2019 ShowsPast Events

June 11th 2019: Carol Bean & Jack McKenzie: Songs from the Ash Grove

Carol Bean (Kelburn Viaduct Jug Band) and Jack McKenzie (DownUnderDogs) have teamed up to present songs they’ve honed over the years, with fine guitar pickin’ and harmonies, from their time living in Los Angeles during the 1960s and 70s. Along with a movie trailer for a documentary on the legendary Ash Grove music venue, they’ll talk about another iconic LA music venue, McCabe’s Guitar Shop where Jack worked and which is still a Mecca for music lovers around the world. Carol and Jack aim to pay tribute to those people who run live music venues, thereby creating a community space where storytelling, stage craft and song writing can breathe, grow, and be shared.


The Ash Grove, established in 1958 by Ed Pearl, was a folk music venue in West Hollywood, California. The club was a beacon for people who were searching for music that had meaning and made a difference. In the coffee house tradition, Ed Pearl promoted a mix of music (folk, blues, bluegrass, jazz and rock) with poetry and comedy. The club became associated with the cultural and political ferment of the 1960s (Vietnam War, a Cuban Crisis, and a Chilean coup).

This involvement caused conflict and the club was burnt to the ground several times before it finally closed in 1973.

Ry Cooder first played there as a teenager while teaching guitar at McCabes. This is where Carol Bean steps in. In 1964, Ry was her guitar teacher. “The first visiting musician I ever saw at the Ash Grove was Doc Watson. He played his guitar runs so fast we’d all moan and he’d say, “Eat yer hearts out”.  In 1971 Carol moved to NZ to raise a family. For thirty years she was an educator, then retired and made way for her music. She’s since formed several bands and has guested at all the NZ folk festivals, and most recently Coastella and Cuba Dupa. She plays in the Kelburn Viaduct jug band and has recently formed a duo with Nick Swan. Carol has also recorded three CDs of original songs.


McCabe's Guitar Shop opened in 1958 the same year that The Ash Grove opened. Their motto is; “We have rentals for the cautious, lessons for the eager, truth-telling for the fearful, repairs for the clumsy, concerts for the devoted & free coffee for all.”

During the 70s, Jack McKenzie was working there, fixing guitars, managing the shop, and playing in a hot band called Peach Fuzz. He was well positioned to participate in impromptu sessions with musicians who came to perform on the back-room stage. Jack attended a Doc Watson concert at McCabe's and the presence of this master musician forever changed Jack's outlook on music. For the next forty years, Jack has steadily pursued the flat-picking techniques and skills needed to play like Doc.

Jack officially moved to New Zealand in 1984 and worked as a full-time white water rafting and fly-fishing guide until he re-discovered his music. During the last decade and a half, Jack has performed at folk clubs, Wellington Bluegrass Society, and various music festivals. Parallel to that, Jack has recorded 4 CD's with many original songs and tunes, as well as Americana style covers.

Supports will be...

  • Tim & Tevita (Tim Thorpe & Tevita Niupalavu), who perform folk and blues standards using vocals, guitar, ukulele and Penny Whistle between them
  • The PJs – an 'a cappella' duo singing harmonious versions of songs from well-known genres, featuring Jenny Kilpatrick and Pamela Gerrish-Nunn