Thursday, December 13, 2007

NZ Folklore - Swaggers

From the nz-folk list:

I'm sure that you are aware of those excellent books by John A. Lee of the New Zealand swaggers - the colourful itinerants who roamed New Zealand in pioneering days seeking a living from doing odd jobs on the farms.

Many were returned soldiers from the Crimean War. Most were down on their luck and had to scrape a living using their wit and ingenuity to earn a crust, a drink and shelter for the night. Their honesty and integrity was legendary, but like the Irishman 'The Shiner' from County Clare, putting over a fast one on a publican was always good for a free drink - usually a shot of Jamieson.

Some were accomplished entertainers - step dancers, musicians, poets and balladeers.

The Shiner was an expert Irish jig dancer, and frequantly would win the various step dance contests at Caledonian Scottish Games etc. Indeed his exploits are the first references that we have for Irish step dancing in New Zealand. It remains for enthusiasts to search for further references to his exploits in the old newspapers of the times.

Meanwhile here is a lecture by John A. Lee rescued from an old recording - dating back to the 1960s. Incidentally his books are still in print from Amazon - "Shining with the Shiner" is a good one. (12.96Mb / 55mins : 20 secs)

Chris Brady

P.S. If anyone has a more complete version please let me know. The ending kind of peters out a bit. Also if anyone knows where and when it was recorded please let me know. Maybe it was one of Frank Fyfe's recordings?

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