The music that made me, the music that moved me: Leonard Cohen, Tracy Chapman, Counting Crows and The National | Rodney Reiners

From Rodney Reiners Blog

I feel music.

I don’t listen to it, I don’t hear it.

I feel it.

As the ‘laat lammetjie” [late child] in the family, and my siblings much older, I spent much of my childhood alone. Trapped inside my head, and unable to make sense of the bizarre South Africa I was born into, music provided an escape route, a safety valve, a mellifluous, lyrical conduit to quell the encroaching demons.

So, even today, music, songs that appeal to me, simply seep into my consciousness; it wriggles under the skin and pervades my emotions in a manner that’s almost textural, tangible.

“Music is the emotional life of most people,” said Leonard Cohen.

Wherever we come from, whatever we are, whoever we are, irrespective of race, culture or religion, notwithstanding colour or creed, music is something we all have in common.

We might like different types, different sounds, different rhythms – rock, pop, classical, jazz, country, folk or even all the new musical genres  – but there’s no disputing the fact that music evokes emotion and memory.

As the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow so aptly summed up: “Music is the universal language of mankind.”

For me, it’s always about the listening, the feeling. I have an album of Paul Williams that I remember playing on repeat at the age of 12 – and I’ve always been charmed, captivated by the inscription on the back: “There are those who listen and those who wait to talk. This album is dedicated to the listeners.”

Earlier this week, my son, Rustin, and I watched the new Cohen documentary – “Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song” – and it triggered, inspired this blog post.

As the movie credits scrolled down at the end of the documentary, the curtains to the screen of my life opened. It catapulted me back to my childhood, to the starting point where my love for music and, more importantly, lyrics and words, were first awakened.

Poet, singer and songwriter, Cohen’s inner strife, his pain and passion, has always intrigued and inspired. His dexterity with words, to make it come alive, to make emotions come oozing out of a phrase or sentence, provided comfort, cheer and clarity to this young kid growing up on the streets of Factreton.

In addition to the new documentary out on the circuit now, I’ve also seen the 1974 documentary, “Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire”, and the hauntingly beautiful “Marianne and Leonard: Words of Love”.

I also have his book, “The Flame”, which Rustin gave me as a birthday present a few years ago.

But, back then, musically, it wasn’t just Cohen…

It actually all started with John Lennon and the Beatles. As a young boy, I was obsessed with Lennon and his revolutionary, non-conformist approach to life. There was no TV, there was no social media, so I spent hours in the local library, reading just about anything that was available on Lennon and the Beatles.

In addition to Cohen and Lennon, there was Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel, Carole King, James Taylor, Cat Stevens, Jim Croce, Don McLean, Janis Ian, Peter Sarstedt, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Bread and Fleetwood Mac [including the husky vulnerability of that most idiosyncratic voice, Stevie Nicks].

But music doesn’t only elicit emotion, it also freezes a moment in time. And that particular moment, that memory, endures – eternally. For me, that instant etched in time is Rustin, as a little boy, probably around 3 or 4, seat-belted in the back of my car, and singing along, at the top his voice, to the words of Alanis Morissette’s “Thank You, India/ Thank you terror/ Thank you disillusionment…”

And, I guess, as fate would have it, Rustin is a talented musician/singer/songwriter himself today.

In the same way that he was introduced to my love for music, he is now able to expose me to new singers and new sounds – like Phoebe Bridges, Gregory Alan Isakov, Novo Amor, Paolo Nutini, Harrison Whitford, City and Colour, Iron and Wine, Noah Gunderson, Sufjan Stevens, Ben Howard and Paper Kites, to name a few.

Rustin doing his music thing

My musical past, though, cannot be complete without three more names – Tracy Chapman, Counting Crows and The National.

When Chapman released her first album in 1988, it blew me away. “Fast Car” and its lyrics spoke to the socio-economic issues affecting so many South Africans, and “Talkin’ Bout a Revolution” echoed the political struggle we were faced with.

