci­a­tion be­tween the fam­ily of camp pro­pri­etors and mem­bers of the renowned mu­si­cal Tren­with fam­ily.

The Nar­rows Camp be­side the Waikato River is com­monly known as The Nar­rows. It is owned by a Chris­tian-based not­for-profit trust and un­der the man­age­ment of di­rec­tor Al Belcher. Al had got to know Tim and Sam Tren­with, the mu­si­cal sons of leg­endary banjo picker Paul Tren­with, who were of­ten in­volved in camp events and pro­grammes. Paul is tu­tor­ing Al’s son Malachi, 13, in banjo.

“I got talk­ing to Paul and thought why don’t we cre­ate a blue­grass fes­ti­val,” Belcher said.

Paul Tren­with said the first ques­tion was when to hold the event and a fes­ti­val man­age­ment team was brought to­gether lead by Je­nine Abar­banel, the bass player with north Auck­land band The Pip­ipick­ers, banjo-player Nat Tork­ing­ton, gui­tar-player Barry Tork­ing­ton, Rhodeworks pa­tri­arch Bruce Rhodes and sev­eral oth­ers.

“We thought The Nar­rows Camp would be the log­i­cal place to hold the fes­ti­val. It’s cen­tral, it’s near the fa­cil­i­ties and con­ve­niences of Hamil­ton and nearby towns and only min­utes from Hamil­ton air­port. Fes­ti­val­go­ers aren’t trapped out in the wilds,” Tren­with said.

Draw­ing on the Tren­withs’ ex­ten­sive list of con­tacts the more-than three-day pro­gramme will of­fer per­for­mances on up to three stages around the camp, black­board con­certs, dis­plays by skilled in­stru­ment mak­ers, im­promptu jam ses­sions, master-

classes and spe­cial­ist work­shops in the days lead­ing to the fes­ti­val.

Head­line acts so-far in­clude the Lonely Heart­string Band from the United States, Aus­tralian vis­i­tors Blue­grass Park­way and Nine Mile Creek, the Hamil­ton County Blue­grass Band fea­tur­ing orig­i­nal mem­bers Paul Tren­with and Alan Rhodes, The Pip­ipick­ers, Rhodeworks, Hot Dig­gity, Wires and Wood and many more.

Tren­with said the fes­ti­val was fo­cused on blue­grass but other folk-style play­ers were wel­come.

“As a first-time event we would be happy to at­tract about 300 peo­ple. There will be a va­ri­ety of con­certs on dif­fer­ent stages to cater to vary­ing tastes and lev­els of per­for­mance.”

The Nar­rows Park can pro­vide ac­com­mo­da­tion in the form of pow­ered and non-pow­ered camp­ing sites suited to tent­ing, mo­torhomes and camper-vans. It also has a 120-bed bunkhouse and four on-site kitchens. Food and re­fresh­ments are avail­able.

Belcher em­pha­sised the fes­ti­val was not an all-out pub­lic event. Fes­ti­val-go­ers were re­quired to regis­ter. But peo­ple could turn up on any day and gain en­try by reg­is­ter­ing at the gate.

For fur­ther de­tails and fes­ti­val regis­tra­tion visit www.ki­wigrass.nz or check out face­book.com/ki­wigrass. www.face­book.com/Nar­rowsParkChris­tianCamp or call 07-8426862.

■ Ki­wigrass will be held at the Nar­rows Park, 442 Air­port Rd, Hamil­ton, Fe­bru­ary 1-3 2019.

Photo / Geoff Lewis

Leg­endary banjo picker Paul Tren­with with learner Malachi Belcher, 13. Paul is one of the peo­ple be­hind Ki­wigrass the first na­tional blue­grass fes­ti­val.

Photo / Geoff Lewis

A view of the Waikato River from Nar­rows Camp.

The Hamil­ton County Blue­grass Band will be one of the head­line acts at Ki­wigrass.

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