| Visit Our Catalog at SteelGuitarShopper.com |

Post new topic Non-pedal steelers in New Zealand
Reply to topic
Author Topic:  Non-pedal steelers in New Zealand
Levi Gemmell

 

From:
New Zealand
Post  Posted 16 Feb 2017 1:26 am    
Reply with quote

Hi everybody! I hope I'm starting this thread in the right place.

My name is Levi Gemmell and I've been playing non-pedal steel here in New Zealand for just a year and a half now. I'm 22 and received my first steel, a '47-'48 MOTS Magnatone, for my 21st birthday. I have since acquired one of the legendary Commodore steel guitars made by Bunny Milne!

I dabbled in slide guitar and fingerstyle blues as a teenager, but have really set on the steel as not only an instrument that I want to devote my time to, but as something that I think is actually really important in many wider senses. I'm sure most of you agree.

On the first Sunday of December last year, I very sadly attended the last meeting of the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Club in Auckland, which was formerly a real branch of the HSGA before Mac McKenzie (RIP) passed away a few years ago. With the dissolution of the group after, I understand, decades, I find myself without a community. It was really special to me to see so many people (especially in old age) getting together and sharing with great love, something I believe many of them committed their whole lives to - as I have no doubt so many of you have as well. I probably got there five or six times in the past two years, but I was the only person my age - and I never saw a person (apart from my own friends) that was within twenty years of my age there. I cannot tell you how many times they insisted that I commit myself to this, how many times they encouraged me to persevere and learn this instrument, and keep something going. I found it really inspirational, and now I find myself here.

I have taken quite a few lessons with a man named Ralph Cocks, a lifelong steel guitar player (now 84) and former bandleader here in Auckland, who was an associate of Bill Sevesi, Bill Wolfgramm, Trevor Edmondson, Fred Radich, and many other great players who have since passed away. Those who know about the New Zealand scene will have heard of the Orange Ballroom in Newton where Bill Sevesi was resident bandleader. My man Ralph started out around 1950, and a picture of him has even made it into a famous book here in NZ called "Blue Smoke: The Lost Dawn of New Zealand Popular Music 1918-1964." For two to three years in the late '60s, my teacher Ralph was the resident bandleader at the Kings' Arms, one of NZ's most famous musical venues - at the same time Sevesi was just across the street.

Through Ralph and a few meetings I managed to attend, I have seen some other great players from New Zealand and these have all really inspired me to keep going.

I practice at home as much as I can, and use a variety of instructional materials (tablature from my teacher, Jerry Byrd instruction, old sheet music, King's Hawaiian Melodies, the Sonny Cunha book, and of course discreetly trying to learn from Dick McIntire recordings). However, I have nobody to form a group with, and it seems nobody outside my circle of friends is interested in this music being propagated in our community.

What I really want to know is: is there ANYBODY else out there who reads or posts on this forum, who plays non-pedal steel in New Zealand? I know of a few Weissenborn players who do blues and more avant-garde things, but I just cannot find the non-pedallers who play Hawaiian, C&W, jazz, or anything like that!! I need to get in touch with people, and get out there, because I love this thing just as much as all of you.

I look forward to posting and getting to know some of you, after two years of quietly spectating without an account. Looking back at this post I feel right at home already. Smile
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Jim Mckay

 

From:
New Zealand
Post  Posted 16 Feb 2017 12:47 pm    
Reply with quote

Welcome to Steel Guitar Forum Levi;
Personal email sent
Jim
_________________
Canopus d-8
Excel Jerry Byrd frypan
T-8 Stringmaster
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Paddy Long


From:
Christchurch, New Zealand
Post  Posted 16 Feb 2017 3:04 pm    
Reply with quote

Hi Levi, welcome to the Forum, and hi from Christchurch - unfortunately I don't know of anyone who plays non-pedal that I can hook you up with, but there is a few of us pedal steel players about who also play Lap and Dobro etc. Unfortunately Hawaiian music died out in popularity some decades ago here in NZ - perhaps you should look to broaden your musical horizons a little and try other genres as well - but thats a personal thing of course.

