CAMPHILL VILLAGE MUSIC FESTIVAL – WEDNESDAY 24 SEPTEMBER
Featuring Freshlyground, Valiant Swart, No Pressure, SillyBoi, Tasha, Che-V and CeeJ
Music, Picnic, Camphill Market, Fun!
To celebrate their 50th Birthday, Camphill Village, Westcoast will be hosting a music festival on Heritage Day, the 24thof September. The event will start at 13H00 and run until 18H30. The line-up includes popular SA artists: Freshlyground, Valiant Swart, No Pressure, Bootleggers, Ras Kerry`s Cheety and Greg Kentgens, as well as some talented artists that are part of an empowerment program facilitated by Vision Records in Atlantis: SillyBoi, Tasha, Che-V and CeeJ. Come and join uson the beautiful countryside festival grounds for a day of good vibes and fabulous music to enjoy that lovely midweek –public- holiday- feeling of no work – all play!
The Festival will be an outdoor picnic-type concert, with food and drink stalls. Gates open at 10h00 and the Camphill Country market will happen from 11h00 onwards. Festival goers can get some delicious foods and wine for their picnic at the market.
Presales tickets are R100 from Quicket http://www.quicket.co.za/events/5607-camphill-music-festival/ or R130.00 at the gate. (Free entrance for children 3 years and under.)
Directions to the venue are on the Contact page of Camphill website: http://www.camphill.org.za/contact-us
Camphill Village West-Coast is a dynamic community working with intellectually challenged adults. It was established in 1964 to provide a unique inclusive approach to life for intellectually challenged adults, offering them purpose and dignity.
Fifty years ago Camphill Village (West Coast) was established by Julian and Renate Sleigh on farmland some distance outside of Cape Town. It consisted of a modest house set on sandy soil. This became the home for the first group of young adults with intellectual disabilities. Over time the facility has evolved into a working farm of some 220 hectares with various sub enterprises, with 15 homes and 90 adult residents.
Residents live and work at Camphill. They live in group homes, run by a group home leader, and work in one of the various enterprises on the premises. The enterprises consist of a dairy, a bakery, a cosmetics workshop and a working farm. Produce from the enterprises are consumed by those who make it, and are also sold to many shops and outlets in Cape Town. The revenue generated from these sales, sustains the organisation.
Camphill Village is now celebrating its 50th birthday. In honour of Julian and Renate’s vision and lifelong commitment, our fifty year celebrations aim to raise funds to set up a trust fund named after them that will enable Camphill to support more people with intellectual disabilities who desperately need a place in a safe and caring community, who are living in vulnerable and abusive situations.
For more information, people can contact Janine on 021 571 8600 or visit www.camphill.org.za
TIMELESSNESS 50 years on
On Wednesday evening, 1 October, for one-night-only, one of South Africa’s, and indeed the world’s, most admired and respected musicians – Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse – is set to perform at The Lyric Theatre, Johannesburg, in a special, single performance, affair.
Titled Timelessness, a name coined by Mabuse, the show will tip its hat to the masters, taking fans on musical journey filled with extraordinary, one-of-a-kind, performances.
2014 is a momentous year in Mabuse’s 50-year career immersion in music. Not only is it his golden anniversary of his unwavering commitment and contribution to South African music, it is 30 years ago his now 500 000 copy-selling single “Burn Out” changed the face of shape of Afro-pop and township jive like no other song or artist in pop music history.
From his first group, Harari, through to his stellar solo career that spans the better part of his adult life, Mabuse’s Lyric Theatre reveal is going to be jam-packed with so many hits and memories, beyond “Burn Out”, that “we might not be able to fit it in,” he jokes.
Beyond competent and hugely applauded, the magic this musician makes is practically impossible to pigeonhole. Drummer, flautist, alto flautist, pianist, saxophonist, kalimba player, timbale and African drummer, Mabuse’s raw ability and talent know no limit!
His name became synonymous with township jive nearly three decades ago, and today his live performances still present the master’s art as the stuff of legend.
As the musical ambassador for South Africa, performing in virtually every country in Africa and touring the US, England, France, Germany and Italy, amongst many more, Mabuse’s recorded and produced the likes of Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, Ray Phiri and Sibongile Khumalo.
