Kapiti's Legal Tender sweep Golden Guitar awards in Gore on first attempt

Kapiti band Legal Tender, from left, Moira Howard-Campbell, Ian Campbell, and Carylann Martin, performing at the Golden ...
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Kapiti band Legal Tender, from left, Moira Howard-Campbell, Ian Campbell, and Carylann Martin, performing at the Golden Guitar awards.

After decades in the country music scene, Kapiti duo Legal Tender, and musician Carylann Martin competed in the Golden Guitar awards in Gore this month for the first time and won four Golden Guitars.

Theyalso won the trophy for best buskers in the competition, which drew more than 700 competitors from New Zealand and Australia.

"It's such an illustrious thing - and neither of us have been down there. Apparently I played a gig there when I was about 22... for the Gore fire brigade, but apparently it slipped the memory banks," Martin said.

She said the performers auditioned with a single song for each of their categories, in a bid to win through to the finals in the 1500-seat main venue.

"You could hear a pin drop, they are so focused on the performers, they are there for the performers and the music ... it's the real deal."

Legal Tender usually plays as a duo - husband and wife Ian Campbell and Moira Howard-Campbell.

Campbell started the first incarnation of Legal Tender in 1974, before the pair resurrected it about 17 years ago.

Campbell said Legal Tender entered as a duo in two categories, and played with Martin as a band in the group section.

Legal Tender won the open group, duet, and top song sections, while Martin entered four categories individually, winning a Golden Guitar in the traditional section and winning through to the finals in the other three.

As well as the inside performances, the Legal Tender trio played in the Freeze Ya Bits Off busking competition, which they eventually won.

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Campbell said even the fingerless gloves they wore in a bid to keep their hands warm had to come off after they started interfering with their ability to play.

The hefty trophy they eventually won - along with $1000 - featured glass moulded into the shape of a giant hunk of ice.

Martin said finalists were filmed in a waiting room for reaction shots, beamed onto a video screen in the main stadium, when the announcement of the winner arrived.

"The moment it's announced, you're being watched en masse. And then the camera follows you onto the stage."

Her own win came playing Campbell's "beautiful" Gibson guitar - borrowed because they didn't have her primary instrument, an acoustic piano, on stage.

"I played the guitar and won, which was ridiculous."

Campbell said the standard of competition was "incredibly high" and they were certain they did not have a "s... show" of winning the band section against a South Island trio.

"I saw them in the afternoon when I walked in and the hair was standing up on the back of my neck... the harmonies were unbelievably powerful."

Sharing the guitar made for a challenging time for the musicians - with Martin playing in one final, then waiting at the side of the stage for Legal Tender to finish one of their finals performance, so she could grab Campbell's guitar for her next final.

She marked the unlikely guitar-played victory with a pick blu-tacked to the base of her trophy.

"That's the pick I played the guitar with. I thought I'd better not lose that."

 - Stuff

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