The unique sound of the Counting Crows and the raw, emotionally-charged lyrics of enigmatic lead singer Adam Duritz always renders me exhausted and breathless. Duritz’s brutally honest, heart-on-a-sleeve style often brandishes a metaphorical razor blade at your emotions, your intellect. And, like a poet, he leaves you, spread-eagled in admiration, eager to craft your own interpretation of what you’ve just listened to, of what you’ve just felt.

I have almost every album the Counting Crows have released. There are so many good songs, so many good lyrics. But to share just one.. It comes from a song called, Mrs. Potter’s Lullaby: “If dreams are like movies, then memories are films about ghosts.”

It’s a kaleidoscope of words and thoughts and pictures and images and similes and metaphors – it’s just so clever, so complicated, so devilishly ingenious, that you wish you could have written it yourself.

Rustin introduced me to The National, and I’ve been hooked ever since. I never thought anybody could pen lyrics/words as good as Cohen and Duritz, but in The National’s lead singer, Matt Berninger, they certainly have a rival.

I have two of the band’s lyrics tattooed on my arms: “There’s a science to walking through windows”… and… “I’m the rocks they weigh down the angels with”. Explaining the words, and what it means to me, would take another 1 000 words – so take from it what you will.

I also have a tattoo featuring a Cohen lyric – it’s from a song, called Anthem: “There is a crack in everything, That’s how the light gets in”.

In a world, in a life, so difficult to negotiate, so inaccessible, so bewildering to comprehend, Cohen’s glimmer of optimism in that meaningful line is something to desperately hold on to.

I still have a Cohen album [we called it LPs back then], in which Kris Kristofferson says he will carve the words of a Cohen song – “Bird on the Wire” – on his tombstone: “Like a bird on the wire/Like a drunk in a midnight choir/I have tried in my way to be free…”

The cover of the album, featuring Kris Kristofferson’s promise

Cohen died in 2016 at the age of 82. The music lives on.

I still listen, I still feel his music, the words, the emotions… And I will – until, in Cohen’s words: “I’m leaving the table/I’m out of the game…”

Emily Dickinson’s immortal words in the poem: “Because I could not stop for Death/He kindly stopped for me…” Sooner or later, we all have to get on that carriage. Cohen’s acceptance is summed up in the letter he wrote to Marianne Ihlen, his muse, the woman who inspired the song “So Long Marianne”.

Leonard’s letter to a dying Marianne

Cohen died four months later.

And I am left with my favourite lyric/image from ‘So Long, Marianne’ – which gave me goosebumps, as well as succour, at a time in my child/teen/hood when I needed something to staunch the flow of hopelessness: “I’m standing on a ledge and your fine spider web/is fastening my ankle to a stone.”

It’s now decades later – and those words are still as relevant as ever.

I’m still on a ledge, my ankle is still tied with a fine spider web…

Gilles Peterson Debuts New John Wizards Track, And Discovers Its Rodriguez connection.

By Lenny Mailer

It’s no secret that the renowned DJ, Gilles Peterson, has long been a fan of South African music, especially the sounds coming out of Cape Town. Gilles is a French broadcaster, DJ, and record label owner. He founded the influential labels Acid Jazz and Talkin’ Loud, and started his current label Brownswood Recordings in 2006. He was awarded an honorary MBE in 2004 and is currently hosting his very popular and acclaimed Saturday afternoon music program called ‘Joining The Musical Dots’ in which he features a mixed-up selection, “joining the musical dots” between soul, hip hop, house, afro, electronica, jazz and beyond”, in his own inimitable style.

On his recent ‘Joining the Musical Dots’ program, on Saturday 22nd October, Gilles played the brand new John Wizards’ track called ‘Rwangaguhunga’. Back In 2017 Gilles was one of the first DJ’s to pick up on the strange story and wonderful music of the Cape Town group John Wizards and brought them into his studio during their UK and Europe tour where they played live. 