Head out to The Lyric Theatre, at Gold Reef City, and come celebrate the multiple anniversaries with his friends, peers and contemporaries. Expect tributes, tears and Timelessness aplenty as Sipho”Hotstix” Mabuse unpacks, retells and delights the night with songs that remain as perpetual as the master maker himself.
Tickets are available from Computicket.co.za or call: 0861 915 8000 or click on link below
For more information contact:
Triple M Entertainment
Mobile: +27 83 448 4475
Presented by Sedgwick’s, the original Old Brown:
The Cape Town Folk ‘n Acoustic Music Festival
30 August – 20h00 at Baxter Theatre, Concert Hall.
What happens when you mix Folk, Country, African Folk, Flamenco, World Music, Acoustic Rock, Singer-songwriters, Classical Music, Ragas, Cape Jazz, Bluegrass, Celtic Music – a little Neo-Soul and a Swamp of Blues …… then throw in a few guitars, a piano, violins, ukuleles, cellos, tablas, piano accordions, washboards, blues harps and voices from the heavens – all played by some of South Africa’s finest in these genres?
You get the Cape Town Folk ‘n Acoustic Music Festival! Real Wired Music and Sedgwick’s Old Brown in association with Music Experience are proud to announce the 6th instalment of the Cape Town Folk ‘n Acoustic Music Festival.
24 South African artists will perform completely acoustically in an intimate, concert-style setting. These performances will be delivered in the form of 12 collaborations and stripped down to the essence of the songs. The evening is set to be an experience of the finest musical storytelling from the personal journeys of some of South Africa’s best songwriters and musicians.
The line up includes some of SA’s finest musicians and the following collaborations have been confirmed:
Vusi Mahlasela / Ard Matthews
Deep South / Errol Dyers
Reza Khota / Derek Gripper
Jesse Jordan / Mark Haze
Louise Day / Tatum
Farryl Purkiss / Digby and the Lullaby
Wayne Pauli / Nuka
Blacksmith / Dave Ferguson
James Grace / Saudiq Khan
Evelyn Hart / Carla Conradie
Jack Mantis / Touchwood
Miles Sievwright / Jeremy Douglas
More to be announced soon!
Tickets R165 – R185 at Computicket: http://online.computicket.com/web/event/cape_town_folk_n_acoustic_music_festival/815575439
Music Experience will be running a competition at their great live interactive store. The winner of the competition will receive an Alvarez guitar from Music Experience and will get to open the Cape Town Folk ‘n Acoustic Music Festival at the Baxter. For more information go to: https://www.facebook.com/events/304880536346217/
Stay in touch:
As with last Winter’s concert, we will be doing a blanket drop for the homeless – if you have spare blankets bring them along and we will have a designated collection spot at the venue. All blankets will be donated to Bread for Life and distributed to the homeless – https://www.facebook.com/pages/BREAD-for-LIFE/518572728199561
Cape Town Folk ‘n Acoustic Music Festival would like to thank our main sponsors - Sedgwick’s Old Brown and Music Experience. We would also like to thank Audio Engineering, Alvarez Guitars and Party Design.
South Africa’s biggest, fully orchestrated, technologically sophisticated rock musical production, Rockville 2069, will have its world première with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO) at Artscape Opera House in August.
Set at the 100th anniversary of Woodstock, Rockville 2069 is a love story set against the backdrop of a post-apocalyptic world. Featuring a cast of 25 with lead singer Joseph Clark (of Queen at the Opera) and the Kyle Peterson seven-piece rock band with the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, it combines artists and musicians from different cultural and musical backgrounds to bring a new, sometimes discordant, always thrilling voice to the rock musical scene.
The lead roles will be played by Joseph Clark (Papa), Vicki Jayne (Mama), Stephan Van Huyssteen (JohnnyReb) and Josie Piers (Danielle). With fast moving scene changes, the use of 3D animation and a 100m2 LED screen, technology plays a key role in creating this believable, constantly shifting production.
