Monday, April 30, 2007


Neighbour, I see you in Zimbabwe

I am proudly South African. I tell people this freely and easily, and pretty much with chest-beating pride! But here I sit, way down at the bottom of Africa, not really knowing if I am proudly African.

How can I be trying to make my own country a better place; spread a level of understanding about our different cultures, and encourage a spirit of ubuntu, when right next door in Zimbabwe, the people are suffering. Almost everyone is suffering. But can you imagine trying to be a musician? (right - old history, Zim ruins by Garth Meyer)

I am no great fundi on music from Zimbabwe, and am pleased to learn more, apart from the hot names that have made an international impact, like Thomas Mapfumo, Oliver Mtukudzi & PaxAfro…. Ok – they were abit like the Pop Idols of Zim, being a creation of Professor Jonathan Moyo – then Propaganda Minister of Zim – so they’re more infamous!

I was introduced to a group of musicians last year, through an amazing project under the banner The Collaboration featuring Chiwoniso Maraire & Busi Ncube (left). They have taken artists, who all have their own bands, to participate in this project, and ended up with the album Hupenyu Kumusha/Life at Home/Impilo eKhaya. It’s an amalgamation of ideas from the contributors and features a variety of styles and grooves from Afropop to Zimjazz.

I am first keen to introduce you to a future contributor to Peak People, Steve Sparx from Thulani Promotions from Zimbabwe, who will be giving us more details about the situation there. I asked him to start with a brief summary of a musician’s life in Zimbabwe in these times

So how does a musician survive an economic meltdown?

The artists in Zimbabwe have effectively been marginalized in most cases - it is almost impossible to fix performance fees and to budget for expenses related to either live shows or recording - everything from CD repro, to printing cost, to fuel, to food changes on an almost daily basis. What appears enough today is insufficient tomorrow.

We as Thulani Promotions have subsidized where we can but the emphasis must be on self sufficiency; we take our catalogue with us wherever we perform so we have more than one CD to offer, we try and US Dollarize our prices when offering performances and we look for new channels to promote our music wherever possible.

I have attended Womex and visited Scandinavia to promote tours; we send the album to World Music review sites, promote to festival organizers and make contacts with similar minded people whom we might collaborate with.

The artists are patient and behind it, they all have a share in Thulani and believe we have a formula to pull through and to expand our horizons - I believe that “the darkest moment begets the brightest creativity” and we continue to spread our vibe wherever, and whenever we get the chance.

Just this past weekend we provided 5 bands, and a clown, to the Chimanimani Festival - here in Zimbabwe. This is a rural festival aimed at agro-industry workers, their families and other people in the area. It was last held in 2003, when it was real popular with tourists (yes we remember them too) and Harare folk, but it came unstuck through the prevailing situation - we helped to revive it with a memorable show and expect that it will now be back on the Zimbabwean festival circuit (OK so now there are 2) on an annual basis PLUS the festival trust will be reviving their rural artist development outreach program once they reestablish ties with interested donors.

So there is light and we will continue to be drawn to it, and yes, the darkest time is just before the dawn.

Would be great to get more regional shows and also to increase our productivity to bring in some new talents from this part of the world into the fold, we also want to get some more collaborative work that brings together different parts of Africa and explore our brand of fusion to see how far it goes.

Of course the new technologies for distribution (downloads/ringtones/etc) have not had much impact on the Zimbabwean music scene yet but we want to be part of it when it happens and for this to benefit the artists too.

We wanna tour the world and bring our groove with us - so that’s how you survive a meltdown - Optimism and Intention.

Watch this space

Stevie Sparx

Its difficult to keep quiet – I am passionate – and I see cultures dying because the battle to survive, to put food on the table, must prevent elders the freedom to sit and teach the youth the sounds of old. Young adults must be starving for musical education, and positive influence. And established musicians – well – I am sure they just leave.

Here is a podcast by Pambazuka News Featuring the music of Busi Ncube (Ilanga & Blue Rain) who I will be posting about later this week – it’s a little old (last month), but it gives you the message, with Busi's music!

I am not a politician. I am not a freedom fighter, and my voice is soft in a world of screams, but I believe in ubuntu; as a philosophy and a way of life; as a solution. Africa’s own solution.

I want to be a proud African; I want my neighbours to be safe, and secure, prospering in this wonderful age; for then I will sleep better at night.

What are you going to do for your neighbour this week?

