Pete Howell – Sound Engineer


Dutch Tilders           (vocals, guitar)

Jim Conway      (harmonica)

Pete Howell         (bass)

Kerryn Tolhurst        (guitar)

Dutch Tilders Live At The Commune 1973, is the ninth release of the Australian Road Crew Association’s (ARCA) Desk Tape Series.

The late Dutch Tilders was a prominent multi-award winning figure who emerged in the folk/blues boom from the late ‘60s, best known for his singing, guitar work and harmonica playing. Dutch is still one of the greatest blues players.

The series was created by ARCA to raise funds and resources for Support Act’s Roadies Fund to provide financial, health, counselling and well being services for crews.

The Desk Tape Series are released on ARCA’s Black Box Records through MGM Distribution and on all major streaming services.

Thanx to Jim Colbert, Tony Mansur and Pete Howell for the early photos, Nprint for the cover artwork, Pete Howell for an amazing recording, Phil Dracoulis for the mastering, Peanuts Promotions/Publishing for permission to release to all and Dutch Tilders for being awesome.

The tapes are straight off the mixing desk and usually made by a member of the road crew.

But in this case it was by Peter Howell, his long-time double bassist who’d started playing with Tilders six weeks before this recording.

This is a pure acoustic performance with no amplification.


  1. Stop And Fix It
  2. Willie Mae
  3. That’s Alright Momma
  4. Its Been A Good Time Here
  5. Nobody Knows You When Your Down And Out
  6. Stoned Again
  7. Going Down Slow
  8. Simple Rag
  9. Two Bob Head Blues
  10. Workingman’s Blues
  11. Betty And Dupree

Dutch had a Tuesday night residency at the club.

Recalls Howell: “The Commune was a small folk club in Victoria St., North Melbourne.

“Folk clubs in those days were alcohol free and also PA free. You were really frowned upon if you had an electric instrument!

“The best memories of these clubs are playing totally acoustic, no PA”s, the audience sitting at your feet and not uttering a word.

“It was like being under a microscope.

“It was the best scene to get your act together as a musician and not be self conscious under such scrutiny.”

For the recording he borrowed an Otari 2 track reel to reel and a couple of condenser mics.

“This recording is a great example of how it was done in a folk club and I am proud to see it released. A great moment in time for Melbourne music.”

Live At The Commune 1973, which also features Kerryn Tolhurst of The Dingoes and Jim Conway of the Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band, sees Tilders in top form as he tackles the lovely acoustic blues of ‘Willie Mae’, ‘Nobody Knows’ and ‘Going Down Slow’ and storms through the joyous uptempo shuffle of ‘Stop And Fix It’ and ‘Simple Rag’.

The musicianship and instrumental interplay is superb, particularly on ‘Stoned Again’, ‘Two Bob Head’ and ‘Betty And Dupree’.

His long time manager Lynne Wright explains why Tilders stood out as a performer:

“A gift to embrace his audience so everyone felt special.  His colourful personality on and off stage.  A truly professional showman whose charisma coupled with a unique style of finger picking guitar play and enormous vocal range.

“His lyrics were humorous at times and he shared his full internal emotion with each song. “

One of the highlights is the way Tilder’s uses his voice like few other bluesmen.

It’s little known that as a 10 year old growing up in Holland (hence the stage name “Dutch”), he was a member of the local church choir.

After his voice broke he sang baritone and falsetto, and joined his secondary school’s choir.

After his family moved to Melbourne, Tilders began devouring US blues records by Big Bill Broonzy, Brownie McGhee, Mississippi John Hurt, Josh White and Blind Blake.

He taught himself guitar, harmonica, piano and stompbox. His first paying gig was at 15 at a Collingwood Town Hall show headlined by Johnny O’Keefe.

He soon made a name for himself in the folk/blues clubs in Melbourne and Sydney.

But Tilders’ audience was much more diverse, and his natural no-nonsense charm could win over crowds at rock venues, jazz festivals, parties, bike clubs – and one memorable time at the Box Hill Town Hall, skinheads and sharpies at a Lobby Lloyd and the Coloured Balls show.

A member of the Musicians Club, he’d often drop by after a gig, to play piano before jazz and classical musicians.

There are many anecdotes about his shows. As a big fan of wacky British comedy show The Goons, Tilders would listen lovingly to their cassettes on the way to shows.

This included a Goons marathon during a seven-hour drive to Canberra. When he welcomed the crowd, out came a lot of unexpected Goons gobbledygook which had everyone bewildered.

No one was surprised when Dutch got a blood-spattered shirt on the way to a gig. On the train in, some thugs were hassling an old woman, so he went over and punched their lights out.

A country pub had the last quarter of the footie on TV during Tilders’ set for the regulars. Fans of the Carlton team kept shouting, ‘Come on the Blues’ and ‘Go Blues’.  Dutch yelled over the banter “I’ve been playing the blues all night!”

Tilders was diagnosed with terminal inoperative oesophageal cancer in May 2010. While the music community gathered around doing benefits to raise money for medical costs, Dutch kept performing despite the pain.

As he would sing onstage on ‘Workingman’s Blues’, “I guess I’ll keep on working, honey, until I’m dead and gone.”

While preparing for his departure, Tilders wrote and recorded ‘Going On A Journey’, his thoughts about his life, which became the title track of his 15th and final album.

‘He was asked during this time if he had any regrets, His swift answer was: No … at least none I remember..”

Wright explains, “Dutch lived in the present, loving his life every day.”

He defied doctors’ orders and kept smoking and drinking until a few hours before he passed away on April 23, 2011. He was 69. Dutch chose quality of life, not quantity, and passed peacefully.

In May 2012 Australian Guitar magazine listed him among the top 40 on its Definitive Australian Guitarists of All Time list.

On October 30, 2019, Dutch was inducted into the Blues Music Victoria Inc Hall of Fame.

Before he died, he gave Wright a bucket list of projects to do. Nine years later she says the list is 90% finished.