Rockville 2069 has been in the making for five years and is the artistic brainchild of composer, Johnny Ray. The end result is an emotionally soaring journey of caution, hope, optimism, rebellion and joy which aims to transform and create music while sending a powerful message of change through a sustainable way of life.
The plot tells of an earth destroyed by man’s neglect and climate change. Only Rockville, a small archipelago of islands, survives and is now home to a group of peace-loving rockers, sound technicians and musicians.
“The addition of the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra is a show-stopping element”, says Johnny Ray, “and we know that all theatre management eyes are on this production which we hope to take from Cape Town to the rest of the world.”
The glittering Red Carpet Première takes place on 30 August 2014 at Artscape, with the grand foyers themed out by Jay Jays and Bothners /Roland and the menu includes complimentary wine (Hill & Dale) and canapés.
Uber has partnered with Rockville 2069 and is offering a FREE ride to the value of R 200 to all new users. Simply sign up with Uber and use the promotional code RV2069 to travel to and from the concert in style.
Please Note: The credits are only valid for transport to and from the Rockville 2069 concert, remaining credits are not transferrable.
The shows will take place from 29 August – 7 September 2014. Tickets range from R 100 to R 290 and are available from Computicket or Artscape Dial-a-Seat on 021 421-7695. The Rockville 2069 graphic novel and CD are available through EMI or online at www.rockville2069.com and from The Greek Merchant at all the shows.
For more information visit the website at http://www.rockville2069.com.
TABLE MOUNTAIN BLUES SUMMIT 2014
6 & 7 December, Hillcrest Quarry, Durbanville.
“Blues is a natural fact, it is something that a fellow lives.” Big Bill Broonzy.
South Africa’s Premier Blues Music Festival returns to Hillcrest Quarry in Durbanville, Cape Town on the 6th and 7th of December 2014. Hosting 20 of the country’s top Blues Rock Artists over 2 days, the 2014 concert is proudly presented and brought to you by local main sponsor COMBUSTION TECHNOLOGY and also with great sponsor support by PAUL BOTHNER MUSIC and FENDER SA.
So friends and fans, all you need is a ticket and them’ blue suede shoes (whether real or imaginary) to come and enjoy the finest music making by the following phenomenal local artists:
Dan Patlansky, Albert Frost Trio, Boulevard Blues, The Blues Broers, Gerald Clark and the Deadmen, Pebbleman, Ann Jangle, Dave Ferguson, Mean Black Mamba, Natasha Meister, Crimson House, Basson Loubscher & Violent Free Piece, The Wayne Pauli Trio, Patrick Canovi’s ‘Kiss the Sky’, Piet Botha and Akkedis, The Parlor Vinyls, Charlie King Band, Nhoza Sitsholwana, Riaan & Nick, Fake Leather Blues Band and Sven Blumer.
This year the Blues Summit rocks on a Saturday and a Sunday. Organizer Richard Pryor says: “Ain’t the Blues just too good on a Sunday? We moved the Friday night to a Sunday so that it is easier to bring your whole family for an awesome day out.”
What you can look forward to on the Blues Menu for the Summit:
- 20 top Bands over 2 days.
- Top class quality 30000 watt outdoor sound rig! The best rig ever !!!
- Huge Lighting and a huge LED screen.
- Hillcrest Quarry is one of the finest outdoor venues in SA
- Vibrant food and refreshment stalls and plenty of outside bars
- Plenty of free and secure off street parking
- Fender Guitar Giveaway and the Combustion Technology Cash Prizes R1500
- Free entrance for children under 10 (must present some form of ID)
- Limited camping tickets for sale on Computicket (Camping costs R150 -separate to festival ticket)
Phone and book at Computicket on 0861 9158000 or visit
www.computicket.com for your piece of the Blues Rock action: Tickets R200 – R340.
Make sure you land at Hillcrest Quarry on the 6th and 7th of December and we’ll give you a musical thrill that’s going to groove your Soul and move your Body!
