Jive Talking and Eyeballing #3 [10 July 2020] feat Ballyhoo, Rabbitt, Stingray, McCully Workshop

A series of one hour All-South African mixes to enhance the Public Facebook Group “Jive Talking and Eyeballing”, which is an interview showcase of both South African and International artists.
https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=623022481618491/

A 70’s mix with the spotlight on Rabbitt and Trevor Rabin.

ARCHIVES
https://www.mixcloud.com/briancurrin/playlists/jive-talking-series/

More information on most of these artists at www.Rock.co.za

1. Rock ‘n Roll Party – Ballyhoo
2. The Boy & The Bee – Omega Limited
3. The Eagle Has Landed – Dickie Loader & Freedoms Children
4. The San Diego Sniping Event – Falling Mirror
5. Charlie – Rabbitt
6. Substitute – Clout
7. Guinevere – McCully Workshop
8. What’s Going On – The Third Eye
9. Telephone Girl – Assagai
10. Hard Ride – Rabbitt
11. Candlelight – Richard Jon Smith
12. Astral III – The Invaders
13. Black Night – Omega Limited
14. Evil Ways – The Attraction
15. Better The Devil You Know – Stingray
16. Jo Bangles – Baxtop
17. Fantasy – Trevor Rabin
18. Born To Be Wild – Buffalo feat Peter Vee
19. The Journey – The Staccatos

World in Union with PJ Powers & Tygerberg Children’s Choir | CTMA News: Youth in the Spotlight

World in Union (2020 Tribute) by PJ Powers and the Tygerberg Children’s Choir (TCC) is a tribute to all Covid-19 essential workers and public efforts made in fighting the corona virus pandemic. This new version of the song was filmed and recorded by the artists in isolation during the country’s lockdown, and released on Africa Day 25 May 2020.

According to PJ Powers the song choice was perfect for the cause as World in Union is a song that expresses so many things that we as humans need. “ When I did it in ‘95 for the Rugby World Cup it became a song of triumph and victory for South Africa, of unity and strength. This time around I approached the vocal with a sense of healing and hope in my mind, and without changing a lyric I feel that is what we have captured in this version.”

PJ and the TCC were originally scheduled perform at the 2020 Suidooster Festival in Cape Town during May. The project is a proud initiative by the Suidooster Festival in association with CTMA, Die Burger and other festival partners. Keep an eye on our social media platforms for new scheduled festival dates for 2020.

PJ Powers

Karina Erasmus, conductor, with members of the Tygerberg Children's Choir

Karina Erasmus, conductor, with members of the Tygerberg Children’s Choir

Great Local Musicians – Willem Moller – Mnr Volume in a Gereformeerde Blues Band | Jive Talking and Eyeballing

From Jive Talking and Eyeballing Facebook Group

Willem Moller became known as the guitarist in Johannes Kerkorrel’s Gereformeerde Blues Band but over the years he’s worked with many other musicians. Time to find out who . . .
Hi Willem, good to see you again. Where and how did it all start for you?
A: Hi Ernesto. When I was a little kid, sixties pop was all over my elder siblings’ radios and record players. Certain records had such an exciting beat that I just had to start banging things along! By the age of eight I’d gotten a pair of drum sticks and was hitting anything I could find. Many years later I learnt that those records with the drumming that made me so excited (Beach Boys, Byrds, Monkees, Mamas & Papas, Fifth Dimension etc) all featured studio legend Hal Blaine, so you can blame him for all the noise I’ve made since! My eldest sister was studying music and teaching piano at home so I was also hearing classical music a lot and she taught me the basics of music theory, so I had that understanding of music since I was young. It definitely gave me an advantage. When I was 12 and in Standard 6 (Jan van Riebeeck Hoer, Cape Town) I started my first band, the magnificently named Septic Daisy, with the very talented Conrad Kuhne, who could sing and play piano and guitar, and me on drums. We tried our hand at anything we could – Creedence, Stones, Beatles tunes. The next year we were joined by Izak van Zyl on bass, and a few years later by the late great Nico Burger on lead guitar, by which time we were covering more challenging Led Zep, Deep Purple and prog material. During all this time I was also learning to play guitar.
Q. What inspired you to pick up the guitar?
A. My musical memory goes back to before the Beatles when instrumental guitar pop was big (the Shadows, the Ventures, Duane Eddy), so twangy electric guitar is in my genes! By the late sixties I was listening to Hendrix and the Who and then I saw the Woodstock movie . . . Jimi, Pete, Carlos! When I turned 12, I started getting R5 pocket money (for the month!) New albums cost R4.99 at the time (for a crappy local pressing) so the first time I got R5 I set off for the old Musica in Adderley Street, which then was a really hip record store that stocked everything and had staff who knew about the various genres and new release, and you could listen to an album on headphones before buying. I chose Live Cream simply because I like the cover, I actually didn’t know who the people in the band were. I was really into this heavy blues music but the minor pentatonic scale confused me; it didn’t fit into my understanding of music theory. But on Live Cream there’s a slow blues called Sleepy Time Time with a riff that goes from minor to major, and suddenly I understood how that minor scale works with major chords to establish the blues sound. A light went up! But that song gave me another epiphany: Eric Clapton’s unbelievable guitar solos made me feel an intense emotion every time I listened to them. I couldn’t really explain it but I suddenly saw a very clear goal for myself: I want to know how to do that – play guitar that make people feel emotion.
And this is Sleepy Time Time…

Q. Did you have guitar lessons or were you self taught?
A. I was self-taught, with the help of the many mates I jammed with – we all taught each other. We were forever seeking out new people to jam with as they might know chords or riffs we didn’t! And I listened to records and tried to work out and copy riffs and licks. I was also taking music theory as an extra subject at school, and that knowledge definitely helped me to understand what I was learning. So by my late teens I was the ou in the band who’d work out the arrangements and parts.
Q. What albums inspired you in this regard?
A. When Bruce Springsteen’s Darkness at the Edge Of Town came out the lyrics connected with me in an incredibly powerful way. To this day Badlands has me in tears by the first chorus . . . that album opened my eyes to the impact songs can have when combined with focused arrangements and production. It changed how I listened to music. I guess I started to think like a producer, looking at the bigger picture rather than individual parts or sounds – everything must serve the song; if it doesn’t it must go.
Here’s one of the songs off Darkness that really moved Willem:

Q. You’ve said that you consider the track Adam Raised a Cain to be punk.
A. To me punk is an attitude more than a musical style, and that song certainly has that attitude. I love punk, but then I love all genres – just when I think I don’t like a genre I hear a track that I have to admit is really cool! But there are many artists and tracks I don’t like, for many reasons – mostly to do with them being derivative/unoriginal/formulaic/boring/dishonest, and you find those things in any genre. Actually the word genre has become meaningless; the interesting things are always when people come up with stuff that doesn’t fit into any ‘genre’! In the early seventies I got into the Laurel Canyon singer/songwriter scene big time – Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, James Taylor etc – and by the late seventies I’d gotten bored with loud blues rock and was immersing myself in jazz, particularly post-war jazz and more particularly what Miles Davis, John Coltrane and John McLaughlin were doing in the 60s and early 70s. I’d also discovered the real blues artists that all these loud longhairs I’d been listening to were copying, and immersing myself in that. So I wasn’t paying attention when punk happened in England in 76/7, but I caught up big-time a year or two later. I love the Pistols, Clash, Jam, Ramones, MC5 . . .
Q. How were you introduced to jazz?
A. I first heard Django Reinhardt when I was 12 or 13, and a year or two later I heard Inner Mounting Flame by John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra . . . the guitar playing was just beyond me. Also at the time drums were my main thing, and Billy Cobham changed the game! From there various roads led to Miles Davis . . . Miles’ 60s quintet is the highest level of musicianship I’ve ever heard, for me listening to that stuff is a spiritual experience. I also got big time into Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Charlie Mingus and many others, and other guitarists like Larry Coryell. Listening to so much jazz changed the way I hear music and particularly the way I play guitar; my chord work is influenced by jazz pianists and my single-line playing by horn players, particularly Miles. I don’t consider myself a jazz musician though, although I’m a capable improviser and can hold my own with modal stuff.
On that note, this may be of use to guitarists out there . . .

