Dancing with the Diaspora
Interview Oppikoppi Festival Promoter: Misha Loots & Festival Director: Retha Hoffmann
Interview Gareth Wilson
Something I always wanted to do was own a music venue where I could express little bits of my personality and people I have hung out with. I played with Southern Gypsy Queens for 12 years. Toured all over and met so many different bands all over the world, my whole idea changed. If you look at the programming we do at the Good Luck Bar it comes from those travels meeting new people new music and coming back and rediscovering Joburg and realising I have gone to so many places a boiling pot of culture, music and fashion. Ten years ago I started focusing on what is happening in Joburg and having a club that can showcase everything that is happening in Joburg.
Myself and Nicol were working for Hilltop Live and I was doing the artists booking for them for quite a while, still do but on a different basis. It is my favourite show to book. We brought what we felt at Oppikoppi to an every weekend style kind of thing. We are from the same background and wanted to experience a little bit of Oppikoppi every weekend.
I went to Jacques Moolman the lead singer of Shadow club, his wedding and I saw the space and Michael Camfield the drummer put me in contact with Jan one of our other partners. It took a bit of convincing as it is a great spot and there was not a lot happening. It was a beautiful bar that people would filter to from the market. Nicol and I bought half the business a year and 3 months ago.
The Good Luck Bar was established in 1895, the oldest shed in Joburg they did the Charles Glass launch for the 1895 Castle Draught. It is the only remaining venue that used to sell the beer. There are rumours he sold his first beer there but we can't confirm that. Bu we like to claim that.
The Good Luck Bar has a lot of locals that come to a lot of shows. But it is not a local bar, it is a bit of mission for that. It is big space it it's not cosy. Everything is show dependent even to the beer. Jeremy Loops or Matthew Mole you are going to sell a lot of craft beer. Nomadic Orchestra they are more organic guy's big dancing band and get it going. A night like science fiction when we did all the drum and base stuff you are selling black labels and water. It is hard hitting music, a whole different sound. Beautiful watch like Chaos Pierceful Mellow get together dancing and drinking beer.
Trend in venues not sustaining?
It is a labour of love. It is much easier for us. We love music, we love hosting it, and we want to keep it fun for ourselves. It is a constant battle keeping live music going, but it is definitely on the up again. People are verging toward live performances over DJ performances for the first time in a long time. I feel we are making a lot more money off live performers than DJ's.
We do everything. Our favourite nights, I am not sure of you are familiar with Femi Koya? Dance wise the traditional afrobeat kills. And there is a break off of Afro-indy bands like Urban Village, BCUCU, Brother Moves On, DMDC, bands like that get the dance hall pumping. And you can get bands to collaborate. We mix bands like Go Barefoot and Urban Village or Bye Benico and BCUC, Diamond Thug and Brother Moves On. We have done amazing collaborations like that. The Black Cat Band and BCUC performed a set together. That is where we are going we had the youth orchestra come in and play with Bombshelter Beast. The place had this marching band taking over, half the band on the dance floor half the band on the tables, bar counter standing at the door, taking over. We try and give the people an experience they can't forget, not that is the stage that is the show.
This is why live is making a comeback?
There are great DJ's, if you look at Sibot and Toyota, people like that that go to the trouble of doing visuals, it is still static. There are some great electronic shows that create experiences within the venue. We haven't delved into that on the electronic side of things. That is the great thing about live, using the space, using the room to your advantage. Basically some nights giving the people a 360 degree angle where they can see and hear the music from everywhere.
How does it become sustainable?
What is sustainable about is people support the acts they believe in more so than the venue. It is great when people get behind the good luck bar, we got a lot of support like that. But always say support the bands you want. We will make sure we have the right bands playing the Good Luck Bar that you are following. What makes it sustainable is the musicians. They give us something to work with and we can work with what they give us. The more you can give them the more we can work together.
Social media obviously exploded and now it has got so flooded that we have reverted back to flyers and posters in town for some of the bigger events. It is greeting bands to understand that if I book you and you bring 10 people, next time I will pay you for 50 that faith is how I book. I don; like anything for free from artists, I like to pay them something but I like to know what I am paying for.
If you have got shows bring the people you are with because that is your currency.
What about rock?
There is a beautiful scene coming out now because there has been nothing exciting for a long time. You have got Black Cat Band and Taxi Violence and Fokof polisie car and they are all killing it. Prime Circle Parlotones have moved onto Adult contemporary scene but also doing amazing. What we haven't seen for years is young kids, 19 – 21 years old, in varsity, packing places with rock n roll bands that not a lot of people have heard of. That is a sign of a healthy scene. We have got bands like Go Barefoot, Tazers, Boxer, Black Math from Durban. They are getting people to the show, they are not headliners but are proving that this could be the new wave of rock. It has its foot in the psych rock scene. It is a stoner rock psych rock scene, Soul Jam is a great example who are pushing the psych rock genre and breaking away from it. Up until now Cape Town has dominated that scene, Joburg is about to add a whole new flavour internationally.
Rumours, Arcade Empire in Pretoria.
We got the place loved it and new we would have issues with the sound and keep on treating it as we go. We have treated the roof. And now we want to do bass traps and get a new rig in there. It is getting better all the time. Once we get more money we do more and it is improving all the time. Friday night it sounds amazing. There is a sweet spot in the room.
I book so many festivals and events. My whole vision this year is I am looking for guys who stand out and last year I was looking for a lot of local flavour. I am looking out for elements that make someone sound different. That act you know you have to book but you don't know where to put them. We don't always book the hippest shows.
We rushed into a festival idea called a Place in the Sun which was going to be a festival for the good luck bar. We had so much issue with the neighbours it was put on hold going forward to this year or 2018. We still need to cement the Good Luck Bar and then definitely. Our background is festivals. Place in the sun is a one stage festival, beautiful surroundings, smaller audience, boutique festival.
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