The full 100
Here they are, in chronological order, chosen by a 20-strong panel of LS writers using three criteria: 1) musical brilliance; 2) popular success; 3) impact on the national mind. Some tracks aced one category and flunked the other two, but plenty ticked all three boxes. Which immortal hits have we missed? Tune us the odds at firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Phalafala Dolly Rathebe and the Elite Swingsters (1964)
2. Pata Pata Miriam Makeba (written in 1957 with Dorothy Masuka, but a global hit in 1967)
3. Master Jack Four Jacks And A Jill (1968)
4. Yakhal’ Inkomo Winston “Mankunku” Ngozi (1968)
5. For your Precious Love The Flames (1968)
6. The Seagull’s Name Was Nelson Des and Dawn Lindberg (1971)
7. Nomathemba Letta Mbulu (1973)
8. Mama Tembu’s Wedding Margaret Singana (1973)
9. Stimela Hugh Masekela (1974)
10. Mannenberg Abdullah Ibrahim (1974)
11. Charlie Rabbitt (1975)
12. Blues For a Hip King Abdullah Ibrahim (1975)
13. Marabi Malombo (1976)
14. Chocolate Toffee Saitana (1976)
15. Substitute Clout (1978)
16. Universal Men Juluka (1979)
17. ZX Dan The Radio Rats (1979)
18. Jo Bangles Baxtop (1979)
19. Paradise Road Joy (1980)
20. Party Harari (1981)
21. Man on the Moon Ballyhoo (1981)
22. Impi Juluka (1981)
23. The Bushman Steve Kekana (1982)
24. Isiphiwo Soul Brothers (1982)
25. Hey Boy Via Afrika (1983)
26. Shadows éVoid (1983)
27. Weekend Special Brenda Fassie (1983)
28. Shot Down The Cherry Faced Lurchers (1983)
29. See Yourself (Clowns) Ella Mental (1984)
30. Burnout Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse (1984)
31. Is it an Ism or is it Art? Niki Daly (1984)
32. Jabulani Hotline featuring PJ Powers (1984)
33. I’m in Love with a DJ Yvonne Chaka Chaka (1985)
34. Stimela sazeZola – Mbongeni Ngema (1985)
35. Reggae Vibes is Cool Bernoldus Niemand (1985)
36. This Boy Sweatband (1986)
37. National Madness The Aeroplanes (1986)
38. Change is Pain Mzwakhe Mbuli (1986)
39. Homeless Ladysmith Black Mambazo (1986)
40. Johnny Calls the Chemist Falling Mirror (1986)
41. Now or Never Sankomota (1987)
42. Ten Ten Special African Jazz Pioneers (1987)
43. Scatterlings of Africa Johnny Clegg and Savuka (1987)
44. Weeping Bright Blue (1987)
45. Hillbrow Johannes Kerkorrel (1988)
46. Quick Quick Marcalex (1989)
47. Slave Lucky Dube (1990)
48. Shake Tananas (1990)
49. Special Star Mango Groove (1990)
50. Tomorrow Nation O’Yaba (1991)
51. I’m in Love with a Rastaman Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens (1991)
52. Sarafina! Hugh Masekela (1992)
53. It’s About Time Boom Shaka (1993)
54. The Crossing Johnny Clegg (1993)
55. Mmalo-We Bayete (1994)
56. Never Again Prophets of Da City (1994)
57. When You Come Back Vusi Mahlasela (1994)
58. Waar Was Jy? Skeem (1994)
59. Sea Level Urban Creep (1995)
60. The Child Inside Qkumba Zoo (1995)
61. Kaffir Arthur Mafokate (1995)
62. African Dream Vicky Sampson (1996)
63. Kiss the Machine Battery 9 (1996)
64. Magasman Trompies (1997)
65. Stand in your Way Just Jinger (1997)
66. Fords Nissans Toys en Beetles Brasse vannie Kaap (1997)
67. Shibobo TKZee (1998)
68. Vul’indlela Brenda Fassie (1998)
69. Yehlisan’ Umoya Busi Mhlongo (1998)
70. Sondela Ringo Madlingozi (1999)
71. Thathi Sgubu Bongo Maffin (1999)
72. Blue Eyes Springbok Nude Girls (1999)
73. Genes & Spirits Moses Molelekwa (2000)
74. Born in a Taxi Blk Sonshine (2000)
75. Nkalakatha Mandoza (2000)
76. Afrikaners is Plesierig Karen Zoid (2001)
77. Meisie Meisie Kurt Darren (2001)
78. Ghetto Fabulous Zola & Kaybee (2002)
79. Ndihamba Nawe Mafikizolo (2002)
80. Ayelekile Amasango Ismael (2002)
81. Picture Perfect Perez (2002)
82. Midnight 340ml (2003)
83. Umoya Skwatta Kamp (2003)
84. Nomvula (After the Rain) Freshlyground 2003
85. Destiny Malaika (2004)
86. Nizalwa Ngobani Thandiswa Mazwai (2004)
