Dexter N. Muir, Folk Music


Herewith, a little history...

 I have been a "Folkie" since the 1960s, though I have been playing music of all sorts for somewhat longer than that.

 My musical career started in early childhood, during the '50's Rock'n'Roll era: I'd sing along to Elvis and Buddy. My mother told me that if I did not sing myself to sleep, I'd cry myself to sleep - she let me sing...  She also took me to Caledonian (Scottish) Society dances, so I grew up knowing Jimmy Shand stuff by heart. I can remember when she bought our first radio-gram and first record! The radio-gram was a Columbus, and the record was Les Wilson the Otago Rambler. I grew up listening to Burl Ives, Slim Dusty (he of "Pub With No Beer" fame), Howard Morrison Quartet (Battle of the Waikato) - simple but memorable tunes. I've not heard many of them for ages, but still remember and play them...

 I took piano lessons at about age eight to nine, some privately, then some at a Convent. Since then I have only rarely touched keyboards (and then only with great trepidation), though I value that early training - the theory was of far more value than the instrumental application.

 Our family travelled a lot - pianos, being non-portable, were an encumbrance, and a stroke of genius from a passing drunkard in Auckland's Queen Street on a wet Friday night saw me the proud recipient of a guitar for my 10th birthday - a Suzuki No. 7, which I retired only after starting work.

 Folk Music 'grabbed' me in the late '60s, with influences of  The Seekers, Pentangle and Steeleye Span, James Taylor, Cat Stevens and Crosby, Stills, Nash (&Young) through into the '70's "hippie" era. It was 1975, however, before I started playing for the Public.
One of my many short-term employments around that time was as a forest Fire-watcher (no, not watching it burn, watching to see that it didn't!) at Hanmer Springs Forest Park, and I had little to do except watch the view and play guitar for 6 months. I learned to finger-pick on a (Morris Dreadnought) 12-string, (bought from one of my short-term employers)!

 Not long after that, I travelled in Australia for 4 months, took the "Indian-Pacific" (train) from Sydney to Perth across the Nullarbor and met a fellow Folkie (Francois) on it. We swapped songs and stories in the Club Car all the way, and were never short of a drink - the other passengers 'paid for the entertainment'! The first night in Perth was my 'baptism of fire'.
Here was I, a fresh-faced Kiwi used to quiet weekends (and 6 o'clock closing in pubs), in a city where the pubs were going full-on on Sunday nights! The Ocean Beach at Cottesloe had a resident artist, and Francois had invited me. Little did I know, he had also let on I played, and I got hauled up by the collar and commanded: SING! It seems I did a respectable job, too - Francois' flatmates in Perth were mostly Folkies, and I teamed up with the fiddler (Bullfrog) and played a few pubs in the 10 days I was there.
Return to Sydney was via Adelaide and Melbourne, I worked a couple of months and then went up to Brisbane and Cairns. Another 'first night in town music event' - the local Folk club was that night! I diffidently offered my efforts, and was rewarded with generous applause. A local tour, and the bus driver was the Club M.C... One of the stops on the tour was a lake with a boat trip, and the lady serving Devonshire Teas on board had been at the Club (60 miles each way just for Folk Club - that's Dedication!), and gave me a complimentary cup (thanks, if you are reading this - yes, I do remember :-).

 On return to Christchurch, I found myself with little to do of an evening, and I had discovered the Victorian Coffee Gallery in the Artists' Quarter (no longer there :-( ... I played there for 3 years solid, virtually every night, the first 2 years for the 'helluvit' (unpaid). This was a great confidence-builder: the 'crazies' who haunted the place were very supportive, even suggesting material at times, and occasional early mornings discussing musical politics and business (Was that birdsong? Crikey, it's 6am!).  During this time I discovered how "Folkie" some of the Rock groups were - Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, Yes, Led Zeppelin... and kept abreast of Folk-Rock too - Lindisfarne and

 Most of the above has been concerned with my 'solo' career - interspersed with this (and sometimes concurrently), I have played in bands, too. Bush bands (several), a Bluegrass band, and numerous Irish bands. I have also taken great delight in accompanying singers, some also instrumentalists. Over the years, I have also attended many Festivals all over New Zealand (my first was National Banjo Pickers' Convention, 1969, with Mike Seeger featuring!), and enjoy the social opportunities - meeting new faces, making new friends, catching up with friends and acquaintances from years gone by - as well as the fresh material and techniques picked up in 'one-on-one' asides....

 I have lost count of the guitars I have had - the current list is:

 * Yamaha APX9/12 12-string (main workhorse, and darling of my life :-), bought at great sacrifice while a Student, to replace the Morris dreadnought 12 (stolen - I still miss that beauty :,-( ...
* Epiphone FT-145 "Texan" 6-string, bought from a Maori lady friend, and treasured...
* Recital (Japanese) Classical, bought from a friend on the West Coast (South Island, New Zealand),
* Diplomat (cheap Japanese) semi-acoustic 6, bought on a whim and rarely played,
* Idol (cheap Japanese) semi-acoustic Bass, bought recently - I'm having a lot of fun with it, but it's not my first choice,
* Ibanez 513 mandolin - another recent purchase, and fun in Irish 'sessions'.


So much for the instruments and history - here's a recent frame, grabbed and cropped, from a video of my feature night (4/19/1996) at Levin Folk Club. The guitar is the APX9/12.

 The local Folk Club re-activated in 1996 (after a hiatus of over a year), and I am on Committee.
I have served thus before, and was President several years ago. The Club meets at the Theosophical Society hall each Friday night, and is a valuable forum, my main outlet for playing to an audience.

 I have recently accompanied Kylee Maloney, a lady with a very pure voice (a la Judith Durham) in a wide range of material - ABBA, English Trad, Contemporary Australian Folk, you name it... mostly known, but occasional new items (keeps me alive and learning!). Kylee has since gone on to record her own album, based on the studio work we did together, but with far more capable backing artists. I'm honoured to have given her the boost!

 I have scanned to file some of my long years' worth of collected songs, and here they are, Hot off the Scanner. More may be added later if space and time permit, and further editing will occur (they are still mistake-ridden).

 I have also recently discovered ABC, and particularly ABC2Win, a means of transmitting tunes as text, displaying as Stave, and playing as speaker-beep.  Here are some of the tunes I know.


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