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Breakfast with Corne & Twakkie

I received a reminder message this morning, from the comedy duo of T*M*A*S (The Most Amazing Show), the most magnificent Corne & and most lovely Twakkie, who have a show starting now at the beginning of May.

Lenny & I have bumped into Twakkie twice in the last few weeks; the first time when he was trying to get in the backstage entrance at the Springbok Nude Girls Peace Breaker launch at the Tafelberg Tavern (we eventually got him VIP tickets so he wouldn’t cause a scene!); and then last week when we were in a meeting with our design team at iaminawe shouting something about breakfast (it was lunch-time by then) and so we told him to just mail us!

"Like your lady bringing you breakfast in bed on the morning of which you of forgotten her birthday, here we are - Me, Corne, and my little friend Twaks, as a gentle reminder.

Our show, which is called 'Breakfast Bonanza' is on Saturday and Sunday mornings at the Kalk Bay Theatre. The time which it will be is 1030 am, every Saturday and Sunday from May 05 till June 24th. Pre-booked tickets cost R65, and are combined with, included kind of a thing... the loveliest free coffee...Could you believe it?"

You can telephone the Kalk Bay Theatre on 073 220 5430 to book yourself a place for the greatest show in the world.

PLEASE NOTE: Breakfast is NOT included.

So here is a little piece that iaminawe put together for T*M*A*S Very Late Show, when they hosted the Smirnoff International Comedy Awards… it’s the very late show, so you can get to the Kalk Bay Theatre nice and hungry for breakfast!

Have a great day folks!

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Sunday, April 29, 2007


EverestSA2007 – Update 5

We’re pretty worried about my ‘unc’ John Brand, as it was reported on Thursday that he had been sent back to Base Camp from Advanced Base Camp to rest for a few days, because he was/is suffering from altitude-related illnesses, and we haven’t heard any more. (right - ABC taken from Camp 4)

My mother, who is the early bird, said that there was no mention about it on KFM’s morning cross-over to Ronnie on Friday morning, but then we have noticed that the station is more interested in getting their ‘breakfast show mug' to the top, than what is actually happening on this expedition… Marketing and advertising at all costs!

John has suffered in the past from altitude related illness, and has had to turn around on Aconcagua without being able to summit because of this. There are various forms of altitude illness, but it is basically explained that acclimatization is a major cause of it:

Acclimatization is an adaptive process that allows human beings to tolerate high altitude. It is a great example of how the human body can adapt and respond to a hostile environment. The process of acclimatization begins immediately but requires several days to be notable and requires weeks to be near complete.”

“High altitude illness describes several syndromes that can occur in un-acclimatized individuals shortly after ascent to high altitude. These illnesses usually occur at altitudes of greater than 2,500 meters (8,200 feet)…

So we are just hoping that the rest will get his system back to normal before he attempts any further climbs! These mountaineers are pretty tough characters!

o further news from the mountain was that on 19 April Mike, John and Andy spent the day at Intermediate Base Camp, while Ronnie stayed in Base Camp resting his back. The higher up the mountain you are, the less conducive it is to recovery from illness or injury, so it is best to stay as low as possible when dealing with any unfortunate mishaps.

Over one ton of equipment, food and oxygen left Base Camp on the 19th on the backs of 29 yaks.

There were some technical problems, so Ronnie wasn’t able to communicate with the guys up at Advanced Base Camp.

I found this very interesting little BBC doccie on a team of Doctors who set up a tent-clinic at Base Camp, which I thought very interesting. It’s a relief knowing that medical care is available in the event of it being needed, and it is amazing that it is pure passion that drives people to risk their own lives to ensure the safety of others.

Ronnie left Base Camp on the 21st, and reached the rest of the team the following day – but not before getting stuck in a snowstorm! (And you thought Cape Town is cold at the moment!)

On the 24th Mike, John and Andy prepared their climbing gear and proceeded up to the base of the Fixed Lines beneath the North Col. Andy climbed to 6 900m, while Mike and John climbed to 6 750m and 6 650m respectively, leaving Ronnie to relax at A.B.C. – this is the whole acclimatization process.

We haven’t had any replies to our emails – they did say they were having problems setting it up – but I will post the replies when and if I get them.

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Saturday, April 28, 2007


Juno Reactor DVD July 2007

Juno Reactor will be releasing a new DVD in July 2007, and it looks like there is a tour coming up, as I had a message today regarding Mabi Thobejane – more information on that when Ben answers his Skype messages!

