Monday, December 22, 2008

Folk Tui finalists announced 2008

The finalists for New Zealand’s Best Folk Album of 2008 include an enduring crooner, a celebrated bluegrass band and a trio of relative new kids on the block.

Cardrona-based singer-songwriter Martin Curtis is joined by the evergreen Hamilton County Bluegrass Band and Dunedin trio Delgirl in the finalist line-up announced today 22 December by the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ).

Curtis’ ninth album of New Zealand folk songs is titled ‘Sea To Summit’ and features a range of new songs, several of which have already attracted local and offshore interest. ‘Sir Ed’ has been picked up by Kiwi Kids Songs for inclusion in its next release and the album is airing regularly on BBC Radio in Cardiff and Gloucester.

Currently Curtis’ main focus is on school work, presenting a programme for primary children about New Zealand history, wildlife, conservation and way of life. The work has also spread to regular visits to schools in the UK, where he illustrates his ‘Kiwi’ show with posters and pictures of New Zealand.

Formed in the 1960s, the Hamilton County Bluegrass Band continues its legacy of authentic bluegrass music with a Kiwi twist. The band’s fifth and latest album is ‘Way Down South’ which features 13 tracks. The title song is a Paul Trenwith original, recounting his first appearance at American festivals where he was accepted as true Southerner and ‘bluegrass musician.’ The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band is still the first and only New Zealand band to play The Grand Ole Opry in theUSA. Compared to Curtis and the Hamilton bluegrass quintet, the Delgirl trio is a relative newcomer.

Formed eight years ago the girls admit to playing “skiffily, folky, country, jazzy, bluesy roots music with a Pacific edge bordering a swamp”. ‘Two, Maybe Three Days Ride’ is the debut album from Delgirl’s Deirdre Newall, Erin Morton and Lynn Vare. ‘Ride’ from the album has been selected by NZ Trade & Enterprise to feature on a music placement export disc entitled New Zealand-New Music which is distributed to music supervisors in TV/Film worldwide.

Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ) CEO Campbell Smith likes the spread of folk styles across the finalist artists. “Folk music has wide appeal in New Zealand across many different styles,” Smith says. “And, it’s great to see that we have three finalists with quite different approaches”. The Folk Music Tui for the best album of 2008 is to be presented on Sunday 25 January at the final concert of the Auckland Folk Festival. The Auckland Folk Festival is held in Kumeu (West Auckland) from the 23 to 26 January 2009 (

NOTE TO EDITORS:The Tui for Best Folk Album 2008 is for recordings released between 16 November 2007 – 15 November 2008The Folk category was introduced to the awards in 1984. Recent previous winners of the Tui for Best Folk Album

2005 - Lorina Harding for the album ‘Clean Break’
2006 - Ben the Hoose (Kenny Ritch and Bob McNeill) for ‘The Little Cascade’
2007 – Phil Garland for his 18th album ‘Southern Odyssey’.Or refer to http://www.nzmusicawards/ (see history section).

Finalists’ websites
Hamilton County Bluegrass Band:

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sam Sampson

Dominion Post 13/12/2008:

SAMPSON Charles William. "Sam the Fluid Druid of Stewart Island"._Sam passed away peacefully at home with friends on Monday 8th December 2008, at Stewart Island, aged 65 years.Privately cremated. Sam would like to welcome all his friends and colleagues to a memorial service to celebrate his life at the Stewart Island Community Hall on Monday 15th December at 2:00pm.Messages to PO Box 65, Stewart Island, New Zealand.Avenal Park Funeral.

One of our original kiwi folkies back in the 60s.She'll be right mate!
Robyn Park
I was sorry to hear of Sam's passing. I recall the times at Frank & Mary Fye's Balladeer coffee lounge in Willis Street around 1965, when Sam would appear, pretty much fresh from the bush & perform his own & collected poems. I believe he was an avid tramper & tall stories, poems & songs were often shared in tramping huts. Sam has now joined those other loved & missed performers of that era: Frank F, Max Winnie & Warwick Brock...Boy, that place fair hummed at times, with others too, such as Val Murphy, Frank Povah, Ron Davis, Joan Prior & Bill Taylor, not forgetting Mitch Park & others who's names slip my mind.

