Monday, July 31, 2006
Mount Fuji - Peter Narun's greetings
Peter Narun, one half of Take Two's Guitar & Violin duo, and a third of the wonderful Jazzy Baobab 3, left for a holiday to Japan and China a few days after performing for Lenny & I at our grandmother Bibi's 79th birthday at the Mount Nelson early in July.
It was just a small evening cocktail get-together of about 25 of her closest, and I knew Peter & Kerryn Torrance would be perfect for the evening. Not over-powering, subtly elegant, and so lekka to see them even enjoying themselves that they created a warm atmosphere on a cold Cape night.
He been sharing his experiences by updating us with travellogs, and I'm reminded how one so easily forgets how other cultures norms, can be so different to our own, as he describes:
"The hotel I stayed at in
"There are two kinds of stupid people: Those that never climb Mount Fuji, and those that climb it twice.
In the two month window of opportunity every year when the weather is mild enough to attempt the ascent, hundreds of thousands of locals - and a few slightly misguided tourists - begin to climb in the early evening with the aim of reaching the top in time to watch the sunrise. They arm themselves with clothing to fight the cold, and the locals carry engraved walking staffs with bells attached to keep in contact with each other and ward off evil spirits.
Desparate to be in nature after the sensory overload that is Tokyo, I left the city with two equally dellusional foreigners and arrived at the base of the mountain to begin the all night climb. After a magical sunset, we followed the line of torches in front of us up the volcano, feeling relaxed and energetic.
Then the universe developed a sense of humour, and the first drops of rain began to fall. To cut a long story short, we arrived at the top after 8 and 1/2 hours of climbing, drenched, freezing, and grumpy, to discover that the clouds were so thick we couldn't even see the volcanoic crater a few metres below us, let alone the sunrise.
Needless to say I had something of a sense of humour falure, regressed by a good many years, and might even have been heard to mutter that I wouldn't mind just being at home:) After tolerating a meager 15 minutes in the rain at the summit, all that was left to do was begin the descent. 13 hours after starting to climb we arrived back at base camp, feeling even more drained than I'm sure we looked, but in slightly better spirits for having completed the challenge."
Next they are off to China - home to a quarter of the world's population! There will be more updates as they come in!
Friday, July 28, 2006
Hand-balance - Canada
We are so lucky to be in contact with not only some of the most beautiful artists in the world, but some of the strongest too! Take Genevieve Drolet from Canada - she is a product of the Quebec Circus School, and has taken Master Classes in Hand Balance, on canes and on the aerial cube.
Not only does she perform in the most graceful style, but without hesitation or the slightest effort it seems, she has complete control over her every move.
Genvieve is also a member of Peak's Aerial Cube Trio, as I mentioned in a previous post.
Style, beauty, strength makes for a pure class act!
Kalahari Surfers - Kicked by the ball
The Kalahari Surfers have been pushing the limits of South African music for over two decades pioneering the use of filtered beats, tape loops, exotic samples and old school electronica in SA music at a time when everyone still thought the electric guitar was cool.
Warrick says,"Being a white English South African means being schizophrenic. It means not having a firm foot in any culture, but it also means being privileged to be exposed to many wildly diverse aspects of social life. A tapestry of influences."
He's established a massive reputation as film scorer, sound designer, african music dj, album producer and collaborater with the likes of Massive Attack, MELT 2000 and Greg Hunter.
In 2000 Warrick produced Akasic Record (ADOPECD004) through African Dope Records, and he once again set the standards so high that a whole new generation of musicians are looking to him for inspiration. (Kicked by the ball was produced by Inka Kendzia @ MEME - always amazing stuff)
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Teba - the Origional Social Worker
From the press release:
HEADWRAP ask Teba and Chris to combine their artistic styles and produce a performance which fuses poetry and music. This performance will be done in front of an audience of Chris’ dedicated fans at the Dorpstraat Theatre in Stellenbosch. Can rasta and rock god rhyme together?
Watching how easily Teba and Chris got on together, and eventually gelled on stage confirmed what a down-to-earth, warm, passionate and talented artist he is!
