the United Colours of Africa
The sound of Cape Town and the launch pad of the Cape Town sound
Wondergigs 1999 - 2003: Music for the sake of music
Music is pure joy and purpose and it is sustainable. In collaboration with SABC staff members, the Wondergigs rolled out January 17 2001 to Nov 17 2002. Many musicians recorded over 250 live, in front of a live audience and together with a live on air broadcast. We marked a period of time with pure effort and love.
Laurence Mitchell, SABC WC (Western Cape) CEO, had a vision to celebrate Cape Town music. Laurence was at that time at the pinnacle of his career of thirty years with the SABC. Laurence had served in the Eastern Cape before relocating to the Western Cape.
SABC Western Cape has the Beach Rd studios, flash, swank, 50's style sound recording gear with a 250 seater auditorium with direct links to several radio stations. The concept to full this venue was live recordings. Music collaborations would actively seek the sound of Cape Town bringing in artists such as Mac MacKenzie, Robbie Jansen, Alex Van Heerden and Khoi Khoilektif. Our concept was: “Music for the sake of music.”
The wondergigs was about a new precedent and together with SABC we brokered a new form of contract whereby the artists received ownership of their work and the SABC in collaboration with afribeat received third party rights. Artists receiving ownership of their work became a draw card to attract the best in music and gave the best back to music.
The music could have a free road to join the internet revolution of release on demand if the artists chose it. The wondergigs cast of about 150 musicians reached out to a very wide audience with the live recordings, radio broadcasts and newspaper coverage.
Star performances were recorded: Ernestine Deane sung some of her compositions and 'Amazing Grace,' solo. Kesevan Naidoo performed his composition ‘Eclipse' with Tribe. Jimmy Dludlu created ‘The Shape of Strings to Come,' with his teacher Alvin Dyers and Richard Caeser. Robbie Jansen featured two pianists Hotep Galeta to play ‘Cape After Midnight,' and other classic jazz numbers and Hilton Schilder to play ‘Slow Slow,' and other goema numbers. Alex Van Heerden and Derek Grippe created a duo composition project with Brydon Bolton called ‘Sagtevlei.' The Khoi Khoinextion evolved into a Khoilektif and birthed the Goema Princess V Monica B and Mac MacKenzie with Hilton Schilder and Alex Van Heerden created the Goema Captains of Cape Town. The Cape Town musicians and community gave their all to this project.
The wondergigs was built on the philosophy of ‘immaculate expansion' whereby a star was to become a cluster and then to become a universe. Whereby a spark of inspiration was to ignite an entire scene and pick it up from the bootlaces. Those stars were Mac Mackenzie and the Goema Captains of Cape Town featuring Hilton Schilder and Alex Van Heerden.
SKY 189 PRESENTS : Emile YX? Ray Skillz Thee Angelo Rob Nel Michael Horn Michael Bester David Poole Carla Diamonde The Slowboat Assassin SOS Daniel Multinational Institution Fungus The Mutated Lung Self Frank Talk Nike Jimmy Grinnith Ray Skillz Caramel Animal Chin Judah Bionic Biscuit Mr Pitt Scalywag Brian de Goede Brydon Bolton Wayne Scholts Mizchif Captain my Captive Devious
It was our goal to see the story of Cape Town music united in its culture and heritage and to see the many wonderful colors that make up its diverse population; in a jazz kind of way, whereby music picks up the fragmented pieces of diversity in gathering and creates an urban language from it.
The intention was change! Laurence had a vision to celebrate Cape Town music. Laurence was at that time at the pinnacle of his career of thirty years with the SABC. Laurence had served in the Eastern Cape before relocating to the Western Cape. SABC Western Cape has the Beach Rd studios, flash, swank, 50's style sound recording gear with a 250 seater auditorium with direct links to several radio stations.
Together with the SABC we brokered a new form of contract whereby the artists received ownership of their work and the SABC in collaboration with afribeat received third party writes on which the artists received fixed royalties. This was a business revolution. The music could have a free road to join the internet revolution of release on demand if the artists so chose. Artists receive ownership on their work was a draw card to attract the best in music.
We were therefore given an open mandate to create music. It felt as if there was an alignment of stars. Laurence knew about music and illustrated a truly Cape Town yearning to hear a truly Cape Town sound. The idea was collaborative Cape music searching for a unique Cape sound.
