The Bluegrass Expedition

The Bluegrass Expedition grew out of the Dunedin Folk Club in the early 1970s under the strict tutelage of their leader, Alabama banjo picker George Bailey. They went on to release two albums and were the stars of television series Young Country before breaking up when Bailey returned to the United States.

A senior lecturer in biochemistry at Otago University, Bailey called into the folk club soon after his arrival in New Zealand in 1972 and encountered a ragtag group of enthusiastic but not so authentic bluegrass practitioners. For the best part of a year he coached them on the finer points of mountain music before they played a gig.

The Bluegrass Expedition business card
The Bluegrass Expedition, 1975. From left: George Bailey, Bruce Fergus, Barry Paterson, Read Hudson, and Mike Pelvin
Review of a Bluegrass Expedition gig: their rendition of 'Rawhide' included an "energetic mandolin solo"
Bluegrass on the rocks: The Bluegrass Expedition in a humorous TV clip
The Bluegrass Expedition during the TV shoot, 1976
Confirmed: a gig at your venue by The Bluegrass Expedition 
Barry Paterson on stage with The Bluegrass Expedition
A flyer detailing the acts on the Touch of Country television show, 1976. 
The Bluegrass Expedition appears alongside The Avocados and Rhythm Three; lunch available for 65c
The television series Young Country, produced in Dunedin by Ian Ralston (pictured), featured several appearances by The Bluegrass Expedition
The Bluegrass Expedition reunion, Dunedin, 2016. From left: Russell George, Bruce Fergus, Barry Paterson, Mike Pelvin, Read Hudson
When booking The Bluegrass Expedition, a diagram of the stage would be helpful
The Bluegrass Expedition reunites, 2016 (L-R): Bruce Fergus, Russell George, Read Hudson, Barry Paterson
Working drawings for Wanted, the debut album by The Bluegrass Expedition
George Bailey, banjo player with The Bluegrass Expedition
The Bluegrass Expedition reunion, 2016 (back, from left): Bruce Fergus, Barry Paterson, Russell George, Mike Pelvin; in front, Read Hudson
When disco met bluegrass: The Bluegrass Expedition's "final gig in New Zealand" is advertised in Queenstown's Mountain Scene, 1977
Bruce Fergus, bassist with The Bluegrass Expedition
A sketch for the cover of Wanted, the 1975 debut album by The Bluegrass Expedition
The Bluegrass Expedition reunites for two Dunedin gigs, December 2016
The Bluegrass Expedition conditions of employment
Barry Paterson, guitarist of The Bluegrass Expedition, in the studio
Barry Paterson of The Bluegrass Expedition in the studio
Barry Paterson of the Bluegrass Expedition during a TV shoot, mid 1970s
Bruce Fergus, bassist of The Bluegrass Expedition
Bluegrass Expedition's debut album Wanted was released on Pye in 1975
The Bluegrass Expedition support Danny Kaye for charity at the Dunedin Town Hall, October 1975; tickets $1
A letter introducing The Bluegrass Expedition to prospective venues says the band attracts clientele to the hotel, then "stimulates, rather than interferes with, bar trade"
Read Hudson, Barry Paterson and George Bailey of The Bluegrass Expedition performing at the Sheraton Hotel
Mike Pelvin, mandolin player of The Bluegrass Expedition, at the Sheraton Hotel, December 1974
George Bailey on banjo during a Bluegrass Expedition session, 1974
Bruce Fergus, the bassist of The Bluegrass Expedition, also played fiddle, guitar and banjo
A Bluegrass Expedition promotional flyer
An advertisement for Settling In, the second album by Bluegrass Expedition, released on Kiwi in 1976
A "folk concert extraordinary" featuring Christine Smith, Phil Garland, Bluegrass Expedition and Tole Puddle, Christchurch, February 1974. Alexander Turnbull Library, Eph-D-MUSIC-Garland-1974-01                 
Photo credit: Alexander Turnbull Library
Read Hudson on Dobro with The Bluegrass Expedition, 1974
George Bailey, banjo player of The Bluegrass Expedition
The Bluegrass Expedition in the studio, 1974: Mike Pelvin on mandolin, and bassist Bruce Fergus
The Bluegrass Expedition, appearing on South Pacific Television's Touch Of Country, 1976
Barry Paterson, left, and George Bailey of The Bluegrass Expedition, Sheraton Hotel
The Bluegrass Expedition during a television shoot, mid 1970s
The Otago University Folk Music Club presents The Bluegrass Expedition at Southland Girls' High 

George Bailey - banjo, vocals

Barry Paterson - vocals, guitar

Read Hudson - dobro, guitar, vocals

Mike Pelvin - mandolin

Bruce Fergus - bass, autoharp




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