History

The Christchurch Folk Music Club are piecing together the history of the club and the Canterbury Folk Festival. We look forward to uncovering new information about those that have shared the enjoyment of music before us and we welcome contributions, photos, programmes, reviews, articles, clippings etc.

To submit these or to contact the secretary please e-mail secretary@folkmusic.org.nz



The Folk Boom & Beyond

Folk music has been an integral part of the Christchurch music scene since the early 1960s. Various coffee bars around the city began hosting singers and groups well before the University Of Canterbury Folk Music Club was officially born in 1964. Each weekend, places like the Attic, The Landing, No 17, Albatross and El Segundo and the Student Union building (which later became the Dux de Lux bar and restaurant) presented local singers, many of whom were literally just singing for their supper - coffee, hot chocolate and toasted sandwiches!

The idea of forming folk music clubs in the universities was first mooted during the New Zealand University Arts Festival of 1963. The Canterbury University Folk Music Club was the first to be launched in 1964 and membership quickly reached 1000 or more. Their regular meetings encouraged people to not only share their passion for the music, but to swap musical ideas and help musicians learn simple and sometimes more complex guitar finger picking styles from each other. Hugh Canard, Neil Pickard, Bruce King and Steve Dakin were at the forefront of this communal sharing. When the club's first major public concert was put on at the Repertory Theatre in Kilmore Street later that same year, it drew a full house and proved to be a roaring success.

History of the Christchurch Folk Music Club

The Varsity folk club thereafter continued to hold an annual concert, which eventually became so popular that by 1967 and 68 a four night season was the order of the day in the Ngaio Marsh Theatre on the University campus at Ilam. A full dress rehearsal would be scheduled for the Wed night, which more often than not played to a packed house, followed by formal concert nights Thursday through to Saturday, all of which were fully booked in advance.

History of the Christchurch Folk Music Club

Folk music could be heard everywhere - on the university campus, at teacher's college, and in coffee bars, the most popular of which was the El Segundo in Victoria Street. During this 'boom' time school visits were undertaken by club members eventually culminating in a children's national TV show "Ah Dee Doo Dah Day" produced by Peter Muxlow and which ran for two seasons featuring local Christchurch artists:- Hugh Canard, Christine Smith, Jae Renaut, Tony Brittenden and Phil Garland.

History of the Christchurch Folk Music Club

Many folk musicians treated the Gresham Hotel in Cashel Street as their local watering hole, rubbing shoulders with artists, actors, writers, university students and other local 'bohemian' characters. These were the days of 6 o'clock closing and often on a Friday night the drinkers often moved on masse to continue partying at notorious student flatting venues around the town. Two such places were an infamous flat in Holly Road, where a few folkies lived communally and a large student boarding house in Rugby Street. Music became an integral part of these gatherings, some of which managed to continue unabated throughout the weekend.

Eventually the folk scene found its first regular home every Sunday in a cellar at the King Bee, which would later become the Stage Door (home base to local rhythm & blues band, The Chants) located in Hereford Place. It was a dark and moody venue, demonstrating all the right ambience and atmosphere for presenting alternative music. It was here the Band of Hope Jug Band made its first public appearance and from that moment on many subsequent folk music events came to rely heavily on their drawing power. People flocked to hear folk music, which seemed to have so much more to offer the younger 'intellectual' generation of the day.