Anyway if I hear of anyone in your area I will be sure to let you know - I presume your from somewhere near Auckland ??
regards Paddy
_________________
14'Zumsteel Hybrid D10 9+9
08'Zumsteel Hybrid D10 9+9
94' Franklin D10 9+8
86' MCI Rangexpander D10 9+8
Telonics, Peterson, Steelers Choice, Benado, Red Dirt Cases.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Levi Gemmell

 

From:
New Zealand
Post  Posted 16 Feb 2017 7:54 pm    
Reply with quote

Hi Jim! Checked my emails but have not received anything. Look forward to hearing from you, believe I saw you at one of the meetings in Grey Lynn last year. Smile

Hi Paddy! Great to hear from you. I am living up in Auckland but I am actually a Cantabrian myself! Personally, I hope you and your loved ones have all been safe this past week; another hard time for us. Sad I think you may be right about broadening and trying other things. Do you ever attend the Papanui Country Music Club? Are there any other places you would recommend? I would love to get up and play a song or two next time I visit home!
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Don Hoten

 

From:
New Zealand
Post  Posted 16 Feb 2017 9:23 pm    
Reply with quote

Hi Levi,
Greetings from a fellow kiwi. I have exactly the same sentiments and was sorry to see the club close down.
We met at the last meeting at Grey Lynn before Xmas, in fact you played a few no's on my guitar.
Will email you to hopefully get a group started up or maybe a convention organised now and then as non pedal players are there, but thinly spread in the greater Auckland area.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Jim Mckay

 

From:
New Zealand
Post  Posted 19 Feb 2017 9:00 pm    
Reply with quote

Levi.

No luck with email
txt me on 0274521844
will reply with address

Jim
_________________
Canopus d-8
Excel Jerry Byrd frypan
T-8 Stringmaster
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Michael Greer


From:
Ontario, Canada
Post  Posted 20 Feb 2017 3:24 am    
Reply with quote

Levi

Goodmorning and welcome to the forum.

Encouraging to learn of a young man's interest in lap steel and Hawaiian music.

My journey was similar to yours as I was fortunate to receive initial instruction on lap steel from a veteran player.

I will always be grateful to George Rout who really got me started playing.

Hopefully you can connect with others in New Zealand.

If you get a chance perhaps you can post a picture of the Commadore lap steel.

They are one of the most ornate lap steels with all the metal decoration.
View user's profile Send private message

Marty Forrer

 

From:
New Zealand
Post  Posted 4 Apr 2017 2:30 pm    
Reply with quote

G'day! I live in Napier. I'm primarily a double bass player (I play in four bands of differing genres), and I've had a NZ made lap steel gathering dust for so long I've decided I'd better pull it out and learn it. My big problem is trying to decide what tuning to learn. I'm almost settled on open E because I'm familiar with a guitar and bass fingerboard, and because I want to use it in my americana band.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Levi Gemmell

 

From:
New Zealand
Post  Posted 5 Apr 2017 1:37 pm    
Reply with quote

Michael: I will post a picture of my Commodore in the favourite lap steel thread! I messaged to you that I would do it sometime ago, it is very beautiful and I think I will have to share it. Smile

Don: If you see this post, please get in touch with me!

Marty: Kia ora, mate! Is your steel a Commodore/Royal/Milton? Would love to see it! And if you're ever up in Auckland, get in touch with me.
_________________
Shot Jackson JB Frypan
‘65 Fender Stringmaster
‘66 Fender Super Reverb
1960s Commodore S8
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Marty Forrer

 

From:
New Zealand
Post  Posted 6 Apr 2017 8:20 pm    
Reply with quote

Hi Levi. It's a no name. the only reference I found was a sticker saying it was made in Palmerston North. It's quite crude but plays and sounds OK. A few years back I bought a pedal steel, a NZ made Monarch, made by a guy in Whangerei. It took me about a month to get it working correctly, and then I decided I didn't have the time to learn to play it, so I sold it. This pic is the pedal steel, I don't have one of the lap.

