The Pipi Pickers are probably familiar to regular visitors of the Matakana Farmers Market – the band often entertains the Saturday crowds with their lively bluegrass music and cheeky sense of humour.
It’s a family affair, with Jenine Abarbanel on vocals and double bass, husband Nat Torkington on 5-string banjo, Nat’s father Barry on guitar and Garry Bigwood on mandolin. Founded in 2007, the band will celebrate 10 years together with the release of their second studio album, titled With a Spade.
Jenine’s vocals and Nat’s banjo take the spotlight in all 16 tracks on the album, as they well should. Her voice has been compared to that of Natalie Merchant, and Nat is widely considered to be the best 5-string Earl Scruggs style banjo player living on Ti Point. Together they weave stories of love and heartbreak – voyaging across the water and down along the Dixie Line.
Their quirky sense of humour comes through on tracks like Stripes when Jenine sings: “The only thing saving your life…is that I don’t look good in orange and I hate stripes.” There are a few slower songs, including a tongue-in-cheek cover of Meghan Trainor’s 2014 mega hit All About That Bass, but for the most part the album is all up-tempo swinging bluegrass – it’s impossible to listen without moving at least some part of your body. Definitely worth a listen!
For the With a Spade album release party, The Pipi Pickers are on home turf at Leigh Sawmill Café. It’s the perfect venue to showcase their crowd-friendly foot-stomping tunes. They don’t disappoint the eager audience, putting on a splendid showcase of the new songs plus a few from their first album As Is, Where Is. If you get a chance to catch the Pipi Pickers play this summer don’t miss it!