87. Matofotofo Pitch Black Afro (2004)
88. Akekh’ uGogo Mzekezeke (2005)
89. Whistling in Tongues Felix Laband (2005)
90. De La Rey Bok van Blerk (2006)
91. Sister Bethina Mgarimbe (2006)
92. Feel Good Lira (2007)
93. Bantu Biko Street Simphiwe Dana (2007)
94. Show Dem (Make the Circle Bigger) JR feat Hip-Hop Pantsula (2009)
95. Cooler as Ekke Jack Parow (2010)
96. Enter the Ninja Die Antwoord (2010)
97. Fairytale Liquideep (2010)
98. Tot Die Son Uitkom Van Coke Cartel (2011)
99. Loliwe Zahara (2011)
100. Hosanna The Brother Moves on (2013)
By Mark Worth
One of the most noteworthy final albums ever recorded might never have been made had Steve Rowland not been sitting in the London office of music publisher Freddy Beanstalk one day in the summer of 1970.
Rowland looked on Beanstalk’s desk and saw a copy of an album hardly anyone had ever heard of, by a singer-songwriter from Detroit who was just as obscure. Rowland borrowed Cold Fact and listened to it.
“I said to Freddy, is this guy Rodriguez gonna do another album? Because if he is, I’d like to get in line and be the producer. I really, really am into this,” Rowland recalls telling Beanstalk.
“Freddy said, ‘Be my guest, man, because nobody’s really interested.’ I said, well, I don’t understand that, because this guy is great.”
That fall, Rodriguez was on a plane to London. Within three weeks of meeting him for the first time, Rowland had put together Coming from Reality, Rodriguez’s second and final record. The closing track, “Cause,” was the last song Rodriguez would ever record for an album.
Rowland, who has produced more than 20 albums and dozens of singles that span the musical spectrum, says “Cause” is the saddest song he’s ever heard – sad enough to have made his girlfriend at the time, actress Sally Farmiloe, cry when she heard Rodriguez record it in the studio.
Forty years later, “Cause” nearly brought Rowland himself to tears while being interviewed for the documentary Searching for Sugar Man. The profile of Rodriguez elevated to international fame the near-destitute construction worker whose two albums were total failures in the US, only to learn nearly 30 years later that he was a superstar in South Africa whose anti-establishment lyrics helped bring down Apartheid.
The “Cause” scene is one of the Oscar-winning film’s most lasting moments: Rowland, sitting in his home in Palm Springs, California, plays the song for filmmaker Malik Bendjelloul. Rodriguez’s opening line – Cause I lost my job two weeks before Christmas – visibly stuns Rowland as though hearing the song for the first time. He manages only to shake his head and say, “Oh, man…”.
After collecting himself, he explains that Rodriguez was dropped from his record label shortly after Coming from Reality was released in 1971 – “as if premonition,” Rowland says, two weeks before Christmas.
A song that is held between happenstance and genius, “Cause” has become the five-and-a-half-minute, 239-word anthem for the improbable, almost impossible story of Sixto Diaz Rodriguez.
Setting Sail into a Teardrop
The 10 tracks on Coming from Reality were recorded in the fall of 1970 at London’s Lansdowne Studios, which has also hosted the likes of John Lennon, Maynard Ferguson, Rod Stewart, Sex Pistols and Rowland’s own band, Family Dogg. The studios had been installed inside a former underground squash court with thick walls 20 feet high.
“When the studio was built they didn’t tear those walls down, so the sound in that studio was completely original. You would get a sound that nobody else had. Lansdowne was known for that,” says Rowland. “It provided the overall ambience of the whole album, and you can hear it especially on ‘Cause’. There’s a majestic quality to it, and it comes from that studio.
