I couldn't get into their music when I watched a few of their music videos on YouTube, but live they were absolutely fantastic. The number of times they switched to different an eccentric musical instruments was phenomenal - the number of times musicians switched instruments between themselves, even including the drummer, was incredible. If you get the opportunity to see Mr Cat and the Jackal live, don't think twice, go. :)
Check out my post about Artmode at Youngblood-Africa's gallery over here.
If you're looking for real African music - this is the place you need to shop. The African Music Store in Long Street has an impressive collection of African music ranging from reggae and hip hop to Zulu vocal music, Gospel choir and even rock!
Mabu Vinyl has been around forever, and the number of interesting LPs and wall posters is simply awesome. It's definitely worthwhile visiting the store in Rheede Street - even if you're not into actually buying LPs. :)
Isn't it interesting that LPs, which pre-dated cassette tapes and compact disks will probably outlast them both? Peter Goldmark, were he alive today, would have good reason to be proud of the part he played in developing the long-playing record. :)
If you're visiting Cape Town and want to party to live music - Zula Sound Bar is probably a place to check out. :)
If you don't like electronic dance music, then don't even bother; however, if you do, then you probably want to check out Haezer on SoundCloud - he's one of Cape Town's (and South Africa's) top electronic music DJs.
Unless you're well-informed about old music players, or were around in the late 1800s, perhaps you wouldn't recognise this cylinder as being a record for a phonograph. The phonograph was invented by Thomas Edison in 1877 and is different to a gramophone in that its records are (as you can see) cylinders whereas gramophone records are round vinyl disks. Remember those?
Anyway, I found this record in the De Oude Drostdy building that I mentioned in yesterday's article. Below are four more photos that I took in one of the De Oude Drostdy's rooms - the first is of an actual Edison phonogram (awesome hey), then a gramophone needle, followed by two gramophones.
I remember the days when South African music (for the most part) sucked in comparison to what international artists were producing. And then, the apartheid walls came down and people we free to say what they felt; and South African music blossomed.
We grew up following international artists and bands, so for me it's strange to see how South Africans today clamber after and support South African music; not due to blind patriotism and not because the music has a cultural significance, the artists have simply become so good at what they do that today they compare with, and sometimes exceed, their international peers.
If you have some time to watch, and listen, take a look at the page that I put together with a few South African music videos. Safe as Houses by aKing is a special favourite of mine. :)
We arrived at the castle for J&B's Start a Party at around 9pm which is just about the right time to start getting a party going, wouldn't you say?
As we walked into the venue, we were greeted by the electronic sounds of the lovely Monique Pascall - which her bio refers to as being "Minimal and Techno with tough, dirty, progressive, rolling bass lines". Now, I'm not a huge techno/electronica geek, but on reflection and after critically listening to her tracks on sShadoworkss I'd say that the description is pretty accurate, and well deserved.
The most difficult time for a DJ to perform is at the start of a party, when everyone's still a little tense from the day and has had just a little too little alcohol to relax the inhibitions. Up for the challenge, Monique picked up the beat and got the party started, enticing the first few party-starters onto the dance floor. By the time she handed over the reigns to Culoe de Song, the party was pretty much tripping.
I've heard Magic Carpet Ride's music previously, and I'm sure every South African has heard Loyiso by now, and while both were great entertainment it was the two members of the Jack Mantis Band that blew us away. Their music was a chilled and laid-back mixture of blues, reggae and rock - and the perfect accompaniment to an already outstanding event.
Visit their website and take a moment to listen to a few of their tracks, or watch this YouTube music video - a love song featuring Jack's (strikingly beautiful) girlfriend whom, by chance, Kerry-Anne found herself chatting with while watching the show.
The Assembly, in Cape Town's Harrington Street, was once a warehouse, but since late 2007 has been a welcoming host to local musical talent.
Visiting Assembly is plenty of fun. What's awesome is that they have a slick website that's constantly updated with information about future events. As an example of slick, check out the upcoming Discotheque & Arcade: Mr Majestic's Cirque de Fantastic. Doesn't the event description sound just awesome? Did you notice that the page links to the individual artist's respective pages with detailed information and a calendar to let you know on which other nights they're playing? I found this site refreshingly different to the outdated and unmaintained sites I often encounter.
Check out their contact page for contact info as well as a map to the venue.
