Greetings from Down Under! We’re in the middle of an epic four week tour of New Zealand and Australia and we’re writing this in the car in Tasmania on our way to a gig. We started out the trip with four shows in New Zealand, the homeland of our fabulous banjo player BB Bowness. New Zealand is every bit as beautiful as we’d imagined, wherever we looked we saw unforgettable scenes. Our drives never had a dull moment as we wound our way through most of the North Island, constantly encountering fantastic new landscapes. We stopped to visit an endangered kiwi bird at a local bird sanctuary, and geeked out hard when we drove past the mountains used as Mordor when filming The Lord of the Rings.
The band was met with a warm welcome and every show was filled to maximum capacity. BB is clearly much beloved by the New Zealand folk scene, and it was really special to meet the folks she grew up playing music with. BB’s mother Piesy was an amazing tour “mummager.” She came on the road with us for the whole New Zealand leg, helped to sell CD’s, drove the van and took care of us all like a proper band mom.
We spent two days with BB’s entire family in Turakina Beach on the southwest side of the island and got a taste of the New Zealand country life: Fresh fish and chips from BB’s father Terry, nights spent in the family’s house trucks and days spent racing 4 wheel motor bikes down the beach with the dogs.
This week we began the Australian portion of the tour. Australia’s landscape is equally impressive but on a much larger scale; the state of Victoria is home to huge vistas of wheat fields and cattle farms as far as the eye can see. We flew into Melbourne and played a show at a downtown indie music hall called The Spotted Mallard, where we got to meet some of the local bluegrass scene. Since then we’ve played The Java Cafe in Yackandandah and the Patchewollock Music Festival, and today we flew to Tasmania for a weekend run of shows. We had a special moment on our drive to the airport, we were all treated to our first wild kangaroo sighting! BB was on the phone leaving a voicemail to a venue as we spotted it and the voicemail finished with a loud chorus of excited Americans screaming “KANGAROO!”
We’re looking forward to two more weeks of touring in Australia and lots more adventures, and we’ll try to keep everyone updated as we go.