In August of that year, the British newspaper The Guardian’s music editor, Tim Jonze, wrote a feature on John Wizards, documenting how Emmanuel Nzaramba, a Rwandan car guard in Cape Town met John Withers, a South African advertising music writer, and after adding some of John’s musical friends to the band, they became John Wizards

(L–R) Geoff Brink, Tom Parker, John Withers, Alex Montgomery, Emmanuel Nzaramba, Raphael Segerman | Sarah Thomas and John Wizards

The band later released its self-titled debut album, which showcased their unique sound featuring elements of R&B, soukous, Afropop, reggae, South African house, Shangaan electro, and dub, and  included the singles ‘Lusaka by Night’ and ‘Muizenberg’. At the end of 2017, the band’s album appeared as No 8 on The Guardian’s list of the 40 best albums of the year. 

The six piece band, consisting of vocalist and guitarist John Withers, vocalist Emmanuel Nzaramba, drummer and percussionist Raphael Segerman, bassist and keyboardist Alex Montgomery, guitarist Tom Parker and guitarist and keyboardist Geoff Brink, combined electronic sounds with more traditional African influences on their self-titled debut album, and the success of that album led to their touring extensively across Europe alongside Mount Kimbie and Jagwar Ma. 

John Wizards effectively began when John Withers met Nzaramba outside a coffee shop in 2010 and the two became friends. They subsequently fell out of touch for a period. In 2012 they happened upon one another in Cape Town and it turned out they were both living on that same street. Prior to their meeting again, Withers had been working on recording and producing the set of musical ideas that would later become John Wizards’ self-titled release of September 2013. 

Nzaramba added vocal recordings to some of the songs and began to perform with the rest of the band. John Wizards released a mix tape in August 2012 that roughly sketched out the songs to be included on the album. This mix tape was passed on to Mike Paradinas, owner of Planet Mu records. Planet Mu would announce the band as part of their roster in November 2012, releasing the album some ten months later.

In February 2017 Gilles visited Cape Town to record an audio documentary about the city’s musical heritage as part of Lufthansa City of the Month. The documentary followed Gilles over the course of a day as he set out to learn about the history of the city’s music, and infiltrate the dynamic contemporary scene. He began with the music of the Khoisan Bushmen, through to Cape Jazz of the ’60s, onto hip hop of the ’80s and ’90s, through to the spoken word and current musical climate of today. By discovering where the music was from and where it was going, Gilles discovered what makes Cape Town so special.

Gilles Peterson presents Cape Town Sounds

In the documentary, Gilles visited a bunch of the local music scenes’ leaders to hear their stories. From jazz musician Tony Cedras to spoken word artist Khadija Tracey Heeger, local hip hop legend DJ Ready D, the Chimurenga crew, legendary A&R Donald ‘Jumbo’ Van Renen through to today’s upfront talent like Nonku Phiri! The show also featured tracks by Tony Cedras, Miriam Makeba, Dollar Brand, Jumbo Track, Black Disco and more.

Stephen "Sugar" Segerman, Gilles Peterson, DJ Mighty, Jacques Vosloo | Mabu Vinyl Basement, 3 February 2017
Stephen “Sugar” Segerman, Gilles Peterson, DJ Mighty, Jacques Vosloo | Mabu Vinyl Basement, 3 February 2017

On that trip, Gilles also visited the iconic Cape Town record shop, Mabu Vinyl, where he met the shop’s founder and owner Jacques Vosloo, as well as the staff like DJ Mighty, SA online music guru Brian Currin and Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman of ‘Searching For Sugar Man’ fame.

Gilles Peterson 2022-10-22 Joining the Musical Dots: Alabaster dePlume & Friends, Kay Suzuki

On Saturday’s ‘Joining The Musical Dots’ program, after playing the newly-released John Wizards’ track ‘Rwangaguhunga’ (starting at about 24 minutes), Gilles also mentioned that the drummer from John Wizards, Raphael Segerman, is also the son of Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman, thereby “joining the musical dots” between John Wizards and Sixto Rodriguez followed by his playing of Rodriguez singing his own track, ‘Can’t Get Away’.

