Thursday, November 30, 2006
No more Mo the Meerkat
Our offices have been klapped by a tummy bug, and so with most of our staff flat on their backs, there has just been too much to do, to be able to get more articles out.
It has been a busy week… which is why I haven’t had very much to tell!
That was until I was having a quick read at Cherryflava… and watched Mo, the Vodacom Meerkat meet his maker! Excellent! Beats the Leeuloop any day! So enjoy it folks, and spare Dozi a thought – his ad hasn’t had too many mentions…
Friday, November 24, 2006
Salif Keita - Folon
We have done a few courses with Mark as he has such a great way of showing how simple things can be in a certain mindset, and if we follow the path that we feel suits of styles and our passion's, but most of all, to be able to provide the service we all expect ourselves, to our many diverse clients.
So we're praying for a nice hot day at the Blue Peter Hotel. Life's a beach, and if not, then it means you live in the Northern Hempisphere, and can only imagine the suffering we do on your behalf (as can be seen by the terrible view - right!)
I would like to leave you with a magnificent piece by one of Africa's music masters, Salif Keita from Mali. The title track of his album Folon (The Past) is an awesome acoustic piece, and in this great little video Salif Keita shows how simple things can be great.
So - have a good weekend, be creative, listen to good music and enjoy your families and friends! At the end of the day, its what makes us who we are!
Thursday, November 23, 2006
CODA - Believe it!
We got to the Mount Nelson nice and early to ensure that we got a good seat, and were excited to see that the band had been set up in the garden, below the terrace leading out of the Planet Bar. It was a stunning evening, without a breath of wind, and what better place to enjoy drinks than at the Nellie?
I’m glad we did arrive early, because by the time CODA arrived on stage, the garden and terrace was packed with eager and expectant music fans. We spotted a couple of local celeb’s like comedian Irit Noble, Freshlyground’s founder and keyboardist Aron Turest-Swartz, drummer Peter Cohen and guitarist Josh Hawks - and of course the Peakers in the front row!
Yolanda, Carol and Rayelle were dressed beautifully in black, with red jewellery supplied by Yolanda’s Yawa Creations, while Nick was just as funky as ever in his YDE outfit. But it is their style that sets them apart from most other groups in the Cape – always looking good.
Although the sound wasn’t too hot when they started with their first track, it got better as the set carried on, with the audience then really being able to appreciate what they were hearing.
Original compositions such as Brand New Style, the music and production by Gabi le Roux (think Mandoza!), and Mmelwane whose music and production was by Grenville Williams (think Godessa!) really got the crowd warmed up. But it was Ubuhle Bendoda that got them whooping and wowing, and onto their feet to dance! I think this is going to be such a radio hit!
I don’t think any of us expected such a great turn-out, but then they have had a hectic performing schedule over the past year, and this has definitely brought them many fans – there’s nothing better than a live-fan – they stay with you for ever!
So folks – get out there, buy the album, and watch out on Top Billing tonight for the final of the Top Billing Lifestyle Awards for which CODA was nominated.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Skwatta Kamp - The Clap Song!
I contacted Skwatta Kamp recently for a favour - they're one of my favourite SA groups with who it is always a great pleasure to do business as they're just such a professional outfit - and they immediately sorted me out. I wanted them to perform at Desmond Tutu's 75th birthday, and they offered themselves for free without any hesitation!
Since then our plans have changed, and the concert will be much smaller than we originally wanted it - Freshlyground and Vusi Mahlasela are the only artists on the bill at Spier on 07 December.
But that's spirit of this awesome Hip Hop group continuously pumping music out of Soweto, getting the whole country foot-stomping along with their tracks that have even been embraced by the countries mainstream radio stations.
Tracks like Umoya, Skwatta Karnival and the Clap Song are all hard hitting, topical, personal and in your face; because these guys speak their minds!
Their success has seen them walk away with 2 South African Music Awards for Best Rap in 2003 and 2004; a MetroFM Award for Best Hip Hop award in 2003, Best Kwaito/Hip Hop Group at the Kidz Star Awards in 2005 and the Source Award International Artist Of The Year Nomination in 2004, Best Hip Hop Video 2005 Â Channel O Video Music Awards and nominated for Best African Hip Hop at the 2005 Kora Awards.
Skwatta Kamp are Bozza, Shugasmakx, Nemza, SLIKour, Flabba, Nish and Infa make up the machine that is Skwatta Kamp, and they are accompanied by the stunning Relo, whose haunting harmonies soar over and above their catchy rhymes.
The Clap song is one of my favourites. So here it is to start off your week. Go getit!
