Bluegrass Expedition, a five piece band that last played together in 1976 are reuniting for two concerts at the Dunedin Folk Club in early December.
Forty years ago what we now call roots music was the big attraction in New Zealand. Acoustic folk and country bands would attract big audiences so it was natural that with the introduction of colour and a second channel that an acoustic music show should be one of the main features on New Zealand television.
Bluegrass Expedition had been formed in 1976 by American banjo player George Bailey. The band were chosen to feature in the new music series called Young Country on TV1 where local country music performers were filmed singing and playing in locations around Otago. This was one of the first outside broadcast featured on New Zealand television.
You can get a flavour of the programme on this short clip where the band play the Sailor's Hornpipe while clowning around on Brighton Beach.
The band had already recorded one album for Pye Records Wanted and a second, released in 1976, featured material from Young Country. Both albums were recorded in Dunedin. Now Universal Music NZ plans to release the band`s first album remastered on iTunes.
Read Hudson who plays Dobro and guitar with the band says this seemed like the perfect occasion for a reunion.
The original band split up when their leader and banjo player George Bailey returned to the United States. He died in 2014. The band have recruited Canterbury banjo player Russell George to deputise. Other members of the band left town to pursue their careers and all are now retired and living in different parts of the country. They are all excited about the reunion and have started rehearsing their old tunes. There will be a final week of intensive band practice in Dunedin before the band takes the stage at the Dunedin Folk Club’s rooms at 50 Dundas Street on Saturday December 10 at 8pm and again on Sunday December 11 for a 2pm matinee.