Rwangaguhunga – John Wizards
Rodriguez – Can’t Get Away

The 100 greatest South African songs | TimesLive

From TimesLive

Abdullah Ibrahim - image: Sunday Times
Abdullah Ibrahim – image: Sunday Times

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 lifestyle@sundaytimes.co.za

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)

SA music comes up trumps at Music Exchange 2013

South African music is entering an exciting era of opportunity and progress as new markets open up for homegrown sounds. This was one of the key messages emerging from the 2013 Music Exchange Conference, which saw industry moguls and musicians congregating at the iconic Cape Town City Hall to talk about the serious business of music.

Music Exchange 2013
Music Exchange 2013

Music Exchange 2013
Music Exchange 2013

Music Exchange 2013
Trevor Jones, Randall Abrahams

For three days, from 21 to 23 March 2013, the City Hall was abuzz with the sound of music – with a full programme of workshops and panel discussions on making it, marketing it, getting it heard on various platforms and ensuring that it moves with the times.

This independent music conference, now in its third year, attracted hundreds of experts and delegates from across the music spectrum – from composers and publishers to record company executives and media – to share knowledge and ideas, network, perform live showcases and identify opportunities to boost South African music locally, regionally and abroad.

Among the high-profile music creators spotted at the conference were Vicky Sampson, Mynie Grové, Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse, RJ Benjamin, Chad Saaiman, Jimmy Nevis, Mark Haze, Dub Masta China and Arno Carstens, as well as industry heavyweights such as Universal Music A&R consultant Benjy Mudie, Cape Town Jazz festival founder Rashid Lombard and Rolling Stone SA editor-in-chief Miles Keylock.

The international speakers on the programme included acclaimed house music producer and remixer Charles Webster (UK), music promoter Doug Davenport (USA) and Africori CEO Yoel Kenan (France).

One of the conference’s undisputed highlights was the keynote address by Trevor Jones, moderated by Universal Records managing director Randall Abrahams. Now based in the UK, Jones was born in District Six and is considered one of the top five film score composers in the world, with several Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations as well two ASCAP Awards in the bag.

Jones has made an indelible mark on the global entertainment industry, scoring international blockbusters such as Notting Hill, The Last of the Mohicans, Mississippi Burning and The Mighty and working with the likes of U2, Sting, David Bowie, Sinead O’Connor, Britney Spears, Elvis Costello and Charlotte Church.

Jones became overcome with emotion after being given a standing ovation by delegates, who warmly welcomed him back home.

During his inspirational talk, he spoke about the importance of music education and his desire to give something back to South African music industry: “Key to South Africa’s success is hard work and building a positive perception of our country and us a nation,” he said.

Award-winning local singer, songwriter and guitarist Arno Carstens, who spoke at the conference about the song that made him famous, said it was an honour to be part of Music Exchange and it was encouraging and inspiring to see so many enthusiastic people attend and share their experiences and knowledge.

Joining Carstens on the stellar line-up of artists speaking about the song that made them famous, Vicky Sampson acknowledged songwriter Alan Lazar (formerly of Mango Groove, and now a successful composer based in Los Angeles), who wrote African Dream. “I am grateful that Alan gave me the song and did not pass me up for Mango Groove’s Claire Johnston,” Sampson quipped. She spent every minute of the conference absorbing and learning, as well as reconnecting with her mentor Benjy Mudie and her old friend RJ Benjamin.

Versatile singer, composer and teacher Benjamin, who has been invited to be a vocal coach for the upcoming season of Idols and will be composing SABC2’s new signature tune, continuously urged delegates to make use of social media platforms to reach new audiences. Benjamin stood out as one of the speakers to whom delegates were drawn and his presentations proved to be extremely popular.

After the weekend’s proceedings wrapped up, local music legend Hotstix tweeted: “What a conference; what great speakers and delegates – wow!”

Added a delighted Music Exchange founder and board member, Martin Myers: “We have been completely overwhelmed by the positive feedback we’ve received, and the animated conversations on social media platforms about the success of Music Exchange.

“Recording and performing artists, as well as composers and other industry players, have complimented the conference for being relevant, engaging and thought-provoking. There was a strong focus on the business side of music, which elevated this event above a mere talk shop: they left with useful, practical information that will undoubtedly be of immense value in their various professional ventures.”