Q. In the early 80s you had a band called Nothing Personal. Tell us how you got together – when, where and how?
A. While at varsity I’d met a bunch of wonderful musicians, many of whom have become lifelong friends – Adriaan Eksteen, Steve Louw and Rob Nagel among them. By the early 80s I’d graduated and was doing my 2 years in the army, but I had it fairly easy and had a lot of time to myself. By that time Adriaan Eksteen and I’d been playing together for 6 or 7 years and had a good vibe going. A guy we knew from varsity, Robin Hawkins, who had a band called Artvark was living in a house in Wynberg where he had a rehearsal room with gear where we’d often go for a jam; there were always people hanging out looking for a jam. That’s where we met drummer Simon Falkiner and singer Michael Copley. The four of us hit it off and were soon putting songs together from the riffs Adriaan and I would come up with and Michael’s lyrics. We played our first gig as Nothing Personal at the Movement Too club in Cape Town in December 1982. We weren’t exactly punks but we certainly had punk attitude in buckets! Our sound was more like a mix of Live At Leeds-era Who and the Jam, with a bit of our blues influences thrown in, and we were Bruce & the E Street Band nuts . . . but we played it all with Ramones-like energy. After playing every venue in the Cape Town area for about 6 months we moved to Jozi and tried our luck there. The band didn’t last but I loved Yeoville and I ended up living in Jozi for 20 years.
Q. How did you become a sound engineer?
A. I’d studied journalism, which provided me with an alternative career and I’ve worked on and off at various newspapers and magazines over the years while also pursuing music. By 1984 Nothing Personal was over. I’d quit a copywriting gig I hated and was at a loose end. Some mates with a band and an album out were about to go on tour and asked me if I knew how to mix a band. I’d never actually done it but bullshitted myself into the job . . . basically I learnt by making mistakes! But I did know how a band was supposed to sound and once I got a hang of the technical stuff I became a pretty good front-of-house engineer. I ended up mixing a bunch of bands, permanently on tour – at once stage I lived in the back of Kombi for a year! The gear was often iffy and the venues often unbelievably crap – like the Roxy Rhythm Bar in Jo’burg. I walked in and looked at the place and thought, you seriously play live music in here? It’s a square concrete box! That’s an echo chamber, not a venue! After about 5 years of this type of thing I was asked to mix a musical production in a proper theatre, with good acoustics and equipment. After that I only worked in theatres where you can do a really good, satisfying job. I did live sound on musical productions for another 10 or 15 years.
Q. Talk about Boere Punk and the Voëlvry tour.
A. A bit of background: By the late 80s South Africa was in a terrible state – state of emergency, people being detained and tortured, people dying in townships, a cultural boycott that isolated this country, the SABC and record companies refusing to touch artists that had anything truthful to say about the apartheid regime . . . An incredibly stressful and tense time. Amid this, in places like Yeoville, people were responding with fantastic creativity – they had nowhere to go. The saviour of SA music was Lloyd Ross, who started Shifty Records to record huge talents like James Philips, the Genuines and the Kêrels when no one else would. A few venues like Jamesons let these people play there, and a small but very powerful and influential scene developed. At that time Afrikaans music was basically an embarrassment to mankind – really bad schlage (German middle-of-the-road) songs that got even worse in translation. We all loved James Philips’ Bernoldus Niemand record which, along with David Kramer’s early records, showed that it was possibly to write Afrikaans songs that rang true and had something real to say. In early 1988 trombone player Jannie Hanepoot van Tonder and I’d both heard people talk of this one-man cabaret show at the Black Sun that we should go and watch. That was Ralph Rabie, then already known as Johannes Kerkorrel, and we were blown away by his songs. Also on the bill was Andre le Toit, later to become known as Koos Kombuis. We soon got chatting and, along with their manager ‘Dagga’ Dirk Uys, concocted a plan to start a rock and roll band that could bring Ralph and Andre’s songs to a bigger audience. Hence the Gereformeerde Blues Band. Our first gig, in April that year at the Pool Club in downtown Jozi, was a huge success and we realised we were onto something. At first I played bass and Andre played acoustic guitar, but he wasn’t a band person so Jannie and I asked Gary Herselman of the Kêrels – aka Piet Pers – to play bass, and I switched to guitar. Soon I quit my other gig – I was in Wendy Oldfield’s band at the time – and we started playing lots of shows. Lloyd recorded the Hillbrow/Ry single, which took off, and in January 89 we finished the Eet Kreef album. Meanwhile Dirk had organised a tour of university campuses for the first part of 1989, which became an ongoing, national tour sponsored by Max du Preez’s newspaper Vryeweekblad and named after a Shifty compilation of alternative Afrikaans music – Voëlvry.
Q. I believe there’s an interesting story about the photoshoot for the Eet Kreef cover?
A. The idea was a play on ‘let them eat cake’. So the art director organised a table with a few crayfish (as well some plastic ones) and a few actors to portray the aristocracy stuffing their faces, and then on the back cover you see the proles (the poor band) looking at the scraps that remained. Which is exactly what happened in real life! When we got there the actors had eaten all the crayfish and we were left with plastic props! The disappointment on our faces was real.
This is Johannes Kerkorrel and the Gereformeerde Blues Band being interviewed by Evita Bezuidenhout for M-Net in 1989 – it wasn’t broadcast at the time because M-Net was scared of government repercussions! Check it here:

This is Lloyd Ross’ documentary on the Voëlvry movement and tour:
There are still a few copies of Pat Hopkins’ accompanying book available – it includes a DVD of Lloyd’s doccie: https://www.bidorbuy.co.za/item/59338914/Voelvry_The_Movement_that_rocked_South_Africa_by_Pat_Hopkins.html
Q. I found it interesting how you guys swopped instruments around during your sets.
A. Jannie, Gary and I had all been in bands for years by that time so were pretty experienced. We could all play drums, Gary and I could play guitar and bass, and Jannie is one of the best trombone players I’ve ever heard so there was no way we weren’t gonna feature him! So it made sense to swop around; I thought it gave us an advantage musically, sonically and, on stage, visually. Ralph wrote the songs and could perform them solo at the piano, so whatever we added had to serve the song and make it better. That was the only rule. We were helluva stoked to have Piet in the band – we were huge Kêrels fans and Gary is a rock and roll legend . . .
Q. Who did you play with after the GBB?
A. In the 90s I basically became a sideman for hire. I’d started playing on all kinds of people’s records, which then often led to me working with them on gigs and tours. I worked with Nataniel for about 15 years, which was a fantastic expierence! I played guitar, bass and drums in his shows and mixed many of his big theatre productions. I’ve been fortunate to perform with so many hugely talented people, all of whom taught me things and enriched my life – Nataniel, James Philips and the Lurchers, the Radio Rats, the Pressure Cookies, Big Sky, Luna Paige . . . to mention just a few. I played on various albums with these people as well.
In 1990 I bought an analogue 8-track setup and started my first studio in the basement of my house in Sharp Street, Yeoville. To this day my studio, wherever I live, is called Sharp Street Studio. Over the years I’ve recorded, mixed and produced albums for tons of SA artists and today it’s my main activity; I don’t gig that often anymore. I’ve recorded so many talented people – the Sunshines, Valiant Swart, Henry 8, AD de Vos, the Blues Broers, Bright Blue, to name a few . . . Currently I’m working on projects by people like Dax Butler, Greg Schoeman, Belinda van Zee, Marcia Moon, Bacchus Nel, Riku Latti and Adriaan Eksteen – all great stuff!
Q. Do you remember the Hip Replacements?
A. I recorded their one and only album! Scotty, Bertie and Andrew are all old mates and I loved their tunes and sound. Bertie (Mark Bennett) is a hugely talented songwriter. I played with them a few times over the years too. I even played drums with them once, but they thought I wasn’t hip enough so they replaced me . . .
For more on the Hips:
https://www.facebook.com/pg/thehipreplacements.za/about/?ref=page_internal
Check out Ad de Vos:

Willem played on the Radio Rats’ recent album Concise Rock and Roll Primer – for more check:

Q. Tell us about backing Rodriguez on his first South African tour in 1998.
A. Since 1990 I’d been playing on and off with my old varsity mate Steve Louw and his band Big Sky. Early in 1998 Steve called and said, ‘If Rodriguez was to tour South Africa, would you like Big Sky to be the support band?’ I said, ‘Sure, but I thought he was dead?’ Steve said, ‘Well apparently not.’ So we rounded up the band, which at that time was Reuben Samuels on drums, Graham Currie on bass, Russel Taylor on keyboards and my wife Tonia (of the Pressure Cookies) on backing vocals and percussion. Then about 2 weeks before the tour was supposed to start we got word from the promoters that not only did Rodriguez not have a band, he hadn’t played for 20 years and didn’t even own a guitar anymore! So the promoter bought him an acoustic and asked Big Sky (minus Steve) if we would be his backing band if they paid us double. Of course we all knew the songs and had played some of them in cover bands, so we listened to the records and prepared. Then a few days before the first show we were in the old Milestone Studio in Cape Town, rehearsing along with a Greatest Hits CD so we could follow Rodriguez’ voice. Halfway through a song Rod walked in, grabbed a microphone and started singing along. Someone switched off the CD player and we finished the song together! We all looked at each other and agreed, yep we can do this. The tour is legendary. It was the only time in his life the guy performed live to his full capacity – his career stalled back in the early 70s partly because he was stage-shy and wouldn’t tour to his promote his records. Once he realised that Big Sky knew and respected his material and had his back, his confidence grew and he was great on that tour. Sadly from what I’d experienced and heard of subsequent tours, his drinking often got the better of him and some shows have been disastrous – which is sad. His health also deteriorated and he’s gone blind, yet his daughters (who manage him) kept sending him out on endless tours . . . it’s unfortunate. But on that 1998 tour he was fantastic.
Check Tonia Moller’s documentary on Rodriguez’ 1998 SA tour, Dead Men Don’t Tour, which features the man in full force – the live footage in the Oscar-winning doccie Searching For Sugar Man came from Tonia’s film:

Q. How did you meet Tonia?
A. We met in the late 80s in Yeoville. I’d seen her perform with her band Khaki Monitor – which was one of the first alternative bands to use Afrikaans lyrics – and she was doing cabaret work. Then she joined the Gereformeerde Blues Band on backing vocals and percussion for the Voëlvry tour. After that the two of us had a string of blues bands and played in venues around Jozi for years, while she also formed the Pressure Cookies to perform her own songs. We got married in 1996. (Interview with Tonia coming up in a month or so – Ernesto.)
Q. Tell us about making the soundtrack for the local comedy Skeem.
A. I’d been playing with drum legend Barry van Zyl for years. He and James Stewart (formerly of the Usual) had formed a music publishing company and among other things were writing movie soundtracks. Barry asked if I’d be interested in creating the music for a new movie, and that it would involve a band improvising rockabilly jams while watching the images. That sounded like fun, so I was in. In the end the whole deal became a lot more complicated, but much of it did involve jamming some breakneck stuff while watching the movie projected on a wall in the studio, with the director, Tim Greene, jumping up and down as he directed us . . . it’s actually a fun soundtrack to listen to.
Here’s the trailer:

Q. You also worked with Andrew Kay’s band the Skyt Muties.
A. I recorded their album back in the 90s. I thought they were ridiculously good and that Andrew was a real special talent. He revived the band for a few shows a few years ago and I played 2 gigs with them. I love those songs!
Q. What have been some of your proudest moments in your recording career?
A. I’ve recorded hundreds of artists at Sharp Street Studio, especially in the 90s when I guess I was cheaper than anyone else! As it turned out a whole bunch of really talented people never released what they recorded with me and never really recorded again, so I have these gems in my archives . . . Machines of Joy, The Andy Clegg, Rear Window are 3 that spring to mind – really original and quirky material that the world should have heard but didn’t. Those recordings are close to my heart . . . Of the released stuff, there are a few I’m really proud of, such as Valiant Swart’s Mystic Boer (for me his best songs) and Kopskoot, Henry Ate’s Slap in the Face, Randy Rambo and the Rough Riders/Die Naaimasjiene, the Blues Broers’ Sharp Street, Been Around and Cellar Tapes, AD de Vos’ Diep Karoo and Wolfman . . . I also co-produced James Philips and the Lurchers’ album Sunny Skies (with Lloyd Ross), which I think is a fantastic record. I also play guitar on it. I also really love Greg Schoeman and the Comeback Kings’ In my Street and Dax Butler’s Drink in Everything and Trouble in Mind.
This is Dax Butler’s Bandcamp page.. https://daxbutler.bandcamp.com/
This is Greg Schoeman and the Sunshines with their big hit from back then…

And here is the classic album by the Blues Broers…

Ernie: I also love Valiant Swart’s Die Mystic Boer and think those are his best songs:

Willem: I love the Randy Rambo and the Rough Riders/Die Naaimasjiene stuff! We totally ignored absolutely every rule. There will probably never be another album like Die Saai Lewe . . . Randy is still at it.
Check out Die Naamasjiene’s recent material:
https://soundcloud.com/dienaaimasjiene

Q. Any last words/thoughts?
I really miss those musical compadres who are no longer with us – Johannes Kerkorrel, James Philips, Nico Burger, Izak van Zyl, John Mair, Simon Falkiner, Michael Copley . . . all wonderful talents, all gone too soon. You guys rock, wherever you are.
Cheers Willem, long may you rock
Ernesto Garcia Marques 01/07/2020

The Suitcase Show [1 July 2020] feat Piet Botha, Valiant Swart, Anton Goosen, Koos Kombuis, KOBUS!

Every vagabond needs a suitcase.

This is a mainly South African, mostly Afrikaans series of shows with some well-known tjoons and many obscure ones.

Some happy songs, some angry songs, a few light songs, and quite a few dark ones.

The name of this show is inspired by the song “Suitcase Vol Winter” by South African Music Legend Piet Botha www.PietBotha.com

Some lyrics are explicit and/or offensive.

Photo by Hein Waschefort, 2013

Track list

1. Meisie Sonner Sokkies (live 1998) – David Kramer
2. Sien Jou Weer (Piet Botha cover) – Beeskraal met Piet Botha
3. Die Mystic Boer – Valiant Swart
4. Kan Ons Weer Begin – Ashton Nyte
5. Sit Dit Af – Johannes Kerkorrel & Die Gereformeerde Blues Band
6. Ou Swerwer – Piet Botha
7. Lisa se Klavier – Koos Kombuis with James Phillips
8. n Brief Vir Simone – Anton Goosen
9. Bittermaan – Spoegwolf
10. Breyten se Brief (2010 recording) – Jan Blohm & Milan Murray
11. 9mm Blues (demo version) – George Harry (Jan Blohm)
12. Spook – Spinnekop
13. Die Donker Kom Jou Haal (Valiant Swart cover) – The Black Cat Bones
14. Dagdrome in Suburbia – Francois van Coke feat Spoegwolf
15. Slang – The Kêrels
16. Bloemfontein – Springcan
17. Reënvoëls – Mel Botes
18. Giant Puzzle – Al’astair
19. Matchbox Full Of Diamonds – David Kramer
20. Brixton Dae – Brixton Moord En Roof Orkes
21. Sondagmiddag – KOBUS!
22. Nikitien En Kafeïen – ddisselblom
23. Rock & Roll Jannie – Jakkie Louw & Wickus Van Der Merwe
24. Blommetjie Gedenk Aan My (Anton Goosen cover) – Stean Ennie Crank-shafts
25. Êrens – Ark
26. Mooie Vrou – Kaal
27. F.A.K. – Skallabrak
28. Mynhope In Die Bosveld – Wildebeest
29. Ventersdorp (Song Vir Angelique) – Die Kaalkop Waarheid
30. Verspreide Donderbuie – Amanda Strydom
31. Van Tonder – Piet Botha
32. Stille Soldate – Touch Of Class

Jive Talking & Eyeballing #1 [26 June 2020] feat éVoid, Albert Frost, Roger Lucey, Wonderboom, Peach

A series of one hour All-South African mixes to enhance the Public Facebook Group “Jive Talking and Eyeballing“, which is an interview showcase of both South African and International artists.