History of the Christchurch Folk Music Club

In 1965, at my instigation, the music relocated to the Plainsman Niteclub in Lichfield Street. These premises were still being used as an entertainment venue and restaurant until as recently as 2008 but alas were demolished along with so many other buildings after the Christchurch earthquake. The Plainsman had been Christchurch's first sophisticated Niteclub and operated as such from Tuesday to Saturday, (doubling as an after-hours musicians club on Saturday nights after closing time) and now presenting folk music on Sundays. In those conservative times there was no other entertainment available in the city on a Sunday (aside from the occasional movie) and it became quite commonplace to host crowds of up to 300 people and turning away another 100 or so at the door. Folk music was riding the crest of a wave with the folk boom in full swing. The Plainsman played host to a number of fine singers and musicians:- Warwick Brock, Bruce King, Bill Taylor, Ron Davis, Frank Povah, Annie Whittle (later to make her name as a professional actor and singer) Jolyon Stewart, Nigel Priestley, Geoff Lowe, Christine Smith, Hugh Canard, John Lander, Jae Renaut, Bernie Cherry, Paul Slade, Dave Montgomery, Richard Nunns, Lisa & Steven McCurdy, Lyn Holstein, Tony Brittenden, Phil Garland, Jo McMenamin, Steve Dakin, Wendy Thurston, Al Greet, Arnie & Dot Evans, Biddy, Val Murphy, Dave Hart, Jeff Skinner, Eric McEachen, a couple of double bass players Miles Reay, who would later join The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band, and Ivan Wilson, in company with a host of others, many of whose names have somehow escaped my memory.

Each year the New Zealand University circuit hosted a cultural arts festival, which depended heavily on folk music throughout the 1960s era. This enabled folk singers and musicians to travel around the country performing for new audiences and there always seemed to be a wealth of performers in every town or city, certainly wherever a university campus was located. However, there were a number of other fine singers outside the accepted university scene, which in reality owed its very existence to the college folk boom in USA. Although much of our early folk music relied heavily on American folk and blues music, visits from such luminaries as The Kingston Trio, Josh White, Judy Collins, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee in company with British artists Robin Hall & Jimmie McGregor and the Clancy Brothers opened up further possibilities for local performers. Folkies like Warwick Brock and Bill Taylor (fortified by frequent sips of Tullamore Dew from stone crocks) started leading their audiences in singing rousing Clancy Brothers style Irish and Scottish songs, rollicking sea shanties and bawdy ballads to great and lasting effect. Later on when unaccompanied English songs came into favour these were also sung with great gusto and myriad harmonies at many folk sessions and parties around the town.

What was to become an important step in the history of Christchurch folk music occurred in 1967, on my return home from an overseas trip to Britain and Europe via South Africa and Australia. My trip had been a real eye opener in more ways than one - I came back convinced that Christchurch deserved its own venue solely presenting folk music. To this end I started the Folk Centre (mark one) in the defunct Copper Cat coffee bar at the lower end of High Street. With some expert carpentry assistance from my father, and further interior decorating help from my brother Mike Garland, Dave Hart and Christine Smith, we converted the premises into a folk club, initially running two nights a week - Saturday & Sunday.

History of the Christchurch Folk Music Club

The Folk Centre opened with a flourish in October 1967 featuring two special guests Max Winnie & Frank Fyfe flown in from Wellington especially for the weekend. Although relatively short-lived (just over a year) the venue proved so successful its opening hours were extended to include Friday nights as well.

History of the Christchurch Folk Music Club

Emerging artists were encouraged to present their music in a sympathetic environment and one such person was the late Alistair Hulett, a fresh faced 16 year old schoolboy recently arrived from Scotland. Alistair was already singing British traditional songs and Child ballads mixed with Ewan MacColl compositions, which was a pretty impressive repertoire for a 16 year old lad in 1967. Alistair went on to make a real impact on the New Zealand folk music scene, not only as a solo artist, but as founder and front person for Croodin Cant, an unaccompanied singing group in the style of The Watersons and The Young Tradition. He also founded local progressive folk rock band The Waite before leaving for Australia, where he continued to make his mark fronting the highly successful folk punk band 'Roaring Jack' before eventually returning to his native Glasgow. His arrival in Scotland finally cemented his position as a revolutionary socialist singer / songwriter in the folk tradition but he unfortunately succumbed to cancer at the relatively young age of 58 in January 2010. This kind and gentle man possessed an immense talent, and his music and dedication to the socialist cause will long be remembered.