From Guguletu, a township just outside Cape Town, Teba has been on the music scene for a while having won a SAMA when he first started out with the Kwaito group Skeem.
We really got to know him during the filming of our mini-movie, A tale of South African Music, for the DVD Freedom to Celebrate (DVDC 001/2) we created, and we used his track "fck", courtesy of African Dope Records, because it has such an energy and beat, and reafirms what talent we have coming from South Africa.
This little insert features Teba, and Fletcher & Roach from A.D.R. - feel the beat!
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
The Flaming Butterflies
I met so many talented people there from all over the world, the cream of the street performing crop you could say, with shows varying from musical to magical.
One duo was Alan and Caron from Australia - The Flaming Butterflies - and they really caught my attention!
Together they had the most incredible dance choreographed, twirling fire-staffs and swinging fire-chains in flashes of light and smoke; until they would end up in eachothers arms, without missing a swing or twirl.
Their costumes are way-out, second skins; a modern armour with spikes and ribs sticking, and combined with the music that is created by Alan himself, in studio, their show is a futuristic explosion!
Here is one of their first demo's we received from them, and though Alan also has a solo show available, I will feature that at a later date.
Here are the Flaming Butterflies!
UPDATE: The Flaming Butterflies are unfortunately no longer available as they have each gone solo.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Stormin' Norman - Hot stuff!
I met Norman at Club Mykonos near Saldana, where we were both going to be appearing at the New Year's Eve celebration that they held every year.
It was Norman's passion as an artist that planted the seed for me to start an agency, which we did after we had run his old entertainment agency, Pudds Promotions. We have come a long way since then.
But as old artists never die, they just become more experienced, so Norman has gone from strength to strength as an artist in the South African market. He has very good crowd control, is professional in his approach to every gig, and most importantly, knows how to keep his crowd entertained.
We sent Norman to India on a 3-month contract to perform in a '7 Wonder's of the World' promotion for Shopper Stop, an equivalent to our Woolworths, but with a wider and more upmarket selection. Norman was such a hit!
Every person in the shop would converge on his stage, parnets and children alike staring in awe at his juggling, his uni-cycle stunts and even his balloon animals, which took him by surprise too, as it seems it is unheard of in India (small business oppurtunity anyone?).
But back at home in Cape Town, Norman comes to visit us a number of times a month, to catch up on who's doing what, sign contracts, or even to just get paid... no-one can say our artists don't love us!
So I decided to provide you with a shortened version of 'Storm - the Fire-Artiste' from his demo of Zenith Degree Fahrenheit - a super hot fire show with another long time friend and artist, Pierrot Salaun. Enjoy!
Sunday, July 23, 2006
Max Lasser, featuring Busi Mhlongo
I have mentioned Max Lässer in a previous posting, and his amazing ablum Madamax (BW 2119), and have news that he will be coming to South Africa later this year, through the Swiss organisation Pro Helvitica, to perform a number of concerts around the country with Madala Kunene - just my luck though, they won't be coming to Cape Town, but will have shows in Durban, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Bloemfontein.
Robert Trunz let me present another track from the forth coming Busi Mhlongo Live Urbanzulu DVD, in which she performs the vocals for Max. Lua Lua from the album Between (BW103) features Max playing the Weissenborn lap steel, acoustic guitar, Walter Keiser on drums, Reto von Salis on Percussion, Heiri Kanzig on fretless bass, Christoph Stiefel on Keyboards and even Pops Mohamed on kora. But Busi is the icing on the cake.
Origionally meant to be a solo guitar album, Max found it growing as his musician friends got involved, adding their own musical styles, but it still remained an instrumental album. It was only on invitation from MELT to visit South Africa that Max realised he had to have the vocals of Busi, and ex-Amampondo member Lungiswa Plaatjies, to make his project complete.
Here is Lua Lua, composed by Max Lasser, published by Max Music CH, and coming out in full quality on DVD soon!
