Christchurch’s Bicycle Band claimed to be the only one of its kind in the world. Joshua W. Painter (d. 1944), a well-known distance and trick cyclist, and his brother Fred started the bicycle band in 1895. It was really an offshoot of the already established Christchurch Professional Brass Band. The men held instruments in one hand and steered their cycles with the other, and they rehearsed in the open ground of Barracks Square, Hereford Street. Left to right, front row: H. Woods, T. Dalton, A.J. Watts; second row: G.H. Gordon, W. Crawford, F. Hopkins, F. Painter; third row: F. Taylor, A.W. Gordon.
Bicycle Band inaugural performance at Ellerslie International Flower Show, 9th March, 2010.
Bret Painter, great grandson of Fred, had the idea to reform the band and drew together an intrepid bunch of bandsmen and women from Canterbury Brass and the New Zealand Army Band
Brass and pipe bands have a long and illustrious history in New Zealand.
Christchurch stands out – the Addington Workshops Brass Band was formed in 1883. It was composed of workshop employees, and formed to feature at picnics and other social events. It continues today as Addington Brass.
Woolston Brass has a been around for a while, as their history reports:
… the band’s founding year is formally recognized as 1891 when George Bonnington took charge and reformed the band under the aegis of the Loyal Perseverance Lodge of the Manchester Independent Order of Oddfellows, a long-winded appellation that, perhaps unsurprisingly, only stuck until 1894, when it was replaced with the title, “Woolston Brass Band”.
Here they are at a street march at the 2001 New Zealand National Band Championship playing Flourish for an occasion.
The Canterbury Caledonian Society Pipe Band formed in 1902. This year the band won its first ever National Pipe Band Championships in Grade 1, at Tauranga. The band won the Medley and the Street March, and won the piping, ensemble and drumming overall throughout Grade 1.
Celebrate NZ Music Month:
There are some choice New Zealand music books. One notable recent titles is Blue Smoke: The Lost Dawn of New Zealand Popular Music, 1918-1964 by Chris Bourke. It won Book of the year in the 2011 New Zealand Post Book Awards.
Blue Smoke delves into the days of the dance-band. In an interview in The Listener, Bourke talks about this time:
‘There are these guys I just wish I’d seen,” Bourke says of the musicians he’s brought to life. “There are so many of them that I missed out on.” It’s a wish the reader comes to share, thanks not only to Bourke’s evocation of the various musical scenes, but also to the many archive pictures he tracked down for the book, from Walter Smith’s Jazz Band in 1927 to Ans Westra’s 1962 photographs of dancers at Auckland’s Maori Community Centre (“If I had a Tardis, I’d go to the Maori Community Centre,” says Bourke).
Search our catalogue for:
More NZ Music Month stuff:
We digitised a bunch of 1980s Christchurch rock posters from the libraries’ ephemera collection for New Zealand Music Month 2007.
They are uber-cool, and if you have a hankering for more rock posters, Digital NZ has a splendid collection of posters from the Alexander Turnbull Library.
And you can:
Local radio station RDU 98.5FM has produced a documentary podcast series called A Flat City.
It’s a fascinating piece of work produced by Jonny Pipe, interspersing music with personal stories and observations. It is all pretty frank and honest stuff:
A Flat City records the impressions and experiences of Christchurch’s creative community following the February 2011 Earthquakes … Covering 13 episodes, A Flat City covers the emotional, social, financial and creative aspects of the disaster, highlighting the creative responses of those affected, and discusses the rebuilding process from the alternative/creative community’s perspective.
Here is episode 1 – on Country downbeat and the Lyttelton scene
RDU 98.5FM A Flat City Documentary Episode 1 – Country Downbeat And The Lyttelton Scene by Rdu on Mixcloud
Listen to more episodes on Mixcloud.
More NZ Music Month:
New Zealand Music Month is upon us again and I have been happily perusing the great array of musical offerings we’ve lined up around the library network. Last year I was lucky enough to be working at Lyttelton Library when Carmel Courtney sang to us on a cold and rainy Saturday. Her performance made a wintry workday morning magical, and I’m delighted to see she’s not only singing again this year at Lyttelton Library on Saturday 19 May but also at my current library, Central Library Peterborough, on Saturday 5 May.
Carmel is a Lyttelton-based singer-songwriter whose lyrical music combines jazz and Latin influences with an alternative vibe. She accompanies herself on guitar, keyboard and saxophone. I’m looking forward to another memorable performance.
What are you looking forward to this Music Month at your library?
While I was walking to work this morning I was scrolling through my iPod, trying to decide what NZ music to listen to to start off NZ Music Month. Fly My Pretties? Split Enz? The Great Kiwi Song Book?
It was a difficult choice but I settled on one of my favourite Kiwi artists, Dave Dobbyn.
Listening to Dave got me thinking, what is my favourite Kiwi song, the one that reminds me of this great country we live in? After a lot of deliberating I have to say that my favourite is Slice of Heaven by Dave Dobbyn, with Herbs on back-up. My reasoning is because it’s connected to Footrot Flats: A Dog’s Tale, that classic Kiwi movie that I loved when I was a kid, and still do. The opening notes (Da, da, da, do, do, da, da, da) cheer me up no matter what mood I’m in and it’s one of those songs you can’t help singing along to.
What’s your favourite Kiwi song? Why makes it such a Kiwi song?
Kia ora. It’s NZ Music Month – why not go all Aotearoa with your music selection and listen to tunes in Te Reo? There are various versions of traditional waiata like Po karekare ana but also artists like Moana Maniapoto-Jackson who have composed new songs in Te Reo.
In a rather stunning variation, Whirimako Black Sings has Te Reo versions of standards like I loves you Porgy (Arohakau Porgy) and My funny Valentine (E taku tauaro).
And you can: