Auckland Folk Festival 2018

Esther Swift

Likened to Kate Bush, Eddie Reader and Joanna Newsom, Esther Swift is one of the UK’s most innovative and exciting contemporary harpists, playing music that pushes the boundaries and capabilities of her luscious and versatile instrument. Having travelled extensively around the world touring with her music, her composition, songwriting and performance is profound and daringly vulnerable, whilst drawing on her love of the Scottish tradition, jazz, blues and minimalism in her genre defying style.

The Lonely Heartstrings (USA)

Lonely Heartstring Band

Nourished by deep roots in the expansive canon of traditional American music, The Lonely Heartstring Band embodies the modern American condition—an understanding and reverence for the past that informs a push into the future. This multi-talented group of musicians is a classic Bluegrass quintet—always far greater than the sum of its parts.

Combining soulful instrumental virtuosity with soaring three-part harmonies, their growing repertoire of original songs and compositions showcases not only their considerable talents, but a dedication to meaningful roots-conscious music.

Huw Williams

Huw Williams

Huw Williams  began his career as a singer songwriter, one that attracted the likes of Fairport Convention to cover his songs. Huw and his dry, hilarious humour returns to the Auckland Folk Festival to bring some some well-crafted and finely-honed songs on his guitar as well as the chance to learn some clog dancing steps. Many songwriters could take a lesson from his brilliant chord progressions and his thoughtful and entertaining lyrics, but his magic touch just about seals it and cajoles the listening public to come back for more.

Klezmer Rebs

Klezmer Rebs are a seven-piece Wellington band formed in 2002 that plays (mostly) klezmer music, an engaging style of world/folk music born out of the Yiddish/Jewish culture of eastern Europe in the 1800s and 1900s. The Rebs’ music appeals to everyone. While many of their songs are sung in Yiddish, they also perform partisan songs from Italy, Russian folk tunes, French chansons, Latin cowboy love songs, Argentine Yiddish Tangos and 1940s swing vocal songs.  Their own quirky, politically charged multi-lingual originals are some of the most popular crowd tunes. The Rebs are a performance band – full of story songs and interaction with the audience. The songs are portrayed dramatically as well as aurally.

The Old Time Rags

The Old Time Rags

The Old Time Rags are a duo who use folk music and dance to create an interactive and energetic street show featuring Appalachian step dance, broom dancing, banjos and the daring accordion balance of doom. They have wowed audiences across the UK bringing their show to Glastonbury, Sidmouth Folk Week and Edinburgh Fringe.

Nadia Reid

Through cavernous lows, blissful highs and globe-trotting adventures, music has been by Nadia’s side the entire way. Whether in New Zealand’s familiar rugged beaches and mountains, brutally windy Wellington, her hometown harbour Port Chalmers or the untrodden territory of faceless hotel rooms or the jungle in Kuala Lumpur, every episode of loss, heartbreak, and disappointment glimmers throughout. Fresh from completing a U.S and European Tour and being named a finalist in the 2017 APRA Silver Scroll Awards, we are delighted to have Nadia at the Festival who is sure to bring a new wave of folk music into our midst.



Ys (pronounced ‘ees’) embroider intricate harmonies, dark melodies and glittering guitar into heart-beating folk. Beautiful and compelling, their songs carry as lightly as they feel deeply. The duo have been playing together since 2013, enjoying New Zealand and Australian summer music festivals and spending time in the UK where the duo connected to England’s folky roots. Returning to NZ to launch their album, the duo are excited to be part of the line-up for Auckland Folk Fest 2018. Ys will lead you down the garden path and move you deep and good.

The Deadbeats

The Deadbeats

The Deadbeats bring you an acoustic blues band with a new edge to classic blues. Long time blues picker Neil Finlay and Tui award-winner Garry Trotman have teamed up with harmonica ace Craig Bracken and slide guitar wizard Glenn Ross Campbell to bring you blues songs from the 1920s to the 1960s that will soon have you smiling, swinging and swaying, singing along and dancing up a storm.

Neil Billington

Neil Billington

Neil Billington has shown he is one of the leading exponents of the harmonica to come out of New Zealand, and combines a rare capacity for the traditional blues harmonica and the less typical chromatic harmonica. He is equally at home whether playing in the ‘Chicago-style’ of Little Walter, or the more sophisticated jazz sensibilities of the Belgian jazz great, Jean ‘Toots’ Thielemans. Neil has appeared with everyone from NZ jazz maestro Rodger Fox’s big band,through to jazz combos and electric blues bands, and folk and roots groups. Neil’s own band, The Neil Billington Band, is a regular favourite in NZ’s capital city, Wellington. His is a remarkable versatility on a demanding instrument, showing at times a formidable virtuosity with a deep soulfulness that comes from playing the music he loves.



A woodshed in Arthur’s Pass is the symbolic birthplace of Ravens – a trio boasting three of this country’s top female folk musicians: banjo player Jess Shanks, guitarist Reb Fountain and fiddle player Alice Ryan Williams. Ravens have produced new material, tailored to the combination of the three female voices and their assorted acoustic instruments. They’re particular kinds of songs, breaking through the genres and boundaries with strong and feminine punk elements alongside country and folk.

