“Music is not a job, it’s a passion. But you have to work at it. It’s 10% talent and 90% practice.”
Doc J. Feelgood
Doc J. Feelgood grew up in Tokoroa in the Waikato region of the North Island of New Zealand. His people were originally from the Miti Miti Ngatuna area in Northland, a remote and beautiful region near the Hokianga Harbour.
Doc has been entertaining tourists on the Gold Coast for decades with his smooth blues/country/jazz/rock easy listening style.
We only spent a few mintues with Doc on a busy night on the Gold Coast, but we had to share his talent here on Busker What’s Your Story?
Our video shows Doc J. playing and singing a version of Tennesee Whiskey that gives us a glimpse of a sweet Māori soul.
Doc told us he gigs in bars and surf life saving clubs all over the coast, but busking is by far his biggest earner! We’re not surprised, we couldn’t walk by without tossing a note in his case.
If you’re holidaying in Surfers Paradise, take a stroll down Cavill Avenue around 7 or 8pm and you might be lucky enough to catch a set from Doc J. – we promise you’ll leave feeling good!
“At 81, I must be the oldest busker in the paddock! Maybe I can inspire other oldies to get up there and just do it. Why do I busk? The extra money keeps my wife in the manner she is becoming used to. Hopefully we will be able to go on a cruise soon, as this will be her last hurrah. She’s not travelling too well any more.”
What drew you to music?
“I started to learn the Violin at age 7 . Don’t know why, but I had a very good old lady to teach me. One day when I was about 15 she said: you are a very natural violinist and gifted musician, but I suggest you get a day job to earn a living.”
“Her next words have never left me: your gift of music is not yours, but for other people to enjoy.”
“So I went to the shipyard and became a Shipwright. Left England at the age of 32 and arrived in Sydney (this was 1968). This was the best thing I ever did. We have had a wonderful life here.”
What can you tell us about your instrument?
“My violin at home is a 250-year-old German Mitnvald but it doesn’t like being miked up, so I’ve recently bought a Yamaha electric one with a battery amp. The sound is great.”
How long have you been busking and why do you busk?
“I only started busking a couple of years ago. Why do I busk? The extra money keeps my wife in the manner she is becoming used to. Hopefully we will be able to go on a cruise soon, as this will be her last hurrah. She’s not travelling too well any more.”
What’s your favourite piece of music?
“My most liked piece of music is: This is a lovely way to spend an evening, by Ella Fitzgerald.”
What advice would you offer aspiring buskers?
“When they think the audience is not listening, most players will turn up the volume. WRONG, WRONG WRONG. You just need to play better! Even turn down the volume.”
“I learned this a long time ago. I was at a market where an old Aboriginal master storyteller was holding his audience in raptures. It was a simple story, but the way he told it was fascinating. Raising his voice, speeding up, slowing down – his pauses had people hanging on to every word.”
“Playing a piece of music is the same as telling a story. No matter how good the melody is, if you just play the notes, it’s just a piece of music. But if you tell the story, it will come to life, then people will start to listen. Once you have them, the rest is easy, and the donations will flow into your hat.”