Visit www.musicexchange.co.za to find out more about next year’s Music Exchange conference, or follow @musicexchange on Twitter.

Issued by JT Communication Solutions on Behalf of Music Exchange – www.musicexchange.co.za

Top 12 2012: Top 12 plaaslike CD-uitreikings vir 2012 – Albert du Plessis | LitNet

Here is a list of 12 South African albums released this year that have captured my imagination for various reasons.

They made me think, or they made me cry, or they made me remember, or they made want to dance, or they were just plain fun.

Cheers

Brian

Hugh Masekela – Playing @ Work
Lyzyrd Kyngs – One Night Only
Toya Delazy – Due Drop
Van Coke Kartel – Wie’s bang
Les Javan – Ek is lief vir jou
Kongos – Lunatic
Rockville 2069
The Muffinz – Have You Heard
Jeremy de Tolly – Piano Nocturnes Volume One
Gerald Clark – Black Water
Various Artists – Pretville (soundtrack)
The Buckfever Underground – Verkeerdevlei

via Top 12 2012: Top 12 plaaslike CD-uitreikings vir 2012 – Albert du Plessis | LitNet.

In the interest of better service

Running a successful business without being controlled by phones … The Production Person does it and so does Brian Currin Music / Brian, My Web Guy.

The Production Person

Over the past few years I have come to view my cell phone as a burden. It rings and beeps constantly, so I decided that when I was with clients to switch it of and when I needed to put my head down and focus to switch it off. It has now developed into a device that I use when and if it is convenient for me. It no longer irritates me, it no longer interrupts me, it no longer creates anxiety – IT IS NO LONGER A BURDEN.

I am always contactable all the time via email and can access my account from any computer worldwide which I now do. When I’m at suppliers I quickly check mail and access priorities. And just to be clear it has not effected my earnings in any way – on the contrary my earnings have quadrupled over the past year.

I can…

View original post 146 more words

The Virtual Braai

Twitter is like those newspaper headlines that you see on lampposts. Just a quick bit of news to encourage you to investigate more. Minute-by-minute information of what is happening right now.

Facebook is like a newspaper that you buy and scan through, picking out the interesting bits and throwing the rest away. Day-by-day information of what is happening in your world.

A Blog is like a magazine, that you read more thoroughly, and perhaps even keep for future reference.

A Website is like a coffee table book with lots of detailed information on a subject you are really interested in.

And all of this is so we can stand around our Virtual Braai and discuss topics that are close to our hearts.

Rodriguez: The John Samson Story

Guest post by John Samson, author of Cold Fiction.

Cold Fiction
Cold Fiction

Cold Fact (SA)
Cold Fact (SA)

I often joke with people in the UK that I didn’t leave South Africa of my own free will, but was actually kicked out because I was not fanatical about rugby and I didn’t drink, both activities that white South African males are meant to excel at. I could also have said in 1996, when I moved from South Africa to the UK, that a further reason for my being exiled was that I did not own a copy of ‘Cold Fact’ by Rodriguez. However no one in the UK would have understood what I was talking about.

But now with Malik Bendjelloul’s brilliant film ‘Searching For Sugar Man’ bringing Rodriguez to the world’s attention, I can mention the omission in my music collection and not be met with question mark faces. I am still not a huge rugby fan and have not taken to drinking alcohol, but I did rectify the lack of ‘Cold Fact’ problem on one of my early trips back to SA a couple of years after moving. I had been familiar with the album’s distinctive cover from many an hour spent flicking through the albums at my local record shop, but as a teenager in the 80’s I was hell bent on finding the next big New Romantic band and had no interest in ‘fossil music’ as I thought of it back then.

Searching For Sugar Man
Searching For Sugar Man

A further reason for the lack of ‘Cold Fact’ in my collection was that I managed to avoid military training (where a lot of guys were introduced to Rodriguez’ music) and counted my days working at the Receiver of Revenue, which I regarded as the lesser of two evils. Purchasing ‘Cold Fact’ became almost mandatory when I was lucky enough to befriend Brian Currin and Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman, both of whom played a part in discovering the fate of Rodriguez. I was drawn into the world of the SA Rock Digest, an online music magazine focussing on South African Rock music, which Brian and Sugar had set up. With two such music aficionados as friends, I quickly discovered gaping holes in my music knowledge, especially regarding the rock scene in South African in the 70’s.