Alistair Hulett aged 15
Alistair Hulett aged 15

History of the Christchurch Folk Music Club

"We decided to brave the trip on the inter-island ferry in June and spend the weekend in Christchurch. The main object of this was to see the Folk Centre for ourselves. Phil Garland will be pleased to know that our impressions were good. It is about the same size as the 'Poles Apart' but seems more spacious due to the different arrangement of seating. The most striking feature is a large photographic mural on one wall, which is very good and rather unusual. Posters on the walls give quite a good effect, while the lighting and sound system is also good. For once, looking at it from a woman's point of view, there is a decent sized kitchen, twice the size of any other folk coffee bar I have visited, which is a pleasant and welcome change. The entertainment was of a good standard the night I was there, with a visiting artist ably supported by local singers. Service was also good, only complaint being the way the saucers attach themselves to the cups when you pick them up and then drop with a resounding clatter. If I were compiling an AA handbook of folk coffee bars, this would merit a four or five star placing and well worth paying a visit. The prices are even reasonable!" A review by Sharyn Harris for Heritage Magazine

However the continuing commercial success of the club depended hugely on regular performances from the likes of the Band of Hope Jug Band and the Instantaneous String Band featuring Clive Collins, Brian Egan & Jim Doak. During this period the Folk Centre also hosted The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band who played to a full house in 1968.

The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band
The Hamilton County Bluegrass Band

Band of Hope Jug Band - circa 1968
Band of Hope Jug Band - circa 1968
(L to R:- Phil Garland, Bill Hammond, Chris Grosz, Gordon Collier, Dobbin, Warwick Brock)

Without these groups and their dedicated followers the Folk Centre may not have lasted as long as it did. The Jug Band even recorded two albums on the premises over a couple of weekends in 1968. However when the landlord moved to increase the rent, I reluctantly decided to close the doors, but not without a defiant finale featuring Frank Fyfe once again as special guest. During the year we'd been open the premises had experienced some memorable performances from the likes of Paul Marks, John Hayday, Max Winnie, Frank Fyfe, Gordon Collier, the Hamilton County Bluegrass Band, Christine Smith, Hugh Canard, The Instantaneous String band, The Band of Hope Jug Band and The Woolly Daggs Bush Band, a group which later morphed into the highly acclaimed Canterbury Crutchings Bush & Ceilidh Band.

Woolly Daggs Bush Band 1967
Woolly Daggs Bush Band 1967
(L to R:- Warwick Brock, Gordon Collier, Vic Brown, Frank Fyfe, Dave Hart, Mike Garland, Phil Garland)

The Folk Centre also hosted a couple of great after-hours sessions with the Dubliners during the first of their nationwide tours. People have often remarked on my likeness to Barney McKenna (banjo player with the group) so the first time we met Barney looked at me and turning to Luke Kelly, said "dat's me brudder" and we got on like the proverbial house on fire.... on subsequent visits Barney always greeted me with "look dere's me brudder again." Barney has a cousin living in Perth, Australia and one day she saw me approaching her down the street and thought I was Barney so the likeness must have been very close to fool some of his own family. After their return home they were interviewed by Melody Maker in England about their impressions of New Zealand and they described the country as being a bit like Ireland on a Sunday. A number of the local folkies were nursing very sore heads for quite a few days after each visit by the Dubliners and were left truly pondering just how anyone could manage to survive the endless round of partying with the enduring Dubliners.