But in the meantime, here is a short trailer for that soon-to-be-released DVD…

Juno Reactor was initially formed in 1990 by musicians Ben Watkins & Stephen Holweck as an experimental ambient project to record a soundtrack as part of a sculptural art installation & performance project by sculpture artist (and Watkins' girlfriend) Norma Fletcher. And one of their exciting projects was The Missile Project.

The got hold of a decommissioned missile from the English Ministry of Defence, loaded it on the back of a flatbed-truck and toured it through central London – right past Whitehall & Parliament. It was a statement in protest against the First Gulf War, and I think very cool!

Can you imagine people’s faces as a missile drove by?

Hope you’re having a good weekend!

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13 & still going strong!

It’s the first day of our 13th year of freedom; 13 years of new hope; 13 years young and still going strong!

Long live South Africa!

Yesterday brought back the very powerful memories I have of standing in that long-snaking queue, the chill and cloudy weather daring us to flee for shelter and warmth of a secure home; half the whities trembling anxiously – would the rumours that had been whispered quietly around dinner tables, in car-parks and during business meetings actually happen? Would they be swept into the sea, followed by the coloureds, the Indians and the Asians? Would the swart-gevaar finally become a reality?

Thirteen years later, I think that the only danger we have had is in our own fears and inaction. It has been our lack of understanding, a hesitancy to go out and break down barriers, to forge new relationships and find acceptance of our vast diversity, that has held us back. I am talking about the man on the street, the people who share this wonderful country, together, regardless of who is in power, or what our past has been – it is the us on the street who makes this country what it is.

Our country has a long history; a history that includes many cultures, much hardship & suffering, and unfortunately we can’t say that that is all in the past, because there are still tough times ahead – but I am excited to be a part of this re-growth. I look ahead, and try to enthuse others to feel the same excitement; of building a future together, and being proud of our place in the international community. (Jasper & his buddy Chantal)

These are exciting times.

Last night I went to dinner with some of the brilliant young minds of Cape Town, enjoying a great meal at the Cape Town Hotel School Restaurant, who played host to the April get-together known as the 27 Dinner. Techies, internet fundi’s and some pretty awe-inspiring bloggers met to talk about innovation on the net; projects that they are working on; enthusing these passionate people who are part of South Africa’s new media. They are making a difference, though I feel it is still only the beginning!

Hosted by the infectiously energetic Dave Duarte, I was chuffed to meet and listen to the words of people like Graham Knox of Stormhoek Wine, Uno de Waal, Tania (who knows just everybody), cartoonist Mike Scott, Rowan from MyVideo, the whole team from, the Hunter of Genius Maximillian Kaisen , and Glen from The ZA Show

I felt inspired, and am looking forward to helping bring South Africa towards that place it rightly deserves to be. A place we can safely leave to our children.

Viva South Africa Viva!

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Remix Peter Gabriel for Real!

Fancy yourself to be a DJ – a real DJ? How about remixing some tracks by Angelique Kidjo, or Peter Gabriel? Do you want the big man himself to hear your creation? Well, Real World Studios is letting you do just that!

All you have to do is register at their site, choose a remix kit of one of the artists listed to download, get advice about which software to use, and gooi-malloy! Very, very cool.

The first artist featured on the site is Angelique Kidjo, & her track Salala featuring Peter Gabriel. They explain about the track on the site:

"The key was to build DJIN DJIN on a Beninese foundation. The heartbeat, then, comes from percussionists Crespin Kpitiki and Benoit Avihoue, both members of Benin's Gangb'e Brass Band. Details of their country's rhythmic heritage, specific in some cases to individual villages, feed the rhythms they lay down throughout the album.

The contributions of stellar guest artists illuminate Kidjo's concept. By finding a place for their distinctive talents within the marriage of African and Western influences, DJIN DJIN celebrates the beauty of diversity as well as the unity of cultures that Kidjo achieves through her music."
And how about this – to all you oldies out there – Peter Gabriel’s Shock The Monkey!

Wouldn’t you like Peter to hear your version of this classic?

"Peter Gabriel's Shock the Monkey is probably one of the most recognized tracks from his fourth solo album recorded between spring 1981 and summer 1982. This was one of the first tracks to use sampling technology utilizing the ground breaking Fairlight CMI and and other classic machines such as the Linn Drum and the Prophet 5 synth. You can hear these sounds throughout the sample pack. "

"...people saw that as a sort of animal rights song, but it wasn't actually it was a song about jealousy."