In 2002 we recorded live concerts at the SABC for thirteen consecutive weeks. These recording tok us firmly in the direction of defining the sound of Cape Town in that year. There were capacity auditoriums, classic live broadcasts, high quality of musicianship and a general atmosphere of joy and harmony. This is evident on the recordings.
The wondergigs collected musicians across the city and region, bringing them into studio for inspired recording sessions. These sessions were largely collaborative. We marked a period of time with pure effort and love.
With thanks to the Wondergigs, Laurence, Estelle, Bianca, Madoda, Reynaud , Jacques, family Harris and a beautiful family of friends featuring: BLK SONSHINE : Neo Muyanga Masauko Chipembere Jimmy Dludlu TRIBE : Buddy Wells Mark Fransman Charles Lazaar Kesevan Naidoo Derek Gripper & Alex Van Heerden featuring Brydon Bolton Kerryn Bailey Fiona Greyer GOLLIWOG : Rob Nel Kesevan Naidoo Lee Thomson Farrell Adams Leyton Smith Nick le Roux Gorm Espen Helfjord Daniel 3 GUITARS : Jimmy Dludlu Richard Caesar Alvin Dyers Denver Furness Tony Paco Frank Paco John Hassan Lucas Khumalo Eddie Jooste Alistair Andrews Andrew Ford Ivan Bell Andre Peterson ROBBIE JANSEN & THE SONS OF TABLE MOUNTAIN : Robbie Jansen Hotep Galeta Hilton Schilder Allou April Alex Van Heerden Spencer Mbadu Tony Paco THE ERNESTINE DEANE QUARTET : Ernestine Deane Brydon Bolton Wayne Scholts Ricardo Moretti MIKANIC : Mike Rennie Nick Turner Sylvia Mdunyelwa Ernestine Deane Mike Hardy Lee Thomson Jamie Cloete Schalk Joubert Riaan van Rensburg MOODPHASE 5IVE : Ernestine Deane D-Form Ricardo Moretti Brian de Goede Doglas Armstrong EJ von Lyric Burnie Shane MAC MCKENZIE AND THE GOEMA CAPTAINS OF CAPE TOWN Mac Mckenzie, Hilton Schilder, Abubakar Davids, Abdullah Davids Riedwaan Astrud Braaf Alex Van Heerden Liz Brouckaert Kurt Diederichs DJ Hamma THE KHOI KHOILEKTIV : Jethro Louw Robbie Rudolf Loit Sols V Monica B Lesley Javan DJ Hamma SKY 189 PRESENTS : Emile YX? Ray Skillz Thee Angelo Rob Nel Michael Horn Michael Bester David Poole Carla Diamonde The Slowboat Assassin SOS Daniel Multinational Institution Fungus The Mutated Lung Self Frank Talk Nike Jimmy Grinnith Ray Skillz Caramel Animal Chin Judah Bionic Biscuit Mr Pitt Scalywag Brian de Goede Brydon Bolton Wayne Scholts Mizchif Captain my Captive Devious
We felt we could spread this magic endlessly with multimedia collaborative music festivals. Laurence had an extensive vision of this. At first we would travel without, we would go from Cape Town to Maputo and then Cape Town to Cuba, Cape Town to the Caribbean and so on and then we would go within, Cape Town to Table Mountain, Cape Town to the Cape Flats, Cape Town to the Carnival, and so on, always expressed through staged musical performance, live recording and collaboration, such as the wondergigs philosophy had illustrated.
We created the first of these festivals and it was staged at the OudeLibertas amphitheatre. It was the Cape Town Maputo festival in 2003. Zolani Maholo performed intimately alongside Isaq Matuz, the blind blues man from Xai Xai. Matuz had not spoken before as he did not speak English, and never ever left Xai Xai before, but after the sound-check he spoke. He said, “It is like performing with Miriam Makeba.” After the show we could not contain his excitement. We were all staying together, about twenty people in the warehouse, and we slept that night with the sound of Matuz singing, ‘Halleluiah.'