"It was a year almost to the day from the time it opened that the 'Folk Centre' in Christchurch closed. During that year, for three nights each week a real effort was made to present to the public a good sampling of the kind of folk music found in the country and frequenters had the opportunity of seeing some of the finest performers at present in New Zealand. The Folk Centre wasn't really a club, it wasn't really a coffee bar, it wasn't really a concert auditorium, but at various times and to varying degrees, it was all of those things. Phil Garland's idea was just as the name suggests to have a place, where singers could present their material in an essentially informal manner. The singers liked it, but the public it seems were a little slow in catching on. Of course to be 'attractive' to a large enough audience (and who alas ensures that the rent is paid) you don't dare present material with which they are unfamiliar..You have to be trendy and 'with-it' and stick entirely to the 'ones we all know and love' presented in a manner calculated to offend nobody and to approximate the arrangements of the latest folk idols. You certainly don't dare present indigenous material lacking in polish or flashiness. The Folk Centre did. It is indeed fortunate that all folk music doesn't conform to the A & R man's 'made in Tin Pan Alley' image - the image unfortunately supplied to the potential audiences in places like the Folk Centre. Folk Music is and always has been a minority interest and the minority of steady interest in Christchurch was not large enough to ensure the survival of a place devoted entirely to the presentation of folk music. Without the gimmicky pull of the 'Band of Hope' it is doubtful the Folk Centre could have survived even one year. The closing weekend was like a gathering of old mates. It was something of a wake with old friends delighting in once again being together, but slightly sad at the reason they are together. Warwick Brock (fresh from his nuptials) was up from Dunedin and, like the opening weekend a year earlier led his mates into what was one of the best shanty sessions ever. Gordon Collier, too, came up from Dunedin and Dave Hart, long a stalwart, came down from Wellington as also did Frank Fyfe. Most of the local singers including John Hayday, Jae Renaut, Alistair Hulett, Christine Smith, and of course Phil Garland were there. So too were large numbers of the citizenry, come to be entertained, to gloat, to get boozed at a possible party? Who knows - who cares? Phil Garland deserves our admiration for closing rather than selling out."
The Folk Centre Closes by Bill Reynolds for Heritage Magazine



Frank Fyfe at The Folk Centre 1967
Frank Fyfe at The Folk Centre 1967

The Christchurch folk scene reverted back to weekly Sunday nights, making use of whatever venue was available and prepared to host local performers. The Trinidad restaurant in upper High Street stepped into the breach for a few months, despite not really being the perfect Sunday night venue and a few gatherings were also held in the El Segundo, a coffee bar which had always been sympathetic to folk music. Meanwhile a couple of solo singers (Alistair Hulett and Phil Garland) started singing together regularly at The Upper Crust Restaurant in Gloucester Street on Saturday nights, but after having experienced the wonderful ambience, atmosphere and regular concerts at the original Folk Centre, local folkies continued to hanker for something more than just another evening at some nondescript city coffee bar or restaurant. So in November 1968, at a well-attended meeting of some 40 enthusiasts in the Garland family living room in Opawa the Banks Peninsula Folk Club was born. A committee of five enthusiasts was elected with yours truly at the helm as its first president and we once again set about searching for suitable premises. Within a few weeks a disused coffee bar was located in Bedford Row and the newly elected club committee of Phil and Mike Garland, Phil Maxwell, Hugh Isdale and Bill De Fries was looking at taking over the lease of the premises, which fortunately included all the interior fittings such as tables, chairs, bar and kitchen appliances. Here was a custom built folk club and everything was made possible through the generosity of a long term interest free loan from committee member Phil Maxwell. He made the wonderful gesture of a no strings attached loan without any time limit on repayment. The club now had its first permanent home aptly named the Folk Centre (mark two) cashing in on the goodwill originally generated by the previous establishment. After a general makeover, giving it some much needed character and atmosphere with a décor of folk concert posters and vintage musical instruments, the new premises opened in August 1969 and began operating regular concert nights on Saturdays and Sundays with a club night on Mondays. The new club proved such an instant success, that it was decided to try for an all-night session on Fridays once late night shopping was over. Although these sessions were certainly popular, none managed to last much beyond 3am. However the premises were in constant use with guitar lessons being conducted by yours truly during lunch-breaks and after work a couple of nights a week.

The Folk Centre became exactly what the name suggested and thrived for almost six years in its Bedford Row premises. The Friday all-nighters ran on a come-all-ye basis (open stage) and seldom lacked for singers. Saturdays and Sundays were concert nights featuring 3 booked acts plus myself as the resident performer, opening and closing each evening's entertainment. Booked artists usually played for 30 - 40 minutes with a 10 -15 minute interval between them. I would then finish off the evening, often remaining on stage for well over an hour accepting and playing requests from the audience. It was not unusual to see a few budding singers taking notes and learning the words to songs during some of the artist's appearances. I later learned from a certain member of the audience, who regularly requested songs that he was actually writing them down so he could learn them. One only needed to ask for the words and I would have obliged without all the subterfuge. Monday night was Club night, where you could expect to see and hear a variety of performers, some of whom were taking their first tentative steps in playing before a sympathetic and generally appreciative audience. A number of excellent singers and musicians began their musical careers at these informal sessions. However all this activity lost its momentum when the Folk Centre had to close prematurely in 1974 after the site was sold for demolition to make way for a parking lot - a purpose it was still fulfilling up to the very day of the Christchurch earthquake over 30 years later!