Friday, November 17, 2006
Youssou N’Dour - In Your Eye's
Someone who sounds great every day of the week – whether live or from my Blue Room speakers – is one of Africa’s greatest… Senegal’s Youssou N’Dour.
I have seen him live a couple of times; the first time at the North Sea Jazz Festival in the Hague, and then quite a lot during the first 46664 concert in Cape Town. We’ve also had the pleasure of dealing with his management, and are excited to be able to offer an artist of him calibre.
When I first saw him at the NSJF, he had the audience eating out of his hand; even getting everyone to sit down on the floor, as is custom in his home village, while he sang a traditional song normally sung at the fireside… As one man, everyone crunched themselves down in a tangle of arms and legs onto the floor. Very cool.
Youssou has really made a mark on the world music scene. As an African he has gone where very few artists have gone before, and it’s his associations with artists like Peter Gabriel (Picture right taken by Bob Gruen) over more than 20 years that really brought him into Western homes.
That’s not to say he isn’t big back home in Senegal, where he is still based. Youssou’s album SET, in which he makes urgent moral appeals to his people, caused a groundswell of action – by the people and not government – under a sort of urban ecological movement known as “Set-Setaal” (“Be Clean”), where the ghetto’s were painted and cleaned up, getting water to more people and where communities helped each other to make their lives better. He has done much more, which is why there have long been calls for him to enter politics as the people want him to be President.
So, looking back, but ahead to a good weekend, here is a classic Peter Gabriel track (yes, that is what he looked like 20 years ago!) filmed at a WOMAD Festival in which he features Youssou N’Dour – In Your Eye’s. Enjoy.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Vusi Mahlasela singing for Africa
This amazing tour through more than 40 cities in Europe, and North America since the end of September, and they have their final dates happening over the next few days:
11.16.06 Peekskill, NY Paramount Center for the Arts
11.17.06 Somerville, MA Somerville Theatre
11.18.06 Lebanon, NH Lebanon Opera House
11.19.06 Troy, NY Troy Savings Bank Music Hall
“Habib Koité’s reputation as a guitar player has become almost mythical, combining rock and classical techniques with Malian tunings that make the guitar sound like a kora or ngoni."
- New York Times
“Vusi Mahlasela was a voice during the revolution, a voice of hope, like a Woody Guthrie or Bob Dylan of South Africa, and he still is.”
- Dave Matthews
“Wow! Dobet Gnahoré is one helluva talented artist. Powerful singing combined with a charismatic stage presence, original choreography, and a theatricality that reminded me of Marie Daulne of Zap Mama.”
- Sean Barlow, Afropop Worldwide
Wow. It must've been an amazing tour. What a pity that it is not going to feature anywhere in Africa. After all, it is about the continent… for Africa… by Africans… but no matter! At least the message is getting out there.
Remember that Vusi was an important voice of protest, and peace, at the end of Apartheid, and so has always continued to be a voice that is respected for its message; which was why he was invited to perform at the inauguration of President Nelson Mandela in 1994.
Habib Koité is just such an amazing artist too. Lenny and I bought a couple of his albums a few months ago, and they have lived in our car.
Habib was very involved in Mali, where tribal conflicts had reached a peak just before the first democratic, multiparty elections in 1992. Koité’s extraordinary talent in bringing together divergent musical styles is evident in his songs, in which he lets us hearmultiple ethnic traditions of his country, and nurture the goal of a pan-Malian culture.
Ivorian Gnahoré, she was studying music and dance in the pan-African community of Ki-Yi in the Ivory Coast, where social conflict has led to the displacement of thousands in the last decade. Eventually, she migrated to France, where her artistic identity continues to evolve. Gnahoré’s songs, musically and lyrically diverse, evoke the struggle and hope of her country.
3 different styles, merging into one, bringing the message of hope and a positive future for Africa to audiences in the 'first' world. Much like the video I am showing today, of Vusi’s performance at the Johannesburg Live 8 event in 2005.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
CODA launches Beautiful
Where: Planet Bar, Mount Nelson Hotel
Very cool. Coda is launching their debut album titled ‘Beautiful’. And we had a small part to play in it - that makes me proud!
Hell! Right in the begining I even wrote to Gabi le Roux, and said something in-line with – this is what they look like, the is what they sound like, and read a bit about who they are, and let me know what you think - you want to work with them? And he wrote:
Sent: 14 November 2005 10:12 PM
Subject: RE: CODA
Hi Rouvanne..., This is undoubtedly a class act with a great musical pedigree. I listened to the track and, being a Cafe DM and BB fan myself, needless to say..."I get it" Beautifully done guyz!