Philip de Villiers - Vorie TV
Philip de Villiers called just at quite a strange time a few weeks ago; I had been researching my families genealogy, and their association with various South African families in the 300 odd years since my ancestors arrived in the Cape, when a De Villiers calls out the blue! It was about music though - and not an unexpected inheritance.
Philip arrived to deliver his promo material, and was a really nice , soft spoken guy. You could see there is alot of feeling inside the man, and that became evident when we reviewed his CD Ek hoor jou (F1000850) and read through his biography.
This CD explains the emotional turmoil Philip had to go through to reach a point where he was able to look at it knowing he had come through it all.
But its not all dreary emotion and sadness; its an upbeat and mature Afrikaans pop album for the soul. Here is one of Philip's fun tracks Vorie TV in which he comments on our modern day lifestyle and habitual addiction to the 'box'.
Saturday, July 22, 2006
Amampondo live - Drums for tomorrow
Its is made up of mostly unreleased video footage of the groups performances over the past two decades, filmed by passionate supporters such as Chris Lewis - the sound engineer who has been a major part of bringing out the best of the MELT stable of artists, and other fans who have followed Amampondo around the world.
There is footage from journey's to Pondoland in the heart of the Transkei, to live performances at Festivals such as WOMAD, the Spoleto Festival in Italy, and the Africa 2000 Festival and Bagley's Club in King's Cross, London.
Amampondo are the true treasurer's, and creators, of a culture that continues to transform, combining the rural sounds and expressions with the urban responses to what is happening around them.
It is never easy not being a part of the main-stream in terms of Arts & Entertainment; people often take cultural groups for granted as just being a part of the make-up of society. But I think they represent a far more important facet, as the stronger our ties to our past are, the more it indicates how we look after each other in the present.
25 years of keeping tradition alive; of passing it on to younger generations; of being ambassadors of their culture and country, deserves all the recognition and respect that we afford to the hip and happening artists who create hits that we dance to today, but are more likely to forget tomorrow. These kinds of groups cannot easily be replaced.
Here is Amampondo's track Drums for tomorrow, composed by Mzwandile Qotoyi & Michael Nkululeko Ludonga, and published by MELT 2000 Publishing, and of course, available LIVE through PEAK!
Penny-whistling from Langa - Simpiwe Matole
I found this very special little track, Brass Kap van Langa, on the Amampondo 25 Years of Skins DVD (MZADV 003), Composed by Simpiwe Matole, and in which he plays very simple percussion, and is joined by two penny-whistlers, Duke Norman & Luyanda Nbete.
Filmed, directed and edited by Dick Jewell, another Amampondo faithful over many years, it's set at the Cape Point Nature Reserve, a number of years ago.
I love the playfulness of the penny-whistlers almost sparring with each other, going off in different directions, only to come back and compliment each other. Simpiwe just offers so many natural sounds from the bush, that you listen for the crickets dancing in enjoyment as the shots pan to bok in the park. It's beautiful in its simplicity.
Thanks again Robert for letting me share it.
Friday, July 21, 2006
Acoustic Africa - Madala & Greg
Robert was once again a brearer of gift's! New MELT releases are always very exciting, and this trip to the Cape is no different. It's going to take me some time to work through them - I do have a day job - but I guarantee that the samples that I will feature will be awesome pieces of South African talent.
One of Roberts gift's to the Peak'ers is the Acoustic Africa DVD (MZADV 002) featuring Madala Kunene on steel string guitar & vocals; Greg Hajiyorki Georgiades on guitar, oud & bouzouki; Ashish Joshi on tabla & percussion and Ernest Mothle on double bass.
It has live performance footage from the 2004 Fort West Village Heritage & Cultural Festival that was sponsored by the Alliance Francaise in Pretoria, and recorded by MELT. The DVD also has a host of other artists such as L.A.P. (Live African Percussion), Carlo Mombelli & The Prisoners of Strange and the Thongo African Band - an awesome traditional dance band from the Mtambalala hills above Port St. Johns in Pondoland (it's coming!!!).
