From Leon Economides
Yes, it’s been a while. Namely a few years. No comments from the peanut gallery.
You might recall that The Rockfest was terminated by 1485am Radio Today’s management, giving us less than three days notice, in February this year. It was a bit of a slap in the face for all the presenters who gave freely of their time, for over three years, and the lack of appreciation and support shown, and the way it was done, left many people feeling pretty embittered and annoyed. For many presenters, whilst being grateful to Radio Today for allowing them the freedom to play the music of their choice, it signalled the end of their short broadcasting “career”.
The Rockfest was basically put on “ice”, with very little chance of it being revived, given the strict playlisted format and programming (not to mention politically correct!) structure of most radio stations in South Africa.
It’s against this background that I would like to take this opportunity to thank Chris Prior, Phil Wright, Benjy Mudie, Melanie Walker, Rafe Lavine, David Blood, Leon Fourie, Robert Laing, Tamara Jeunette, Jurgen Becker, Lesley Chase, Rosemary Royeppen, Greg Tucker, Rui de Sousa, Adelle First, Bojan Andrejevic, Natalie Chapman, Nicole De Gruchy and Mark Vas for having been part of The Rockfest at various stages, and for sharing their music and talent with us.
In the three years and a bit that The Rockfest on 1485am was in existence, it had built up a pretty good reputation as a series of programmes in which all styles of music, from jazz to blues, from country to metal and prog, and from classic rock to folk, could be heard, seven nights a week. We had three Rockfest concerts at venues such as Tempos and The Rustic Theatre, featuring some of the best bands / artists in the country, namely Mel Botes, Ghapi, Clint & Co, Jonathan Martin, Band o’ Gypsies, Strange Brew, Agro, Radiation, Mantis, bassist Kai Horsthemke and his brilliant band, Three Foot Thang, Brad Cunningham, and a host of others, with the main objective being the promotion of South African bands as well as that of The Rockfest, and Radio Today. South African bands / artists were regularly featured and interviewed on The Rockfest, and all the presenters were encouraged to feature good, original South African music on their shows.
To cut a long story short, that all ended towards the end of February 2009. Some presenters, such as Chris Prior, Robert Laing and David Blood, remained with 1485. The rest of us resigned ourselves to the fact that it was great while it lasted, but, as is normally the case with rock shows on radio in South Africa, it was just a matter of time before the plug was pulled (I think it’s an affliction that seems embedded in the minds of the powers that be that anything that features real guitars, drums, keyboards, and that doesn’t feature the words “Yo!”, or “Was happenin??”, or has rap lyrics about some dildo with baggy pants and a backward facing cap letting the dogs out, or some “sounds like everybody else” R & B diva moaning as if she has an ice pick stuck in the back of her head, is a no-no on South African radio, especially if it’s presented by an “ethnically challenged” specimen of the masculine persuasion). Fortunately, Benjy, who had moved on to another radio station, and Barney Simon, one of the most respected and admired presenters in the country, together with Chris, David and Robert, kept the flag flying, so to speak. As did Shiloh Noone in the Cape.
Fast forward to the here and now….
A few weeks ago, I received a message to call Richard Jones. I had never met him before, but I had heard many good things about Richard in the past, mainly that he had a lot of experience in and on radio in this country, having worked on Capitol Radio and Radio 2000, and, more importantly, he was into music. Rock music. A truly rare breed: a station manager, with years of experience, into rock music! How great is that? Turns out that he also has the perfect face for radio. A marriage made in Heaven!
I called him back, and what he told me blew me out of the water: Richard had recently become station manager of 93.8FM Midrand Stereo, a community radio station based, oddly and cunningly enough, in Midrand. For those of you who don’t know where that is, it’s sort of midway between Joburg and Pretoria, hence the “mid” part….well, you get the drift. Richard wanted to know if I was keen on restarting The Rockfest. On a mandated ROCK station, with an FM signal and a pretty decent range (from some parts in Pretoria, through to the prime business areas of Randburg and Sandton, right through to the other side of the East Rand Mall, as well as to Fourways, Broadcares, etc), with a station manager of Richard’s calibre and reputation, and with total freedom to play any music as long as it has a rock slant / link / connection. Did you get that? I said R O C K, that dreaded word not normally used on South African radio for fear of being tied down on a bed of nails and forced to listen to hours and hours of mindless, nauseating R & B, Pop, Dance, Rap and other juicy bits that seem to make up the staple diet of almost every radio station in the country.