I began to correct this problem so as not to look foolish in front of my new found friends and part of the polyfilla (spackling paste to those not familiar with this brand) to mend the gaps was purchasing a copy of ‘Cold Fact.’ I don’t recall ever having heard the album before that and, given its banned status on the radio, could not have unknowingly heard it there, but as the first chords of ‘Sugar Man’ wafted through my speakers, I knew the song. It was as if it was a part of the ether in South Africa and had just soaked into me whether I had heard it or not. ‘I Wonder’ was also familiar to me and the rest of the album, although less soaked in, was also striking a nagging familiar chord.

Yes, unless you believe in the collective consciousness, I must have heard the album somewhere before that ‘first’ listen, but I cannot for the life of me remember where. That said, a part of me does like to believe that the music was just in the air we breathed in SA, that it was, and will always just somehow be there, as essentially part of life as oxygen and sunshine. This image, to me, seems to fit in with the mystical and almost mythical character that is Rodriguez.

Searching For Sugar Man
Searching For Sugar Man

Rodriguez and his place in The Story Of Rock

Willem, Rodriguez, Brian, Sugar 1998
Willem, Rodriguez, Brian, Sugar 1998

Almost all the recent fan messages on the Sugarman.org website are from people saying they have never heard of Rodriguez before. Many even apologize for not listening to him in the 1970s.

I can’t remember when exactly I first heard ‘Cold Fact’. For me his music just always seemed to have been there. A number of the mixtapes from my teenage years show “Sugar Man”, “Rich Folks Hoax” and “I Wonder” as being from 1973/74 when I was about 14/15.

I was wrong, of course, but didn’t know that until much later.

A long time ago, I compiled a series of C90 mixtapes called The Story Of Rock, with all the information lovingly catalogued and hand-written in hard cover books.

Page 13 of Book 7 shows the track listing for “The Story Of Rock 1973 to 1974” and includes the following songs:

  • Long Train Running – The Doobie Brothers
  • We Live – Xit
  • Sugar Man – Rodriguez
  • Radar Love – Golden Earring
  • Smoke On The Water – Deep Purple
  • Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • The Ballad Of Casey Deiss – Shawn Phillips
  • Rich Folks Hoax – Rodriguez
  • We’re An American Band – Grand Funk Railroad

Other artists include Led Zeppelin, The Allman Brothers Band, Yes, Focus, Chicago and more. And Rodriguez was the only one that got two entries! The next page shows “The Story Of Rock 1974 to 1976” and includes “I Wonder” alongside songs by Black Sabbath, Jethro Tull, Thin Lizzy, Rory Gallagher, Pink Floyd, Genesis, David Bowie, Frank Zappa, Uriah Heep, Nazareth and others.

Cold Fact
Cold Fact

I am finding it impossible to imagine what it must be like to not grow up listening to his music alongside all those other well-known classic rock bands. I know I never heard him on the radio, but that wasn’t that strange as a number of my “Story Of Rock” artists didn’t get much radio play any way.

But that he wasn’t famous in the rest of the world, didn’t cross my mind. When I first discovered the internet during the 1996 Festive Season, I could find information on Pink Floyd and Deep Purple, however I could find nothing on Rodriguez. And that started me on a quest, that just seems to be continuously having happy endings.

Without trying to sound too melodramatic, I would not be living the life I do now, and earning my income from doing what I love, if it was not for Rodriguez and all the sparks that he ignited.

Maak ’n pyp en dans (’n Begeleide trippie op soek na die droom) – Albert du Plessis | LitNet

Albert du Plessis

Na wie se pype dans jy? Betrap jouself in ’n goeie bui met ’n massiewe klankstelsel en verloor beheer in die ekstase van ’n smerige Hammond- of pyporrelsolo wat disrespekvol en met minagting tot diép in die rooi in gespeel word. – Albert du Plessis


via Maak ’n pyp en dans (’n Begeleide trippie op soek na die droom) – Albert du Plessis | LitNet.