Greg plays a hybrid of North and South African ethno grooves and melodies, and combined with Madala's 'Madalaline' style of guitar, which is a combination of blues & soul with African folk, the result is beautiful. Madala's singing just add's that trance-like quality to some of the tracks, like the video Robert let me feature here.
So this is "Martha Gotta Free", composed by Madala, published by MELT 2000 Publishing cc and available for bookings through Peak!
Thursday, July 20, 2006
CODA & Conrad Koch - in one night!
Last night the whole Peak office had a great night out on the town! Ventriloquist Conrad Koch had given us tickets to see him performing as part of the Vodacom Funny Festival at the Baxter, and as it was a wonderful Wednesday, it also meant that CODA was performing at the Planet Bar at the
We arrived early to a buzzing bar, and all the girls were given a complimentary cocktail as it is Ladies Night. Carol, Rayelle and Yolanda looked as gorgeous as ever, while Nick is definitely one of the smoothest and funkiest artists in
Their set was really great to see – they have developed into such a slick outfit; the music gelling so well, and all four of them smiling and laughing throughout, you could feel the fun they were having – and that just makes an audience smile with enjoyment.
We had to rush off early to get to the Baxter Theatre by 20h00, but we will be going back to the Nellie next week to enjoy some more. And I’ll have some video online soon, as Carol said a show next week would be filmed, as well as me getting a copy of their Top Billing show in two weeks time!
Peak has quite a long history with the
Conrad was first up with
We have known Conrad from the days when he was a uni-cycling, juggling, magician, and hearing his applause last night I realized that
But don’t get me wrong – MC Cokey Falkow was hilarious throughout the show! Conrad was followed by Australian Jackie Loeb who got up there with a combination of singing impressions and shock-comedy brought the roof daown. Men in Coats, a duo from the
So now you know – even the Peakers love our own artists!
Here is a great sample from Conrad’s promo CD…
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Thandi Swaartbooi - Women Unite
We were very happy to see that our good friend and Peak artist, Thandi Swaartbooi from Women Unite, has once again received some recognition for all the wonderful work she does in the community.
Thandi was the overall and youth category winner at the Western Cape leg of the Community Builder of the Year Awards, held at the BMW Pavilion, Waterfront on Friday 30 June. Peak has submitted her information a number of times for these awards, due to all the hard work Thandi does in her community, and this is the second time she has received this award - the first being in 2003.
Thandi has been teaching Thandi's Kids Group - a group made up of 15-18 children from Guguletu for about 7 years, developing their creative and musical skills. The kids have been trained to sing, dance and play traditional musical instruments (marimba's, drums etc).
She was also co-founder of Madame Afrique, which is a unique musical project which celebrates the power if women in Africa.
So Thandi, we thank you for all you have done to advance the community around you and for being so Proudly South African.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Happy Birthday Madiba!
Its a wonderful age, for anyone, but considering the life that he has had to endure, the times he has had to suffer through, we can only wish him all the peace and happiness during the twilight years of his life. Time to spend with his lovely wife, his children, grand-children and great grand-children.
Happy birthday Madiba!
Watch Madiba's message to the leaders of the G8 last year - they're meeting again at the moment - and I wish that they would listen to the wise words of an old man!
Zenith Aerial Acrobats return!
The thing about Chantal is that Lenny and I met her just after we had settled back in Cape Town in 1995 - she was this young girl who used to come into the Log Cabin in Vredehoek with her mom - and because she knew that I was an active character, we used to talk about 'joining the circus'. She was very interested in performing, and had been training with Zip Zap Circus for 3 years already.
A few years later, while Len and I were on tour with the Engen Summer Series, we stopped off for a few nights at Pilannesberg Nature Reserve to visit our dance friend Bheki Ndlovu, who was dancing next door at Sun City. And there she was - a fully fledged Acrobatic Dancing Flying Trapese artist - dancing with Bheki and Julie, her Zenith partner now, in the Baletsatsi Show.
It had happened - she had run away and joined the circus! Not something that you hear happening too often, and especially not in the successful way that she has either.