During its all too brief existence, the Folk Centre had done much to promote and centralise folk music in Christchurch. Not only did it provide an excellent venue for live performances, but it also encouraged up and coming singers by giving them a chance to perform - probably one of the most impressive was Rosa Shiels (still performing today) while the most enduring was expatriate Irishman Pat Grant, who not only performed solo but also as frontman for local Irish group The Beggarmen - pictured here.

History of the Christchurch Folk Music Club

Another of the more unusual groups who entertained regularly at the club was The Blues Alley Spasm Band, playing a combination of blues and jug band music but without the jug.

Blues Alley Spasm Band circa late 1960s
Blues Alley Spasm Band circa late 1960s

Rosa Shields takes great delight in telling the story of her first attempt to sing at the Folk Centre. I auditioned her (as I did with all newcomers) and told her she wasn't quite ready but to go away and continue practicing. This she duly did (she says she practised madly for a couple of years before I finally relented and allowed her on the 'venerable' Folk Centre stage.) She went on to become a regular performer on the local scene and later joined the cast of the musical Hair touring throughout Australia and New Zealand. She has continued singing successfully and regularly around the country for many years, not just solo, but also in company with good friend and musician extraordinaire Graham Wardrop.

Lynn Pyke / Clark
Lynn Pyke / Clark

 Rosa Shiels
Rosa Shiels

The Folk Centre stayed open every weekend throughout the year as there were always out of town visitors coming through the door. One Easter weekend, Auckland bluesman Alan Young arrived, unheralded fresh from the National Festival in Wellington, to find a packed folk club despite many regulars being away attending the Festival in Wellington. He was amazed at how the club could manage to operate so well and continue to thrive with many regular patrons away. However there were always new people visiting Christchurch on long weekends and they would actively seek out the Folk Centre for their entertainment needs. During its heady lifetime the club built up an impressive library of records, song and tutor books, but unfortunately this wonderful resource eventually fell by the way as some people started regularly abusing the system by not returning items they had borrowed. However the club still has the bones of that library quietly operating today but without the serious interest that once kept it afloat.

Occasional tours by national and overseas artists started during this era and the club hosted a number of fine concerts during its heyday. Performers such as Mike & Alice Seeger (USA) Danny Spooner, Gordon McIntyre, The Bushwackers and Bullockies Bush Band, Keith Finlayson (Australia) Leo Ready, (Canada) Alan Young, Paul Metsers, Croodin Cant, John Hayday & Penny Evison, Lynne Pike - Clark, Sharon O'Neill, Alistair Hulett, Serenity, Jean Reid and Stoney Lonesome to name but a few were some of the more memorable performers to grace the club stage. Sam Sampson, who later morphed into the Fluid Druid from Stewart Island, would occasionally drop in and entertain the locals in his own inimitable Kiwi way.
 Stoney Lonesome Band circa 1969 - 70
Stoney Lonesome Band circa 1969 - 70

At this juncture I must also mention some other performers who arrived in town and lent their musical talents to the diverse mix that helped make up the local folk scene. From Timaru, came John Mulholland, Wyn Drabble and Richard Oddie, all of whom became regulars at the club. Tony Hale arrived from Nelson around this time and quickly made his presence felt along with Dave Morrison from teacher's college and a duo comprising John Allison and Paula Feather, all helping to make the mix an extremely eclectic one.