This week’s spotlight is on éVoid, read the interview at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/623022481618491/permalink/677305066190232/

Track List

1. Jiving To The Weekend Beat – éVoid
2. Orang Otang – Brian Finch
3. Warlord – Bill Knight with Roger Lucey
4. Lungile Tabalaza – Roger Lucey feat Ken E Henson
5. My Sharona – Void
6. Taximan – éVoid
7. Shadows – Wonderboom
8. A Lot Of Things – Peach
9. Corrugated Iron – Die Lemme
10. ZX Dan – Radio Rats
11. Catfish Blues (live 2003) – Albert Frost
12. Hot Tin Roof – Famous Curtain Trick
13. Harmonijah – Tidal Waves
14. Kudu Junction – Amampondo
15. Jeffreysbaai – Piet Botha

Great Local Musicians – éVOID – for all the Fadgets | Jive Talking and Eyeballing

From Jive Talking and Eyeballing Facebook Group

It all began with a band called Zennith in Brakpan near Johannesburg in 1977. Dutch born Lucien Windrich began playing with school friends which included bassist Benjy Mudie, the future South African music custodian. The band changed its name to Void and the following year was joined by Lucien’s younger brother, Erik also born in Holland. Even though the band had won a battle of the bands in Joburg in 1978 they were battling to find paying gigs in South Africa. The band found the opening they needed in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, on the live circuit. The guys spent 8 months there together with drummer Danny de Wet (Petit Cheval & Wonderboom) and bassist Terry Andalis. In 1979 the band recorded a cover of the Knack’s smash hit My Sharona but it was the B-Side Magicia that took off and reached number 4 on the country’s charts. Here is My Sharona, Void style…


Can’t seem to find a copy of Magicia. Lucien?
Q. Hi Lucien, thanks so much for Jive Talking with us in South Africa. So, one could say that you had your first taste of success in Rhodesia. It is obvious that you had your African spin right from the start, even with Void, and your version of My Sharona has that tribal influence. Did you listen to tribal music and was this the main influence on your music? Who were you listening to at the time?
A. In the late 70’s I was listening to rock bands like Grand Funk and Bad Company and prog rock bands like Wishbone Ash and Genesis and learning to play guitar like all the guitar players back then. The local South African influence came later in the early 80’s during our residency in East London when we started afresh as a three-piece.

I don’t think we had an obvious tribal influence back in the 70’s. We were just experimenting with various rock and pop idioms. As ‘Void’ we went from one extreme to the other. We composed and performed a 17 min prog rock epic called How Calm the Storm which people would sit and listen to quietly throughout. And then we put a middle-of-the-road song called Magicia on the B-side of My Sharona. It was an eclectic mix of stuff.

Going to Bulawayo in 1979 was the first professional residency gig for the four of us, me Erik, Danny and Terry. We told ourselves from the outset that we would only do residencies playing cover songs as long as we could write and perform our own stuff as well. So it was a real boost when people requested our own stuff. It gave us the confidence to continue writing. Those early residency gigs were an invaluable learning curve for us towards developing our own original style and sound.

We had our first success in Rhodesia with a cover version of My Sharona because the original wasn’t allowed to be played due to sanctions. It was fun watching everyone do ‘the pogo’ when we played the song in the club. There’s even a video of us doing the pogo in the Zimbabwean TV vaults somewhere. What we never expected was to be playing to young soldiers who had been in the bush for six weeks shooting and killing people, and then coming into the club to dispel their tensions. We quickly learnt to keep them entertained with our music and performances which helped to prevent outbreaks of violence suddenly erupting inside the club. And believe me, it did erupt. We threatened to stop playing if they didn’t stop fighting. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. One of the cover versions we did at the time was a song by Rush called Bastille Day which strained Erik’s voice so much he had to have an operation to remove the nodules on his vocal chords.

And what should have been a highlight for us was when Bob Marley came to play at Independence Day, April 1980. We were literally in the next town. We asked the manager Marjorie if we could have the night off and she said no. Can you believe it? Like good Catholic school boys we did as we were told. WTF!
Void returned to South Africa and decided to change their identity after Terry Andalis, José “Aggi” de Aguiar and Danny de Wet departure in 1982. Lucien, Erik and third brother Karl, the band’s manager, changed their name to éVoid and it became a three piece with Georg Voros on drums who was replaced by Wayne Harker early in 1983. éVoid built up a large, loyal following which started in East London and then spread like a forest fire over the next 4 years. The band were creating a highly original and subtle fusion of Afro-rock (which they christened ethnotronics), which was different from the more traditional sounds of their contemporaries, Juluka and Hotline, or the rock-based Tribe After Tribe, Ella Mental, Via Afrika, Flash Harry and Neill Solomon’s Passengers. éVoid conveyed immediacy, simplicity and warmth of spirit of other Afro-rock bands with their newly painted faces, tribal dances and South African jive rhythms.
Q. Your style, was it based on any one African culture like the Ndebele patterns and the Zulu bracelets and beeds or a combination of those and others. Who made your outfits and what did the African people think of it? Did they give you their blessing?
A. The eVoid style was developed in East London when we were faced with becoming a three-piece. It was a deliberate attempt to create what Aggi called Soweto New Wave – a fusion of rock & mbanga grooves, jangly guitars, punchy keyboard riffs and a local South African influenced image. But vocally we were still mainly European sounding.
We weren’t interested in being as indigenous as Johnny Clegg much as we respected him. We wanted to create our own punky afro-pop style. Plus we were into the nu-romantic image at the time.

My ex-wife Kay designed and made the clothes and Erik’s ex-wife Linda helped make them. They were called K-rags and we loved wearing them. It really helped define our local white South African image at the time.
We commissioned a whole lot of African women to make the Ndebele beadwork merchandise for us. We gave them the eVoid logo and told them to incorporate it into the designs as they wish.
Yes I admit it was a cultural appropriation but we never exploited anyone. Our feeling at the time was that we were promoting local music and images. And we were financially supporting groups of women who were happy to be given the business. Did they give us their blessing? Well, at no time did anyone of them refuse the work. As to what they actually thought of us, I don’t really know. We told them they were making merchandise for the band and they never objected.
Success arrived when WEA (now Tusk) signed them to a recording contract. The band released their debut self titled album éVoid in August 1983 which yielded their first single Shadows. It was backed by the infectious Dun Kalusin Ta Va, which had become a hallmark of their sound. Shadows peaked at number three on the national charts in November and, to this day, remains a staple of South African rock and pop-oriented radio stations. Here is that classic single performed to adoring fans at Ellis Park in 1985.


Q. That was probably one of the greatest era’s in South African music and those concerts at Ellis Park were magical. Can you recall any special moments at the Concert in the Park?
A. It was an emotional high for us. Three weeks after playing the biggest and most prestigious concert in Joburg we left for the UK. Towards the end of playing Shadows it dawned on me that it may be the last time we ever played in SA again. And what a gig to be ending it on. I have been known to be melodramatic.

It was magical stepping out on stage early in the evening and seeing a sea of faces stretching out and upwards towards the top of Ellis Park stadium. I will never forget that. Amazing! People often ask what it feels like, and to be honest once you’re actually playing all you can see are lots of tiny heads bobbing up and down. You’re really just performing to the front rows with whom you can have some kind of connection. And then when Erik starts waving his hands in the air from side to side, and you see 100’000 people responding, there’s nothing quite like it. It’s a huge high!

I can remember being backstage with Johnny Clegg on the day, along with some other musicians getting ready. We hadn’t met or spoken before and we exchanged pleasantries about how wonderful this gig was. He complimented us on Shadows which was a lovely thing to do. That whole day and everything leading up to it was a sign that we were at the top of our game. And we were about to leave that all behind.

The weird thing is we nearly didn’t even do the gig. We were offered the gig a few months earlier knowing it was for a worthwhile cause but we had already booked our flights to the UK so we turned it down. The organisers offered it to us a second time and by then the hype was building about how momentous the gig was going to be, featuring 25 of the top acts in South Africa at the time. So we agreed. Thank God we did. Imagine if we had turned it down? It would’ve been our ‘Dylan misses
Woodstock’ moment. For us, I mean.

What we’re really proud of is the fact that the SA organisers conceived and actually pulled off this benefit gig for Operation Hunger six months before Bob Geldof launched Live Aid. Yesss!
éVoid had found their niche and this time found them at the peak of their creative spirit. The follow-up single Taximan was released in February 1984 and it got to number 6 on the national charts..


Later that year, I Am a Fadget became the band’s third single. This version was performed live at At The Half Moon , Putney in 2015….


and here are the lyrics…. https://genius.com/Evoid-i-am-a-fadget-lyrics
Q. So good to see you still playing this after all these years. I would assume that it is mostly old ex South Africans jumping around or are the true Brits also getting into that now? Would you like to comment on where the name Fadget came from as there have been a number of different theories and it is maybe time to set the record straight so to speak.
A. Are there many theories about what a Fadget is, really? I’d love to hear them.
Erik and I wrote the song in a rehearsal room one day, and when it got to looking for lyrics for a particular section I blurted out ‘I am a Fadget’ and we burst out laughing because it obviously sounded like ‘faggot’ which was a ridiculous choice and not what I had intended.
You see, I liked this British artist called Fad Gadget, and whilst developing our pseudo African image, to be seen as fashion icons or ‘fad gadgets’ must have been at the back of my mind. So when I blurted it out as a possible lyric it came out as ‘fadget’. We weren’t seriously going to use it cause people might think we’re calling ourselves ‘faggots’ which as you well know is a derogatory term for gay men. But as so often happens when you try and replace it with something else, the song loses something. So we went with it in the end. Our colourful jive image now had a name.