Rest in peace, Sam.
Best...Dave Hart
Al and I remember Sam Sampson from the days of the sixties.He was a regularperformer at The Devonport FC when it was held in the Church Street churchhall and also the Wynyard Tavern. A compelling performer, he stays vividlyalive for me because of his incandescent singing of The Lags Song. So passionate a rendering. It was astounding singing to me, just a youngteenager then.
We were also fond of his hairy mein and roman sandals/black seaman's jerseypersona. Al's mum came across him recently in Stewart Island, he was a tour guide and noted character down that way. By his look and his singing Jean Young asked if he knew of the DFMC and he remembered many of us by name and fondly recalled his times in the clubs and parties of Auckland. A true original who lived life to his own prescription, he is fondly remembered by us and, I'm sure, many others who came across him.
Beverly Young
Very sad news indeed. Sam hadn't been well for some time, but his demise was still somewhat unexpected.
Sam Sampson was one of Folk Music's great characters with his big black bushy beard, booming voice and enthusiastic persona and a lovely bloke to boot. He will be fondly remembered by many for his contributions to the folk scene by way of singing Peter Cape songs, which one could almost swear were written especially for and about him.
Sam and I became good mates over the years and I managed to spend time with him on Stewart Island on a number of occasions and certainly whenever I was performing in the area. I doubt if I would have ever sung on the Island as many times as I did, if it hadn't have been for Sam's ongoing support and encouragement. He was a keen tramper and knew many bawdy tramping songs from his days as a member of the Victoria University Tramping Club, going on to spend some time as an outdoor pursuits teacher at Rotoiti and later Tautuku during the 1970s & 80s.
From all accounts school kids absolutely adored him. He used to visit my family in Chch regularly back then and and my kids loved hearing his bedtime stories, which he spontaneously composed, weaving each of their names into the tales and stories he was telling. Sam collected many yarns, stories and songs along the way and was happy to share them with anyone who was interested. he manage to incorporate some of these into his spiel while transportng tourists around his beloved Stewart Island. N.Z. Folklore Society archives have preserved a few of his observations and verses etc.... some of which will appear in my forthcoming book "Faces in the Firelight."
I have many stories to share about me old mate, but this one in particular truly resonated with me. In my collecting/songcatching capacity, I often asked Sam to record some of his Kiwi songs for posterity, but he always declined saying he wasn't ready yet. One day in the early 1980s he arrived on my doorstep clutching a large bottle of whisky and announced himself by saying "Phil I'm ready mate, do your thing!" I spent the next few hours recording every Kiwi song he could remember punctuated by copious swigs from the bottle........It became a very special evening. That invaluable tape is now in N.Z. folklore archives. I'm really going to miss Sam and his spontaneous phone calls from Stewart Island whenever he'd had a few too many drams. This world is a far worse place without his presence.
You may have gone mate but not forgotten!
RIP Sam Sampson
Phil Garland
Likewise, I am saddened to hear news of Sam's passing.
Compared to others on this list, I had only a short-term acquaintance with Sam, comprising some long whisky-fueled phone calls and a visit to his Oban abode in January 2007. We were there on Stewart Island to do some tramping and learned from Sam how he'd helped pioneer the epic northwest circuit route back in the 1970-80s, cutting the track and helping with the hut construction. Just another string to his bow.
Sam told us an interesting anecdote about the 1960s folk scene. Apparently there was a folk concert in the Wellington Town Hall for the benefit of theNZ Folklore Society in the mid-late-1960s. The concert was being live broadcast on 2YA. All was going well until Sam stepped up and launched into"Kiwi Keith's Back Again", his own piece about Keith Holyoake being re-elected in 1966. As lines such as "Since Holyoake's been elected / Thepoor will be neglected / We'll be standing on the breadlines once again" resounded around the hall, the radio broadcast mysteriously ran intotechnical difficulties and could not be resumed. Perhaps others may know more about this case of state censorship of NZ folk music...?
Michael Brown
After getting computer sorted and catching up on messages feel I have to express my sadness at Sam's passing. Like others on the list I too have so many memories of the man and they will stay forever.
Briefly I would like to share a couple with the list. Sam was a frequent visitor to home and also to my mother to whom he was unfailing kind and gentlemanly (I realise that this may surprise some who knew him as a larger than life character). My mother liked him immensly along with some others no longer with us eg; Brockie. Frank Fyfe. She enjoyed his company and I would find them both in animated discussion laughing and smiling - she always said Sam was so good to see.
Personally my favourite memory comes from a time in the early 1990's when I was working as a salesman for one of the North Canterbury Wineries making sales trips arond the South Island. On one of those trips I was in Invercargill and had called into the Hotel/Restaurant opposite the railway station. I was in the main entrance to the Hotel concluding a good sale when the door behind me from the street opened and a familiar voice asked if a room was available. Upon being asked by the manager what was he doing there the reply came that he had just flown over from Stewart to collect his tax refund from 3 years before! I turned round saying, "Gidday Sam" whereupon his reply was, "Good grief ! A little Garland - what are you doing here " . As a result Sam took me out to dinner that night at a upmarket restaurant and insisted on paying pointing out he could afford it. Sadly that was the last time I saw him altho' like Phil I did receive those spontaneous phone calls from time to time. I'll miss him.
Mike Garland