This is really a way of embracing the power of the internet as a musician. People are always going to find ways of downloading tracks illegally, and so instead of just jumping up and down in frustration, Peter Gabriel is embracing his fans, and including their thoughts in tracks recorded at Real World. Awesome.

So get over there, download some music, play around with it, and give it back – sounds like a lot of fun - after all there has been a warning about cold weather coming this weekend!

Here is a video of Peter Gabriel and Youssou N'Dour performing 'Biko', in memory of a great man.

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SNG in Port Elizabeth!

The Springbok Nude Girls will be hitting Port Elizabeth is tomorrow night, at Tapas Al Sol, launching their newest album Peace Breaker, at The Union! I am jealous, I must admit! Cape Town was such a cool party, and I’ve heard that Durban was also a hit, so prepare yourself!

I am sure that the windy city will need Freedom Day to recover from the hurricane that is about to hit them!

I have been playing Peace Breaker in the car when I fetch my boys from school, and am proud to say that Jasper (six-and-a-half) has full understanding of Rock ‘n Roll now.

It’s quite something when one considers all the traditional music he has been soaking in since birth - I was quite surprised when he said,

"So Papa, rock is like ‘Weee will, weee will, Rock you’!"

'Yes boykie – that’s Rock n Roll!"

The wisdom of babe.

So folks – get out there tomorrow night, and have a rocking good time!

16h45 UPDATE: I'm sorry people... I wasn't aware that Grahmastown was cancelled. But we have just found out - Arno's mom-in-law, Arlene just confirmed it for me... Sorry about that!

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Unique slide-guitar with a spoon - Hannes Coetzee to the USA

I was very pleased to find a little interesting article this morning(very early due to the lightening - right was taken at 04h51), about an artist who will be traveling overseas for the first time in his life, & then to perform at an international music festival. Hannes Coetzee, an old spoon-sliding guitarist who burst onto the music scene in 2003 as part of the Karoo Kitaar Blues project with South Africa’s David Kramer, comes from the small Karoo town of Herberstdale – and so one can imagine, would not have had many opportunities in the past, like this one!

The film Karoo Kitaar Blues, that has lead to this appearance, is about David & Hannes’ journey into the harsh & arid landscape of Namaqualand and the Great Karoo in 2001, in search of a disappearing musical style. The DVD shows not only musical performances by the artists, but in-depth interviews with violinists, guitarists, piano accordionists and mouth organ players who play what Kramer describes as Karoo Blues.

The guitarists and singers that David invited to perform are all self taught musicians, from the unforgiving and harsh Northern Cape, Namaqualand & the Karoo. These guys started out as piekies by making themselves guitars from empty oil can, hand carved wood and gut, and then learnt to play just by watching and listening to the performers from their families and close communities. I can just see the kids cuddled up to their parents as Ou Oom So-And-So would pull the guitar out while sitting at the spark-spitting fire, under the massive weight of the blanket of African stars…

The rural people from these remote areas are probably the last descendants of the Khoisan, the original indigenous people of Southern Africa who have been pretty much wiped out by our civilization, and so once again generations of emotion can be felt in this music.

Hannes Coetzee, who is in his mid-seventies now, works out in the veld tapping the aloes that grow around his Karoo hometown of Herberstdale for their medicinal juice. He composes his own songs and learnt to play the guitar just for himself (and the aloes I suppose). David says that he is only known practitioner of the ‘optel and knyp’ style(pick-up & pinch), playing slide guitar with a teaspoon in his mouth, which I think makes him unique!

So Hannes will be appearing just outside Seattle, at the Port Townsend Slide & Steel Festival, in the US of A, and I am sure is worried as hell about flying for the first time!

He is performing on June 28 at the Joseph F. Wheeler Theater, and again on June 30 in a show at McCurdy Pavilion. And then he has to fly back… Poor guy. I can imagine how he feels, knowing artists who were scared of getting into the belly of the big bird from the sky.

I think it’s awesome that he’s going – a simple bit of rural life will mean so much too so many!

Here is a short vid showing Herman performing his most unusual style, otherwise I can highly recommend getting the DVD Karoo Kitaar Blues, winner of the Golden Reel Award, Best Musical Documentary, and the 2006 Tiburon International Film Festival (USA). Enjoy!

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Private Stash - an Indian mix

Private Stash is a truly classical Indian collaboration from South Africa (take that Bollywood!). No, no, I didn't mean a hashish mix either - its music. Music for the soul!

Private Stash was founded in 2006 by tabla player Ashish Joshi who gathered a group of young South African born Indian musicians together to create a unique group. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of another group that represents the Indian culture in South Africa as this one does.

