Classy gents play upbeat tunes

Roseneath Ragtime Centennial Band.
Roseneath Ragtime Centennial Band.

Although it is well known for its energetic live shows, the Roseneath Centennial Ragtime Band is also known for its impeccable dress sense.

Vintage suits are a priority when it comes to the band members' appearance and looking the part has become quite competitive, founder Mike Jensen says.

"There's been a bit of competition among the lads to see who can get the most authentic- looking outfit for the shows."

Roseneath Ragtime Centennial Band.
Roseneath Ragtime Centennial Band.

Those attending the shows have also started to make an effort to dress up, which enhances the vibe, he says.

"It's good for everyone really. The crowd get to look at some pretty well-dressed guys playing some music, and we get to look at a pretty well-dressed crowd."

The seven-piece Wellington band formed in 2011 after founders Jensen and Dayle Jellyman developed an appreciation for musicians like Louis Armstrong and the blues and jazz tradition that hailed from New Orleans.

"There's a certain groove that music has that we wanted to play more of.

"There's something about those older tunes that people seemed to respond really well to - they just get up and start moving and get pretty exuberant."

They managed to find five others who felt the same, including each of their brothers, and with a debut album already on the shelf, they haven't looked back.

"It's really just a bunch of friends and their brothers hanging out and playing some songs, and maybe having a beer or two in the process. We all get along really well, which is an essential ingredient if you want a band that stays together.

"Having two sets of brothers means the band literally feels a bit more like a family.

"Everyone just gets stuck in and helps when they need to and fulfils different roles."

The debut album was recorded at pace, in one day, by local award-winning engineer Lee Prebble (Phoenix Foundation, Fly My Pretties) at The Surgery, in Wellington.

Prebble was a blast to work with, Jensen says, and understood exactly what they wanted to do.

"Album recordings were done in a matter of hours by groups playing back in the early part of the 20th century, so we figured that if we were going to do an album, we should pay a bit of respect to how they were made back then.

"But it was a hectic day and Lee did say that he didn't want too many bands cutting albums like that. Otherwise, he'd be out of business."

The album comprises a mix of traditional tunes and some originals, and they have had a great response to it so far, Jensen says.

"One person told me his ageing grandmother puts it on when she feels a bit sad and it makes her feel better.

"We only printed a limited run of CDs, as we didn't know how it would do, but we're nearing the end of that run," (so get yourself a copy if you don't have one yet).

Having previously played at the Festival of Lights, they couldn't wait to get back to New Plymouth, a place that has never failed to show them a good time, Jensen says.

"It's such a well-organised event and we had a pretty enthusiastic crowd to play to.

"Your arts council is doing a fantastic job.

"Plus, you have Womad as well, so you have two of the best music festivals in the country.

"I know I would be at most of the shows if I lived in New Plymouth."

They will do their best to put on a good show at Waiau Estate on February 17, Jensen says and he hopes there will be a few people there to enjoy it.

"We hope some of you will dance, although this isn't mandatory, but we definitely respond really well to dancing and tend to get a bit more lively when there are people up and getting their groove on.

"Hopefully, the weather will be good too, but at any rate, it's at a beautiful vineyard on a Sunday afternoon. How can it not be a good time?"


Mike Jensen: Drums, vocals, books the gigs.

A J Jensen: Guitar, vocals, cooks meals on tour.

Dayle Jellyman: Piano, vocals, sorts PA gear and music charts.

Hamish Jellyman: Trombone, vocals, sorts PA gear and music charts.

Matt Enright: Trumpet, vocals, procures beverages and refreshments for the band.

Dan Yeabsley: Upright bass, tells good jokes.

Frankie Curac: Clarinet, vocals, all-round good guy who

no-one minds sitting in a van with for 16 hours.

Taranaki Daily News