"In true Arcade fashion you’re invited to enter the world of enchantment where you will experience mischievous wonderment in marvelously epic proportions. The magic will course through your body overwhelming your senses, luring and bewitching you into the world of circus carnival, a world of charm, temptation, charisma and splendor." - Mr Majestic's Cirque de Fantastic
After last touring South Africa in 1998, the famous U2 will be stopping over in Johannesburg and Cape Town as part of their 360° tour in February 2011 - and this time, we have tickets!
I took this photo of these strange zebra-men at the Cape Town Stadium a while ago (during the Football World Cup), and share it with you today because this, dear friends, is the place where 72,000 fans will arrive to watch the spectacle that U2 is so well known for.
Kerry-Anne and I hate queuing for tickets (it's far too boring!), so we normally take our chances with purchasing from an online ticket booking site, Computicket. I say "take our chances" because South African sites, and I guess this one specifically, are known not to handle well huge volumes of people trying to buy tickets at once, and invariably slow to the pace of a reluctant teenager on a family hike - leading many close to death from pure frustration.
This time around Kerry-Anne paid the $50 registration fee and pre-bought our tickets through U2's website. No mess, no fuss. :D
This picture reminds me of the SHOUT SA campaign launched earlier this year. If you're not in the country then you may have missed what it's about, so allow me quickly to explain:
Two notable South African musicians established a trust fund, called SHOUT, with the idea that monies collected by the fund would be donated to anti-crime organisations, like Crime Line and Business Against Crime. They then got together with a few more notable musicians to record a modern version of the Tears for Fears track called Shout. The track is currently for sale at several prices from R20 to R1000 - the amount that you pay is at your discretion. Visit the SHOUT SA website to hear the track and for more information on how to donate.
I can't say that I was a fan of Brenda Fassie's music, but that's only me. Millions of people all over South Africa regarded her as the greatest pop icon of the pre- and post-apartheid years. An article on SouthAfrica.info even referred to her as "Madonna of the Townships"!
Brenda unfortunately passed away 2004, at the age of 39, after suffering an asthma attack and cardio-respiratory arrest, and I recall at the time the mood in the country turned extremely solemn. I believe that even ex Presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki visited Brenda while she was in hospital - which, I'm sure, speaks for how important she had been to the nation.
I'm sure that Brenda is still today still.
Kerry-Anne once learned a gumboot dance for a show that she performed in along with a few other dancers. When you're use to seeing a group of black men performing the dance, it's wildly different to see a group of woman do the same. :)
If I remember correctly, they danced the dance to a popular song by South African kwaito singer Mandoza (pronounced Mun-dor-za). Take a moment to listen to the song here, but note that unless you speak Zulu you have little hope catching the lyrics. :) Nevertheless, if you've never heard it, crank the volume pretty loud and enjoy the beat!
The Undefind (that's right - it's spelt without an "e") is a Cape Town-based band that's on a mission to make it in the world of full-time music. It's often said that American musicians have it easy, but South Africa's music market is so small and the number of good bands so large that it makes surviving purely as a musician a huge challenge.
The Undefind are a reasonably young band of five, and according to their website they are all full-time musicians. Gareth (guitarist and lead vocalist, pictured in this photo) recently enlisted two of the band members, Chris (bassist) and Jeanré (drummer), to start up a three-piece acoustic version on of the band, which will be playing quieter sets at local restaurants and bars.
Check out their latest music video, Fragile Skin, below; and if you like it, take a moment to vote for them here on the KFM Homebrew Top 10 list.
Che Guevara, depicted in the photo above, is an icon that you're likely to have seen on t-shirts all over the world. His face is often used as a symbol of revolution or political awareness, but has become pretty fashionable over the years - thereby losing some of the meaning that it may have had in the past.
Che Latino Café (map), in the suburb of Brackenfell, is a hangout for locals in the surrounding areas. While you'll see a few "oldies" heading to the back to gamble, I'd guess the average age to be about 20 years old. The bar area rocks to the sound of local bands while the patrons relax on couches, bar chairs and even spill outside to socialise while sitting at tables, a little way away from the loud music inside.
On 22 November last year Johnny Clegg opened this season's Summer Sunset Concerts at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Since then the Gardens have hosted the likes of the Johnny Cooper Orchestra, Zebra and Giraffe, aKING, and many others.