So Ashish got together with Ravi Lalloo, Bharat Gordhan, Premal Bhana and Dillen Ramjee plus guests Greg Georgiades and Maynard van der Walt, and they were recorded at The Studio With No Name, the MELT farm just outside Cullinan; a feast of sound and colour.

The whole session will be coming out soon on DVD, and I think that anyone can feel part of the relaxed ambiance of the MELT farm, & this amazing group of musicians that recorded there.

Recorded by well-known sound engineer Chris Lewis, who has been an integral part of most of MELT’s vast catalogue of South African & international collaborations.

The filming was done by Lianne Cox, who was recently nominated for a SAMA for Best Music Video for her work on the late Lebo Mathosa’s video Brand New Day.

(Ok, it's not the smallest of files, but I didn't want you to listen to kak sound... so its worth it!)

UPDATE 07/05/03: Ashish sent me the names of all the artists in the above clip - so you know who they are - and can say you saw them here first! So here is the group that collborates on the project known as Sur Banditz:

Premal Bhana – Sitar
Greg Georgiades – Sarod, Oud
Ashish Joshi – Santoor, Tabla
Bharat Gordhon – Vocals, Harmonium
Dillen Ramjee – Mridungum
Wynand van der Walt – Drums, Percussion
Ravi Lalloo – Tabla, Manjira

Enjoy it again! Because you can!

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World music in Langa

I have spoken many times about one of Cape Town’s most interesting son’s, Dizu Plaatjies, African music lecturer & traditional instrument specialist at U.C.T., composer, story-teller & musician. But I can never say enough!

I am fortunate to work closely with Dizu, and so asked him if he would like to present a number of short clips, in the next few weeks, in which he plays some of the instruments that he specializes in.

In this first piece, Dizu chose to play the Nyungwe, a member of the Mbira or thumb-piano family from Mozambique, but most well known from Zimbabwe.

Dizu’s career started with Amampondo, right in the early days of the group’s formation, where he was the charismatic leader and front-man on stage. Dizu’s persona is regal, and one flash of his smile warms the hearts of his audience – until he starts performing that is, when one feels flashes of ancient history wash over you with his masterful domination of your senses.

He has been hugely successful since he and the group parted ways some years ago, but his teaching projects in Langa, where he mentors the community’s youth, have provided him with an array of talented musicians to form part of his group titled Ibuyambo. If you are into rhythmical traditional music, I can highly recommend MELT 2000’s Dizu Plaatjies & Mzwandile Qotoyi Ethno Trance Live (BNETCD002) – makes me want to get all Johnny Clegg, but I’m afraid I’d pull a hamstring! (Dizu & daughter @ my place)

Dizu has a firm grip on his roots, and by keeping the knowledge of this continents musical history alive, I feel he is a national treasure that needs to be nurtured and respected.

Apart from all the above – he’s a hell of a nice guy too!

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Friday, April 20, 2007


Just Jinjer, the Rudimentals & Lark updates

Just to fill you in on some info before the weekend starts, below you’ll find some info on the Rudimentals, Lark & Just Jinjer. The South African music business is a hive of activity, and looking as healthy as a spring chicken!

The Rudiementals have taken most of April off, after their highly successful CTIJF appearance, to try and give themselves some breathing space to do some of the following things:

1. Breathe.
2. Begin editing the live DVD of Kirstenbosch, shot on 18 March 2007.
3. Breathe again.
4. Start mixing the live album recorded on the same date as above.
5. Start working on new songs.
6. Preparing for a full tilt charge until the end of the year.

Upcoming gigs to look out for are Zula Sound Bar on 27 April and the much awaited Mad Caddies gig at Tafelberg Tavern on Thursday 3 May. They will be sharing the opening slots with Half Price and Hog Hoggidy Hog. Doors open at 7pm sharp and the gig is open to all ages. Tickets are R170 at Computicket or R200 at the door.

Just Jinjer will be touring South Africa in November & December this year, I’ll more details about that later, but if you are wanting to book one of South Africa’s top bands, this info will save you quite abit of international travel costs! They’ll already be here! Wundaful stuff!

And finally LARK launch the re-release of their ‘Mouth of Me’ EP in Gauteng.

While LARK are busy road tripping and winning awards, they have also been in studio remixing and remastering their ‘Mouth of Me’ EP that sold out at the beginning of last year.