“I suppose today, with all the digital stuff, you could probably re-create the sound. But nothing is as good as natural.”
Lansdowne, since closed, wasn’t far from Abbey Road Studios, where The Beatles recorded their final album track a year earlier. “The End” evokes emotion with hope: And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make. “Cause” does it with despair:
Cause they told me everybody’s got to pay their dues
And I explained that I had overpaid them…
So I set sail in a teardrop and escaped beneath the doorsill
Cause the smell of her perfume echoes in my head still
It was lyrics like this that moved Rowland to produce “Cause” and the rest of Coming from Reality in a way that completely went against the grain during that era.
With the advent of concept albums and new technologies – not to mention lavish studio budgets – many bands would spend months or even years working on a record. Instrumental tracks were obsessively laid over each other to the point that the instruments drowned out the vocals. An experienced actor who placed a high value on the spoken word, Rowland made sure Rodriguez’s lyrics stood out from the music – so that every word was discernable.
“We tried to get a dramatic effect without overpowering the vocal. That’s so important. Because for my money, good production is: less is more.”
The only music that can be heard on “Cause,” in fact, are Rodriguez’s gentle picking and strumming on his converted, hollow-sounding classical guitar, and a simple, undulating string arrangement composed by a young violinist named Jimmy Horowitz.
“We worked a long time on ‘Cause’. The strings were written and recorded to match Rodriguez’s vocal,” Rowland said. “He seemed to be completely thrilled with what was coming out. He loved those arrangements.”
The strings are orchestrated to coincide so closely with Rodriguez’s lyrics that they can actually influence how you hear the song. Horowitz’s arrangement begins to soar lightly just as Rodriguez sings the line, And give a medal to replace the son of Mrs. Annie Johnson. The gently rising strings conjure the first glimpse of a sunrise, so subconsciously you may hear sun instead of son. The orchestration and melody reach a calming resolution, as though the sun has finally climbed above the horizon.
After this moment passes, you realize what Rodriguez is saying. The government gave Mrs. Johnson a medal because her son had been killed in the Vietnam War.
“Rodriguez is saying it in a sardonic tone, but it’s a front for how he really feels. He’s being very sardonic and cynical. Yeah, give a medal to a mother for the son she lost in Vietnam,” says Rowland. “What he’s really feeling is: how can a country do something like that? The country had no feeling for the actual person himself.”
The juxtaposition of the music and the message brings more power to both. “The arrangement is the complete opposite of the lyrics, and that’s how we looked at it,” Rowland said. “Rodriguez loved it, and it worked.”
Drowning the Sun
The son of a film director and great-nephew of MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer, Rowland was a teen star during the 1950s, appearing in TV’s Bonanza and The Rifleman, and a number films including Battle of the Bulge and the original The Thin Red Line.
After crossing over into music in the ’60s, he went on to produce a string of hit acts including Jerry Lee Lewis, The Pretty Things, P.J. Proby and the British pop band Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich, which charted 13 Top 10 hits. Rowland discovered Peter Frampton and The Cure, worked with Elton John when he was a young session pianist named Reggie Dwight, and had a hit single with his band Family Dogg – the choralized, minimalist “Sympathy.”
It would take an effort on the scale of producing Coming from Reality to overshadow what Rowland achieved at Olympic Studios in London the previous year. In September 1969 he was producing Proby’s album Three Week Hero when Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and John Bonham played on the psychedelic-tinged “Jim’s Blues.” It was the first occasion all four members of Led Zeppelin, then known as the New Yardbirds and barely into their 20s, performed together in the studio. Days later, they began recording their eponymous first album.
Though he had worked with many musical greats and was himself a top-selling performer, Rowland was aware that the unknown but sheerly gifted Rodriguez would present him with a new set of creative openings and tests.
Rodriguez arrived in London with his manager/girlfriend at the time, Rainy Moore. (The story goes that the album was named spontaneously when Moore was asked where Rodriguez was coming from.) At that first meeting, Rowland remembers, both he and Rodriguez were on guard.