View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Rick Hearne

 

From:
Pennsylvania, USA
Post  Posted 8 Apr 2017 4:56 am    
Reply with quote

Hey Levi, my family lived in NZ in the mid fifties in Wellington. My father, Julian Hearne, was always a composer and before we shipped back state side he wrote a song called "Those Kia Ora Islands" that was recorded and performed by Morgan Clark with Bill Serversi and His Island Rhythm on the Tanza label in the Astor Recording Studios, Aukland. A few weeks ago I bought a turntable that can play 78s and brought it back to life. It has some really cool "island sound" lap steel and would be a shame if this style of music would disappear in Kiwi Land. I still hear and love it when I go to Hawaii. I'll try to record it to YouTube and put a link on here. I've been fooling around with it on my pp. Good luck! Rick
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

James Kerr


From:
Scotland, UK
Post  Posted 8 Apr 2017 11:24 am    
Reply with quote

Well Levi I will show you mine if you show me yours, you can see two of my Guitars here, the Black & White one is a single coil PU, the Red 7 Stringer is a Humbucker.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHrtgjiPNUA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTmg9o1UXOo

James Kerr
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Andy Costigan


From:
Newcastle, NSW, Australia
Post  Posted 8 Apr 2017 7:43 pm     Blue Smoke: Cowboys and Hawaiians - Radio New Zealand
Reply with quote

hi Levi,
i stumbled on this radio doco on NZ steel guitar history recently (it's just under the header). lots of great photos here too.
http://www.audioculture.co.nz/people/the-tumbleweeds
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

David Famularo


From:
New Zealand
Post  Posted 8 Apr 2017 9:18 pm     Hawaiian steel comback
Reply with quote

Well, you kind of know me now Levi. I'm expect the non-pedal Hawaiian and country steel will be making a big comeback pretty soon as I (ahem) find that everything I get into tends to become popular five or ten years later from Art Deco to the banjo to the places I live in (now Featherston is booming with creative types ten years after I moved here). So it's only a matter of time.....
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

David Famularo


From:
New Zealand
Post  Posted 8 Apr 2017 9:41 pm    
Reply with quote

PS the trickiest thing is probably not finding other non-pedal steel players but guitarists, bass players and drummers who have a feel for Hawaiian and even country music. And in country, then you have all your sub genres which are actually quite different to each other.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Levi Gemmell

 

From:
New Zealand
Post  Posted 8 Apr 2017 11:54 pm    
Reply with quote

James: Beaut lap steels, and touching playing too! I have to say, from checking out some of your videos, I really enjoyed your version of Kalamaula, one of my favourite Hawaiian songs. Is that your Guyatone D-8?

Andy: Great stuff isn't it? If you can get a copy of the book "Blue Smoke" in Australia, I recommend it. As a fellow Antipodean, you might find it to be an interesting history of New Zealand popular music before the Beatles. Photographs of some legendary Maori steel guitar players -- and tantamount to evidence that Maoris were beginning to play the steel in the early '20s, since Ernest Ka'ai visited New Zealand and showed Bird of Paradise in 1916.

David: Well, next thing you know I'll be flying down there, and escaping Auckland forever. I know it's not in close proximity, but have you ever been to the Wairarapa Country Festival? I've heard it's pretty good!! Also, up here, country music clubs are fairly abundant and I think the old hands are still out there, but I've yet to get up and play in front of them. When I get some more guts, the proof will be in the pudding.
_________________
Shot Jackson JB Frypan
‘65 Fender Stringmaster
‘66 Fender Super Reverb
1960s Commodore S8
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

James Kerr


From:
Scotland, UK
Post  Posted 9 Apr 2017 2:28 am    
Reply with quote

Levi,
That is my Guyatone D-8 as I bought it, painted in Blue, I stripped it and returned it to the original Cream colour.
Thank you for your comments, I like Kalamaula too and rather than copy what others have done, try to put my own stamp on it. The Acoustic Guitar accompanying it is a 1929 Student Hawaiian Guitar bought by an Immigrant Scot who went to find his fortune in Alberta Canada, it came Mail Order from the New York Academy of Music complete with 12, 78rpm Hawaiian Tuition records by Robert Yap, which I still have too.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irqvf-6Zurk

