Cardrona Folk Festival 2015

Cardrona Valley, Central Otago

23-26 October 2015 (Labour Weekend)









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This year marks our 39th year in the same venue but is actually the 40th festival (we cheated in 1979 when we switched from March to Labour weekend).   So this is a real milestone.   Mind you, we can have two celebrations as next year will be 40 years – cunning!    As usual everything takes place at the historic Cardrona Hall and surrounding reserve, and runs from Friday 23rd to Monday 26th October 2015.   This year our guest line- up features several of our old favourites, who we are always pleased to welcome back to Cardrona.   They are:





It is now 9 years since we last got Alan & Bev down here from Jafa-land.  They are two of the New Zealand folk scene’s most popular singers and musicians.  They are almost three acts in two. Alan is renowned as the country’s leading exponent of American blues, singing in a well lived-in voice, and accompanying himself on dobro, acoustic guitar or dulcimer. Bev is almost the complete opposite, singing traditional and contemporary songs in a sublime voice and often unaccompanied. As a duo they blend brilliantly together, with Alan playing the loveliest subtle guitar behind Bev’s beautiful songs. And they are really nice people too! It’s great to have them back at Cardrona.




Or, if you prefer 'Fading Folkies Behaving Heinously' or 'Fairly Flaming Big Hammer' or 'Foolish Folkers Being Happy' or  'Four F'wits Buggering Harmonies'.  Since FFBH's last Greendale appearance, Florian has deserted his mates and moved to somewhere called Nelson.  This, as you can imagine has made practicing somewhat difficult, by leaving Berghman and Hudson to drink ALL the beer themselves! It's a hard road!  Not to be outdone, B and H brought in Finbar, another absentee member who couldn't drink the beer. So instead of the ratio being 3 : 2 it's now 4 : 2 ! This motley collection of musicians (?) consists of:


Finbar:  aka Barrie McDonald.   As a youngster in Dunedin Barrie learnt piano and piano accordion. As a young adult living in Wellington, he discovered the ‘Folk Music’ scene and picked up the banjo. Then moving to Christchurch, he was asked to try the mandolin. Over his musical lifetime (so far) he has been a member of various groups playing Bluegrass, Country Rock, Bush Bands, Scottish Country Dance and Irish Traditional music. When living in Invercargill in the 1980’s, apart from being a founding member of the Foveaux Folk Club, he could also be found in the ‘Orchestra Pit’ playing for light operatic shows. For some years Barrie played for the NZ Irish Traditional Dancing Championships.  On retiring last year Barrie joined the bluegrass group ‘Rural Delivery’ and is relishing the challenge of playing mandolin again.


Florian: aka Adrian Higgins, on mandolin, guitar, poetry and vocals.  From his musical beginnings with a high school pop band through bluegrass, celtic and contemporary folk music, Adrian has mostly taken the road less travelled. While some say it is because he is creative, independent and innovative, his wife and daughters maintain it’s because he never asks for directions. As either a member of FFBH or solo performer, his original bush poems and songs have seen him as a regular guest at folk clubs and festivals for three decades. As a member of FFBH he is able to draw on a range of musical traditions including folk, bluegrass, and Latin American, while remaining firmly rooted in New Zealand.


Berghman: aka Steve Barkman, on guitar and mandolin, vocals and maybe a poem. He is a full time luthier (i.e. one who makes big bits of wood smaller) and part time live sound engineer. Lately he has been playing little apart from stints on mandolin during Richard Dingwall's 6 week absence from Valley Bluegrass, and then on guitar in the same band during Read's time away referred to below (during which time he was forced to drink all the beer himself, hence the lack of practice!)


Hudson: aka Read Hudson, on dobro, guitar and mandolin.  Since his last Greendale appearance he's been honing his bluegrass chops on his dobro and D28 guitar in the local band Valley Bluegrass, as well as spending 3 months touring Australasia with Bevan Gardner's John Denver tribute show, slithering up and down the strings of his pedal-steel guitar. Then in July he was spotted (apparently there are pills for that!) out with his Mum and brother entertaining an appreciative crowd at the NEFC.   When does the man sleep?!


To quote their official bio – “This four-man line-up has performed many gigs, toured extensively, opened for a vast array of 'name' acts, and guested at every major, minor, augmented and diminished festival in the universe. But unfortunately only in the addled minds of those left to drink the beer.   The REAL total is ZERO !”


But this will be rectified when they take to the stage for the Cardrona 40th!




To help celebrate 40 years of running this festival, your host will also be doing a featured afternoon concert.   Martin has just returned from his 14th tour of the UK, where he spent three months travelling around the country, performing his New Zealand songs and bush poetry at clubs and festivals from Cornwall to Wales to the Scottish Highlands.   He even sang in Iceland, where he had worked as a mountain guide over 40 years ago  The concert will include several of his early songs written about the Cardrona of old (which now includes what it was like when the festival started) but with a new CD currently in the pipeline, there will be some new material as well.   He will also be joining FFBH as one of the dance callers for the ceilidh.




Will be anchored by FFBH.   As usual other musicians and dance callers will be welcome to join them on stage and make up a traditional “Big Ugly”



Begun over 25 years ago, this has become one of the most popular events at Cardrona and the idea of bush poetry session has now spread to most other festivals around the country. Each year it is getting longer and better with most of it consisting of hilarious and original material.



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As always there will be a couple of blackboard concerts, so that all singers and musicians - and children - can get a chance to let us hear a couple of their songs or tunes.  Our unaccompanied harmony session in the wee church on Sunday morning is always very popular, with contributions welcome from anyone who has a good chorus song we can join in with.   There is always plenty of space and time for jamming sessions.   Remember to bring earplugs if you don’t want to hear music in the small hours – after all, this is a folk music festival, and there is always time for “Just One More Chorus.”


The cost for a weekend ticket (Friday to Monday) remains at $80, with secondary children at $30 (wee ones are free). Bring everything you need, as all we supply is a flat (and usually dry) paddock, a couple of taps, hopefully fine weather and heaps of music and fun. The new luxury toilets are now working perfectly but the historic long-drops have also been recently renovated for festival-goers who don’t like queuing or suffer from nostalgia (there are pills for that too!)   This is a self-catering festival but meals are available, at a price, up the road at the Cardrona Hotel.


The ski chalets next door to the site are no longer available, as they have permanent residents in them.    Those who want accommodation should contact Ben Brae resort or the Cardrona Hotel.  Please make your own bookings for these. Other affordable accommodation is available in Wanaka 25 kms away, along with a wide choice of restaurants and cafes.  Best book now though.  


Pre-registration is not yet necessary, though if the festival gets any more popular this may have to come one day.  However it is really helpful to us if you could pay in advance.   Our bank account details are 06-0943-0012701-00.


Hope to see you at the festival

Martin & Kay



For further information and bookings contact

Martin & Kay Curtis, 2256 Cardrona Valley Road, RD2, Wanaka 9382

Phone 03 443 8152

Email: martincurtis(at) (you need to substitute the @ sign, to discourage spammers!)


Last Updated: 11th September 2015