More specifically here are my comments:
1) The live Accordion is a prominent feature in the track...can I assume that was a live accordion sampled track contributed from vinyl by Nick? If so, I need to be a little frank and critical, it sounds so pure and Continental that not many listeners would make the connection that it was the DJ element? One would simply assume it's a member of the band who plays a great Accordion? Having only had the benefit of listening to 1 track, I'd like to encourage Nick to experiment more...i.e. "fck around" a bit more DJ-wise...That's what may make you guys even more unique? Having said that, I love the electronic sequenced pops that moves around the stereo profile , as well as the big atmospheric "sweeps" that end some of the phrases...nice man! Gimme more!
2) Cello...hey...what can I say? It's mesmerising! Again maybe just experiment more with effects now and then and then bring it back to "dry" again? Even a bit more agression here and there (chops, plucks, etc...) Great tone, tuning etc!
3) Violin? Um...is there any? If so, then I'm dumb enough to have confused it with the Cello played in upper register? I love Electric violin, having grown up on "Jean Luc Ponty".
4) Vocals...nice lazy, jazzy delivery. Diction not very clear, but I suspect that could be technically beefed up by adding slightly more compression and a bit of exciter set on around 4500. Some likeness to Cezaria Evora?
All in all...a GREAT CONCEPT, yet I feel not taken far enough. SO...If you guys should find that I may be suitable to collaborate with, then here's what I'd like to do.
1) Start off just doing one track to see if we have chemistry.
2) In this track, go a bit more up-tempo dance-ish, using more sampling and "abstract" DJ elements. Experiment with both Cello and Violin FX processing and then contrast it by bringing it back to "dry", etc. Use more Electronic and acoustic percussive elements.
3) Introduce unmistakable African elements, to "tag" it as "not just another European release..." This can be done vocally, as well as using sampled traditional instruments (tonal and atonal).
4) Do 2 mixes of the track, one Radio and one specifically more experimental and extended for club use...even "dubby"?
Hope my praises, criticisms and suggestions are taken in the spirit of the huge respect I have for your collective musicianship and the great concept you guys devised.
That’s what Gabi said a year ago, and they had only been together for two roughly months - with famous cricketer Jacques Kallis' Benefit function in Cape Town being the first corporate gig they did for us, as a trio...
Now they have put together their collective creativity, with Gabi and Grenville Williams from Godessa fame having worked on some tracks, and completed their first CD - Beautiful. Just beautiful!
Where: Planet Bar, Mount Nelson Hotel
Jabu Khanyile - Mmalo-We
On Monday morning I went and sat on the rocks, over looking Grotto Bay and the many whales that were frolicking in the water, hoping to catch some fish for the supper table – or at least just get a bloody bite for a change! I’d been out to buy the Cape Times earlier, and so while sitting there enjoying the fresh sea-breeze, the magnificent beauty of the whales, and feeling the sun soak into my skin, when I was suddenly shocked to read about the passing of Jabu Khanyile.
I can’t go on about how many artists we have lost, when it is what I said just a few posts ago, but it left me feeling truly shocked and stunned. What a loss.
Jabu was one of those truly special South African artists; he first made impact on the local music scene in the 1980’s with the music group Bayete which caught the attention of Chris Blackwell, who released a 'Mmalo -We' on his World Music label Mango.
In 1994 Jabu earned himself South African Music Awards for Best Male performer of the year and Best Song of the year (Mmalo-We).
We had more to do with Jabu after the release of his solo album Wankolota, through Gallo, in 2003 – a track that brought him much playtime and exposure around the world.
We had negotiated on his behalf for a number of contracts, and were even forward a letter of apology from the German government from when he appeared earlier this year at the World Cup and that crazy man tried to injure the audience by driving his car into them!
We will miss him for his style and his passion for Africa, but at least we have his music to keep him alive.
Friday, November 10, 2006
It's tough being at the top, but I think even tougher when you're at the top, and you have to let your deputy speak on your behalf... must really give you a sinking feeling...
And with the beautiful hot summer weather here again, temperatures soaring, lil bit of sunscreen, or baby-oil, which ever tickles your fancy, we need to think very carfeully about saving water...
So well done to Western Cape inventor Willem van Rensburg & Pronto for sexing it 'up' this summer! And for keeping politics out of the bedroom!
But hey Cape Town! Talking about sexy... this evening 17h00 - 19h00 at Caprice in Camps Bay you can have yourself the sexiest sundowners with Iridium Project! They'll be getting the weekend going with some really awesome electronic vibes for the first time in almost 5 months, as some of the group has been jet-setting around the world! They are also going to be on a high, as DJ Nick told me yesterday that they have their first track being featured on the main playlist at 5FM, and at the moment you can hear it being played on average every two hours!