She and Julie have been 'hanging out' together as partners since 2003, and are just finishing their 5th season with MSC Cruises in the Med on the MSC Armonia. They have been performing a Bar, Scarf, Lyra and Rings act, as well as Acrobatic Characters.
I have added a small promo video to give you a taste of some of the performance styles that Chantal & Julie are doing- enjoy!
Monday, July 17, 2006
Busi Mhlongo - Yapheli'mali Yami
This track is a live performance of the track Yapheli' mali yami (My money is gone) from Urbanzulu that Robert gave to me a few months back to add to the African Music Collective's database - but only through trial and error have I been able to get my iomega Super DVD player to work recently... so it is delayed.
Back to Busi.
She is tiny, yet she fills the stage with her voice and towering personality, taking the audience on a vocal journey. To keep this movie small I have had to reduce the quality of the sound - so just wait until you hear the power of the Live DVD! Watch this space - I'm sure there will be more to tell.
Friday, July 14, 2006
Bono, Mandela & the 46664 concert
One of Peak’s proudest moments was when we were involved in the first 46664 Concert in November 2003. We had Amampondo, Women Unite and Red Zebra drummers on stage with
So we were pretty involved in the two weeks prior to the concert.
The rehearsal the night before the concert was a cold, windy night; Yusef Islam (Cat Stevens) was standing near me with his family; Joseph Shabalala from Ladysmith Black Mambazo was strolling around with a massive grin; and I was standing there soaking it all in.
When Bono had finished American Dream (changed to African Dream for the concert), he sang Long Walk to Freedom, in honour of the book by Nelson Mandela, and of course the man himself.
At the end of the song, he strolled up to the lectern and pretended to be Madiba, to fill in where the man would start speaking – his question as to “… what is such a handsome man, doing with such an ugly rockstar?” drew applause from all of us watching, artists, riggers, sound techies, and the rest of the staff.
When I was filming, I was standing next to a guy who had stuck up conversation with me. He had a camera and was clicking away too, when a security guard came and told us he wasn’t allowed to film – I obviously didn’t want to get involved in this story as he hadn’t said anything to me, but I learned later that my ‘buddy’ had actually been taking pics for Bono.
That concert was put together by the artists for Madiba. People will go to great lengths for the man, and having been a part of it makes me proud.
Madosini & Patrick Duff
I am focusing on Madosini at the moment because we saw her again yesterday - arranging her visa's to travel to the 5th International Jew's Harp Fesstival in Amsterdam's Muziekgebouw Aan 't Ij on 28 July.
She's such an amazing mama, and even though we can't communicate through language, we understand eachother so well.
It made me think of her performances at the WOMAD festivals that she performed at with Patrick Duff, of Strangelove, (as I mentioned in my earlier post) and some recordings I had made of their rehearsals at Vuyo Katsha's house in Montana, Gug's in July 2003.
Patrick had been mesmerized by her performance the year before and had received a grant from the Performing Rights Society in the UK to create a cultural collaboration with Madosini.
And so he flew out for two weeks so they could get to know each other and play around with idea's before getting into serious rehearsals and performances in the UK and a recording in Singapore. This video is grainy and low quality, but I am searching for the tape!
Patrick and Vuyo accompany Madosini as she tells a Xhosa story.
I think the whole experience with Madosini inspired Patrick to get his head back on his shoulders, because soon after his experience of touring with her, he wrote and recorded his latest album Luxury Problems where his songs define a more collected Patrick Duff.
I have a full interview with him where many people will be amamzed at how calm and peaceful he was, sitting on the floor in the middle of a foreign township. He was in a place he really wanted to be in, with a very special new friend - Madosini Manqina.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Blaze - as promised
Blaze has the wonderfully talented Frank on drums, Muriel Marco on keys, Angelo Syster and Eugene Ackerman on strings; and the warming vocals of Chantal Wilkinson to make a complete package.Their repertoire is vast, due to the tons of experience the individual musicians each have, and includes Background, Dance, Latin Dance, African and even traditional Hebrew songs, so it is difficult to pick out one track - but I think this shows their class!