A few immediate questions / thoughts came to mind: Do snakes have hips? Do bears shit in the woods? Does puke always have carrots and peas in it, irrespective of what you’ve been eating? You get the drift, part 2.
Needless to say, a number of frantic phone calls and sms’s followed. I wanted to get as many of the original Rockfest people on board as I could, with the intention of starting immediately. Foreplay was not part of the equation. As you can see on the (almost complete) programming schedule below, quite a few of the original Rockfest people are on board, but there are also quite a few new people, many of whom have never done broadcasting before. Everybody has the same passion: to play the best possible music in the country, on 93.8FM Midrand Stereo. As before, you can hear anything from metal to blues to 70’s disco (listen to classic disco tracks such as “Devil’s Gun” and tell me that hasn’t got serious rock links!). Two weeks into the new Rockfest, and some new kids on the block are already starting to shine!
As before, Brian Currin, who has started a blog for The Rockfest (www.rockfest.co.za), is as supportive and enthusiastic as ever, as are advertisers such as Look & Listen, who did not hesitate to come on board, and I want to say thank you to Howard Lazarus, CEO of Look & Listen, for his unfailing support, help and friendship.
We plan to restart The Rockfest gigs, and it’s our intention to have these at The Rustic Theatre, which is a fantastic indoor / outdoor venue with good food and plenty parking, with our “relaunch” possibly at the end of January / early February.
Each presenter has been encouraged to have their playlist for the week placed on the website / blog (I STILL have no clue what the difference between the two is!), so you will able to get an idea of the kind of music each presenter features on their show.
The station is offering extremely attractive advertising rates, up to the end of January 2010, with great benefits, such as one month FREE advertising, so if you would be keen to advertise on the station (and you would also be helping to keep 93.8FM alive and growing!), please contact either Richard on 0822212201 or station advisor Hanz Stricker on 0825613531. As Angus and the boys said: “You Want Rock? You Got It” – your help in keeping the whole thing alive would be beneficial for everyone.
Well, that’s it, for now. Don’t expect long newsletters every week – some of us work for a living! But you can certainly expect to see the playlists, at least, on the blog / website / whatever! You get the drift. Part 3.
This is for you, for us, for Rock ‘n Roll, for SA music, for non-playlisted radio shows. For the freedom to hear what YOU want to hear on the radio.
Thank you to all the guys and girls who share in the same dream and who will give of their time and energy, and who will share their passion.
Thank the Lord for people like Richard Jones and Hanz Stricker………
I wish you a very happy and blessed Christmas, and hope that the New Year will be safe, prosperous and successful for us all.
Leon Economides – The RockIt Scientist. Playlist: Monday 14 December 2009, 21H00 to Midnight
01. Home – Dreamer, from “Home”. 1972 – CBS Records
02. Titanic – Macumba, bonus track on “Eagle Rock”. 1974 – CBS Records
03. Jade Warrior – Eyes On You, from “Released”. 1972 – Vertigo Records
04. Randy Pie – Kitsch, from “Kitsch”. 1975 – Polydor Records
05. Lake – On The Run, from “Lake”. 1977 – CBS Records
06. Atlantis – Friends, from “Live”. 1974 – Vertigo Records
07. Keef Hartley Band – Sinnin’ For You, from “Halfbreed”. 1969 – Deram Records
08. Walrus – Who Can I Trust, from “Walrus”. 1970 – Deram Records
09. Alan Bown – Through The Night, from “Strangely Strange But Oddly Normal” (Island Anthology 1967 – 1972). 2005 – Island Records
10. If – Child Of Storm, from “If 3”. 1971 – United Artists Records
11. Annie Haslam & Magenta – Night And Day, from “Night And Day (4 track EP). 2006 – F2 Music
12. Quidam – Credo, from “Pod Niebem Czas”. 2002 – Rock Serwis