Its summer Cape Town, get out there and enjoy yourselves!
07/02/06 UPDATE: I was very chuffed to read that Pronto Condoms were awarded the Most BeautifulObject at the 2007 Design Indaba - Read more here!
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Khunjani jazz is like a homecoming
To give you a few examples, we have a choir, the Cape Town Chorus, made up of teenagers from the township of Khayelitsha, a huge sprawling suburb outside Cape Town. This choir is a Welsh Chorale Choir, and have performed to great appreciation at an eisteddfod in Wales – but of course its Welsh only in describing its name because the music is pure African!
Old slave & folk music, originating in the Cape when slaves were brought here during the 1600’s and 1700’s, has developed into a totally unique style that won’t be found anywhere else in the world, as anyone who has witnessed the annual Cape Malay choir & minstrel festival in the New Year can agree with!
We have Johnny Clegg. Even Freshlyground.
We are the Kings of Kwaito in SA.
Same with Jazz. A musical style that was started at the beginning of the 20th century in New Orleans, combining old West African musical traditions with Western influences, Blues and Ragtime, and religious influences.
Here in South Africa, Jazz became popular in the 1950’s, with Dolly Rathebe, Dorothy Masuka, and of course Miriam Makeba. From this a new style developed, Afro Jazz, and artists like Hugh Masekela used their influence while in exile to fight Apartheid.
Afro-Jazz. It’s like it belongs here, the continent where its roots are; that its gone off somewhere else, developed, only to come home again... It's nature is 'protest' music.
We have a group called Khunjani, whose core is made up of traditional musicians from famous Marimba & Percussion group Amampondo, who practise exactly that classical cross-over style of music. Jazz with all the regular instruments, the piano, guitar, bass, and trumpet, but then add in some funky African skins, some percussion and even a marimba, and we’re talking something totally different!
I managed to capture a little bit of amateur footage of them – and it shows a little of their style… their African style. Lil’ bit of protest jazz to lift you for the weekend!
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Just Jinger in SA Summer 2006
Just go and listen to their track What He Means again, and think about it.
Wouldn't be cool to have Just Jinjer at YOUR party this summer? Wearing their 46664 t-shirts... It can be.
I am sure that bookings with be quick and as they did say - limited amount of shows - we will hope to be able to get a few for clients.
Ahhh... I love summer!
Simphiwe Dana from around the world
Wolfgang, who has degrees in Foreign Trade, African Economics and Communication Sciences, has since been to Cape Town a number of times more; sleeping on our couch, Jasper’s bed, the floor in the lounge – where-ever we could put him! And in return he hosted us in 2004 when we took a catalogue of artists to the POPKOMM festival in Berlin, and later we shared the same B&B during the 2004 WOMEX in Essen.
When I grow up one day I want to have as many CD’s as Wolfgang has! As he explains,” I rather collect CDs than banknotes.”
Living in a stunning 1930’s apartment block with high ceilings, big rooms and long passages, I couldn’t believe the amount of CD’s, DVD’s and LP’s he has collected over the years. Almost every wall is covered with racks, from floor to ceiling, and the amazing thing is that he knows where everything is. When talking about an artist he would dash off and pluck the CD he wanted without having to look around – he just knows.
Wolfgang used to live Eastern side of the Berlin wall during the Cold War, but as a music journalist, he was permitted from time to time travel across to the decadent Capitalist and of course 'friendly' countries like Cuba. In 1989 when the wall came down, he was in the U.K., suddenly finding himself free, and not having to adhere to the strict controls that he had had to put up with at home.
But being on the Eastern side of the wall, Wolfgang came into contact with quite a number of South African musicians who were studying at East Germany during Apartheid, with whom he used to play music. So from those early days, his love of South African music has continued, and I have some awesome recordings of concerts and interviews he's had with artists like Pops Mohamed, Dorethy Masuka and Hugh Masekela.
At the beginning of last year, just after the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, we started getting loads of enquiries for the very exciting Simphiwe Dana, after she had blown audiences away. We made contact with her, and her partner who manages her, and although they were very pleased to work with us, we didn't have any of marketing material – which isn’t great when trying to impress clients.
So we only had one thing to do – contact Wolfgang! And within 15 minutes we had a write-up, and a track from her debut album, Zandisile.
Simphiwe, who hails from the Transkei, has gone on to become one of the top artists available in South Africa, and with her strong sense of community spirit, has co-written tracks with strong social messages – Sibuthwele Ubunzima explores the problem of hunger in SA, Zandisile is a song from mother to daughter, and Ingoma is about the joy that can be found in music, regardless of other problems in your life. Her music touches the soul.