James.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

David Famularo


From:
New Zealand
Post  Posted 12 Apr 2017 5:16 pm    
Reply with quote

Hi Levi

Yes, I have been to the Wairarapa Country Music Festival (formerly Clareville till it changed locations) a few times. I write advertising features for the Wairarapa Times Age and Wairarapa Midweek. We produce the programme each year and so I have been writing all of these bar the first one. The first one I went to was the second festival at Clareville. It had a really broad lineup of acts and I really enjoyed it and realised that I was more familiar and comfortable with country music than I knew. Since then I have been distilling the elements of country music that I like the best. I really love the musical forms of country ie chord progressions, rhythms etc. I have found the festivals have become less appealing to me in the following years as they cater to the tastes of what you might call mainstream old school country lovers. I love old country (Hank Williams, Western Swing etc) but not so much people like The Topp Twins, Eddie Low, etc. They are talented entertainers and guaranteed to please your older people but not to my taste. So I haven't been to the last two festivals. I have toyed with the idea of having a steel guitar convention. (Of course, I toy with lots of great ideas.) I'm open to taking the idea further if you are interested. I think it would be good if it was a convention where less experienced players felt comfortable performing or at least playing with non-judgemental peers. If we had one in Featherston, I'd be happy to organise booking spaces etc. Featherston is centrally located, has a couple of country music clubs and occasionally sees a few steel players visiting. It's a nice smallish town with lots of accommodation available nearby and heaps of cheap venues, easy to get around, and has nice places to visit nearby. A good idea would be to have a star player or two (I gather there is a very good steel player who plays on the latest Dave Dobbyn album for example) and the opportunity for some one-on-one tuition and/or a master class. It could finish with a concert in the evening for the public. It only needs to be a one day event. As you can see, I've already had some thoughts on this sort of thing as my larger concept has been to extend the idea to other instruments as well, like a festival of music tuition where people can learn from other musicians who don't normally tutor. But starting small is best and maybe staying that way as well. Let me know what you think.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

David Famularo


From:
New Zealand
Post  Posted 18 Apr 2017 12:21 am    
Reply with quote

Then on the other hand, maybe it's a crazy idea.
That's why I tend to sit on things for a while.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Andy Costigan


From:
Newcastle, NSW, Australia
Post  Posted 18 Apr 2017 6:59 pm    
Reply with quote

hi Levi,
here's a link to the history of Hawaiian music in Australia.
http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2012/06/13/3524359.htm
Rebecca Coyle (Associate Professor in the School of Arts and Social Sciences at Southern Cross University) and her sister Jackey Coyle who featured in the above interview have also published the following article -
Aloha Australia: Hawaiian music in Australia
http://epubs.scu.edu.au/sass_pubs/31/
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail

Paddy Burgin

 

From:
New Zealand
Post  Posted 21 May 2017 2:10 am     steel in new zealand
Reply with quote

Hi Levi. Wellington has a few steel players and I am among them. I make 'em and play them. Mostly weissenborns and resonators but also a few eletric lap steels. My workhorse has been a solid ash lap with dusenburg multi string benders on it. Lee Prebble at the Surgery Studio is another lap steel player. Maybe you and I will catch up with each other one day. Keep on slidin'.
Cheers
Paddy Burgin
Burgin Guitars. Wellington.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail


All times are GMT - 8 Hours
Jump to:  
Please review our Forum Rules and Policies
Our Online Catalog
Strings, CDs, instruction, and steel guitar accessories
www.SteelGuitarShopper.com

The Steel Guitar Forum
148 S. Cloverdale Blvd.
Cloverdale, CA 95425 USA

Click Here to Send a Donation

Email SteelGuitarForum@gmail.com for technical support.


BIAB Styles
Ray Price Shuffles for Band-in-a-Box
by Jim Baron