Family bluegrass band play their way on ferry to get to festival

Getting ready to delight the crowds at the Whare Flat Folk Festival are Ngaruawahia family bluegrass band RhodeWorks, featuring (from left) Nate Frangos-Rhodes (12, mandolin), Tracy Frangos (double-bass), Laurence Frangos-Rhodes (17, guitar) and Sam Frang
Getting ready to delight the crowds at the Whare Flat Folk Festival are Ngaruawahia family bluegrass band RhodeWorks, featuring (from left) Nate Frangos-Rhodes (12, mandolin), Tracy Frangos (double-bass), Laurence Frangos-Rhodes (17, guitar) and Sam Frangos-Rhodes (15, fiddle). Photo: Christine O'Connor
A travelling family bluegrass band has rolled into Dunedin and is all set to entertain the crowds today at a folk festival in the bush.

Ngaruawahia-based RhodeWorks, made up of the home-schooled Frangos-Rhodes brothers and their mother Tracy Frangos, arrived in town at the weekend to play the Whare Flat Folk Festival.

Together with their father, Bruce Rhodes, the high-energy bluegrass band drove south from their Waikato home, towing a trailer full of instruments, and entertaining a packed Interislander ferry in exchange for a free fare across Cook Strait.

They will play an hour-long set from 2.30pm today in the festival's marquee at Waiora Scout Camp.

Now in its 43rd year, the festival started yesterday and runs until Wednesday. Campers were arriving in dribs and drabs by noon yesterday and settling in, though 24-hour passes will remain available throughout.

Laurence, the group's guitar player, said RhodeWorks played a mixture of bluegrass, newgrass (progressive bluegrass), Americana and folk.

Together for about six years, the band also includes his younger brothers Nate on mandolin and Sam on fiddle, as mum Tracy drives proceedings on her double bass.

They are veterans of the Kiwi folk circuit and have recently returned from playing two festivals in Australia.

Laurence said they had heard about Whare Flat through the folk grapevine but had an ulterior motive for coming south.

''We wanted a holiday.''

Organiser Bill Morris, of Port Chalmers, said he was delighted the ''really good family bluegrass band'' had made the trip south.

He expected about 600 to 700 people to attend the festival.

Among the performers were award-winning country singer-songwriter Reb Fountain and lead singer of The Eastern Adam McGrath playing an intimate solo set.

But unlike many other festivals it was not about the headliners, Mr Morris said.

''It's not about the big names, it's about family, the musical family that surrounds Whare Flat and the folk festivals of New Zealand.''

Workshops on everything from the Cape Breton fiddle to the piano accordion were also dotted throughout the four-day festival.

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