Catlins hosting festival of bluegrass - and more

LAUREN HAYES
Last updated 05:00 29/01/2014
Musicians, from bottom left, Jago Byatt, Bari Fitzgerald, Jugman Jim Crawford and Alton McDonald
BLUEGRASS JAM: Musicians, from bottom left, Jago Byatt, Bari Fitzgerald, Jugman Jim Crawford and Alton McDonald jam ahead of the Niagara Falls Bluegrass Festival.

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Bring out the banjos and fetch the fiddles - Southland's homegrown bluegrass festival is fast approaching.

The Niagara Falls Bluegrass Festival, named after the small waterfalls along the Waikawa River, will crank into action this weekend in the Catlins, for the seventh time.

Festival co-founder Alton McDonald said the two-day event would feature a variety of Southland musicians, including members of the Progress Valley Possum Pickers.

Guest band Two Armed Men and a Twisted Bandit, who described themselves as "twisted bluegrass and everything else to boot", were travelling down from the West Coast for the festival, he said.

Much of the live music would be acoustic, country-meets-the-blues style, but there would also be acts to appeal to punters who were not so keen on bluegrass, he said.

Bluegrass music evolved from old-time American folk music, becoming popular in the first half of the 20th century, and is known for the use of banjos, fiddles, mandolins and string bass.

Mr McDonald believed the Niagara Falls event was the southernmost bluegrass festival in the world, and the only one of its kind in the country.

Organisers had "everything crossed" for good weather during the weekend, he said.

Festival-goers would be able to buy food during the event and Invercargill Breweries planned to have a stall on site, he said.

Entry to the festival, held at the Niagara Falls Cafe near Waikawa, is $5 for adults and free for children under 14, with limited camping available. Gates open at 1pm both days, with music scheduled until late on Saturday and until 6pm on Sunday.

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