The Kwela Swingsters is Australia’s leading exponents of Kwela, South African penny whistle jive music!
Band leader Andy Rigby learned the Kwela style penny whistle playing while he was living in Botswana in the 80’s. The unique way of ‘bending” the sound of the penny whistle gives the Kwela swing music its distinctive vibe.
With its rhythms rooted firmly in swing, add a lot of South African vibe and you have one happy dancing band.
The Kwela Swingsters have got many a foot dancing at leading Festivals in Australia:
South African writer, actor and writer Nakhane Touré (31) will not be silenced. Resistance defies with a raised head, with a somewhat mocking look in his beautiful androgynous face. His vulnerability is his strength, Nakhane is a queer artist on a mission.
Last weekend he was a defining artist at the Rotterdam music festival ‘Motel Mozaïque’ where he performed to promote his new album ‘You Will Not Die’. An emotionally charged, loneliness-drenched collection of his own written songs in the soul and electro styles, in which he sings about his homosexuality and how he crawled under the yoke of a homophobic South African church community.
But not only as a musician does Nakhane attract attention, also as an actor. With his leading role in the controversial film of the South African director John Trengrove ‘The Wound’ (2017), he explained the taboo of being a young gay man in the Xhosa community. Xhosa is one of the largest ethnic populations within the Rainbow Nation.
The film caused a lot of commotion in South Africa when it appeared, although there was an Oscar nomination for best foreign film. After intense protests, the film was banned from the South African cinemas early this year. Nakhane felt broken as he mentioned on Twitter; ‘raw as a fresh wound’.
Broken but not defeated, his music frees his soul he says. On his album ‘You Will Not Die’ Nakhane raises all the heavy subjects and taboos in his Xhosa community while coming out as a gay man; self-acceptance, finding an identity, anonymous sex, confusion, leaving his church and religion and finding his own spirituality.
source: NRC Handelsblad 19th April 2018- Amanda Kuyper
Happy New Year 2018! And what better way to celebrate the New Year with some classic Cape Comic Songs of The Cape Town Street Parade then and now…
***The Cape Town Minstrel Carnival is a long running New Year tradition in the Colored Community of South Africa. Unknown when it actually started, it is rumored to have begun when a group of African-American minstrels docked in Cape Town in the late 1800s then entertained sailors with their spontaneous musical performances. The modern day Carnival started in Cape Town’s District Six, an area that is best known for the forced removed of over 60,000 residents during the 1970’s apartheid regime. Since the beginning, every January 2nd the self proclaimed ‘Coons’ parade the streets of Cape Town with marching bands, songs, and dancers all in bright colorful outfits. These troupes then compete over the month in categories ranging from best band performance to best solo song to best outfit. Farouk Jacob of the Ken Fac troop explains, “The carnival is very important to us [because the second new year is a time when we forget our problems]. We forget about what else we all have, we forget about things happening in your home, we all joining in and have fun, we don’t want to think about any of our problems. After February then we start thinking about our problems again. Thats why [for us, its actually the time when we all come together]. Its the time when we all experience the same feeling, this is the time when we come and we have this joyous feeling in our hearts and want to share and give to people.” Photos: Charlie Shoemaker***
Gabriel Bayman croaks Cape comic songs
Backed by Ballie & his Bolle
RCA 32-248 South Africa
Over the years the Coloured people of the Cape Peninsula have developed a musical sound of their own, which is as much part of the Cape’s heritage as it’s sparkling white beaches and autumn-hued vinyeards. Drifting on the evening air the plink-a-plonk of banjos and guitars and almost brazen sound of saxophones pour from labourers cottages on the farms of Constantia or from the warren-like, sprawling slum of District Six; from shanties tucked amid the Port Jackson Willows and sand dunes of the Cape Flats or the neatly terraced fisherman’s cottages of Hout Bay comes the sound of the Cape Carnival Beat.
And with the advent of the New Year all the joy and some of the sadness of the people whips though the streets of Cape Town in a kaleidoscope of coloured silks and beaming faces during the Carnival.
The songs which they sing –many of them wreathed in passed history, others reflecting history being made today- and the music which they make are as distinctively part of the Peninsula as the heavy white clouds hanging over Table Mountain –the so-called Table Cloth.