When we arrived in London we played at the Springbok Bar for many years, first in Paddington then Shepherds Bush and finally in Covent Garden. And yes like you say mainly all ex-pats. eVOID then was just Erik and I with a drum machine and bass loops. Every now and then Colin, one of the ex-pats would organise a booze cruise on the river Thames and we would experience a few hours of absolute mayhem on board. We also played on the Queen Elizabeth cruise ship which was docked at Victoria Embankment. It was a lot of fun.

Did the Brits get into our music? Yes they did. We played at some smaller pubs and clubs and sold loads of CDs but without an international album and English management we couldn’t get onto bigger venues and tours. We did a gig at the Astoria in Tottenham Court Road, and a small tour of Germany in the late 80’s with Ilne Hofmeyr on bass and Richard Devey on drums. That was great. In fact I remember this German guy coming up to me afterwards saying ‘that guitar, is INXS, ja? He was referring to my Junk Jive riff of course. ‘No it’s not’ I replied. ‘It’s just some Aussie shits stealing our thunder!’
éVoid were performing with not for dedicated fans — “fadgets”, as they were known — dressed in almost equally outrageous and colourful ethno-gypsy garb, who queued for hundreds of metres to see them. We all used to go and see them at the Chelsea Hotel in Berea, near Hillbrow and the venue was always packed. I can recall going to one of éVoid’s gigs at the Chelsea only to be told the club was full and I had to go clubbing elsewhere… “Oooh La la Laa, I like it ”
Q. Do you remember those Chelsea Hotel gigs? I only managed to go to a few but heard that you played there many times…. Like how many?
A. Can’t remember how many gigs we did there but without a doubt the Chelsea Hotel years were legendary. It was 1983, the same year we recorded our first album, and fadgets were queuing round the block to come and see us. It was an extraordinary sight.
We lived round the corner so we couldn’t even go to the shop to get some milk for fear of being caught without our fadget gear and make-up on.
I remember our drummer Wayne being stoned a lot; Karl our brother/manager was running the door and it was where we wrote Shadows. We used to rehearse in the club during the daytime which was handy.
I don’t know if you know the story about Shadows nearly not making it on the album. What happened was we had already decided with WEA Records which songs we were going to record and put on the album. And then we wrote this new song called Shadows and I remember saying to Benji we have to include this new song we’ve just written and he said no, the track listing had already been agreed, and that he couldn’t change it so late in the day. Erik and I pleaded with him and he eventually agreed. But that’s not the end of it. Whilst recording the song, the studio engineer told us the song would never make it. Well you were wrong, Richard.
Every night we played at the Chelsea Hotel the dance floor would dip inwards and creak from the weight of people jumping up and down to Shadows. I thought the floor was going to break and we’d have a catastrophe on our hands. Which did happen when we were on tour at Stellenbosch University; the floor collapsed and a group of people tumbled and disappeared. And then people pushing from behind caused an even bigger pile-up. Crazy stuff. They eventually laid a couple of tables across the hole for people to dance on. Luckily it never happened at the Chelsea.
Occasionally the Chelsea party would spill out onto the streets though. That was fun. I particularly liked the State of Lumo theme we designed for the stage. Nic Hauser helped design and build a lot of the sets, and he also designed the cover for the 12-inch version of ‘I am a Fadget’. What’s happened to Nic, I wonder?
The band went on a gruelling 3-week national tour playing to packed venues on the Durban University Campus, Bloemfontein, Cape Town but they ran into problems before the start of their Eastern Cape leg of the tour. In Grahamstown military police arrested drummer Wayne Harker for being on AWOL since December 1982 from his 2 year national service. Original drummer Danny de Wet was hurriedly recruited to complete the tour.
Harker was discharged in March 1984 and the band was back in business. In September 1984 their debut album was high in the national charts which was rare for a local band competing with the big international acts of the time. While this was happening their three-track 12″ maxi single Kwela Walk/I am a Fadget/Tellem and Gordon, was receiving rave reviews.


Q. This song and in fact a lot of your music had a definite crossover appeal. Is that what you were hoping for and did you play to many mixed-race crowds? Did you have many “black” fans and friends at the time?
Kwela Walk was a great tune. Erik wrote it with crossover appeal in mind but we didn’t get to play to many mixed race audiences. We once did an outdoor township gig and were viewed with amusement. There were more people sniggering in the crowd than actually grooving to the music. Which pretty much says it all. We were a white nu-romantic pop band not an African groove machine, much as I would have liked to have had more of that in our music.

Having said that, I was exposed to mbaqanga music whilst working in an African record shop which came out later in my guitar playing. Junk Jive comes directly from my early attempt to create a hybrid mbaqanga punk sound. Taximan was another example of creating an interlocking groove. Baghiti Khumalo loved playing the bass on it. We bumped into him in London a few years later when he was gigging with Paul Simon and he said how much he enjoyed doing the track. He asked why we weren’t doing what Paul Simon was doing. That was our intention, I said, when we left SA. But It’s not as simple as that. In South Africa we were big fish in a small pond and in the UK it’s the exact opposite. Plus we’re white South Africans.
During the three prominent years of our career from the end of 1982 to the beginning of 1985 we played to young white audiences. That’s who the management and record companies targeted, and that’s the demographic we attracted. Not many clubs were multiracial back then. I had more relationships with black people in the 70’s when I was working in an African record bar called ‘American Music’, and when I frequented black music clubs in downtown Jo’burg. In terms of lasting friendships back then, not many. We lived our whirlwind lifestyle in a bubble. That’s what it was like.
The band usually attracted good press coverage though éVoid were on occasion labelled as androgynous misfits, pretentious white boys in beads, and shallow-minded slaves to fashion and rhythm.
In 1984 the group won a prestigious Sarie Award for “best arrangement and production of an album”, and the single I Am a Fadget landed them the “best contemporary artist” award.
On Saturday 12 January 1985, the band performed at the Concert In The Park in support of Operation Hunger to an estimated 100,000 people, along with Hotline, Via Afrika, Juluka, All Night Radio, Ella Mental, Steve Kekana, Harari, Mara Louw and The Rockets. This is Junk Jive live at the Concert in the Park…


Q. How did you get along with your contemporary bands at the time?
A. That’s a good question. Um…at some point from 1982 onwards we were totally focussed on our music and on developing our sound and we rarely met up with any other bands. Although I have to admit that when a fire gutted our equipment in 1982, well before we had any success, many local bands did a benefit gig for us to raise money so we could replace our equipment. It was such a touching thing to do and we really appreciated it.
But generally speaking we didn’t mix with other bands that much. In the early days as Void we did a gig at the Polo Club in Springs with our East Rand contemporaries The Radio Rats. That was a big deal at the time, and Ozzie went on to play for them years later. And I also developed a close bond with Wonderboom in 2006 which came about when Danny de Wet asked me to fly out and produce the City Of Gold album. That was a great experience. Not only did we produce an album together I even got to skydive with the boys.
But during the eVOID heyday in the early 80’s we didn’t have much contact with other bands. I mean, I Ioved Ellamental and Via Afrika but we didn’t move in the same circles, so we never got to meet and chat much. We certainly didn’t hang out at clubs all night, that sort of thing. And neither did we do any drugs or heavy drinking at the time. I’m talking about Erik and I. Wayne was a law unto himself. But no, really. I smoked dope when I was younger but not during the eVOID years. And the same for Erik. We were the Nerdy Fadgets! Oh dear, maybe you shouldn’t print that.
We were also both in serious relationships at the time which probably had something to do with it.
In intervening years the Windrich brothers were going through a period of personal introspection: they had reached the pinnacle of their career in South Africa and perhaps it was time to head overseas. They were not happy with the production of their first album and Eric had received his call up from the SANDF. Wayne Harker quit éVoid to join the Cape Town band, Askari and in 1985 the brothers left for London where they set up an eight-track studio in their garage and performed as a four-piece with fellow South Africans, Ilne Hofmeyr on bass and Richard Devey on drums. For most of 1986 they worked on their second album: Here Comes the Rot from which WEA released the single Dance the Instinct/Sergeant Major. This is the demo for Dance the Instinct…


