Young Hamilton brothers Rhode Works play bluegrass in Wellington
Close your eyes, and you could swear you were in Kentucky.
The three young musicians playing a toe-tapping tune sound like seasoned professionals, but are in fact a trio of siblings, the oldest 14, and the youngest 9, playing an original song.
The band, Rhode Workz, is made up of Laurence, Sam and Nate Frangos-Rhodes.
The Hamilton natives are in Wellington to play a set at the Wellington Bluegrass Society on Friday night.
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The interest in music started with 12-year-old Sam, who saw a girl playing the violin in a show as a 5-year-old, “and I just decided I wanted to play violin after that”.
Older brother Laurence, 14, took up the guitar to join his brother making music.
Neither stopped there, however, and both played an array of instruments including mandolin, banjo, cello, bass and harmonica.
Nine-year-old Nate refused to be left out – “I was jealous” – and played cello, percussion and ukelele.
They started playing together three years ago.
Parents Bruce and Tracy said neither of them was very musical, but Tracy played the piano, and took up bass so she could play along with her sons.
“They teach me how to play the songs they want to play,” she said.
“We play for fun,” said Laurence, “we don’t do it to get famous, we play when we’re asked, we go along and play at clubs.”
The brothers had already made an impression in folk circles, and had played in front of around 2000 people at the Auckland Folk Festival.
The Frangos-Rhodes were home schooled, and Tracy said it meant they had the freedom to pursue their interests, which also included woodworking.
That interest lead to Laurence building his own guitar, after being taught by a market gardener who runs guitar making workshops.
“Starting with the raw materials, he shows you how to make a guitar, and you go on and make it.”
He plans to make more, and Sam is also keen to get started on his own ukelele.
The family clearly worked well together, but did they always get along?
Laurence laughed, shook his head and smiled at his younger brother Sam. “I haven’t broken his fingers yet.”