Gabriel Bayman is well known as broadcaster and for his characterisations of the Cape Coloured Folk whom he knows so well.
Though he did occasional stage work, including Waiting for Godot (1959) for the National Theatre Organisation (NTO), The Amorous Prawn (1961) at the Alexander Theatre, The Physicists (1963) for the Langford-Inglis Company, A Flea in Her Ear (1968) for the Johannesburg Repertory Players and Canterbury Tales (musical) (1970-71) at the Civic Theatre in Johannesburg, radio listeners were frequently exposed to his voice, even though they did not always realise that it was him. Amongst the programmes in which he featured were 33 Half Moon Street, written first by Adrian Steed and then by Douglas Laws (1965-66), General Motors on Safari, produced by Michael McCabe (1965-69), Squad Cars, directed by David Gooden (1968-85), Eloquent Silence (1969) produced by Cecil Jubber and The Challenge of Space, with Donald Monat (1969-70).
And Bayman starred in a few locally produced movies as well; “The Cape Town Affair” is his best known, a 1967 glamorized spy film produced by 20th Century Fox at Killarney Film Studios in South Africa.
Commentators describe the film as dull, slow-paced, poorly acted and tedious. The film does, however, paint an interesting picture of life in South Africa under apartheid as seen from the point of view of official government policy. All the leading characters are white and even street scenes contain few non-whites.
He also brought out a number of long-playing records, including Die Stories van Oompie Boetie Baradien, Kindersprokies Oorvertel and Gabriel Bayman Croaks Cape Comic Songs. (FO)
The origins of many of the ‘moppies’and ‘goemaliedjies’which you will hear are often obscured by time. In the late 1940’s one of the main hit numbers of the year was the song “Mona Lisa”, which blared from juke-boxes and radios throughout the country. The Coloureds took it to their hearts and developed it into a song along their own particular-and sometimes peculiar lines. Every year the winning troupe of the Carnival sings a particular song on its way back to District Six as it marches along Somerset Road. Invariably it is an adaption of the ‘hit of the year’and in this instance ‘Mona Lisa’ was the song. Naturally the words and even the theme was altered, and it ended up as a bawdry, frivolous street song which caught the enthousiasm of everyone who heard it.
Perhaps the most delightful of all the lyrics on this record is ‘Ry hom, boetie ry hom….’ A racing song if ever there was one! In the old days, when races were run on the Green Point Common this is a song that certainly was sung. A lady visitor from Britain wrote in the 1860s “how curious it is to see one of our elegant English jockeys being beaten to the post by a wizened little Hottentot”. One can only imagine that the ‘wizened little’ jockey concerned was egged on to the winning post with this cry.
For any South African, English or Afrikaans speaking, this record is a real party piece, guaranteed to set feet tapping and partners twirling to the ending, the traditional farewell, “Baiei Terima Kassie”, “Maak Vir Julle Klaar Om Nou Huistoe te Gaan” want Tante Fiena draai, tot die eerste hoender kraai.
one post a day for the remainder of 2017 featuring a selection of some of my best finds of African music last year…not necessary brand new releases. Mostly vintage original pressings found during my travels all over the world.
#7 Farafina – Bolomakoté
veraBra Records – veraBra No. Germany 1989
Farafina is a group of percussionists / dancers from Burkina Faso in West Africa, founded orginally by Mahama Konaté.
Excellent workouts on traditional African instruments like the balafon and djembé are recorded on this album, one of the standout tracks of ‘Bolomakoté’ is the track “Moroman Wouele”, an amazing rhythm journey with hypnotic chants! The track starts seductively like a North African belly dance morphing gradually into a faster samba rhythm. The latin theme re-appears even stronger on the B-side….dance-floor friendly album for sure.
Farafina’s ability to expand their music without denying their traditional instruments has enabled them to experience new forms and record with musicians such as Jon Hassell, the Rolling Stones, Ryuichi Sakamato, Daniel Lanois, Billy Cobham, Joji Hirota….
In 1988 Farafina worked together with Jon Hassell on an ambient/experimental album ‘Flash Of The Spirit’. The group played several times at the Montreux Jazz Festival, and stole the show at the famous Nelson Mandela’s birthday concert in the London Wembley Stadium.
