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!

Labels: , , , , ,

Jislaaik, dis darem lekker opwindend...
Hannes moet maar 'n paar honderd pamflette met sy "vinger-knypies kaart" saamvat as hy so gaan toer.
Thanks for posting this video. This is a great musician and musical style that needs more exposure. I'm glad you introduced us to it.
Wow! Thank you for posting about Hannes Coetzee and his very distinct and soulful musical style. I'm sorry I missed him while he was in the States, but I appreciate the video.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?