This three-part vocal/instrumental blend features bluegrass, old-time, country, swing and originals. Like their music, Jack MacKenzie, Peter Dyer and Cathy Dyer are American—born and bred.

Downunderdogs photo by Julian Ward

Photo: Julian Ward

Jack grew up in Southern California. His splendid flat-picking evokes, among others, Doc Watson. This is no coincidence as Jack has picked with Doc and a host of other stars in the musical firmament at McCabe’s Music—the legendary venue Jack both managed and performed at in Los Angeles from 1971 to 1980.

During those years Jack took full advantage of the unique opportunity to soak up and master the blend of musical styles that people later began to refer to as “Americana”. Jack shifted to New Zealand in 1984.

Peter’s roots are in “Little Dixie”—a region of Missouri settled by his Dad’s Virginian and Kentuckian ancestors in the early 19th century. His active engagement with the music of his iwi began in the mid 1970s. Cathy Dyer hails from the heartland. Born and raised near Detroit, she grew up learning classical violin while listening to Motown. She and Peter shifted here in 2004.

Jack and Peter met over ten years ago at the Levin Folk Club.There was instant musical sympatico.  Countless hours of jamming followed and a number of gigs—as a duo and with others, including Graham Lovejoy, Allen Castleton and Kim Bonnington. Like Jack, Peter is a fine songwriter and an accomplished rhythm guitarist. His songs include “Go Ahead and Cry” and “The Immigrants’ Song”—one of several that come with a yodel.

After years of hearing Peter and Jack play, Cathy picked up the double bass. The fun was tripled when she brought this and her lovely vocal harmonies to the group.

The three ex-pats first shared this chemistry on stage in the Balladeer tent at the 2016 Wellington Folk Festival. Audience response made all the “woodshedding” well worth it. Downunderdogs will play a feature concert and a set in the Saturday afternoon showcase.

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