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:
In one of the grandest hotels in the world, born of and to luxury, today you enter ‘at own risk’. More than 2500 people live there without water or electricity. They have taken possession of the building and manipulated not only the stones but also the dreams. A journey through present and past of a city in a city; a story about colonial megalomania, revolutionary vanity and feeling at home.
The Grande Hotel Beira was a luxurious hotel in Beira, Mozambique built by entrepreneur Arthur Brandão. It was open from 1954 to 1964, after which the holiday resort was used as military base and prison in the Mozambican Civil War. It has since fallen into disuse, and is currently home to numerous squatters, who have stripped the building of construction materials to provide a limited source of income.
Its failure wasn’t completely because of the revolution or government rule but the construction and maintenance costs were too high and they didn’t receive enough guests because of more affordable and better located competition.
In 1964, after ten years of operation, the Grande Hotel was closed by the Companhia de Moçambique. The construction costs were three times more than the original budget, and the hotel never made any profit. The anticipated number of wealthy guests never came and the workforce was too large for the amount of guests actually received. Every elevator, for example, had its own operator present. The hotel needed a lot of maintenance to keep it in its luxurious condition.
In several documents it was claimed that the reason for closure was the refusal of the regime to grant the hotel a casino permit. Any realistic estimation would have predicted the failure of the hotel. The white residents of Southern Africa couldn’t afford this level of luxury and Beira was not known, internationally, as a prime holiday destination for wealthy people. Destinations like the Bazaruto archipelago at Vilanculos, the Mediterranean city life style of the Mozambican capital Lourenço Marques, the South African Krüger national park and the Victoria Falls in Rhodesia where more famous across the world.
A cheaper alternative to the Grande Hotel was the Ambassador Hotel. This hotel opened just after the inauguration of the Grande Hotel and was preferred by business people because it was situated in the Baixa (downtown) area, where most of the business offices were located. Remarkably, Arthur Brandão was also the owner of this hotel.
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 records found during my travels all over the world.
Best African music finds 2017 # 6
ABAFANA BASEQHUDENI -Umdumo (‘Mighty Thunder’)
Gumba Gumba BL 89 1976 South Africa
Abafana Baseqhudeni is a male mbaqanga group formed in 1975 by members of the Mahothella Queens and Space Queens. Umdumo (‘Mighty Thunder’) was produced by West Nkosi and Marks Mankwana and became their biggest album in 1976.
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
In the 1930’s African Jazz Music became an important feature in the lives of many urban Africans and some remarkable talent began to emerge in Johannesburg.
In 1952 the Union of Southern African Artists came into being with the dual function of promoting the talent that had already been shown to exist in the musical and dramatic field and to act as an Artist’s Equity. The union promoted Township Jazz concerts which were the first large scale African entertainments to be presented in the capital of South Africa, and arranged for white and non-European audiences to see and hear a wide range of entertainment by black and colored artists.
South African Institute for Race Relations presents African Jazz and Variety
The Woody Woodpeckers -Fanagalo
Fanagalo is a pidgin or simplified language, based primarily on Zulu. It is used as a lingua franca, mainly by workers in the gold, diamond, coal and copper mines.
This rare 10″ includes two songs by The Woody Woodpeckers, a group around songwriter and musician, Victor Ndlazilwane, who was awarded the Metro FM Lifetime Achievement award in 2006 in South Africa. During his early career, Ndlazilwane was part of the legendary Woody Woodpeckers group as well as the Jazz Ministers, both of which were signed to Gallo Record Company. The Jazz Ministers were the first African jazz band to perform at the prestigious Newport Jazz Festival in New York.
King Jeff & His African Jazz Troupe -Rock Around The Clock
At the end of the 40’s and mid-50’s when Rock ‘n Roll swept through the world like a tsunami, a bleached derivative of American Jazz and R&B music was popular in South Africa. Black and white musicians, singers and performers catered for the refined taste of the well heeled visitors and sophisticated dancers that frequented the big hotels and nightclubs of the big cities like Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. There existed a circuit of hip hangouts and palaces of nocturnal pleasures; theaters, nightclubs, bars and restaurants where live music was an extra attraction to the fine dining and luxurious surroundings. Valet parking included. But the jungle rhythms of the American originals were a wee bit too adventurous to serve as a soundtrack for an exquisite night out at The Colony Hotel or The Beachcomber. So more musicians, singers and bands turned towards the then popular sound of the Mediterranean countries like Italy or Portugal. Many landed in Johannesburg , the city of gold & diamonds where riches and fame was to be found aplenty.
Such a nightclub/restaurant was Franco’s, located in downtown Johannesburg. The nightclub was a famous hangout for the city’s well-heeled crowd, musical entertainment consisted mainly of evergreens from around the world, sometimes local songs were included in the repertoire. A mixed bag really, something you can dance to or just listen to in the safety of a segregated environment.
The Beachcomber in Durban and The Grand Hotel Beira in Mozambique were similar hangouts, where well-to-do visitors from Portuguese Angola, the Belgian Congo or the Rhodesias could unwind on a dream holiday. Or they came to make a business deal, or simply to be entertained by the best of performers around.
The Three Petersen Brothers and Nico Carstens and his Orchestra
The Three Petersen Brothers, Mervyn, Basil and Andy, are really brothers who belong to one of the oldest theatrical families in South Africa. They are versatile and musically gifted, touring the country, appearing on stage, in variety and as cabaret artists in every nightclub in South Africa, in addition to regular radio performances. ‘On Safari’ is their first LP recording together with the famous Nico Carstens Orchestra.
from the original liner notes by Anton De Waal of ‘On Safari’ Columbia 33JS 11011 South Africa
Three Petersen Brothers -Voom-Ba Voom
Three Petersen Brothers -Pondoland
Three Petersen Brothers -Jo’burg Samba
Nigel Crawford with the Gold Diggers
“Gold Rock (You’veGot to Dig, Dig, Dig for Gold)” isthe title of a 78 rpm by Nigel Crawford with the Gold Diggers. The song explains why a small settlement in Gauteng could grow into the famed capital of ‘eGoli’, a Zulu word meaning “place of gold”. Johannesburg could not be bettered as an appropriate locale for the story of all those who came starry eyed to the big city, chasing a dream.
Nigel Crawford with the Gold Diggers -Gold Rock
Nigel Crawford with the Gold Diggers -Hamba Lala (African Calypso)
John Massey and his Warriors -African Rock ‘n Roll