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Lungelo with Kanye West
This week Big Concerts enlisted the services of the sensational new R&B/Hip Hop producer/artist Lungelo, to perform at the Kanye West concert in
The big question everyone in
On the streets, in bars and clubs the secret that is Lungelo is spreading like wild fire. Who is this guy that jumps from gigs on the street to stages in front of thousands of fans with the worlds biggest international super stars in the space of only two months? He clearly has fans all over the country as thousands voted for him to perform at the Snoop concert a couple of months ago.
His first claim to fame was as a finalist on the Coca Cola PopStars Television show. He followed that up with a hit song called “
With his list of accomplishments mounting steadily many wait in anticipation for his debut album later this year. His hot music video “Dirty Girl” is definately guaranteed to spice things up and will also be aired shortly on MTV and Channel O. Amidst the several radio and Tv interviews, he has also been producing for Prokid, Black Noise and even did the theme song for the new Tv comic series Supa Strika.
All those attending the Kanye West concert in
Monday, July 10, 2006
M.E.L.T. making Busi Mhlongo Live DVD
Robert has spent most of the last 12-years working closely with many of the most important traditional and cultural musicians from South Africa, and so he has so many stories to tell.
He is coming down from Cullinan to work with Murray Anderson from Milestone Studios on the final edits of a DVD of Busi Mhlongo Live, and I will definitely be joining them in the studio for that!
Busi has been one of the few artists that I have ever heard that brought me to tears during a sound check. She was part of the final presentation evening, in November 2003, to FIFA in South Africa's bid for the 2010 World Cup. We had a big marquee stretched out on the front lawn of the main house, at Vergelegen Wine Estate in Somerset West, and I was the only person there to witness her.
She was performing songs from her internationally acclaimed album Urban Zulu, and the power and beauty with which she expressed herself was just too much for me!
Produced by former Soul II Soul producer Will Mowat, this album was just one of the many many successful recordings to be released under Roberts label, as it is still considered to be one of the most exciting World Music CD's to be released from South Africa. Busi spent 2 months on the # 1 spot of the Billboard's World Music charts...
This is why I am so excited - being able to watch some of the process, watch the masters at work.
I will definitely get some footage for Peak, so keep an eye out here!
Saturday, July 08, 2006
UJU - sweet as Zulu honey
Not a gathering of friends go by that I don't pull their CD Cape to Cairo out of the office and let my friends feast on its atmosphere! Uju has a jazzy African hip hop kind of flavour. With vocals by the beautiful Lerato Ntsamai, Wandile Molebatsi creates so much mood on Djembe, Percussion, Harmonica and Vocals, Khumo Kganyago Jazz/Lead Guitar, Mosebetsi Nzimande Bass Guitar and Earl Joseph on Acoustic Guitar - but ultimately it is the voice and words of Ntuthu - the muse - who make Uju so smooth.
Just have a look at how funky their EPK is!!
Madala Kunene and the ancestors
With every birthday that comes by, I always think back to his birth and what an unbelievable experience it was to be there to watch him take his first breath. Welcoming him into our lives, with all the excitement and hope that suddenly explodes into your life with that first cry, you know from that moment your life will never be the same.
We wanted his first moment to be special too, an were fortunate that the Milnerton Medi-Clinic let us welcome Jasper with music of our choice. We had chosen a very peaceful album by one of my favourite artists, Madala Kunene, and his collaboration with Swiss guitarist Max Lässer on Madamax. Madala has revived the 'Madalaine' style of guitar playing, combining blues & soul with African folk, developing the trance-like quality of his Zulu folk singing, and it is beautiful on this album.
With vocals from Lungiswa Plaatjies, and the American lap-steel guitarist, David Lindley, contributing, this album just perfectly fitted the birth of our son. An album with African and European influence in all the right places, the working together of two worlds, the common language, and as Max described it, “that meeting Madala Kunene was like finding a brother from another culture”.
