A balladeer, with a thirty-year association with folk clubs in London and New Zealand, I perform traditional and contemporary songs from America and the British Isles. My voice has been described as: “Smooth as Boddington’s real ale with a touch of single malt whisky thrown in for good measure!” and “A voice like hot creamy chocolate!” Since I love all of them I take it as a compliment, but hopefully my concerts are non-fattening!
His new cd, Each Step On The
Way features a diverse and gifted group of friends and well known musicians
from NZ and overseas, including: Bob McNeill; Davy Stuart; Karen Tweed;
Tapani Varis; Chris While and Julie Matthews and they bring a fresh, new
dimension to Tony’s treatment of contemporary and traditional songs.
have been your main musical influences ?
The Waterson-Carthy families for British trad. Richard Thompson for songs with that classic 'English' flavour and feel. In my early years, American folk songsmiths like Dylan, Joni Mitchell and more recently, a brilliant American songwriter - Richard Shindell.
was brought up with music. My Dad was a ‘crooner’ and was
the lead singer for a 1940’s big band that played in the Concert
Parties for the British Army in India during the war. (That’s right,
just like ‘It ain’t half hot mum’ on the telly!). Gran
was a piano teacher and played piano for the silent movies! At family
gatherings it wasn’t long before the radio got turned off, song
sheets handed out and the singing round the piano usually lasted ‘til
surprisingly then, when I got introduced to the folk clubs in and around
London in the late sixties it wasn’t long before I plucked up the
courage to do the occasional floor spot.
Songs recorded by Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Judy Collins and The Clancy Brothers
seemed to dominate my repertoire in those days!
I went to a Frankie
Armstrong voice workshop and learnt how some of the traditional English
folk songs and ballads could be brought to life, (Frankie is still the
best at ‘story telling’ with a traditional ballad) and then
I was lucky enough to team up with David Benton, one of London’s
best acoustic folk guitarists and all-round musician. Dave’s eclectic
taste exposed me to a much broader range of material and I started singing
compositions by contemporary writers (including Dave) with a leaning towards
more lyrical material – tragic love songs a specialty! We played
regularly at Catford and Battersea Folk Clubs and over the years built
up a very mixed collection of material.
Arriving in NZ, I
got involved in the Wellington Folk Club which quickly helped me get established
in the folk music scene here. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed performing
in many of New Zealand’s folk clubs (Wellington, Upper Hutt, Kapiti,
Pukerua Bay, Levin, Palmerston North, Blenheim, Nelson, Christchurch,
Devonport and the Auckland Irish Society) as well several of the New Zealand
performing solo but I worked as a duo for a time with John Sutherland,
performing as ‘Both Sides of the Wall’. We recorded my first
cd: ‘Hidden from the Eye of Chance’ when we were touring.
I also had the pleasure of supporting Margaret Farrelly on three of her
radio gigs; her ‘Once in a Blue Moon’ and ‘Bright Blue
Rose’ recordings; various concerts and the National Folk Festival
performed with good friend and award-winning Wellington musician, Bob
McNeill and Davy Stuart from Christchurch playing the Invitation Concerts
at Auckland, Canterbury and Wellington Folk Festivals as well as several
The new studio cd, ‘Each Step On The Way’, produced and recorded by Davy Stuart
in Christchurch, was released in October 2005, it features a group of
friends and musicians drawn from NZ and overseas, including: Bob McNeill;
Davy Stuart; Karen Tweed; Tapani Varis; Chris While and Julie Matthews.
The album takes a fresh perspective on a few traditional favourites and
has some exciting new arrangements of the best singer/songwriter material
from New Zealand, Britain and the USA.
greatest musical moment?
Making the new album, Each Step On The Way with a hugely talented bunch of friends, many from overseas. Then getting the chance to perform a few of the songs with some of them at Wellington, Auckland and Canterbury Festivals. The Canterbury gig was a blast, singing in an 8 piece band that included Karen Tweed, Graham Wardrop, Davy Stuart, Marcus Turner, Kenny Rich, Denny Stanaway and Jan Rapley. A once in a lifetime gig!