During their visit to Christchurch, The Original Bushwackers and Bullockies Bush and Ceilidh Band were joined on stage by members of the occasional Woolly Daggs Bush Band and a great jam session was enjoyed by all. This visit inspired our casual bush band to look at becoming a more permanent entity and so the Canterbury Crutchings Bush and Ceilidh Band was born. Their first professional gig was a wedding dance for one time member and good mate Trevor Giblin on Montalto Station in Mid Canterbury and the occasion went so well that the band started to receive regular bookings from far and wide, which would keep them extremely busy for the next five years or so, culminating in appearances on national TV and doing the musical support for Steeleye Span at the Christchurch Town Hall, where they received a standing ovation for their performance. Barn dances became all the rage and other bands, inspired by the Crutchings were starting to appear around town and further afield as the barn dance craze underwent a whole new lease of life over the next 20 or 30 years. The Canterbury Crutchings disbanded by mutual agreement in 1977 after 5 years of constant playing, however there was still such a strong demand for the music that a new band Canterbury Bush Orchestra rose from the ashes just a few months later. Featuring 4 members from The Crutchings, the new band continued performing long after I had left for Australia in 1987.
Canterbury Crutchings Bush and Ceilidh Band 1976
Canterbury Crutchings Bush and Ceilidh Band 1976

Meanwhile news of the quality of some of those early Folk Centre performers had begun to filter through the layers of the music business with a couple of entrepreneurs showing up to check them out. Both Barry Coburn and Robert Raymond made a couple of visits to the club and Raymond didn't go away empty handed being most taken with local contemporary / blues based group 'Serenity' booking them for the famed Sweetwaters Festival in the North Island.



Some of the more memorable occasions were the most unexpected, such as Dave Swarbrick of Fairport Convention dropping into the club unannounced to join the audience. Eventually he approached me and asked if he could perform provided someone had a spare guitar available. He took to the stage playing guitar and sang his own composition 'Rosie' among others. While this was happening, local expatriate Canadian fiddler Leo Ready arrived at the top of the stairs and spotted Dave on stage. He disappeared and returned a short time later clutching a couple of fiddles, which he took into the musician's tune-up room and was sitting there waiting for Swarb when he came off stage. Next moment there was a flurry of sound and some extraordinary fiddle playing could be heard emanating from the back room. The two of them had started jamming together and somehow we were able to gently ease them towards the stage, where they continued to play for the next 3 to 4 hours almost non-stop. The impromptu performance then took on the appearance of a giant jam session as a few locals joined in accompanying them on stage. Needless to say no-one left the premises early that amazing Saturday night. Leo returned to Canada a few years later and on a recent visit to Christchurch told me he ran into Dave Swarbrick in Canada about twenty years later and Swarbrick immediately recognised and remembered him from that massive jam session at the Christchurch Folk Centre all those years before.

The night Mike & Alice Seeger performed, the club was so packed it was standing room only. Because of the full house our guests were unable leave the stage to take a break, so drinks were ferried overhead by the audience members to enable them to quench their thirst. Other well-known visitors who dropped by have included:- Tom Paxton, Lindisfarne, Bruce Woodley of The Seekers and the late Sir Howard Morrison.

 Danny Spooner
Danny Spooner

The continuing success of the Folk Centre also helped contribute to the opening of another popular venue in Christchurch, the Victorian Coffee Lounge on Oxford Terrace. This establishment eventually developed its own customer base, many of whom were university students from nearby hostels along with student nurses from Christchurch Public Hospital. The continuing appeal of the Club and earlier good fortune of Ah Dee Doo Dah Day inspired local TV producer Peter Muxlow to decide on filming a series of live folk music programmes based around a concert in the Hagley Park Band Rotunda, set amidst the daffodils during Spring 1972. Guest performers were brought in from around the country and many of these also appeared at the club throughout the weekend. The Folk Centre premises also featured on National Television during that Hagley Park weekend as well as for an episode of Living in New Zealand in 1970.

