'Amuzed' - 06/03/98
Hullo (young legends, wherever you are!)
What a week it's been. Last Thursday I grabbed a bottle of Tequila and headed out to Gordon's Bay to spend the afternoon with one of my genuine South African musical idols, Koos "Van Dylan" Kombuis. Having left his "boemelaar" days behind him, Koos is now happilly ensconced in suburban and relationship bliss in "Madiba Bay" and is thinking of rescucitating his pre-musical career as a writer. As with Van Morrison's 'Tupelo Honey', Kombuis's recent 'Madiba Bay' album reflects his new-found domestic happiness. A report on the interview we did and the time we spent together will appear in a few weeks' time. In the meantime check out the pretty excellent Koos Kombuis website Bombskok Babelaas.
Then on Monday I finally understood that old "chaos theory" legend about that butterfly that flaps its wings in a forest in South America and generates a chain of events that some time and distance later is heard, felt or experienced on the other side of the world. In Decenber 1994, following a chance conversation about Rodriguez and his 'Cold Fact' album with an ex-South African on Camps Bay beach, I set out to find the missing Rodriguez album 'Coming From Reality/After The Fact' as well as the whereabouts of this cult '70s artist. I found the record at my friend Andre's house and that vinyl copy was used to press up the first CD copies of this album with liner notes by another friend, "Mad" Andy and myself. In these liner notes we appealed for any "musicologist detectives" out there to come forward and help us trace Rodriguez. Up popped Craig Bartholomew in Johannesburg who contacted us and initiated a search. Craig eventually tracked down Rodriguez and spoke to him. We in the meantime had set up a website dedicated to finding Rodriguez called The Great Rodriguez Hunt and a few weeks later we received an email on our web-board from Eva Rodriguez, the great man's daughter. When the Rodriguez family heard about the huge popularity in South Africa, plans were immediately begun to organise a tour.
On Monday I arrived at a guesthouse in Camps Bay, less than a kilometre from the beach where just over three years before I had had that chance conversation, and shook hands with Sixto Diaz Rodriguez. It was a wonderful and historic moment in my life and I am honoured and grateful to have been a small part in the process that resulted in his six-date tour of South Africa. This is an artist who has still not received the respect and rewards that he so truly deserves especially from his homeland, the USA, where he has never performed live in concert at all. Hopefully this tour is the beginning of a new era for him. There is mention of some new material for a new album to be released soon as well as the possibility of a live album from the South African tour. The full story of these events, "Sugar and the Sugarman" can be found at our Great Rodriguez Website. I can't wait for the concerts. It's a pity that Johnny Clegg and Juluka with Henry Ate are performing at the Three Arts on the same night as Rodriguez is on at the Belville Velodrome. Strange timing and planning?
Supporting and accompanying Rodriguez in his SA shows is the band Big Sky which is better described as Steve Louw and his muso friends. Steve heads out to Los Angeles once a year to record an album with the legendary (that word keeps cropping up this week, hey?) rock producer Shelley Yakus. Their 1997 album 'Horizon' was voted best SA rock album of the year and for once it was a surprisingly accurate choice. The latest Big Sky album 'Going Down With Mister Green' (subtle like a flying mallet title that, Steve!) is an equally strong album and the single 'Wasted' (trying to tell us something, Steve?) is receiving good airplay.
On a "green" note, Gauteng rockers Wonderboom (the references just keep on coming) did a Cape Town tour and missed an unplugged session to the annoyance of many fans. Lead singer Cito is at the centre of a controversy after being released from his duties as a teacher at a certain high school in Johannesburg known for its strict anti-drug stance. Cito was pictured topless (no problem with that as he is a male) performing some of of Wonderboom's songs which extol the virtues of the green weed. It seems Cito's work and play were at odds so he got fired for not setting a good example. Bill Clinton, however, is still the president of the US. Probably because he never inhaled, which is more that we can say for his Lewinsky associate.
Caught the Grammys last week as well. Strange ceremony that! Having the totally un-rock 'n roll Kelsey Grammer hosting the Grammys is like having Marilyn Manson (or Charles) hosting the Oscars. The Grammys tries to be everything to everybody and every style and ends up being a little saggy in the middle. There's this thing where an artist is asked to perform live at the awards and then coincidentally happens to be waiting in the wings as his or her category is the next to be announced. It's always such a big surprise when that artist wins the award - like, who would have guessed it? The Grammys organisers are always thrown into a quandary when Eric Clapton doesn't release anything that particular year. If he does then he's a shoo-in for seven or so awards but when he's not around then artists like Paula Cole, Shawn Colvin and Will Smith get their 15 minutes.
Babyface always brings a truck for his awards and some old timers win achievement awards for mostly still being alive and able to walk on to the stage. Like Bob Dylan, who had the nachas of watching his son Jakob also pick up some kudos. Bob, being a winner of three awards, had to give the obligatory live performance and landed up looking like Liberace at a Dylan karaoke party. Making his backing musicians look like complete idiots by refusing to play and sing at the same time as them, the only event that rosed Bob out of his 'Lovesick' stupor was an unplanned appearance by a half-nude and graffitied mime artist who suddenly appeared at his side. Later, in his acceptance speech, Dylan namechecked Buddy Holly, whom he had seen perform in Duluth back in the '50s. Rumour has it the the young Lennon and McCartney lads had also seen Buddy Holly when he toured England just prior to this. R Kelly did this over-the-top performance of his 'I Believe I Can Fly' number and one wag shouted out: "So go up on the balcony and try it pal!"
This week in Reviews we feature the two Ry Cooder influenced Cuban CDs, Buena Vista Social Club and Introducing Ruben Gonzalez. There's new stuff on our relevant and irreverent Film section and all the local and soon to be national live music news at the Gig Guide. There is a whole bunch of new SA CD releases at One World, our specialist SA online CD store. We are almost ready with our Show Must Go Online section where you contribute a short and sweet review of any show, movie, CD, play or stripshow that moved you to put your aroused feelings on paper. Those contributions, as well as your usual opinions, press releases, offers of bribes and gratuities and free lunches, news, views and love and hate-mail, can be emailed to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. "Just don't tell me bout your success, nor your recipe for my happiness…"
See you at the "Hot Rod" show!
Stephen 'Sugar' Segerman
My five favourite musical opuses of the week are:
Belle and Sebastian: 'If You're Feeling Sinister'
Leonard Cohen's kids backed by The Beautiful South.
The Charlatans: 'Tellin' Stories'
The Charlatans: 'Melting Pot'
The latest and the greatest from the slightly better Oasis-type band.
Juluka: 'Universal Men'
Their first and, in my opinion, still their very best album ever. 'Deliwe' still speaks eloquently of all those South Africans who had to leave the land they loved.
Squeal: 'Man and Woman'
It's amazing what you can learn from a Sunday newspaper magazine. Like that David Birch played for punkers the Vibrators and his boet is Rob B from the Stereo MCs. This rocking album just keeps getting better.
by stephen 'Sugar' Segerman
The Original Evergreen
Qkumba Zoo online interview
Theatre Sports interview
Honeymoon Suites interview
Scabby Annie interview
Elephant Sun interview