next saturday I will be travelling to East London, nowadays called Buffalo City, in the Eastern Cape province for the first big Maskandi festival in that era.
Maskanda or Maskandi is a Zulu folk kind of music, which has evolved and has become big in South Africa. Maskandi music is largely popular and mostly consumed in the Kwa-Zulu Natal province, given its rich Zulu heritage and significance to the Zulu tribe. In popularity Maskandi is the 2nd top selling genre in South Africa, after Gospel music.
In Durban the genre is called ‘‘the music played by the man on the move, the modern minstrel, today’s troubadour.” It is the music of the man walking the long miles to a bride or to meet with his chief; a means of transport. Maskandi music tells us of many stories of society, about one’s view of life and personal experiences. This style of music is distinguished by an instrumental flourish (izihlabo) that sets the tone at the beginning of each song, in a picked guitar style and rapidly spoken section of Zulu praise poetry, called “izibongo“.
The content is not always praise, though, and with pop, house and other influences Maskandi it has become more about the story telling ethic and the modern migrant culture, than simply about the musical style.
It is the music of the man who sings of his real life experiences, his daily joys and sorrows, his observations of the world. It’s the music of the man who’s got the Zulu blues.”
This Saturday Zulu troubadour Phuzekhemisi is among the best-known practitioners of the Maskandi genre on stage. Other legendary performers are Mpatheni Khumalo and Bheki Ngcobo a.o.
National performers expected to perform include Phuzekhemisi, Khuzani, Mbuzeni, Amawele ka Mamtshawe, Nkunzemdaka, Shushubaby and Ntombethongo.
They will be performing alongside local Maskandi groups, Lumanyano cultural group, Sivuyile traditional dancers, 4×4 dancers, Ichawne Lebhaca and Gadla Nxumalo.
Also on the program is gospel music and dj’s like Naak-Musiq, Butho Vuthela, dj Welo, Blomzit, Mjazz, Yoba and many more.
The festival is scheduled to start at 9 AM. Check tickets and prices at Computicket.
Maskandi Festival 2019
2 Mar – 3 Mar 2019 08:00 AM – 12:00 AM
Buffalo City Stadium
Arcadia, East London, Eastern Cape, South Africa.
the dance performance Via Kanana by Via Katlehong / Gregory Maqoma premiered during the Dutch Festival Julidans 2018. The performance is African dance with a sombre message and a touch of hope.
Soweto-born Gregory Vuyani Maqoma took up dance in the late 1980s as a refuge from the political tensions in the township, and quickly began excelling. He embarked on his formal dance training at Moving Into Dance Mophatong in 1990 where, in 2002, he would return to serve a five-year stint as associate artistic director.
Today, Maqoma is an internationally renowned dancer, choreographer, teacher, director and scriptwriter. He has also distinguished himself for his artistic collaborations, including working with British-based choreographer Akram Khan and the London Sinfonietta, as well as South African fashion designer David Tlale, singer-songwriter Simphiwe Dana and theatre maker Brett Bailey.
Still to be seen: march 2019 in Kerkrade, Breda, Groningen, The Hague, the Netherlands during Festival Explore.
“Cion” another choreography by Gregory Maqoma will be part of the Holland Festival in June 2019.
Cion requiem of Ravel’s Bolero
Gregory Maqoma; in this work, I am drawn to Zakes Mda’s character “Toloki” the professional mourner from his beloved Ways of Dying as he further uncovers in his book Cion the story of the runaway slaves. In my interpretation, Toloki rediscovers death in a modern context, inspired by the universal events that lead to death, not as a natural phenomenon but by decisions of others over the other. We mourn the death by creating death. The universe of greed, power; religion has led us to be professional mourners who transform the horror of death and the pain of mourning into a narrative that questions what seems to be normalised and far more brutal in how we experience death and immigration. I am creating this work as a lament, a requiem required to awaken apart of us, the connection to the departed souls.
The first offering under the title “Requiem Request” was first presented at William Kentridge’s The Centre for the Less Good Idea where the idea of interrogating the music of Ravel’s Boléro using South African voices as a musical device to create a score.
From Saturday 5 January 2019, the second edition of Old Root New Routes will start with a festive New Year’s Concert in Amsterdam in the Amstel Church by Karima el Fillali with members of the Amsterdam Andalusian Orchestra.
This second edition of Old Roots New Routes again offers space for a new ‘underground’ with a series of concerts of remarkable semi-acoustic music companies. They are rooted in Africa, the Maghreb, the Middle East and South America and have blossomed in the Dutch clay in recent years.
Tamala, one of the performing groups blends Senegalese musical heritage with Western modern influences. Surely one of my favorites, a concert not to miss….
Tamala Travelers between North and South
Barely one year old the group Tamala won two prestigious prizes for their debut album plus a performance at the famous British WOMAD Festival. The passionate trio brings an innovative repertoire, which propagates the Senegalese musical heritage and feeds on the eclectic input of Mola Sylla, Bao Sissoko and Wouter Vandenabeele. The texts of Tamala (‘traveler’ in Mandinka) are about personal questions, poetic journeys and a call to openness to others and respect for the environment. Tamala takes you on a journey where the sounds of violin and kora merge, and where Sylla’s voice is the guide that reveals the deepest of the soul.