Madala has some other very powerful albums under his belt, as Maskanda’s popularity grows world-wide; he has released Uxolo, Kon’ko Man, and First Double One and Two with Madala & Baba Makoena Serakoeng featuring Sibusiso Bernard Mndaweni, and some other very powerful albums through Musical Energy Loud Truth.
Madala is a very humble man, and on the many times that I have been able to sit with him and talk, I have always felt very grounded, relaxed, and slightly in awe. I know that Madala writes his songs from the dreams that his ancestors deliver to him, and listening to his tracks, you can feel their presence. In particular I find this true with Khon’ Othwele from the Uxolo album and also Kon’ko Man. Mabi Thobejane is on percussion, and the two of them take you on a sensational journey, making you rise with the rhythmic beat, rattle and guitar riffs, the cow bells talking to you until they slowly set you down, decreasing the speed and accentuating the subtle sounds; as if to put you gently back to sleep.
This is listening music, music for the soul.
And celebrating Jaspers birth date once again makes me listen and appreciate again how beautifully timeless Madala’s sounds are.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
1st Project - A Drumming Experience
1st Project is an industrial percussion act that has a pulse of pure primal energy that is uniquely South African! Combining elements of rock, traditional African rhythms, house and Latin, they have created a style of music that'll blow your mind!
And they have already done that to many celeb's and important people; Nelson Mandela, President Thabo Mbeki, Charlise Theron and even Jerry Springer - though I think his mind was blown long before he saw them! And this is not to mention all the big name stars that they have collaborated with; Westlife,
Ja Rule, Seether, Johnny Clegg, Miriam Makeba, TK, Malaika and others.
This is a live performance to give you an idea of the power, the potential and the energy of their show! But that's why I am posting this - proudly South African energy!
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Amampondo - 25 years young!
Amampondo, from Langa outside Cape Town, have been making music for 25 years!
They are the father's of South African marimba music, meaning that most of the marimba sounds you'll hear in South Africa, were probably put down by them. Peak, with some very good friends Garth Meyer and Douw Jordaan from Gardot Flix, had the honour of making their first music video, to the track Seng' Inkomo.
Filmed on a shoe-string budget at the City Varsity Campus in October 2004, this track shows just how modern traditional music can be, and that you don't need a huge budget to make something beautiful.
Seng' Inkomo, a song about the importance of 'Milk' in our every day lives, by Amampondo.
We had just shot an interview for ETV for a documentary about ex-President Nelson Mandela. Madosini is one of his favourite artists, and as she comes from the same area in the Transkei, she was interviewed, in Xhosa, at Gugus Thebe Langa Cultural Centre in Langa.
Needing a nice quiet place to get some footage for my files I took Madosini to Rhodes Memorial, up above the University of Cape Town, on the slopes of Devils Peak. This is her short piece.
Xixel Langa Quartet video
In the meantime, here is our first demo video - the Xixel Langa Quartet. Listen, watch and enjoy!
Labels: Xixel Langa
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Madosini - The Queen of Pondoland music
Lenny spent a good month with her when we took Amampondo on tour to the
Though essentially a solo artist and story-teller, its her mastery in the making and playing of the Uhadi (berimbau), Isitololo (Jews Harp) Umrhubhe (mouthbow), and she adds this speciality to the sound of many groups and collaborations.
She's been a regular part of Amampondo, she worked with Thandiswa Mazwai on the short film Spirit of the Uhadi and her album Zabalaza, and has appeared at WOMAD Festivals in the UK, Australia, Singapore, and many more, with artists like Patrick Duff (ex-Strangelove) and Vuyo Katcha. She also represented the Xhosa tribe in the multi-cultural Jazz ensemble PedXulu (a combination of Pedi, Xhosa and Zulu musicians)
One of our most exciting experiences with her was our first attempt to send her off on tour with the Pondo's in 2002. The group were on their way to perform with the The Sto:lo (People of the River) or First People of Chilliwack, Canada, and we had booked all the travel and accommodation using the information we had received from the group, including Madosini. But when we arrived at the BA check-in counter, they refused to let her on the plane, as the name on her ticket was different from the name in her passport...
