I’m showing my age a bit when I hark back to childhood memories of Kiwi music and music making. My family wasn’t particularly musical but they had plenty of friends who were and childhood was punctuated by occasions where “aunties” and “uncles” revealed fascinating skills as people gathered around for a singsong.
A cousin I admired terribly was a dab hand at the piano – he could strum every popular song in great style and his parents sometimes kept him up past his bedtime to provide music so they and their friends could dance and sing. Mum’s best friend was a piano teacher but it was her husband who was a revelation on the banjo.
Most magic of all were occasions when my dad’s tramping mates gathered – they could muster a pretty good skiffle group complete with tea chest base. Dad’s good mate Ted was a dab hand at ukelele and kazoo and everyone would join in the songs from the trampers songbook as well as popular songs. Sitting outside under the stars at a barn dance listening to all this was a great experience for a kid.
Turning on the radio you could hear Peter Cape singing Down the Hall on a Saturday night or Taumarunui on the Main Trunk Line – both of which songs resonated with me as I had experienced the kid’s joy of sliding over the powdered floor before a dance at a local hall and I’d been on an exciting night train trip on the Main Trunk Line.
I can capture memories of this time by going to New Zealand Folksong – a wonderful website where you can find words, music and performances of a fantastic array of Maori and Pakeha songs from early days to recent times, the school yard and much more.