Q. So the original plan was that this was to be released as a single in South Africa but that never happened? Your decision or WEA?
A. Dance the Instinct was definitely released as a single in SA. Actually I’m glad you put up the demo of Dance the Instinct in the link. I prefer that version.
The band learned that their infectious Afro sounds did not appeal to British A&R executives and no new opportunities presented themselves. Meanwhile back in South Africa, WEA released . . . Here Comes the Rot in December 1986, to coincide with éVoid’s six-week nationwide tour of the country. This is Altar Pop which contained the line “Here Comes the Rot”


Q. That tour went very well didn’t it and you were playing to packed houses again. perhaps it may have been a better option to stay and plan a strategy to invade the USA instead? Were your albums released in the USA and if so how did they fare?
No. There was no penetration into the US market. Sometime in 1983 Mutt Lange saw us playing at the Chelsea Hotel and he told Zomba Records about this young band he had seen in SA. Zomba records offered us a 9 year deal, the same deal that was offered to The Stone Roses who accepted it. Karl, our older brother/manager advised us not to go for the deal as it was tying us up for too long. Had we accepted the deal we would have become international artists for a few years before ending up in court, like The Stone Roses did fighting to get out of the contract. Do we have any regrets? It’s always nice to have your music heard and appreciated far and wide but it wasn’t to be. We will never know what might’ve happened. It’s a toss of the coin as to what the future holds … I wasn’t doing much astrology back then.

In the blurb leading up to this you mention that our ‘infectious Afro sounds did not appeal to British A&R executives’.
It wasn’t so much the music as us being white South Africans and our bizarrely colourful image that they objected to. I’ll tell you a story.
It was snowing in the UK in Feb 1985, and Erik and I went to our first and only appointment with Warner Brothers dressed like African warriors. We were excited but nervous. The young A&R man who met us, dressed as a Deutschpunk in black underground gear, took one look at us and said ‘you guys are like a canary amongst sparrows’.
Erik I looked confused.
‘The sparrows’, he said ‘will kill the canary’.
Charming. We weren’t off to a great start.
‘Aren’t all white South Africans murderers? he asked.
We left soon afterwards.
Without a UK record deal of course.
In 1993, the group released a compilation called, éVoid – Over the Years, and made it available on cassette for limited distribution at the Springbok Bar in London.
Q. Was this tape made up of songs from your first 2 albums or was this a live tape made in London? Any way to get one of these?
A. The songs on the cassette tape are available on Spotify under a new title – London Kazet. Have a look. They’re not songs from any of our previous albums. In 2006 we re-recorded a few of them (Mix it Up, Language of Love and Ikologi) and put them on Graffiti Lounge. But the original versions still exist on London Kazet. I still have one or two of the original cassettes somewhere.
Lucien and his wife and family live in East London while Erik, wife and family live in North West London. Erik has stated that since arriving in London in 1985 and trying to earn a living as respected musicians has never been easy, and éVoid’s arrival in London at the time of South Africa’s State of Emergency made people suspicious of them. The brothers did benefit from some lucky breaks and, over the next decade, played many clubs and festivals in the UK and Europe especially Germany.
Q. I believe you are a qualified astrologer now Lucien and Eric is a Creative And Performance Manager at an English high school? Can you tell us about your work and the “lucky breaks” you have had in London since 1985?
A. We’ve both been immersed in work and family life since we arrived in the UK. Erik has worked at that high school for many years developing projects and set designs. And I’ve been helping my wife, a midwife, run her health remedies business whilst doing my astrological research. Family life is important to us, in our own separate ways.

In the late 80’s Erik did quite a bit of film music and we worked together on a film called ‘On the Wire’. Erik had a solo venture called The Vision Thing and he recorded a solo album.
I’ve played in two other bands since being in the UK, The Redemption Blues Band and a punky gypsy instrumental band called Victor Menace. Both are now defunct.

My ‘lucky break’ was meeting my gorgeous wife, Cath, on New Year’s Eve, 1992 at the Springbok bar in Paddington. I was on stage, she was in the crowd. I walked off stage to say hello and we hugged each like we had known each for years. I remember it like it was yesterday.

Erik’s ‘lucky breaks’ include meeting his wife Alix in 1991, performing in Paris as “The Vision Thing” and having a permanent job since 2004.
Following the demise of Askari in Cape Town Wayne Harker was summoned to rejoin the band (with Ilne Hofmeyr) and record new material. He stayed with the band for for years in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s which included a 6 week German tour. Obtaining a work permit Harker met and married a German girl and settled in Cologne. He developed musically and apart from drums now plays bass guitar, and keyboards and in 2006 he finally released his debut solo album Culture Shock under the Sea Weed monicker and turning it into a live act.

https://www.discogs.com/Seaweed-Culture-Shock-/release/14663113
Q. Do you still hear from Wayne and is he still recording and performing in Cologne?
A. No, we have no contact with Wayne. I messaged him on Facebook a few years ago and he never got back to me. But, speak of the devil because today (17 June) he commented for the first time on an eVOID post on Facebook. Someone put up a clip of Shadows at Concert in the Park and his comment was ‘oh ja…those brothers who dropped me like a piece of shit’.
Wayne created his own problems in SA and we were forced to use other drummers. So yes we had to dump him. We briefly joined up again in England but then he met a German girl and went with her to Germany. As Erik explains ‘he never said eVOID was his ultimate goal – he just drifted away’.
In 2008, after a long hiatus, the brothers Windrich and original drummer Georg Voros released another éVoid album, Graffiti Lounge. This is Under Blue skies with it’s message of hope..


Q. Your music on this album is more folkish if one can say that? Your new direction? I believe you and Erik lived a family life and then in 2014 you released your greatest hits album; éVoid – Classics. I know you did a small South African tour to promote that CD and that was to visit your parents who are in their 80’s…
A. No it’s not a new direction. The only folkish sounding song is Not in my Name although I agree some of the others are more mellow. We really wanted to do another album so Erik suggested we invite Georg Voros and YoYo on bass to join us. Georg flew over and stayed with Erik during the recording of the album in East London. I’d been wanting to record Under Blue Skies for some time and I was really pleased with the way it came out. It’s a nice album.
The tour in 2014 was to commemorate 30 years since the release of our first album. It was more a tour of the Barnyard Theatres, too short really. We only did about 7 dates in two weeks. Lots of people complained they didn’t even know we were touring. We did one other outdoor Marquee gig in East London organised by Des Buys (R.I.P) and Themi, old friends of ours since the early days of eVOID. That was great, more like the gigs we prefer doing.
And yes it was great spending time with our elderly parents who are now in their nineties and who, believe it or not, are about to emigrate back to the Netherlands in July 2020. What a thing to do at their age.
This is an event booklet from éVoid’s LIVE in East London 2014 show..

https://issuu.com/loomweb/docs/mga_-_evoid_27_aug_2014_-_opt
Q. Are you and Eric currently working on anything and when I contacted you, you mentioned something about a live video? Could you please share for all the Fadgets who still love your sounds in South Africa? Any plans to come back and tour here any time soon? Any last words for those that may not have read your tweets?
A. No we’re not working on anything at the moment but we still have unreleased material in storage that we need to go through. Easily an album’s worth of material.

We don’t have any immediate plans to tour. I’m not even sure if the Johnny Clegg tribute gig is still happening in July.

Any last words? For the brief period of eVoid’s success (1983 -85) there were many years of blood, sweat and tears up to that point. I know it sounds like a cliché but you have to stick at it. I’m talking about young bands who are starting out. Be prepared to take risks and trust your intuition. How you overcome adversity is also important. Always be willing to bounce back and continue the journey no matter what.
It’s a privilege to have our music being played even to this day. And that isn’t something you can plan. All you can do is live in the moment. If you want to make an impact on the world around you do it in a joyous and positive way. And never diss your audience.
I also want to take this opportunity to thank the many musicians who have been involved in the making of Void – Aden Carter, Terry Andalis, Ozzie Theron and Danny de Wet without whom our inspirational start may never have got off the ground. There were other Void incarnations with line-ups including Neville Holmes (R.I.P.), Benji Mudie, Aggi de Aguiar, Ernie Parker and Kiki. And in the making of eVOID thanks to Ilne Hofmeyr (R.I.P.), Richard Devey, Georg Voros and Wayne Harker, and the session drummer who did Concert in the Park with us whose name I forget. I’ve probably missed out someone. Oh yes, Kevin Gibson the drummer who helped us out of a pickle in Durban when Wayne had to flee the club because the Military Police were after him. Thanks everyone for making it all happen. It would not have happened without your invaluable input and contributions.