The EP will have the original 6 tracks remixed to include their drummer as well as three new tracks, ‘Black Swan’, ‘Weights’ and ‘Heroin Mary’. Included in the release will be their award winning music video ‘Moonlight’ and a dolby surround sound mix of ‘Moonlight’ as well as two remixes of the tracks ‘Grey Evening’ by Mr Sakitumi and ‘Half Eaten’ by Jacob Israel.

The EP was recorded at Sound and Motion Studios in Cape Town and will be released through JUST MUSIC nation wide in the coming month. The band have decided to launch in Gauteng first and then in Cape Town at a later date as there is something special being planned for the band’s hometown fans.
The launch dates are as follows:

2nd MAY – Tings n Times (with Jacob Israel) – Pretoria
3rd MAY – Tings n Times – Pretoria
4th MAY – 88 – Johannesburg
9th MAY – Café Barcelona – Pretoria
10th MAY – Back 2 Basix – Johannesburg

The band will also be doing shows at The Wanderers Club in Johannesburg on the 5th of MAY and at TEMPOS (21:00) in Johannesburg on the 6th of MAY.

Here's a little treat - Just Jinjer live in Johannesburg in 2006.

As I said - have an awesome weekend!

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Cameroonian Della Tamin in Jozi

One of the greatest joys of working in the music industry, is when you get to meet & hear about lots of exciting new artists. And getting to know that artists work seems to broaden horizons – you can’t take that knowledge away, you can only add to it. That’s what its like having Robert Trunz as a music guru! He’s forever broadening my horizons!

The latest artist that he introduced me to is the Johannesburg-based Della Tamin, originally from the Wouri region in Cameroon, where some of the great artists such as Prince Eyango and the late Kotto Bass were his immediate influences.

Della’s songs, which he pens himself, are in his mother-tongue, Medumba, as well as Duala, French & English, and he has been making a name for himself of late by performing at Moyo Restaurants in and around Jo’burg, following a very successful gig at the Bassline.

Della studied physics & chemistry at the University of Cameroon, graduating as a Civil Technician before coming to SA in 2004.

He is recording an album through MELT, which we can expect at a later stage of 2007.

So here’s a little track to broaden your horizon! Della was joined on stage by some local artists, including the Kwani Experience & Live African Percussion duo Frank Magongwa (left) on Bass & percussionist Bafana Nhlapo.

Have an awesome weekend folks – we have a stunning start in Cape Town today!

1st Video from a funky little site!

07/04/23 UPDATE: I was waiting for a mail from Robert as I couldn't remember the back-up vocalists name - it's Laure Yolande Noongo, also from Cameroon, and this mama has a voice to listen to!

Her range goes from Folk to Opera, and I am sure we are going to hear more of her!

I also asked Robert if Della's music would be classed as more World Music mix, or if it is a typical Cameroonian style, and he replied, "
On the one hand he is a singer/songwriter who composes his own songs with a strong influence of the rhythmic patterns of the region of Yaounde (Cameroon) where he was born but Della also admires French chansons which comes out in his romantic and often quite dramatic song writing" - so there you have it.

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Fusion happening all around us

I got off the phone a little earlier to Pops Mohamed, who was filling me in on what he is going to be up to over the next few months. International tours, collaborations, and even a few CD’s will be released under different labels, and genres.

Pops will be leaving to perform in Oslo for 6-weeks from the beginning of May, returning for a short while before jetting off to France for a 3-week collaboration with Jozi’s Kwani Experience. Kwani and Pops will be such an amazing combination – they both focus dearly on traditional instruments and the fusion with jazz.

Kwani also has the L.A.P. guys involved in it, and they’ve been working closely with Robert Trunz from MELT in the last while, appearing live with a number of artists like Madala Kunene, Cameroonian Della Tawin (got a lil vid coming soon!) and Zulu maskanda artist Umshika Shika Qabe.

Pops has been working on a few projects, like doing workshops with a 50-piece youth choir, backed by Kora… There is going to be a CD released soon, in which Pops plays healing music; music from the ancient times that have developed such an important part in today’s hectic life-style (try meditating to Britney…). He is also going to be creating a Social Vibes Volume II, the Volume I, recorded with McCoy Mrubata, has been on the market for some 8-years under Sheer Music, but Pops has his own Record Label now, and so releases his own material.

That is the directions all musicians should strive for; owning your own material, and licensing it out! I’m a small business owner, and believe in the man on the street determines his own destiny – and it works exactly the same for musicians – take charge! Do it yourself baby-shoes! No-one worries about the grumbling of your own belly as you do yourself!