“I was apprehensive about the whole thing because I wanted to do the album so badly. I wanted to make sure that he believed in me as a producer. But when we started to talk, he was very shy, quiet, very introspective. He’s an intellectual. He thinks before he speaks. He’s not a guy who is outgoing. I guess he was trying to suss me out as well.”
Despite having worked and crossed paths with Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, Henry Fonda, James Dean and many other legendary figures, Rowland confesses he was star-struck by Rodriguez.
“We as artists and creators have our heroes, too. And we get just as awe-inspired by our heroes as people who aren’t in the business get inspired by big movie stars or rock stars or sports stars,” says Rowland. “And when you meet them, you know, it’s always overwhelming. Well, that’s how it was for me with Rodriguez, because I really, really was into the way he was writing. I was into the way he thought.”
Within a day or two, when Rowland and Rodriguez began going through the songs together, the barriers fell and the two began an intense collaboration. “I said when we were in the studio, let us – in music – show the guy’s soul. Let’s show what this man really is,” says Rowland. “How can I make this guy felt in the music? That was my main objective. How can I get people to feel him?”
In “Cause,” Rodriguez reveals his soul through wrenching lyrics about lost loves, despondent friends, resignation and drugs:
While the rain drank champagne / My Estonian Archangel came and got me wasted
Cause the sweetest kiss I ever got is the one I’ve never tasted…
Cause I see my people trying to drown the sun in weekends of whiskey sours
Cause how many times can you wake up in this comic book and plant flowers?
Rowland, in a way few others have, came know and understand the aloof Rodriguez, the son of Mexican immigrants who earned most of his living demolishing buildings and who reportedly lives in the same broken-down house he bought in the 1970s for $50.
“Sadness can be contained within a whole life of a person, and even some of the happiness that a person remembers in that life makes them sad as well, because it’s no longer there for them,” Rowland said. “This is how I approached Rodriguez. Because I felt, you know, here’s a guy, he lives in Detroit, which is not what you would call a paradise of the world. It’s a hard life in Detroit, and he’s lived in the same house since he was a young guy. He’s seen lots of ups and downs – probably mostly downs.”
Take Rodriguez’s lyrics, which alternate from rebellious to playful to despondent to romantic. Lay on top of this a life story that embodies these lyrics. Now, form all this into songs with melodies and structures that don’t cheapen any of it. For Rowland, producing Coming from Reality was more than a creative exercise. This became a personal responsibility – even a duty to the artist known as Rodriguez.
“I did put a lot of myself into it because I was really knocked out by what he was talking about. I believed in it that much. But actually,” says Rowland, “because I believed in him so much, nothing we did was challenging. It just flowed. I could hear it in my head.”
Perhaps because Rowland could visualize the sound and feel of the album, no song needed more than two takes to get right. The entire album was recorded in about 10 days.
It was 10 days that pushed Rowland to create something that lived up to his image, his idealized portrait, of Rodriguez.
“I wanted to make sure…,” said Rowland, pausing, “It was very important to me that I did the best I could with this man, and that I brought out everything that I saw and felt in the way he writes and sings – that I could bring that out in the record. Each one of those songs was made to give a feeling to Rodriguez. It had to be real, and I would do it again today the same way.”
“Music can change the world because it can change people,”said well-know Irish singer-songwriter and musician, Bono. This is especially true in Africa, where music is an integral part of everyday life. South Africa with its melting pot of cultures has produced a rich crop of highly talented popular-music legends, whose music has changed people’s perceptions. In honour of some of these musicians, the South African Post Office will issue a set 10 self-adhesive stamps and two commemorative envelopes on 3 July, featuring artwork by Vumile Mavumengwana.
Other famous people have also sung the praises of the power of music, notably Shakespeare who wrote: “If music be the food of love, play on…”. But more applicable in the South African context, are the words of Hans Christian Andersen: “Where words fail, music speaks.” The music of South African musicians have indeed spoken to scores of people across the board – our cities, townships, rural areas, sports stadiums and marketplaces are infused and alive with music.
The popular-music legends featured on these stamps were chosen for their innovative music, which brought fundamental change to the perceptions of South Africans and was instrumental in uniting societies. Criteria used in choosing them also included factors such as whether they introduced a completely new, original and distinctively South African style of music.