Still being prepared : ALBUM THREE Mother City Love Songs : Music from Cape Town
Still being prepared : ALBUM FOUR Cape Town's Hip Hop
Album Review: NICK TURNER – Home and Secure
After a host of recent projects and from New York to Cape Town, Sons of Trout founder member Nick Turner has gone back to his dub reggae rock best. He is currently touring South Africa in various musical collaborations sharing, 'Home and Secure,' which is enough of a collection to show that this musician is in the starlight of his career, and he is moving and shaking with the stamina of a long distance runner.
Check out the killer single ‘Everywhere,' Written about the perennial favourite, ‘unrequitted love' and given a spark of bourgeoisie by the delicious muted trumpet playing and French accent. But maybe you are more into this big up front reggae back beats that lead out tunes like “Seasons”, “Getting Hotter” (The Sounds of Trout hit), “Norman,” (The Mikanic hit) and “Same world?” The combination of hot horn lines with, tight reggae jams and great vocals is universal, vibey and natural. And as the trumpet rasps in the distance, one knows that this sound will travel!
Nick is well supported by bass and drums, Schalk Joubert and Riaan Van Rensburg (not on album), both performers gel alongside the band leader like a sole well glued to a shoe. In fact the trio is so tight that their reputation precedes them! Adrian Brand adds superb trumpet throughout the album sparking Cape Town, Balkan reggae vibrations with a clean tone and adventurous style.
Turner's vocals are solid and well-crafted into a soothing sometimes stinging delivery. The lyrics are witty and profound in their simplicity. It is Nicks' heart for inclusion community togetherness and friendship that comes through in the album. “We all look up and see the same moon,” he sings on same world.
There are delightful cameos like Nick's many musical brothers and sisters such as Mike Rennie (violin) and Zolani Mahola (vocals) who each add their own flavour to the potjie pot music.
The opening song on the album is called “anomaly.” Turner is of English heritage, but is South African for many generations, over 100 years. Thus, he sings in Afrikaans to reach the majority of the market in the region he lives – the Western Cape, and there are enough Afrikaans tunes to keep the home fires burning. The composition, “Roos” by Leslie Javan gives a raucus rural and humourous goema vastrap Cape flavour to the music.
Another anomaly is that Nick spent a five year stint in New York as a waiter in an African bistro restaurant. A number of songs refer to this, such as “Cuffed in my Kitchen” and the title track “Home and Secure,” drawing a link between New York and Cape Town.
Interview Emile YX
Last week we recorded a track for Dr. Neville Alexander, the academic. He was on Robben Island. He lived there in Lotus River. They are doing a memorial now at the end of October and they were looking for someone to do a song. Black Pearl, the singer from Afri-kaaps, the two of us put something together. That type of thing is something to remember what he contributed, it happened very organically.
Who was Neville Alexander
Neville Alexander was with Mandela and them on Robben Island. He was there for ten years. He was essentially an academic. He was a teacher. He did a huge amount of things for the liberation struggle. He started so many organisations and played a huge role for the education on the island around socialism, communism, new ways of thinking of trying to solve the situation. When he came out he focused on workers union and stuff like that. A lot of young people around him started realizing what the fight had become so they spent much more time on re-thinking how education is done. His focus was education in the country needed to change in order for the mindset of the country to change. We can't have the same education that we unfortunately still have, so he had this organization, PRAESA for alternative education that was based at UCT for a long time. He is one of those unsung heroes of the country and contributed majorly to a lot of things. One of the things they say in the Western Cape was when Steve Biko was caught he was on his way back from Neville, he went to meet Neville because he was trying to unify the country, it was one of his missions to try and unify the movements, the black consciousness. Neville did not want to see him, because he was part of an organization and didn't want to speak individually on behalf of the organization, they needed to be present. So, he said I can't meet you until they give me the go ahead. That's when he left. That's when they caught Steve Biko.
When Mandela came out of prison he met with Neville as well to because he realized the mobilization of so called coloured people isn't the illusion that they had that we are all black, and that it is a black struggle, because obviously it was being manipulated racially. He met with Neville and asked Neville to work within the ANC to change the coloured mindset to vote for the ANC. He refused because he was a very staunch believer that what we have today is a franchise. It is not the freedom they spoke about but they bought into the occupation of Southern Africa by big business in the manner that they negotiated with so called freedom. I lot of people didn't like what he was saying, just before the election his house was bombed. He is quite a prolific figure. He wrote quite a few books. A lot of what he said is coming to fruition.
What is a ‘so called coloured.'