After a day out in the sun watching cricket, we met up with two friends at the packed concert venue in the middle of the botanical gardens. The vibe was happy and relaxed, and even though it was windy elsewhere, the gardens had comparatively little wind. And, as always, Just Jinjer were phenomenal.
A few more concerts remain this season, but the upcoming highlight for us would have to be The Dirty Skirts. They have a super-energetic stage presence (which makes for awesome photos), and it seems that they have an interestingly euphoric effect on the ladies. We have our tickets already; I suggest that if you want to go, you should make sure that you book your tickets fast. :)
As I mentioned in my previous post, we were invited to go along to Mercury Lounge in Cape Town to take photos at Autopilot's new video launch gig. This particular show must have been one of the most challenging that I've shot - the stage was very small, and although the lighting was great for the performance, it was terrible for photos.
Nevertheless, I felt challenged and had plenty of fun trying to come up with angles that would work. I've uploaded an album of photos here.
Autopilot was born in 2005 as a 4-man band. While Kevin Sykes (the guitarist in this photo) and Shane Coomber (the other guitarist) seem to be the only original remaining members, the band has seen a shift with the introduction of a female vocalist, currently 22-year-old Brigette Greybe (who according to the drummer, Nicholas, has a great butt ;) ).
At the time of writing this article, the new video hadn't yet been uploaded to their website, but if you'd like to hear their sound take a look here for one or two other music videos.
Thanks for a great show, Autopilot!
There's something soothing about the deep bass voices of a group of singing black men. I think it's completely unlike what any of their white counterparts could do. If you're not from Africa (or are, but haven't heard it before) then it's something that you should certainly experience. I didn't even understand the words that were being sung, but in some ways I think that's a good thing - it prevents you from being distracted by the words, and helps you to feel the music and perhaps the meaning of the words.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo (LSBM) and their style of music has its origin in the mines of South Africa. Joseph Shabalala (here's a photo of him), leader of the Grammy-Award-winning group, assembled the members of LSBM from family, relatives and friends in his hometown of Ladysmith. The group quickly rose to fame by winning every singing competition they entered.
The group's name is made up of one place-name and two concepts: Ladysmith is their home town, Black refers to the strong black oxen that were prevalent in their farming community, and Mambazo means axe. In other words - the singing group from Ladysmith that is so strong that it cuts down every other group in every competition. :) Voila! Ladysmith Black Mambazo!
An interesting fact that you may not be aware of is that LSBM co-wrote and recorded two tracks on Paul Simon's Graceland album in 1986. Do any songs come to mind? Of course they do! Possibly the first one you may think of is Homeless; the other is Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes.
LSBM will be singing at the V&A Waterfront again on Tuesday 5 and Wednesday 6 January at 20h30 (see my photos from the event here). If you haven't seen them before, go along and prepare to relax to the sound of deep, dark African voices. (You can buy tickets online or at the little Computicket caravan near the Aquarium's entrance.)
Axene is a 17-year-old pop princess from Vredenburg (near Saldanha, just a little way up our West Coast). While her song choice and style appeals mostly to kids and younger teenagers, I have to admit that her show at Aqua Festival (see the photo album here) wasn't bad at all - in fact, she could have a really great career ahead of her. She's got a really good voice, awesome stage presence, and a whole lot of energy. And besides for playing piano, she also plays guitar and drums. Now that's not too shabby at all for a teen pop artist, is it?
Her show also included a young lead guitarist, who accompanied her on several songs; award-winning solo artist Shaun V; and a talented team of dancers from the Waterfront Theatre Company. Together they performed songs by Rihanna, Beyonce, Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, Abba, Michael Jackson and more. And they were all really pretty darn good!
Axene is playing at the Waterfront's Aqua Festival until 6 January, so if you have young kids, perhaps take this opportunity to introduce them to the world of live concerts. I'm pretty sure you'll end up enjoying it too. :)
"I work all night, I work all day, to pay the bills I have to pay - Ain't it sad?"
After the brilliant performance by Johnny Clegg on Saturday we found ourselves at the Aqua Festival's AquABBA show at the V&A Waterfront. What a spectacular spectacle it was - especially with the likes of Amra-Faye Wright (cast as Velma Kelly in The Broadway Company's musical, Chicago), Jody Williams (winner of SA Idols 2007) and the members of the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra gracing the stage. Other artists taking part were Craig Urbani (known, amongst many other things, for his role in the SA soap-opera Isidingo), Chrissy Caine, and Alistair Izobel.