The T-Bone Trio
The T-Bone Trio present a soulful blend of high-energy Americana music played on guitars, mandolin, banjo and fiddles with close vocal harmonies and fiery instrumentals. Comprising of Gerry Paul, Cameron Dusty Barnell, and Richard Klein, the T-Bone Trio play an eclectic mixture of styles within the Americana genre, drawing on their backgrounds in Old Timey, Bluegrass, Country, Cajun, Zydeco and Blues. To round off the sound, they will be accompanied by their friend and legend Wellington musician Aaron Stewart on Double Bass. Join three of the capital’s finest acoustic musicians for an evening that will have you laughing, singing and maybe even dancing.


Victoria Vigenser and Tony Hillyard share a love of lyrical music, from contemporary compositions to traditional folk song. Their uncanny vocal blend and performances that are liberally laced with strong, emotional melodies and lyrics, they explore what resounds in the head, heart and soul of the folk roots movement..  Tony’s velvety vocals and fingerstyle guitar accompaniment guarantee beautiful layers of melody. A balladeer at heart, he has long been associated with folk clubs and festivals in London and New Zealand. Vic adds dynamic guitar, bodhran or dulcimer, and brings her spell-binding voice to their special brand of harmony. In 2014 she was gifted the Frank Winter Memorial Award for young talent at the Auckland Folk Festival, where her love of traditional music started.

The Bollands

Based in Asia and New Zealand, Indie folk duo, The Bollands, have been singing their infectious foot stomping folk throughout the world for over 5 years. With their love of travel, music, good friends & fine wine, they have gained a reputation for their passion-filled live shows and heartfelt folk tunes.

The East Pointers

There’s a reason, beyond their dazzling musicianship and wildly entertaining live shows, that The East Pointers have connected with audiences right across the globe, making new, original roots music the hippest, most vibrant thing going. Fiddler/singer Tim Chaisson, banjoist Koady Chaisson and guitarist Jake Charron have spent the last two years touring Canada, the US, the UK, and Australia in support of their award winning album, Secret Victory. In 2016, they won ‘Touring Artist of the Year’ at the Music PEI Awards and ‘Ensemble of the Year’ at the Canadian Folk Music Awards. Their sophomore album, What We Leave Behind, produced by songwriter/producer Gordie Sampson, was released in September 2017. What We Leave Behind carves a new path for The East Pointers, as they continue to blur the lines between traditional and popular music and develop a devoted fanbase around the globe.

Alan Reid (UK)

Alan Reid

Glasgow born Alan Reid is an icon in Scottish folk music. He began his career in 1969 with The Battlefield Band, recording over 30 albums with them and becoming the band’s principal songwriter. His songs are noted for their strong storytelling element whilst being firmly grounded in Scots history and tradition. Since leaving the band in 2010, Alan has focused on his duo with Rob van Sante, guitarist/singer, producing five albums together with the latest released in 2017.

Krissy Jackson

Krissy Jackson

Krissy lives, breathes and sings music.  She has been studying violin since she was 2, teaching since she was 12, but her heart lies in performance where we hear Krissy’s reverent commitment to music come to life.  Immersed in New Zealand’s folk scene, Krissy dances with melody and tone, in all ways making it her own. Touring from Whangarei all the way to Dunedin, Krissy plays bluegrass, folk punk, gypsy rock, classical Indian folk and more.  She has performed with many friends of the Auckland Folk Festival and is a true talent. Krissy Jackson is not to be missed.



OrigiNZ is an Auckland-based group of musicians, that have formed from the love of world music. Each member of the band has brought with them the influences and instruments (bagpipes, saxophone, fiddle, flute, snare drums and more) from their own original cultures. Together, they create new music which reflects themselves and the multicultural nation that is modern New Zealand, combining elements of folk, celtic, reggae, jazz & blues.

The Joys Dancers of Taiwan

This group lead by Julia Wei will dance the Lantern dance,  The girl from the home town,  Beautiful girl and Tea picking.  These are dances from the native people of Taiwan.

Joy Dancers was established in 2003. The members are folk dance lovers.  The principal aim is to instruct international folk dance. We take part in many multicultural events.

Joy Dancers are delighted to meet different cultural folk dance groups and also to make voluntary contributions to communities within the Auckland area.

In the Auckland Folk Festival,we are going to perform four Taiwanese folk dances. One of them will be the Lantern Dance – very popular at the Lunar New Year festivals.

La Bourree French Dance Group

La Bourrée was founded in 1982 to enjoy and perform dances from many regions of France and French Canada, and to introduce these in schools. They have been a popular part of the Auckland festival scene as it has grown, first dancing in the Folk Festival in two earlier venues, and in the big International Cultural Festival and the Rose Festival ever since their inception. They also greatly enjoy sharing the French flavours and fun of community dancing with adults and children. Today their programme will start in the Pyrenées, tour around the Centre of France to see three different forms of bourrée (the uniquely French dance style) and finish back in the south, with an age-old feature of summer festivals in Provence, Li Jardiniero.

Singing Nations

Folk Group Singing Nations is a mixed full costume choir will perform twice Sunday in the  Village Green area

“Our singing group was born more than five years ago. The members of Singing Nations are from different parts of Ukraine, Russia, Belorussia and Moldova. Performing in our national costumes we sing folk songs in Ukrainian, Russian, Maori and English languages. “