Cheers Lucien, Ernesto Garcia Marques 24/06/2020

Lockdown Blues – The Bottom Barrel Blues Band

Featuring Robin Auld, Steve Walsh, Simon Orange, Tonia Möller, Schalk Joubert, Willem Möller, Kevin Gibson, Mauritz Lotz & Nico Mac

“Lockdown Blues” is a blues song created and performed by the Bottom Barrel Blues Band – a collaboration of prominent South African contemporary musicians. It was recorded individually by the artists in isolation during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic lockdown.
True to the nature of the blues, “Lockdown Blues” is an uplifting, bitter-sweet tune depicting the challenges of life under lockdown regulations. It is produced by the Cape Town Music Academy (CTMA), a Cape Town based not for profit company, creating opportunities for local contemporary musicians.

During the Covid-19 pandemic many musicians have experienced a harsh decline or complete halt in income due to lockdown regulations and the ban on public gatherings. But despite these challenges, musicians will always express themselves, practice their craft and collaborate.
We therefore urge you to please support your local musicians by continuing to buy their albums, follow their online and streaming initiatives or by making a financial donation.

For more info on how you can donate to contemporary musicians in South Africa, please contact the Cape Town Music Academy at info@ctma.co.za.

“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.” ― Billy Joel

Credits:
Music by Robin Auld
Lyrics by Nico Mac/Robin Auld/Simon Orange
Video created & edited by Schalk Joubert
Arranged, Mixed & Mastered by Robin Auld
Executive Producer – The Cape Town Music Academy

Robin Auld – Vocals, Guitar & Harmonica
Simon Orange – Vocals & Keyboards
Steve Walsh – Vocals
Tonia Möller – Vocals
Kevin Gibson – Drums
Schalk Joubert – Bass
Willem Möller – Guitar
Mauritz Lotz – Guitar

South African Rock Digest Charts #1 [2000 to 2004]

SARD logo

The first in a series of mixes inspired by the charts from the The South African Rock Music Digest (fondly referred to as “The SA Rock Digest” or simply “The Digest”) which was a weekly, free subscription e-mag about South African rock and pop music published digitally from 1999 to 2004.

Founded on 27th January 1999 by Brian Currin and Stephen “Sugar” Segerman.

Re-established in 2009, as part of Sugar Music, embracing social media tools and platforms.

Full list of charts can be found at:
http://www.rock.co.za/files/sarocklists.html

Track list
1. Rise ‘n Shine – Moodphase5ive
2. Africa’s Not For Sissies – Syd Kitchen
3. Set Of Wheels (Karoo Anthem) – Karen Zoid
4. Nkalakatha – Mandoza
5. Gee Raat – KOBUS!
6. Since I Met You – New World Inside (early Fokofpolisiekar)
7. Crazy Over You (5FM Unearthed version) – Zen Arcade
8. Praha Paradise – Ernestine Deane
9. Kakstraat – Battery 9
10. Donkey Rattle – Felix Laband
11. Dig It – Kalahari Surfers
12. Long Holiday – The Sunshines
13. Fragile – Venessa Nolan
14. Stoute Boude – Anton Goosen & Beeskraal
15. Sestien Jaar Met ‘n Vals Kitaar – Koos Kombuis
16. Sweet Stellenganga – Akkedis
17. Beach Girl – Natalia
18. Lovesong – Dolly Rockers
19. Fokofpolisiekar – Fokofpolisiekar
20. Things To Consider – Skwirmish
21. Paralyzer – Ghetto Muffin
22. Gangsta – The Rudimentals
23. Gasoline – Saron Gas (early Seether)
24. Say Goodbye – Scarlet Host
25. Humanarium – Bed On Bricks
26. Indigo Girl – Watershed
27. Life (Theme From Big Brother TV series 2001) – Semisane
28. Vodka – Mathys Roets
29. Strate Van Pretoria – Beeskraal
30. Mooie Vrou – Kaal
31. When I Get The Blues – Delta Blue
32. Only Yesterday – Sharkbrother
33. Go Fuck Yourself – Janie Jones

Abstract Truth – 50 Years Ago | Brian Currin

It was 50 years ago, round about this time, that acclaimed South African band Abstract Truth released their debut album, Totum. Before the end of 1970 a second album and a compilation had been issued. And then during 1971 the band imploded.

This is their story.

Abstract Truth

Abstract Truth – Ken E Henson, George Wolfaardt, Sean Bergen, Pete Measroch

Adapted from the sleeve notes for the RetroFresh CD release, July 2005

The band Abstract Truth existed only for a very short time, but it was a time of super-creativity. They played a fusion of blues, folk, jazz and Eastern music and lifted South African pop of the early 70’s from the syrupy blare of bubblegum music to new heights of progressive rock.

Abstract Truth (they shunned the prefix of “the” because they didn’t want to sound dogmatic) was the brainchild of one Kenneth Edward Henson (dubbed Ken E Henson by David Marks).

The band Abstract Truth existed only for a very short time, but it was a time of super-creativity. They exploded onto the Durban music scene early in 1969, released 2 studio albums during 1970 (as well as a compilation in the same year!) and, after numerous line-up changes, imploded in 1971.

Henson had been the guitarist in a band called the Leeman Ltd, which had formed in Durban in 1965. In 1966 he and the enigmatic Ramsay MacKay got together with ex-Navarones members Colin Pratley and Nic Martens to create Freedom’s Children, arguably South Africa’s greatest rock band. Clive Calder, who signed Abstract Truth to EMI in 1970, said in the early 2000s that Freedom’s Children in his opinion “was then and probably still is today (over 30 years later) the only South African rock group that, given the right circumstances in the right geographical location, could have become an internationally successful rock band just by being themselves and doing what they did.”

Henson was involved in the early single releases by Freedom’s Children, which were unbelievably credited to “Fleadom’s Children” because the government of the time considered the word “Freedom” as unacceptable! Henson then left Freedom’s Children to join The Bats for a six-week sojourn.

In 1969 Henson and sax-player Sean Bergin were in a jazz group called The Sounds. Henson says, “In February 1969 I was approached by the owner of a local hotel. He had heard that I played the sitar and asked if I could get together an exotic/Eastern-sounding outfit to back a belly dancer in the hotel’s disco/pub.” The pub was called “Totum” and was situated at the Palm Beach Hotel in Durban’s Gillespie Street.

Abstract Truth

Abstract Truth

Robbie Pavid, who had played drums for The Mods in 1967, remembers: “[The club owner] wanted a backing band for a belly dance act that would attract customers to his cocktail hour. Ken got hold of Brian Gibson who would play bass, formerly from the British group the 004’s, Sean Bergin who would play flute and sax, myself on percussion, who was with the band The Third Eye, and Ken on lead guitar and sitar. I was playing in The Third Eye at the same time as Abstract Truth (whose gig at “Totum” was a 5 to 7 cocktail hour gig) and would then rush off to The Third Eye gig…. ahh, what you can do when you are young!!!!”

A quote from a 1969 poster sums it up: “swing to Abstract Truth every night at Totum in the Palm Beach Hotel from five o’clock to seven.”

“To fill out the evening after the belly dancer had done her thing,” recalls Henson, “we started playing a hybrid of jazz standards, folk/rock and Eastern-type jams. We soon replaced the main attraction and the belly dancer was no more.”

“The music seemed to connect and flow from the very first night,” says Pavid, “so the belly dancer was duly dismissed and the band employed to continue in the very different style that evolved. Most evenings were packed out with young people eager to listen and experience the free form of sounds that flowed from the long improvised songs.”

Reporter Carl Coleman described their sound in a news article at the time as “totally unlike any other young group around Durban. They are probably the most advanced group in the country. Their music is exotic, progressive, and not commercial.”

“I suppose we’re something new musically”, said Henson in the same article. “Basically our sound is free-form music – we use the melody line, but improvise on solos. It’s really a fusion of blues, folk, jazz and Eastern music.”

Henson’s self-taught playing of the traditional Indian stringed instrument, the sitar, further enhanced the Eastern feel. “He plays this immensely difficult instrument with comparative ease”, said Coleman.

Brian Gibson came from Wales where he had started in cabaret. “I was into pop for two years then came to South Africa with a group known as the 004’s”.