They sang all ABBA's best-known hits, as well as a few songs from the musical Chess (which was written by Benny and Bjorn, of course); and by the time they got to "Thank you for the music" the crowd was on their feet, singing and dancing along. Kerry-Anne pointed out that the setting was absolutely perfect for an ABBA tribute show, as the harbour backdrop was very reminiscent of Mamma Mia.
If you don't yet have plans for New Year's Eve, (and especially if you're going to be at the V&A Waterfront anyway), consider booking your seat for AquABBA - I believe the ticket price includes not only the show, but the NYE afterparty at the Aquarium as well.
I've put together an album of photos from the performance. Check it out here.
In my last post I spoke about the Johnny Clegg performance that we were invited to see on Saturday night at the V&A Waterfront's AquaFestival. I've just managed to finish going through all the photos and have put together two albums for you to look at. Click here to check them out.
Isn't this setting just beautiful? Unfortunately the sun had fully set by the time that I got away from the photographers' area down below and up onto the grandstand. At night it's really difficult to capture the beautiful lights and Table Mountain in the background, but can you imagine the ambience of watching such an awesome performance in the fading Waterfront light from this vantage point?
On a final note, have a look at this iconic shot of Johnny floating both on water and in the air. :)
Kerry-Anne and I were invited to watch the legendary Johnny Clegg performing at AquaFestival at the V&A Waterfront last night. This year is the first AquaFestival, and if last night's performance, vibe and setting were anything to go by, I can only imagine that the performances over the remaining week and a half will be magical, and that the festival will definitely be back next year!
You can't see it in the photo above, but in this photo you'll see that the entire stage on which the band performed was floating about 5 metres off the pier in the V&A's yacht basin. Table Mountain, the setting sun, beautiful yachts, and the city lights filled the background to make the setting comparable in beauty to that of the Kirstenbosch concerts.
Johnny Clegg is performing again on Monday night (at 20h30), and I think there are still a few tickets up for sale. Even if you can't make that show, check out the circus that's performing at 14h00 every day until Thursday, or book tickets for the evening ABBA or ballet shows; tickets cost between R60 and R250, depending on the show.
P.S. In case you're concerned about the persistent wind we've been having - I can't speak for the shows that I haven't been to, but there was only the slightest of breezes in the yacht basin last night, which was a freakin' fantastic break from the wind we've been enduring!
This photo reveals a little more context around my previous photo. People under the Stairs is an underground hip-hop group from the USA... who by all accounts played at Zula Sound Bar on 20 November. If you're into hip-hop I'm going to guess that you've heard of this duo, but if not, take a look at their MySpace page and listen to a few of their tracks - they have some interesting stuff!
For interest's sake, this photo was taken in Gardens, where Maynard Street crosses under Mill Street (the M3). The area is an awesome place to just wander around and take photos. While it's not an unsafe area (and perhaps I'm being over-cautious), I did notice a few loitering people around, whom I avoided. So, if you do take your expensive camera on a walkabout, just keep your eyes open and all will be well.
Kerry-Anne and I visited Zula Sound Bar for the first time a few years back when Freshlyground was still largely unknown. It was their night to perform, and the intimate setting at Zula was amazing! Zula is practically an institution in Cape Town and definitely worth a visit (unless you can't take very crowded and vibey places :) ).
Each night Zula (in Long Street) rocks its patrons with the sound of a variety of live musicians. From what I've heard they have really good traditional food (like potjiekos, boerewors rolls and sosaties), and they also have half-price cocktail specials between 5pm and 7pm, Monday to Saturday.
Towards the end of November we spent a Sunday afternoon at one of the Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset concerts, and, as I mentioned in my last article, we managed to make it to The Killers on Sunday. We've also just been invited to take pics of the Johnny Clegg concert at the V&A Waterfront's AquaFestival later this month, and would love to make it through to the Sunshine Saturdays concerts at Wynberg Boys' High to watch Zebra & Giraffe, The Dirty Skirts, and Prime Circle.
So, the purpose of this post is to say that summer in Cape Town simply rocks, and that if you're not a local and you are able to make one or more outdoor music concerts a part of your holiday in Cape Town then I suggest you do just that, and experience the concert vibe. It really is something else! Also, if you are a local and haven't been to one of these concerts... dude, seriously, get tickets and be there!