 Phil Garland at Hagley Park band Rotunda 1972
Phil Garland at Hagley Park band Rotunda 1972

After the Folk Centre had closed its doors the club again reverted to the tried and true Sunday night meetings, or wherever appropriate premises could be found. It set up a temporary home in the Forrester's Hall, Oxford Terrace, but sadly this building too was earmarked for demolition. The club subsequently moved to a semi-permanent location in the Arts Centre, where it remained, changing meeting rooms every so often for the next few years despite fluctuating attendances. Between them however, the various Arts Centre venues managed to host a few overseas touring artists in concert during these troubled times - such as Bob Fox & Stu Luckley, The McCalmans, Priscilla Herdman, Vin Garbutt on his very first tour, Gary & Vera Aspey, Margaret Roadknight & Eric Bogle from Australia among others. The club also tried presenting public concerts off site during the 1980s, hosting such luminaries as Martin Carthy and Steve Turner from England as well as Andy Irvine from Ireland.

In 1983 the Arts Centre management moved the club to the Peterborough Centre, where its home base remained reasonably settled for the next few years despite attendances ebbing and flowing amid the inevitable ever increasing rentals. Throughout these various relocations the Christchurch folk scene somehow managed to survive remaining relatively healthy and stable despite experiencing some minor speed bumps along the way. Meanwhile a number of singers and groups had begun to make their presence felt outside the folk club, due in no small way to the changing face of the music and the entertainment industry at large. The advent of smaller pubs and bars coupled with the upsurge of general interest in Irish Music made it easier to book folk musicians and Celtic bands outside the club. There is so much more variety in folk music styles and world music these days that cultural diversity has become a real catch phrase of modern folk society.



In 1975 a small enterprising committee headed by Charlie Jemmett, Annie Davies, Peter Morgan and Dave Moore was formed to organise the first Canterbury Folk festival, which was held at the Vintage Car Club grounds at McLeans Island. This event proved so successful that it was rescheduled for the following year with yours truly taking over the helm. That legacy remains to this very day. The festival has changed location a few times over the years, utilising Motukarara Racecourse, Diamond Harbour Domain, Amberley Domain, Brooklands and Wainui before settling on its present site at Waipara in North Canterbury. From the very beginning, the Festival endeavoured to give more exposure to local performers and at first the majority of guests were New Zealanders, allowing for only one or two overseas guests. These days however it is not unusual to find any number of overseas guests at the Canterbury Festival, with a much similar situation occurring at other major festivals around the country.

Eventually the original title of Bank's Peninsula folk club was deemed to be somewhat ambiguous and out of date by the committee so they decided to change the name to the Christchurch folk club, which has continued to prosper particularly under the guidance and leadership of Russell Gillies throughout the nineties and into the new millennium. The Club celebrated its 40th birthday in November 2008 and looked to be in good heart and shape for the future. I found it quite humbling and slightly surreal to realise that something I had started with no great aspirations way back in 1968 was still alive and well, let alone thriving. Long may it continue to do so.

The club regularly plays host to more and more artists (local and overseas) wanting to tour the country and these days there are almost too many performers in search of bookings to accommodate them all. Meanwhile finding a suitable long term venue has not been easy either, for just when everything seemed to be firmly settled with regular club nights at the Dux de Lux, Mother Nature decided to rock the city of Christchurch to its very foundations with a bit of a rather damaging earthquake. Once again the club had to relocate and find new premises prepared to host their regular Sunday night concerts. The Irish Society stepped into the breach, by offering up their Domain Terrace club rooms on a regular Sunday basis, which is where the club still remains at the time of writing.

 Dave Hart at Folk Club - 40th Anniversary
Dave Hart at Folk Club - 40th Anniversary

 Session at Folk club 40th Anniversary 2008
Session at Folk club 40th Anniversary 2008

Apologies to anyone who may have been inadvertently overlooked.

Phil Garland, QSM
2012

Folk Club Calendar

Show Weekend - Club Closed
19th November

Open Mic/ Kids Open Mic Night
26th November
Kids: 6.30pm - Adults: 7.30pm
$5 Members
$5 Non-members
$5 Students with ID


Tessa White & Jonathan Le Cocq with Lizzie Braggins
3rd December
Doors open 7.00pm - Performance starts at 7.30pm
$10 Members
$15 Non-members
$5 Students with ID


All in the Family Concert/ Christmas BBQ
10th December
Doors open 5.30pm
$8 Members
$12 Non-members
$5 Students with ID


Supported by Actrix
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