Future Bats guitarist Pete Clifford was also in the 004’s and the band released a few singles and an album titled ‘It’s Alright’ in the mid-60’s. On the b-side of one of their singles was a version of boogie-woogie pianist Mose Allison’s ‘Parchman Farm’, which was later reworked by Abstract Truth and released on the ‘Totum’ album. This is not the same as Bukka White’s ‘Parchman Farm Blues’, which was recorded in 1937, though it does cover a similar theme.

The album ‘Totum’ was recorded in Johannesburg over a single weekend using a 4-track machine. The album was released in early 1970. “According to today’s standards it’s pretty rough,” says Henson, “but I guess it was an honest interpretation of what we were doing.”

Totum - 1970, Uptight, STIC 101

Totum – 1970, Uptight, STIC 101

In another newspaper review Coleman had this say about the release of Abstract Truth’s debut album: “Sean, Brian, Robbie and Ken have lifted South African pop from the syrupy blare of bubblegum music to new heights of progressive pop. What an achievement!”

The Freak Emporium online store had this brief review of ‘Totum’ on their website: “Excellent early ’70s melodic wistful freak rock blends with African sounds featuring assorted instruments: keyboards, flutes, electric guitars, saxophone, percussion, etc. A refreshing approach.”

Most of ‘Totum’ consists of unusual reworkings of jazz, folk and blues songs. The only band composition is the sitar-drenched ‘Total Totum/Acid Raga’. Donovan, Dylan, Gershwin, Simon and Garfunkel and others all get given the special Abstract Truth treatment that is reminiscent of early King Crimson in places.

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3rd Ear Music had been involved with Abstract Truth from the beginning and mainman David Marks remembers that he had driven down to Cape Town to fetch Sean Bergin and George Wolfaardt to join a new Abstract Truth line-up. “Sean had been in the original band from mid-1969, but had returned to the Cape. Robbie Hahn had taken over – in what seemed to be a loose manager/friend’s role for Abstract Truth (before Big B Brian Pretorius was appointed manager.)” says Marks on the 3rd Ear Music website.

Brian Gibson left the band to go solo and then became a well-known gospel preacher. Gibson recorded a gospel album in 1981 entitled ‘Special Agent’, which was released on the Revelation label, distributed by WEA Records and co-produced by Hawk’s Dave Ornellas.

“The music of Abstract Truth was quite unique at the time as the line-up was totally different to what was generally happening,” remembers Robbie Pavid. “For me it was one of the best and most rewarding times of musical exploration and satisfaction. Playing with Ken especially was rewarding as we seemed to connect and go places musically.” Pavid then left Abstract Truth to devote his full attention to The Third Eye with Dawn and Ronnie Selby and they released three prog-rock albums between 1969 and 1970, but that’s another story.

David Marks takes up the story again: “Brian [Finch] and I wanted to get our musician friends Mike Dickman (acoustic guitar and vocals) and Pete Measroch (piano and vocals) – two born-and-bred Northern Suburbs Johannesburgers – down to stun Durban.”

“I’d heard George [Wolfaardt] playing with a three-piece Jimi Hendrix look-alike outfit in Cape Town [Elephant with Richard Black and Savvy Grande],” said Mike Dickman in July 2001, “and so, when Dave Marks happened to be going down there for some reason or another, I said to him: ‘Look – there’s this guy called George who plays the bass there. If you come across him, tell him we need him here…’ Oddly enough he did, and in the meanwhile we’d contacted Sean, so – in a single weekend – the band expanded. The band shifted quite rapidly into a fairly Zappa-esque mode, which wasn’t where I was headed, so I left, probably stupidly…”

“Mike Dickman couldn’t handle Durban,” says Marks, “he stayed for a gig or two and then went missing to re-surface in the Golden City back to his solo and wandering ways. Mike emigrated to France in 1985 – with French wife Vera – still playing guitar and translating Buddhist verse into French and English.”

A number of other musicians have played live as part of the ever-changing Abstract Truth line-up (Henson being the only stable factor) including Ian Bell, Eric Dorr, Harry Poulos, Ramsay MacKay and Brian Alderson. In late 1970, however, the line-up that recorded the superb ‘Silver Trees’ album was Ken E Henson (guitar, vocals), Peter Measroch (keyboards, flutes, vocals), Sean Bergin (flutes, sax) and George Wolfaardt (bass, flutes, drums).

Music collector and Abstract Truth fan John Samson wrote in the South African Rock Digest e-mag in 2002: “This is somewhat psychedelic prog that is full of swirling organ, steady rhythmic bass and loads of flute. In fact 3 of the 4 members of the group are credited as playing flute and it this that gives the album a lightness to it. Also of note is that there is only one song over the 4 minute mark, an unusual trait in a prog-rock album. The long song is the title track that features some awesome guitar from Ken E Henson and intricate organ playing from Peter Measroch.”

“Another interesting touch,” continues Samson, “is the African jive sound on the opening track ‘Pollution’ and the harpsichord on ‘Moving Away’, the former placing the album in Africa, the latter placing the album in Medieval Europe, both giving the album a sense of timelessness and universal appeal. It’s this wonderful brew of psychedelic, rock, jazz, classical, blues, funk and jive that makes this a special album that should be sought out, and with the wind instruments playing a major role on the album, this could make a really good (Retro) Fresh Flute Salad.”

“‘Silver Trees’ was an attempt to record our more structured, self-penned songs,” remembers Henson, “to make us a bit more accessible to the record company/record-buying public.” Unlike ‘Totum’, ‘Silver Trees’ features no cover versions and all the tracks were composed by various members of the band. The title track was co-composed by Mike Dickman, who had already left by the time this recording was laid down.

Silver Trees - 1970, EMI, PCSJ 12065

Silver Trees – 1970, EMI, PCSJ 12065

Peter Measroch has some interesting memories about the making of the album cover for ‘Silver Trees’: “The story behind that fuzzy looking cover is that the photo was shot by a Swiss photographer who was in South Africa for a while, Teak Glauser, I believe. Teak had been part of the group that had looked after Timothy Leary in Switzerland while he was on the run at one point apparently.

Anyway, he had come up with a photo technique where on a colour photo everything would appear normal except for objects that moved – these would get a rainbow aura around them, really trippy stuff. So the album cover was shot making sure that we all moved at the critical moment. EMI however refused to spring for a colour photo so it ended up just looking blurred in black and white. Oh well … the good ol’ bad ol’ days…”

Shortly after ‘Silver Trees’, EMI compiled an album called ‘Cool Sounds For Heads’ which featured tracks off both the ‘Totum’ and ‘Silver Trees’ albums and also included a previously unreleased track, ‘My Back Feels Light/What Can You Say’, which was probably an out-take from the ‘Silver Trees’ sessions.

Cool Sounds For Heads - 1970, EMI Parlophone, PCSJ 12070

Cool Sounds For Heads – 1970, EMI Parlophone, PCSJ 12070

The ‘History Of Contemporary Music Of South Africa’ by Garth Chilvers and Tom Jasiukowicz, published in 1994, has this to say: “Abstract Truth produced ‘head-music’ (i.e. inventive, mind-stimulating music) and were one of the most progressive groups in South Africa. Unfortunately not too many other heads were into their music and so, a group which could have gone on to better things broke up in 1971.”

Abstract Truth’s recorded output and short life span as a band is far outweighed by their willingness to stretch boundaries and the fondness with which are they treated by old and new fans alike.

File them under “Classic South African Rock” along with Freedom’s Children, Hawk, Suck and Otis Waygood.

In July 2005, Benjy Mudie from Fresh Music re-issued most of the tracks off Totum and Silver Trees on a single CD and on iTunes.

A final word from Ken E Henson: “The group is dear to my heart as my ultimate musical experience. I would love to have us get together after 35 years and see what transpires musically.”

Unfortunately this will now never happen as Henson sadly passed away on the 24th May 2007.

Brian Currin, July 2005, updated March 2020

Photos courtesy of 3rd Ear Music website, thanks to Dave Marks, June 2005.

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Musicians (at various times):

  • Ken E Henson: guitar, vocals
  • Peter Measroch: piano, organ, flute, harpsichord, vocals
  • Mike Dickman: guitar, vocals
  • Robbie Pavid: drums, percussion
  • Ian Bell: flute
  • Brian Gibson: bass, vocals
  • Sean Bergin: flute, saxophone
  • George Wolfaardt: Bass, flute, drums, vocals
  • Brian Alderson: keyboards
  • Harry Poulos: guitar
  • Eric Dorr: flute
  • Ramsay Mackay: bass

Family Tree

Abstract Truth Family Tree by Brian Currin, July 2005

Abstract Truth Family Tree by Brian Currin, July 2005