A WordPress.com Website is the perfect solution for Musicians

These people say ... Brian Currin is My Web Guy
These people all say … Brian Currin is My Web Guy

WordPress.com is the perfect website solution for people who want to:

  • promote their music
  • connect with their fans
  • do their own updates
  • showcase their videos
  • showcase their photos
  • showcase their music
  • save money

Some Questions People Ask

Q. What are the benefits of WordPress.com?

A. There are many benefits, here are some of the main ones:

  • Free web hosting
  • Free web themes
  • Free Content Management System
  • Ability to include own header and background on most themes
  • Google-friendly
  • Mobile-friendly
  • YouTube, Soundcloud, Google Maps, etc can be embedded
  • Contact Form – helps reduce spam
  • Social Media feeds can be embedded
  • Blog can update Social Media platforms automatically
  • Analytical Information
  • Premium themes and upgrades available at reasonable prices

 

Q. Aren’t websites expensive?

A. They don’t have to be. Depending on your requirements, you really don’t need to break the bank. A WordPress.com website can be set up without incurring costs for web hosting, graphic design and web development. Read more.

Q. What is the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org?

A. Basically a WordPress.com website is ideal for people who want to get on with focussing on running their business.

WordPress.org is great if you are happy to pay for web hosting and pay a web developer for their time.  Read more.

Life Is A Long Song

[Thanks to Jethro Tull for the post title]

Just a few of my favourite really long songs.

Thick As A Brick – Jethro Tull

Supper’s Ready – Genesis

Karn Evil 9 – Emerson, Lake and Palmer

Close To The Edge – Yes

Tubular Bells – Mike Oldfield

Phallus Dei – Amon Düül II

Autobahn – Kraftwerk

Ma – Rare Earth

Get Ready – Rare Earth

Just A Poke (album) – Sweet Smoke: Baby Night & Silly Sally

Includes an excerpt from The Soft Parade by The Doors and a wonderfully phased drum solo.

Shine On You Crazy Diamond, parts 1-9 – Pink Floyd

On the ‘Wish You Were Here’ album, this song is split into two sections, separated by the other 3 songs on the album. Here it can be heard as one long piece.

Anonymus Two – Focus

Tarkus – Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Echoes – Pink Floyd

Salisbury – Uriah Heep

In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida – Iron Butterfly

Ordinary length songs are often stretched incredibly during live performances, here’s one of them:

Dazed And Confused (live 1973) – Led Zeppelin

And here’s another:

Space Truckin’ – live 1974 – Deep Purple

And just for laughs:

Metal Machine Music – Lou Reed

This double album, consisting of 4 sides of equal length, is like one of those really bad movies that you keep watching hoping it will get better.

Spoiler alert:  it doesn’t.

These are not the fans you looking for

Over the last while I have noticed the following type of marketing approach:

“If you are bored, please listen to our radio show”

“If you have nothing else to do, please come to our concert / gig / show”

“If you have some spare time, could you please …?”

Are these really the people you want as your fans?

People that are bored and have nothing else to do.

Time to set your sights a little bit higher.

If you don’t believe that what you do is important, then why should anybody else.

Create an experience that is unmissable, and people will find the time, whether it is spare or not, and not only because they have absolutely nothing better to do.

Billy Forrest: A Selection Of My Favourite Songs

From Billy Forrest

Billy Forrest - A special selection of my favourite songs
Billy Forrest - A special selection of my favourite songs

It was a difficult one this. To remember my favourites over a span of 55 years was no mean feat, who do you leave out? I’ve chosen the songs that moved me the most, with just that “something” that makes a song reach into your soul. I’ve got two lists, International and “Local”. On the S.A. side it was more a case of appreciating the song, the performance and the production. Enjoy! – Billy Forrest

Artist/Song (International)