A1 Moroman Wouele 4:22
A2 Bolomakoté Mahama 3:42
A3 Mandela 3:06
A4 Nianiae Lomina 4:54
A5 Kodine 5:08
B1 Samba 4:20
B2 Patron Mousso (Instrumental) 5:40
B3 Goulikanairi Ye 2:53
B4 Kabouroudibi 6:23
Balafon – Baba Diara, Mahama Konaté
Djembé – Paco Yé Adama
Flute – Soungalo Coulibaly
Lead Vocals – Mahama Konaté, Paco Yé Adama, Soungalo Coulibaly
Ray Phiri (born 23 March 1947, Hermansberg, near Nelspruit, South Africa – died 12 July 2017, Nelspruit, South Africa), whose guitar work reached a worldwide audience through his distinctive contributions to Paul Simon‘s hit Graceland and Rhythm of the Saints LPs, has died at the age of 70.
The BBC brings word of Phiri’s death, which took place at a clinic in the South African city of Nelspruit two months after he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He’d been hospitalized for several weeks, during which time he was the unwilling focus of a crowdfunding campaign to help defray his medical costs; according to an interview excerpted in the BBC’s report, he asked fans to let him “suffer [in peace with my] pain, on my own with my dignity.”
Phiri’s last public request reflects his lifelong approach to dealing with tragedy and misfortune. Among South Africa’s most widely respected musicians, he rose to prominence with his group Stimela (“train” in the Nguni language), a pioneering fusion band whose blend of smooth jazz with the Afropop mbaqanga sound proved popular — although not with the South African government in the apartheid era, during which Stimela’s records were occasionally banned and the state reportedly even tried spying on the group.
International stardom for Phiri proved somewhat fleeting — although his beautiful tone is instantly recognizable to anyone who listened to Simon’s music during the Graceland and Rhythm of the Saintsera, his tenure in Simon’s band was fairly brief given the massive success those albums enjoyed, and in later years, he alleged that he’d never been fairly credited or compensated for his work. Speaking with the Sunday Times, he spoke of his feud with Simon, but concluded — as he so often did — on an optimistic note.
“There’s bad blood with Paul Simon,” said Phiri. “He never gave me credit on the album for the songs I wrote, and financially we hardly got any royalties. But maybe I wouldn’t have been able to handle all that wealth. I sleep at night, I have my sanity and I enjoy living. The big rock ‘n’ roll machine did not munch me.”
In more recent years, Phiri continued to deal with personal struggles, including the death of his third wife in a 2014 car crash, yet he saw his musical legacy continue to grow — particularly at home, where the fall of South Africa’s racist apartheid regime opened an era in which his talents were not only acknowledged but valued by the state. In the wake of his passing, the African National Congress issued a statement praising Phiri’s inestimable contributions to the national culture.
“Ray Phiri was a voice for the voiceless and a legend of our time,” it reads. “An immensely gifted composer, vocalist and guitarist, he breathed consciousness and agitated thoughts of freedom through his music … He has played his role in unearthing and support new talent in the industry and has been an ardent and vocal advocate of the call for greater investment in local content development and the development of the industry as a whole.”
Getatchew passed away today. At the age of 81 and after a musical career of 68 years. He was a truely unique saxophone player. Born in the countryside of Ethiopia, he heard the saxophone on the radio at the age of 13 and went to Addis Abeba straight away. He wanted to play saxophone! And soon after that he got himself into the Municipality Band. Later he played in the Haile Selassie Orchestra’s, the National Theatre Orchestra and more.
Since 2004 he played regularly with The Ex. It was his choice after hearing us at one of our festivals. He recognized something in our music which reminded him of the early groups he was in, like the Fetan Band (Speed Band). He loved playing with us and for us it was also an incredible experience. He was always totally himself, full-on intense and dedicated. We played more than 100 concerts and made two beautiful albums together.
The last few years, his health was not very good. He couldn’t really go on tour anymore. As a kind of farewell concert for his fans, we organized a big event in the National Theatre in Addis Abeba. He got lots of attention and respect that night: 1500 people in the audience, three TV stations and a legendary concert. Getatchew was playing while sitting on a chair, but his playing was stronger than ever.
His whole life was devoted to music. With his unique sound and approach he leaves behind an eternal inspiration!