GROUNDBREAKING SOUTH AFRICAN MUSICAL ‘KING KONG’ TO DEBUT ON CD‘King Kong’ – Original London Cast Recording to be released on September 28th 2018
Stage Door Records is pleased to announce the debut CD release of ‘King Kong’, the groundbreaking South African Jazz Musical. The Original 1961 London Cast Album of ‘King Kong’ will be released on September 28th 2018.
‘King Kong’was a pioneering South African musical which portrayed the life and times of the heavyweight boxer, Ezekiel Dlamini, known as “King Kong”. Born in 1921, after a meteoric boxing rise, his life degenerated into drunkenness and gang violence. He knifed his girlfriend, asked for the death sentence during his trial and instead was sentenced to 14 years hard labour. He was found drowned in 1957 and it was believed his death was suicide. He was 36. Billed as a ‘Jazz-Opera’, ‘King Kong’ featured music by Todd Matshikiza and lyrics by Pat Williams. The production was first staged at Johannesburg’s Witwatersrand University Great Hall, opening on February 2nd 1959 and went on to take South Africa by storm.Nelson Mandela attended the opening night and is on record as highlighting the show as his favourite musical. The original South African production starred Nathan Mdledle, Ruth Nkonyane, Dan Poho and Miriam Makeba, helping launch Makeba’s international singing career.
West End theatre impresario Jack Hylton was determined to bring the ground breaking South African musical to London, insisting that as many of the original cast members as possible transfer with the production. ‘King Kong’ subsequently opened at London’s Princes Theatre on February 23rd 1961 and ran for 201 performances. Critics praised ‘King Kong’ for its inventive staging, stand out performances and vibrant score.
In more recent times, ‘King Kong’ has been recognised for the pioneering role the production played in breaking down racial barriers, defying the colour bar and uniting black and white South Africans at the height of the apartheid era. In 2017 the musical was profiled by BBC Radio 3 and later revived in South Africa by the Fugard Theatre Company.
Stage Door Records are pleased to debut the Original London 1961 Cast recording of ‘King Kong’ on CD. The recording is complemented with selections from the Original 1959 South African Cast recording, including many songs that were subsequently cut from the London production. The CD concludes with a handful of bonus tracks including pop covers of ‘Back Of The Moon’ and ‘The Earth Turns Over’ by Elaine Delmar and a jazz instrumental of the show’s title song by Terry Lightfoot’s New Orleans Jazzmen.
‘KING KONG’ – ORIGINAL LONDON CAST RECORDING (STEREO)
1. SAD TIMES, BAD TIMES – Company
2. MARVELLOUS MUSCLES – Nathan Mdledle, Company
3. KING KONG – Nathan Mdledle, Company
4. KWELA KONG – Orchestra
5. BACK OF THE MOON – Peggy Phango
6. THE EARTH TURNS OVER – Sophie Mgcina
7. DAMN HIM! – Joseph Mogotsi
8. GUMBOOT DANCE – Company
9. KING KING – Company
10. BE SMART, BE WISE – Ben Masinga, Sophie Mgcina, Lemmy “Special” Mabaso
11. CRAZY KID – Lemmy “Special” Mabaso And The Alexander Junior Bright Boys
12. TSHOTSHOLOSA – ROAD SONG – Company
13. QUICKLY IN LOVE – Nathan Mdledle, Peggy Phango, Stephen Moloi, Ben Masinga, Patience Gcowabe
14. IN THE QUEUE – Company
15. IT’S A WEDDING – Company
16. WEDDING HYMN – Company
17. DEATH SONG – Nathan Mdledle
18. KING KING (Reprise) – Company
19. SAD TIMES, BAD TIMES (Finale) – Orchestra
‘KING KONG’ – ORIGINAL SOUTH AFRICAN CAST RECORDING
20. SAD TIMES, BAD TIMES – Company
21. MARVELLOUS MUSCLES – Nathan Mdledle, Company
22. KING KONG – Nathan Mdledle, Company
23. BACK OF THE MOON – Miriam Makeba
24. PETAL’S SONG (THE EARTH TURNS OVER) – Ruth Nkonyane
25. DAMN HIM! – Joseph Mogotsi
26. STRANGE THINGS HAPPEN – Ruth Nkonyane, Joseph Mogotsi
27. BETTER THAN NEW – Nathan Mdledle, Company
28. MAD – Dan Poho, Company
29. QUICKLY IN LOVE – Miriam Makeba
30. IT’S A WEDDING (Original South African Cast Recording) – Company BONUS TRACKS
31. BACK OF THE MOON – Elaine Delmar
32. THE EARTH TURNS OVER – Elaine Delmar
33. KING KONG – Terry Lightfoot’s New Orleans Jazzmen
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.”