13. Doro – Herzblut, from “Fear No Evil”. 2009 – AFM Records
14. Mostly Autumn – Flowers For Guns, from “Glass Shadows”. 2008 – Mostly Autumn Records
15. Hawkwind – Orgone Accumulator, from “Space Ritual”. 1973 – United Artists Records
16. Beggars Opera – Passacaglia, from “Act One”. 1970 – Vertigo Records
17. 707 – A Sinful Woman, from “The Fourth Decade”. 2006 – Renaissance Records
18. RPM – A Legend Never Dies, from “RPM”. 1982 – EMI Records
19. Cobra – Blood On Your Money, from “First Strike”. 1983 – Sony Music
20. Malo – Dilo Otra Vez, from “En Vivo / Live”. 2005 – EMI Latin
21. Abraxas Pool – Baila Mi Cha Cha, from “Abraxas Pool”. 1997 – Miramar Productions
22. El Chicano – El Ojo Rojo, from “Latin Legends Live”. 1997 – Thump Records
This coming Monday night (21 Dec), I’ll be doing a four hour show, from 8pm to midnight, standing in for the lovely Linda Sue’s 8 to 9pm show, (she’s on leave). Joining me in the studio as a special guest will be guitarist Peter Hanmer, of Off The Edge and Clint & Co fame, from around 8.30 onwards. One of the country’s best guitarists, Peter has recorded some fantastic solo material as well as some world class music for Off The Edge. We’ll be featuring a number of tracks that can quite easily compare with some of the best guitar-based prog and hard rock music you’ll hear anywhere!
I was very fortunate to catch the dynamic Dilana, together with guitarist Erik, at The Rustic Theatre in Lonehill this week. This woman is phenomenal! She has a fantastic stage presence, is ridiculously talented as a songwriter, and has one of the most incredible voices. I interviewed her on 93.8FM Midrand Stereo last week, and, believe me, she pulls no punches! She has years of experience, having worked with the likes of Golden Earring, Metallica, Joe Cocker and others, and it shows. Toni Rowland, previously with the prog metal band Mantis, and who recently recorded a fantastic album with Ken Hensley of Toe Fat, Uriah Heep and Blackfoot fame, was also in the studio that night. They did a duet, accompanied by Erik on acoustic guitar, live on air. Wow – what a rush! Rumour has it that Dilana will be touring SA again sometime next year, and that our own Ingrid Botha might be getting involved in bringing Dilana out here.
By the way, the support act to Dilana was Dave (Sharpe) and Gabi. If you thought Dave Sharpe was good on keys (with Off The Edge), sax and bass, you should hear him on guitar! Gabi is a seasoned and very good vocalist, and they compliment one another perfectly.
Talking about Uriah Heep, you have no doubt heard that they will be visiting SA in May next year, together with (Andy Powell’s) Wishbone Ash and Deep Purple! At last – SA fans can finally be treated to some REAL rock, by some of the most respected bands in the world! (If you want to get REALLY sick, get yourself a copy of any Classic Rock magazine and take a look at the gigs page. When you see the famous and not-so-famous bands / artists, some of them playing at really small, innocuous venues, on any day of the week, it’s enough to make you weep!)
I’m in the process of finalizing The Rockfest line-up on 93.8FM Midrand Stereo. There are still a few gaps, but these will be filled as soon as the various presenters come back from leave. As things currently stand, the line-up is as follows:
8 – 9pm – Linda Sue
9 – midnight – Leon Economides
Midnight – 2am – Kevin Flee
8 – 10pm – Ingrid Botha
10pm – midnight – Lesley Chase (starting mid January)
8 – 10pm – Phil Wright
10pm – midnight – Jurgen Becker
Midnight – 2am – Renier Coetzee
8 – 10pm – Tamara Jeunette
10pm – midnight – Kevin Stuart
6 – 8pm – Rosemary Royeppen
8pm – 11pm – David Blood
11 – 01am – Mike Tymvios (starting mid January)
8 – 10pm – Max Aston
10pm – midnight – Aris B
8 – 11pm – Robert Laing
11pm – 01am – Rick Gardiner
Please note that because of the festive season, some presenters are away and will not be able to do their shows. Their places will either be filled by other presenters, or automated playlisted music will be featured.