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Duelling Banjos – a photo album, 1967-70


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Michael Grace with the “headquarters team” at the first National Banjo Pickers’ Convention, Te Rapa hall, 1967. “They called it my harem, which was not entirely fair,” says Grace. “They worked with me right through.” From left: Deanne Mosby, Sally Gray, and Michael Grace. The woman in sunglasses is unidentified. Photo credit: Tony Ward (Michael Grace collection) 

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Tom Warren plays banjo for Clive Collins and possibly one of the Warren boys on Don Milne’s Model A pick-up – one of the old cars that fascinated visiting American guest Mike Seeger in 1969. Photo credit: Miles Reay

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To close the first National Banjo Pickers’ Convention in 1967 the key players sing ‘Amazing Grace’. It became a tradition that grew each year. From left: Dave Calder, Colleen Bain, Alan Rhodes, Sandy McMillan, and Len Cohen (all from the Hamilton County Bluegrass Band), Michael Grace, Paul Trenwith (of HCBB), two unidentified musicians, and the Stoney Lonesome Boys’ Clive Collins. Photo credit: Tony Ward (Michael Grace collection) 

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Part of the First National Banjo Pickers’ Convention brains trust, 1967. Left to right: Paul Trenwith, Michael Grace, Clive Collins, Alan Rhodes. Photo credit: Tony Ward (Michael Grace collection)

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Hamilton County Bluegrass Band and friends at the First National Banjo Pickers’ Convention, 1967. Left to right: Colleen Bain, Len Cohen, John Sutherland, Dave Calder, Sandy McMillin, Michael Grace, Alan Rhodes. Photo credit: Tony Ward (Michael Grace collection)

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National Banjo Pickers’ Convention organiser Michael Grace performs at the inaugural 1967 event. He still has the long neck five-string banjo, which he built himself. Photo credit: Tony Ward (Michael Grace collection)

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A hand-lettered flyer for the 1968 National Banjo Pickers’ Convention. Calligraphy by Michael Grace, design by Carole Shepheard - Michael Grace collection

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Hamilton County Bluegrass Band fiddler Colleen Bain plays upright bass with an unidentified five-piece at the 1968 National Banjo Pickers’ Convention, Te Rapa. Photo credit: Trevor Ruffell (Michael Grace collection)

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One of several jug bands at the 1968 National Banjo Pickers’ Convention. Photo credit: Trevor Ruffell (Michael Grace collection)

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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band at the 1968 convention. Left to right: Colleen Bain, Dave Calder, Alan Rhodes, Paul Trenwith, Lyndsay Bedogni. Photo credit: Trevor Ruffell (Michael Grace collection)

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For fun rather than status, Grace made armbands for staff to wear at the National Banjo Pickers’ Conventions. - Michael Grace collection

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Country Touch square dance caller Thelma Blyth fronts the band at the square dance in 1968. - Michael Grace collection

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Ticket prices range from 10c to 75c in this flyer for the 1968 National Banjo Pickers’ Convention. - Michael Grace collection

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You hum it, we'll pick it: another jug band at the 1968 National Banjo Pickers’ Convention, Claudelands showgrounds, Hamilton. Photo credit: Trevor Ruffell (Michael Grace collection) 

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The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band in action, Claudelands, 1968. Left to right: Colleen Bain, Paul Trenwith, Dave Calder (obscured), Len Cohen, Lyndsay Bedogni, Alan Rhodes. Photo credit: Trevor Ruffell (Michael Grace collection)

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Kon Tiki Folk Club duo Martin Pyke (guitar) and Danny Sawyer at the 1968 National Banjo Pickers’ Convention. Photo credit: Trevor Ruffell (Michael Grace collection)

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Mandolinist Graham Lovejoy would join The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band in time for their early 1971 move to Australia. Photo credit: Trevor Ruffell (Michael Grace collection)

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Access all areas: a pass from the National Banjo Pickers’ Convention 1969. - Michael Grace collection

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Visiting US folkie Mike Seeger, left, with Hamilton County Bluegrass Band’s David Calder at the National Banjo Pickers’ Convention at Ngāruawāhia in 1969. Seeger was instrumental in getting the band to the United States in 1971, by which time Calder had left. - David Calder collection

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US multi-instrumentalist Mike Seeger performs on the barge moored at the Waikato River near Ngāruawāhia during the 1969 National Banjo Pickers’ Convention. Photo credit: Trevor Ruffell

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The Stoney Lonesome Boys perform on a barge at the National Banjo Pickers’ Convention, Ngāruawāhia, 1968. Left to right: Clive Collins, Jim Doak, Miles Reay, Brian Egan. - Miles Reay collection

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A flyer for the third National Banjo Pickers’ Convention, 1969. - Michael Grace collection

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A brochure lays down the rules for Scruggsville tent village at the National Banjo Pickers’ Convention, 1969. - Michael Grace collection

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The prospectus for the 1969 National Banjo Pickers’ Convention. - Michael Grace collection

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Hamilton County Bluegrass Band mandolinist Dave Calder and his wife Andrea, who also produced their own album under the name David and Panda. Photo credit: Trevor Ruffell (Michael Grace collection)

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A concession ticket for the 1970 National Banjo Pickers’ Convention cost $3.50 and came with a banjo trinket made by Michael Grace. - Michael Grace collection

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American bluegrass musician Bill Clifton, guest artist at the 1970 National Banjo Pickers’ Convention. - Michael Grace collection

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An illustration by Carole Shepheard for the 1970 National Banjo Pickers’' Convention. - Michael Grace collection 

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National Banjo Pickers' Convention prospectus, 1970. Illustration by Carole Shepheard. - Michael Grace collection

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Read more: The National Banjo Pickers' Conventions, 1967-1970

Read more: Banjos at Dawn

Watch: Keep On the Sunny Side – an award-winning documentary about the 1970 National Banjo Pickers’ Convention.

 
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