Pops was highly impressed by a collaboration that he saw at Baseline last week; Uju combined with the most hectic Kora players you have ever seen, that I have ever seen, in the world, Ba Cissoko from Guinea.

Lenny & I saw them live in Essen at WOMEX, and how this young lead Kora plays like Jimi Hendrix… Behind the back, up in the air, all with the required leg stomping and grimacing concentration, and he gets really funky when he plays with his teeth!

So Pops, go out there and tell them more about the beautiful diversity of South Africa, play them our music, and carry on being an ambassador for us!

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Thursday, April 19, 2007


EverestSA2007 Update 4

This morning I received an sms via my mother, from my uncle John, who is sitting at the base of Everest, saying that he is feeling wonderful. Their internet is still down, so they are only expecting to receive emails next week. But there is worry about team leader Ronnie, who injured his back.

16 April - After breakfast the team did an acclimatisation climb above Base Camp. We climbed to 5600m on fairly precarious terrain. Where on one occasion Ronnie slipped and hurt his back. The afternoon was spent preparing to move up to Advanced Base Camp.

17 April - Ronnie struggled to get out of bed this morning. His back had gone into spasm due to yesterday’s fall and he will probably not move up to Advanced Base Camp with Mike, John and Andy tomorrow, as a full recovery is imperative before going higher. He has been taking anti-inflammatories to help ease the spasm and pain. John made his famous bully beef stew for lunch, which went down like a storm. (I suppose sitting in such conditions boiled-boot would be great! I prefer John's curry!)

18 April - Early this morning Ronnie was carried on a stretcher to the communications tent where a lady doctor from the Russel Brice expedition gave him some powerful drugs to ease the spasm and pain. For 6 hours he was out for a count, Mike, John and Andy left for Intermediate Base Camp and then on to Advanced Base Camp. Ronnie will join them later in the week.

I’ll be keeping a close eye on updates, and will post anything I hear. Lets hold thumbs he gets sorted out!

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Lark owes me a butt-kick

I want to tell you about what a ‘poephol’ I made of myself the other day, with Lark, our newest SAMA winners of Best Alternative Album for Razbliuto, the funky electronic organic fusion album that’s causing major waves. We were caught up in the frenzy of production for the SNG Peace Breaker launch, and we toying with groups to support the Nudies – when I suddenly thought about Lark!

Lark, as you may already know, has been around for a few years. They’re a young, dynamic mix of artists that fuse a multitude of instruments and disciplines to dramatic effect. I first heard about them through Anton Ressel, a founder of the very cool Streetwires, who is the brother of Paul Ressel, and who I also happened to go to school with. I had done some research, & made contact, but sometimes it takes time to meet.

So I shouted to Denise to call Anton the other day, to get Paul's number to ask them if they would like to open for the Nudies at the Tafelberg Tavern? I explained to him who I am (I’m starting to sound like a bit of an ‘ou man’ now), and then Paul very graciously declined, explaining that they were going to be in Sun City on Friday, and so they wouldn’t be able to – though they would have enjoyed it!

And then on Monday I realized what I had done, when I presented the 2007 SAMA winners on my own blog

Damn… I couldn’t believe that I had been such a poephol!

I wrote to them immediately, apologizing, knee’s getting indented by little stones in the dirt, and they forgave me. And told me they had sent their latest DVD and CD (SAMA winner!!) in the post. (Jasper suggested I needed my bum kicked... and Kai showed how)

I’m happy. They are VERY happy. And so to make you happy – here’s their most awesome video – Moonlight, from the award winning album Razbliuto – which was also rated as Best Video of All Time on MK89… See for yourself…

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Vusi Mahlasela conquers USA

To my small contingent of American friends (want hierdie blok is meestal vir Suid Afrikaaners wat nie ‘Bos’ befok is nie, en ek praat nie van die Knysna bos nie - ok ok ok in English – South Africa has stunning nature, with lovely forests!) I would like to warn you of our newest South African Music Award winner Vusi Mahlasela (Best Solo Male Artist) whose May dates have just been confirmed.

If you haven’t heard Vusi before, you have a spot in your brain that is still empty and waiting for the beautiful music that has made him this year’s top dog!

Vusi will be back on tour in the USA starting May 5. The tour kicks off at the Co-Existence Festival in New Brunswick, NJ.