Cliff Richard & The Shadows (Live) – Miss you nights
Dobie Gray – Loving arms
Moody Blues – Nights in white satin
Dolly Parton – I will always love you
Kenny Rogers – Ruby don’t take your love to town
The Righteous Brothers – Unchained melody
The Walker Brothers – Make it easy on yourself
The Beatles – Yesterday
The Rolling Stones – Satisfaction
Matt Monroe – Born free
Dion Warwick – Valley of the dolls
Mike & The Mechanics – The living years
Elvis Presley – Are you lonesome tonight
Tom Jones – What’s new pussycat
Richard Harris – McArthur park
Abba – Fernando
K.D.Lang – Hallelujah
Elton John – Sacrifice
Mamas & Papas – California dreaming
Josh Grobin – You raise me up

Artist/Song (Local)

June Dyer – Whirlpool of love
Dickie Loader & The Blue Jeans – Exclusively yours
The Flames – For your precious love
The Dream Merchants – Time and the river
The Staccatos – Cry to me
Clout – Substitute
Bright Blue – Weeping
McCully Workshop – The Buccaneer
Copperfield – So you win again
Ballyhoo – Man on the moon
Rabbitt – Charlie
Joanna Field – Don’t fly too high
Maria – Clap your hands and stamp your feet
Gene Rockwell – Heart
Ken.J.Larkin – Turn around
Johnny Clegg – Scatterlings of Africa
Margaret Singana – Mama Tembu’s wedding
Steve Hofmeyr – Pampoen
Laurika Rauch – Kinders van die wind
Sias Reinecke – Sproetjies

Thanks to Marq Vas’s Southern African Music Collectibles

Interview with filmmaker Malik Bendjelloul

Extract from an interview with filmmaker Malik Bendjelloul, whose “Searching For Sugarman’ opens this week at the Sundance Film Festival.

What have you learned over the course of making the film?

I learned that it’s possible to live your life on your own terms. Even if it means huge sacrifice, it’s your life and you will regret it if you don’t try. Rodriguez didn’t want to conform to any format or rules. He said what he wanted to say, and then he waited for people to embrace his music and his ethos, and not the other way around. I think that’s something we can all learn a lot from. Maybe more success or more money could come by compromising your dreams, but don’t go there! Rodriguez used to repeat the adage “you shouldn’t take candy from strangers.” That could apply to filmmaking. Filmmakers might go to a film institute for financing and think that all problems will be solved, but it comes with sacrifices. Maybe you’ll get the money, but maybe it’ll be a year too late and you’ve lost your inspiration and passion. If you want to be true to yourself you need to set your own rules – use your own money, and if you don’t have much then make a cheap film. This is much easier with cheap digital technology. If it turns out to be a good film, you can sell it and from the surplus you can make the next film. Times have changed – filmmaking just isn’t that expensive anymore. My cinematographer Camilla Skagerstrom won the Special Jury Prize at Cannes last year for a short film she made using $3000 of her own money. She didn’t compromise. If you want to make a film, it needs to be your film, made on your terms and with the energy you only can get from the possible misconception that all is possible and all your dreams can come true. Don’t wait for the money until you’ve lost the spark – just do it anyway.

In the same way, Rodriguez eventually found his audience his own way. Why: because he stayed true to his ideals. So much so that it seemed like he was almost purposely hiding his talent and avoiding success. But in the end, it turned out to be the other way around. His creativity was uncompromised and therefore flawless. I think this is really something any artist needs to consider carefully. Their true treasure is their own integrity, dignity, inspiration and passion. Protect this at all costs.

Full interview at http://martinmyers.wordpress.com/2012/01/17/searching-for-sugar-man-movie-about-rodriguez/

David Bowie's 2002 Predictions About Music are Pretty Close | TheNextWeb

Music itself is going to become like running water or electricity. So it’s like, just take advantage of these last few years because none of this is ever going to happen again. You’d better be prepared for doing a lot of touring because that’s really the only unique situation that’s going to be left. It’s terribly exciting. But on the other hand it doesn’t matter if you think it’s exciting or not; it’s what’s going to happen. – David Bowie

via David Bowie’s 2002 Predictions About Music are Pretty Close.

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