In 1966 she spent a year in Hamilton and there met Paul Trenwith and Alan Rhodes who introduced her to the world of fiddle, old time and bluegrass music, and also to the other members of Hamilton County. Her journey took a radical new direction from then on.
She played in various bands....Hamilton County Bluegrass Band and a couple of Old Time string bands with Frank Sillay.....for several years, learning the new style of playing, all off records and tapes, until Mike Seeger came out to NZ and she was able to see a real live American fiddle player. He was her first live inspiration in the fiddle world....
In 1971 Mike hosted the HCBB (now made up of Colleen, Paul, Alan, Graham Lovejoy and Miles Reay)for several weeks in the United States and they played on the Grand Ole Opry in Bill Monroe's segment of the show. Also they played at the Bill Monroe’s own Beanblossom Festival, held in Indiana. While there Colleen met Kenny Baker , fiddle player for Bill Monroe and he was an inspiration with his flowing melodic style and fiddle compositions, which seemed to suit her own playing.
The band returned from the States, to Australia and toured and recorded with Slim Dusty for another two years.
Paul and Colleen were a part of Slim's "Travelling Country Band" from 1974 to 1976.
They returned to NZ, and Colleen and Paul had four sons over the next few years and Colleen set herself up as a fiddle teacher in Hamilton.
She has taught the American and Irish fiddle styles for many years in Hamilton schools and privately, writing books of fiddle tunes to pass on to students and other violin teachers, with a passion for passing on the joy of playing the fiddle to others.
She has taught fiddle workshops around the North Island, performed in many varied situations, and is ever learning and seeking for new music.
In recent years she has played Irish fiddle with Alan Rhodes and his wife Julia in their group called "The Descendnz", who are based in the Whitianga area, and continues to play bluegrass with HCBB.
Colleen came to Otaki to care for her elderly mother in January 2004 and has been teaching fiddle there, catching up with friends back in Wellington, and playing some old time American music from the 1920s and 30s again with Frank Sillay and Graham Lovejoy, and also learning to play a bit of jazz with the band "Hot Club Sandwich”, western swing with the band “Cattlestops”, alternative country and country rock with the Legal Tender Band (Ian Campbell and Moira Howard from the Waikanae region) and with more time on her hands generally working on technique and solo fiddle, both American and Irish.
"From August 2007 Colleen will be studying at East Tennessee State University for a period of personal and professional development. The fulfillment of a longtime dream, she will be studying Appalachian Studies, Bluegrass, Old Time and Country music Studies, right in the heart of the Appalachian mountains, near where the Carter Family lived and recorded their first songs. The place is rich in good music.....fiddling, concerts, jam sessions....so exciting!
Colleen offers you her range of “Favorite Fiddle Tunes” and "Toetapper" arrangements. To purchase them please contact Colleen email@example.com