05/05/07 New Brunswick, NJ Co-Existence Festival
05/06/07 Northampton, MA The Iron Horse
05/09/07 New York, NY Sounds of Brazil
05/10/07 Baltimore, MD Ram's Head Live
05/12/07 Jamestown, VA America's 400th Anniversary Celebration
05/13/07 Charlottesville, VA Starr Hill

(If you're a USA'er) Tune into your local NPR station Monday, April 16th to listen to Vusi on Morning Edition. Please visit to listen online or to find your local station. (Vusi's segment will be in the second half of the program and will also be archived online.) Vusi chats with Renee Montagne about his new album, Guiding Star, and discusses his upbringing in South Africa and his role in the struggle against Apartheid.

Then, all my friends in Europe, these are the dates that have been confirmed so far! If you can’t be there yourself, I am sure you know someone who knows someone who will want to be there, so here are the dates:

05/16/07 Angouleme, France Musiques Metisses
05/17/07 Coutances, France Jazz Sous Les Pommiers
05/19/07 Lisboa, Portugal Casa de Musica
05/21/07 San Sebastian, Spain City Festival

Go Vusi! Another Proudly South African export!

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EverestSA2007 - Update 03

I received this update this morning from my uncle and the 2007 South African team attempting to conquer the N.E. Ridge of Mt. Everest. It incorporates some of what I have already updated, but this is straight from the horses mouth!

Everest Newsletter 16th April 2007
The South African Everest team met in Kathmandu on the 3rd of April. We spent four days doing our final preparations before departing for Base Camp. The drive of 350km was taken over 5 days, so that we could carefully begin our acclimatisation process. Base Camp is 5 200m above sea level and the views of the mountain are spectacular from here.

We have settled into Base Camp life and will spend 6 nights here before we move up to Advanced Base Camp at 6 450m above sea level. The weather has been superb although the nights have been cold with temperatures dropping to minus 15ºC.

Our high-altitude Sherpas and kitchen staff moved up to Advanced Base Camp on Saturday, along with 20 yaks each carrying 60 kgs of communal equipment and food.

On Sunday morning we managed to have a warm shower - our first clean-up since leaving Kathmandu on the 7th of April. Baby wipes have had to suffice for the last 8 days.

The team have decided upon their climbing strategy and we are all getting on extremely well. We remembered to pack in our sense of humour and consequently are enjoying some great laughs together.

Roberto Trostli once wrote "To walk along the level road requires little will but climbing up the mountainside develops strength and skill and those who choose to stay below may seek and never find the riches that will be revealed to those who dare to climb."

Warmest regards from Base Camp

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Chris Chameleon Shines!

Chris Chameleon is just a super-cool guy” swooned Denise; “Oh he is just lovely”, said Wendy; while Lenny had to just confide in him that “Boo was one of the best things to ever come out of South Africa!”, and Chris had to agree. And then they babbled away in Dutch for the next 15 minutes. All the girls are smitten!

The girls pounced on him when he arrived at the SNG Peace Breaker launch last Friday, and 20 minutes later Arno was shouting out that he had just won his South African Music Award for 7de Hemel, in the Best Adult Contemporary Afrikaans category.

Chris is really an artist who has embraced his talent and given himself the freedom to create, whether through circumstances or his own choice is not important, but few artists have straddled such vastly different styles as Mr. Chameleon. Whatever the style, his colours blend beautifully.

After the national & international success of BOO, he has earned the highest award for his Afrikaans contribution to our CD rack with 7de Hemel, while Shine brings out an alternative rock style that caters to us Engelsmanne!

Chris Chameleon is also one of our most difficult artists to secure bookings for – most enquirers don’t realize that he is one Peak’s busiest artists, and is booked months and months in advance! Isn’t that a wonderful sign of how healthy South African music is?

But Chris was at the SNG launch as a fan! He gave us a wonderful shout-out – I’ve heard – but the cam somehow slipped onto memory instead of camera, and so I only got a snippet…

Bribing him with a SNG t-shirt to get this was all we had to do – now I wonder what he’ll want for another take…

I hope it’s not my girls…

I suspect I’d be left with a whirlwind of paperwork in an empty office (and the neighbours do so hate wheel-spins in the driveway!)…

So here is a much shortened shout-out from the Man, with a snippet of the track Nothing from his latest album Shine (RR070).

Ahhh - but I couldn't just leave you with that! So here is a vid I found some time ago of Chris recording Op Die Vootpad, with clips from Vyf Lewens, Fragment and Lied van die Lappop from the album Ek herhaal jou, in studio. Enjoy!

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