The musicians are as representative as possible of our society, covering the most important or best-known musical genres, which achieved international success.
James Phillips: 1959-1995
Also known as Bernoldus Niemand. In the musical genre Counter Cultural, Phillips represents a leading influence on the Voëlvry alternative, Afrikaans rock renaissance movement and its impact on South African anti-apartheid protest music. Alongside Koos Kombuis, Valiant Swart, Willem Möller and Johannes Kerkorrel, he was a “cultural icon, voice and conscience to a generation of apartheid-era white South Africans.”
Brenda Fassie: 1964-2004
In the musical genre Afropop, Fassie was one of the most popular urban African musicians of the 1980s and 1990s. She has been described as the “Queen of African Pop” and her bold stage antics earned her a reputation for “outrageousness”. Affectionately called Mabrr by her fans, she was voted 17th on the list of Top 100 Great South Africans.
Johannes Kerkorrel: 1960-2002
Born Ralph Rabie, Kerkorrel was a prolific singer-songwriter in the musical genre Alternative Afrikaans/Voëlvry movement. Described as “one of the leading lights of the rebel Voëlvry movement that blew a new wind across the Afrikaans music scene in the early 1980s”, he exposed a new generation of Afrikaners to political views resisting apartheid. Several artists have recorded tribute songs to his life and work.
Lucky Dube: 1963-2007
As an icon of South African Reggae, Dube pioneered and popularised this genre, which conveyed the Rastafarian philosophy, among township youth. He still influences younger musicians pursuing this style. Dube recorded 22 albums in Zulu, English and Afrikaans in a 25-year period and was South Africa’s biggest-selling Reggae artist. He earned over 20 awards – locally and internationally.
Miriam Makeba: 1932-2008
Makeba, a legend in the musical genre World Music and Mbaqanga, is the most famous South African musician both locally and internationally. Nicknamed Mama Africa, Makeba is a Grammy Award-winner, a civil rights activist and a global icon for women. In the 1960s, she was the first artist from Africa to popularise African music worldwide. In 1987, she performed with Paul Simon in his famous Graceland tour.
Solomon Linda: 1909-1962
Linda, was a musician, singer, composer and innovator of note regarding developing the Isicathimiya musical genre and is credited with a number of musical innovations that came to dominate the Isicathamiya style. He wrote the song Mbube, which later became popular as The Lion Sleeps Tonight, and gave its name to the Mbube style of Isicathamiya a cappella popularised later by Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
Spokes Mashiyane: 1933-1972
Johannes Spokes Mashiyane was regarded as one of the greatest pennywhistle artists who graced the South African Kwêla music scene in the 1950s and 1960s, at a time when that genre was one of the defining styles and the dominant dance music in the country. He later switched to saxophone and was instrumental in Kwêla’s evolution into township jive. He has a strong following to this day.
Simon Nkabinde: 1935-1999
Simon ‘Mahlathini’ Nkabinde is a legendary Mbaqanga singer, a genre of indigenous music that continues to influence musicians worldwide today. Known as the “Lion of Soweto”, Nkabinde is the acknowledged exponent of the deep-voiced, basso profundo style that came to symbolise Mbaqanga music from the mid-60s to the mid-70s. He collaborated on Paul Simon’s groundbreaking Graceland album and tour.
Kippie Moeketsi: 1925-1983
One of South Africa’s greatest Jazz musicians, Moeketsi first played the clarinet, but soon moved on to the saxophone. Influenced by his pianist brother Jacob Moeketsi, Kippie’s career started in shebeens with Band in Blue. He was the driving force in the Jazz Epistles alongside Abdullah Ibrahim, Hugh Masekela, Jonas Gwangwa and Makhaya Ntshoko who recorded the first authentic South African Jazz album.
Taliep Petersen: 1950-2006
Taliep Petersen, was a legendary singer, composer and director, who popularised the so-called Cape Ghoema sound together with David Kramer. In a tribute after his death, he was credited with “rewriting the musical landscape of the Western Cape and enriching the culture of this country.” He has been awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as a Naledi for Best Musical Director/Score/Arrangement for Ghoema.