You feel the bottom of your world fall out from under you when this happens, and the only thing to do, is to move into four-wheel drive and pull the funniest faces you can to ensure the artist is on that plane.
The ground-staff were amazing, and gave us the time of the flight to Johannesburg to sort it out with the airline there – they let her on the flight as long as we knew that there was a chance she would be stranded in JHB – motivation enough for Lenny to pull out all stops and beg, plead and threaten. What a relief it was to eventually get her on the flight to Canada later that night.
It was only later that same year, when we sent her to WOMAD Canary Islands when another abnormality was sorted out. Madosini’s birth date made her out to be a beautiful, sprightly 82-year old. We were always amazed at how good she looked, with clear skin and eyes, and great spirit, but the Spanish didn’t feel the same.
When travelling to
It was only during the research and filming of Thandiswa’s Spirit of the Uhadi while in the
Madosini is currently performing in
Madosini lives in a single room in an old hostel in the heart of Langa with 6 other adults, and 4 children under the age of 6.
But it’s her music that opens the mind to the wide sky of the
Madosini Manqina – the Queen of Pondoland.
Monday, July 03, 2006
Juno Reactor & Amampondo
Juno's Ben Watkins is an amazing character, and his music has always been considered groundbreaking. When asked to label his style of music, he says:
I think it's a collision, music that's waiting for the crash.
What many people don't know is that Ben has had a close relationship with
The 1997 release Bible of Dreams, Juno's fourth album implemented tribal influences Amampondo on the single Conga fury. Ben and Amampondo went on a five week tour of the
Amampondo also worked with Billy Idol's rock god guitarist Steve Stevens on Juno's 5th album Shango in 2000. The first track from the album, Pistolero, was also featured in the trailer for the movie ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO.
Since then the guys have continued touring - the live performance is awesome, and made all the more striking when you see the live African element of percussion and drums, mixed with Ben's mind boggling performance.
Ben's main passion - and where he really shines - is the making of soundtracks for movies, and he's already got a string under his belt, with MORTAL KOMBAT and MORTAL KOMBAT ANNIHILATION, anime series TEXHNOLYZE, which featured their single Guardian Angel as its opening theme, he composed the score for Graham BakerÂs BEOWULF, and even had a track on the mid 80's film FERRIS BUELLERÂS DAY OFF.
Juno Reactor will be releasing a mini album on 8 July 2006 to coincide with the launch of the film Brave Story in
I think what really stands out in Ben's composition, is that he isn't scared to mix the old and the new, the traditional with the techno, cultures, languages and styles.
And its awesome to know that this knowledge gets to our local artists with every collaboration!
CODA - oh so hot!!
So we contacted Carol Thorns - she was the lead of Electro-Muse, and we were sure they would fit the bill exactly! Only problem was, she told us, she had just split from the group, and was on the N1 back to
Peak: Can you do it? Can you put a group together for us?
Carol: I'm sure I can. I've got Rayelle on Electric Violin - yes - lets do it.
And so the basis for CODA was set down. We suggested she meet with the funkiest DJ's on our database, DJ Nick Matthews from Iridium Project, and then we introduced her to Yolanda Yawa (ex Tucan Tucan), a beautiful Jazz vocalist, and now they are flying high!
Having done a number of high profile gigs in SA and abroad, CODA is currently recording their first album (I was promised that I would be the first person to receive their first recorded track which I expect any day now - excitement) and we have just heard from Carol that:
CODA has been chosen as one of the top five nominees nationwide in the musician's category of the Top Billing / Momentum lifestyle awards. We will be featured in the August issue of Top Billing magazine and be interviewed for Top Billing TV (date to follow)!
We'd like to say a huge thank you to the Top Billing team for this fantastic opportunity ...
We don't make the music. We don't own the groups, but when you see something that you helped create take-off on such a successful ride, you can only feel immense pride!
We'll bring you the CODA tracks as we get them. Which makes us the first, and you the second!
(Coda (Say ko-da) noun
Music: section of a movement added at the end to clinch matters or where all significant themes come together.)