Matthew “Dutch” Tilders
29.08.1941 – 23.04.2011
Born in the Netherlands in 1941, Dutch emigrated to Australia with his parents, four brothers and a sister in 1955.
At the age of ten, he was a member of a church choir, but by the time he was twelve, his alto voice broke. No more singing for the boy with the baritone voice. When he was thirteen, he joined a boys choir at a secondary school fooling the choir master into believing he was an alto by singing falsetto. He could still produce those high-pitched notes until his final days.
His first year in Australia was spent in the Brooklyn Migrant Hostel where his first experience as a performer was in an amateur Black and White Minstrel Show. His very first paid gig, when just fifteen, was at the Collingwood Town Hall where he played the harmonica. On the same bill were Joff Allen and Johnny O’Keefe. Dutch was paid two pounds seven and sixpence, which at the time he was getting for half a weeks wages at Broons timberyard in Brooklyn. It only cost two pounds and sixpence for the taxi home.
He bought his first guitar in 1959 and by 1960 he was playing in the trendy coffee lounges of that time. Making up most of the songs as he went along, he found the blues was exactly the music in which to express his feelings. With no one to teach him, he developed his own style that remains unique to himself.
Dutch made his first record in 1972 and it was released one year later. His collaborators were Brian Cadd, Phil Manning, Barry Sullivan, Barry Harvey, Laurie Prior and Broderick Smith. In 1975 he started recording for an independent label, Eureka and consequently recorded two direct to disc records with greats Jimmy Conway and Kevin Borich.
During the seventies, Dutch fronted such Blues and Boogie bands as the Elks, the Cyril ‘B’ Bunter Band and Mickey Finn. In 1980 he formed the ‘R&B Six’, a band that included Charley Elul (drums), Peter Frazer (sax), Suzanne Petersen (flute and vocals), Mick Eliot (guitar) and Dave Murray (bass and vocals). This band toured Australia extensively.
In the meantime, Dutch also worked solo and toured with John Mayall, Taj Mahal, Brownie McGhee and Sonny Terry. In 1976, having only heard Dutch, B B King assumed that he was black. Brownie and Dutch became best mates simply because Browney believed that the Dutchman was a genuine bluesman, regardless of his racial origins.
During the latter days of his life he mainly performed as a solo artist and/or with his last band called The Legends Band, though he did enjoy getting together with Geoff Achison doing amazing duo chops.
Ranking among his favourite guitarists were: Geoff Achison, Kevin Borich and the Emmanuel brothers. He excuses himself by saying he only plays the guitar as he doesn’t know what to do with his hands while he sings. He says that the Blues is the song and the guitar is just the accompaniment, like the banjo used to be and the lyre long ago.
In his long career, Dutch won numerous awards (most notedly for his performances with his band, ‘The Blues Club’) recognizing his contribution to the Blues Music Scene:
- 2006: Australian Blues ‘Chain’ Best Album Award
- 2006: Australian Blues ‘Chain’ Best Male Vocalist Award
- 2006: Australian Blues ‘Chain’ Best Blues Song Award ‘Smoking Woman’
- 2005: VIC/TAS Blues Music Award ‘The Allan Stafford Services to the Blues’
- 2001: VIC/TAS Best Song of the Year Award, ‘Imagination Blues’
- 1999: VIC/TAS Blues Artist of the Year Award
- 1998: Hall of Fame – Aust. Blues Music Awards
- 1997: CFA Recognition Award – Outstanding Achievement
- 1997: Heritage Award – Aust. Blues Music Award
- 1994: Male Artist of the Year – Aust. Blues Music Award
- 1993: Australian Blues Artist Critics Award
- 1993: BOA Aust. Blues Performer Award
- 1992: Australian Blues Artist Critics Award
- 1991: BOA Aust. Blues Performer Award
- 1990: BOA Aust. Blues Recording Award, ‘The Blues is My Life’