Phantom Blog

December 2010

Viewing posts from December , 2010

Underdogs and a (Very) Brief History of NZ Music

What Phantom Billstickers is trying to do with our Facebook page and our website is take a bit of Kiwi culture to the world, whether it be our very fine music industry, our artists, poets, film-makers, comedians, clothing designers, or (as they say), whatever. We have several hundred followers on our Facebook page now from places further afield than Aotearoa. We can’t mail you a good old Kiwi meat pie, but we can tell you what our creative people are doing. Onward and on ya!

We’ll feature a little bit of Kiwi music each week and try to explain how we all got here as Kiwis. Firstly, we are a nuclear free country and that’s what we are really proud of.

Secondly, a bloke called Kupe discovered New Zealand some centuries ago. In his waka, there were probably musical instruments. Captain James Cook then ‘discovered’ (again?) Aotearoa in 1769. On any ship, there is always music. We all know this. Music is how people make their lives better. There is a ton of good music in New Zealand and it may be the last place to be truly discovered as a musical Nirvana.

My history will probably fail me, but I believe there were whalers around the shores in the early 1800s.

A lot of settlers came to New Zealand from England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. They bought mandolins, bagpipes, various stringed instruments, and probably some oboes.  This was all well before the eight track recorder. Maybe even a Lute or two. There were no publicists on board from what we know.

I’ll cut through now to a great period in NZ music probably from the 1940s and 1950s onwards. Great Maori show bands, rock ‘n’ roll (Johnny Devlin was our own star) and many other types of music including some great country music. There was a promoter from Mosgiel in Otago called Joe Brown, and he made a difference to the whole country. Gore is now the country music capital of New Zealand.

Music, a few decades ago in New Zealand, was a mixture of what we heard (being so isolated from the world) and what we made up. Good fun it was too. All radio was government until some dudes put a boat out in the Hauraki Gulf and called it ‘Radio Hauraki’. That stirred us all up immensely. Anything the government does is pretty staid after all. But no one can fight rhythm.

By 1967, and I’m really editing a lot out here, The Underdogs have arrived. Even by then, we’d already sent several bands and solo acts around the world. Long way to go, Snow.

Lots of people will have a different view, but I think the Underdogs were probably our prime blues band of that era or any other. The Blues Army Salvation (from Christchurch) were also pretty good. Oh hell, there were many. The tradition of good blues bands in New Zealand carries on to this day.

The Underdogs had many fine moments, and Sitting in the Rain was one of them.


Keep the Faith,


Jim Wilson