To celebrate a new album by this South African star, The One Love Movement on Bantu Biko Street that will be hitting the shelves soon, I have been able to find a small snippet of her Zandisile video – once again having to get it from a Spanish fan who has posted the vid. It matters not, as long as we get to enjoy it!
Monday, November 06, 2006
Freshlyground win MTV Africa award!
But just because I am quiet doesn’t mean the world stopped turning - there was so much happening; Freshlyground becoming the first South Africans to win the MTV Award for Africa on Thursday night in Copenhagen; Australia drawing against Wales in rugby, but then utterly destroying the West Indies in India during the Champions Trophy final; Saddam Hussein being sentenced to death by hanging; and our very own shaky Shaik's having his appeal turned down! Lots to keep us entertained!
Apart from that, we are still coming to terms with the passing of P.W. and whether he deserved to have our flag flown at half-mast in his honour; we wait in anticipation to see whether the NPA will be bringing new charges against Jacob Zuma; and finally whether the Americans have finally come to their own Rubicon and will vote the Democrats in…
Ultimately – I think we should celebrate Freshlyground and what they have achieved. It’s a milestone, and one that we should all be proud of - even if Doo Bee Doo irritates the hell out of me. I like it that they beat a whole lot of Nigerian artists. Damn, they actually beat a whole lot of African artists to get there!
So today I will let you enjoy one of their newer videos – I’d like. I’d like to see more and more South African groups making it internationally, but in the meantime, groups like Freshlyground, Goldfish, Seether and Just Jinjer are paving the way!
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Hog Hoggidy Hog - Time for love
An event 5-months in the planning, suddenly changed shape, character and most importantly, timing, and became a totally different beast. I mean, can you imagine a West Coast Fishing Village in the centre of town?
Well, we did it. In fact the bokkems and snoek filled the hall with such an authentic aroma, nobody knew better!
Stormin’ Norman & 35 Minstrels matched the South Easter in power when they greeted the buses at the entrance. The wind was pomping, and they lit up the entire neighbourhood! Hot stuff! Fadiel Gasant from the Orient Community Minstrels gathered his top characters from his community as typical West Coast fisherfolk, and the Starlight Rhythms jammed from the stage.
But Len and I had to get away. 31 October was our 11th wedding anniversary (and still loving eachother like day 1!), so I had booked a special table at Antique… Eric was a happy man. So Antique welcomed us in style.
Until Lenny took a look out the window. The 31st floor didn’t really turn her on, so we ended up on one of the ‘beds’ where one can dine almost ‘Roman’ style, with curtains blocking out the view, and of course to give you the privacy that you deserve when you’ve been married 11 years… Kinda feel like a veteran…
Let me tell you this. If you want great service – go to Antique (thank you René) – if you want excellent food – go to Antique (Ok. Lennny makes better Satay sauce…. But hell…) their tuna steak was like butter and the duck that I demolished was unforgettable. They served us champagne on the house, and were graceful and attentive throughout the night – everybody, from the manager to strolling waitrons – something to experience!
We were exhausted – but it was 'Time for love', as the Hog Hoggidy Hog’s say – one of Cape Town’s hottest Punk Rock bands (right - thanks Craig). I hear the Hog’s are going to be giving some of their special love at Gandalf’s, on Lower Main Road in Obs on Saturday 04 November for Guy Fawkes. And you gotto love them!
Remember that these guys didn’t only play naked at Oppikoppie in front of 5000 people, but were even featured oiled and naked in the July 2001 edition of Cosmopolitan – not exactly punk, but it got their names out there.
So here are HHH – live at the Roxy in Jo’burg with Time for Love!
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Die Groot Krokodil is no more
Listening to Cape Talk radio this afternoon, I heard Pieter Dirk-Uys, who has over the years focused much attention on the finger-wagging politician, saying that he has now lost his "brood en Botha" - further, not many people were really sorry at his passing. But who can blame them?
Right to the end he continued to be defiant, and as he had refused to be part of the TRC, to help the NPA with enquiries, or even publicly state that he was sorry for what happened in South Africa under his rule, I too am not sorry.
When a man such as Nelson Mandela, who had 27-years taken away from him, can embrace his former jailers, can forgive those who wronged him, how can we respect one who does not even admit he was wrong, and accept that his decisions destroyed the hopes of many?
My feelings go out to his family; he was a husband, a father, a grandfather, and probably a great-grandfather, and they will feel the loss. I am sure he was a different man to them.
There'll be no crocodile tears here for the old Groot Krokodil.