With bold ukelele and kazoo

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.

Musicians play everywhere

Musicians are a tough, adaptable bunch and they’ll play anywhere, especially in Christchurch since the earthquakes. Think of all those temporary venues like the Gap filler Pavillion and the Re-Start mall stage or old venues that have reinvented themselves like DuxLive. And always in Music Month our libraries are full of local musicians giving us a good time.

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Christchurch – this week in history (6 May – 12 May)

May 6, 1939
New Municipal Electricity Department building opens.
May 7, 1917
Canterbury Aviation Company makes first flights from Sockburn Aerodrome, New Zealand’s first airport.
May 8, 1945
V.E. (Victory in Europe) day celebrations.
May 8, 1975
New Zealand’s first mini roundabout in operation at the corner of Riccarton Road and Deans Avenue.
May 8, 1981
Go-ahead given for National Sports Training Centre at Q.E.II Park.
May 8, 1987
Sir Neil Isaac, founder of Peacock Springs Conservation Park dies.
May 9, 1915
Christchurch tennis star (4 times Wimbledon champion) Captain A. F. Wilding killed in action in Belgium.
May 10, 1975
Ms Vicki Buck becomes the city’s (and New Zealand’s) youngest ever City Councillor at 19.
May 11, 1891
Sumner Borough formed.
May 11, 1908
Colosseum becomes the city’s first picture theatre. The building was claimed to have the largest wooden span in New Zealand. It had previously been a skating rink, a boot factory and a cab stand. See also 1932.
  • More May events in our Christchurch chronology.