It was a week of much and diverse live performance last week. I emceed TheatreSports on Monday, played on Tuesday, went to The Rocky Horror Picture Show (amazeballs) on Wednesday, did a double feature of Vigil and The Year of the Bicycle on Saturday and last night I went to clarinetist David Krakauer playing with SA klezmer band Play With Fire.
So, there was a lot to digest. But last night blew me away. A full house in the Baxter’s main theatre for klezmer music? Yes! And it was a totally transcendent, magical, crazy experience. I don’t see enough live music anymore but this has given me inspiration. It was extraordinary and I am so glad I went.
In a moment of proper synchronicity Jaci and I discovered that one of our mutual demi-heroes would be performing one night in NYC while we were here. It was last night. Dan Bern at The Beekman Beer Garden, on the South Side Sea Port, on the water, with a brilliant view of the Brooklyn Bridge.
We got there really early; in time to see Dan and family having a pre show meal at one of the tables and benches under the little white marquee. The concert was a fundraiser for the Big Apple Greeters, a group of volunteers who show out of towners around. Delicious. As Dan himself said, “What’s not to support?”
As the sun went down and the lights of the city (the still to be completed No 1 World Trade building in stripes of red, white and blue) got turned on, Dan and his band came onto stage and played to us. It was such a brilliant, laid back concert, with a group of the most diverse, arbitrary, strange and gorgeous Dan Bern fans. Jaci described it as real bliss.
Afterwards we told Dan, as he signed our new CD covers with his daughter in his other arm, that we were from South Africa, and he mentioned his song Cape Town on his new album Drifter.
Picture this. It is 1983. I have jumped down the stairs into the cavern basement smoke of The Mix. I am in first year at ‘varsity and my Cape Town is a triangle between main campus, Drama school in Gardens, and Shortmarket Street, where The Mix is. It is a Friday or Saturday night and Ella Mental are playing live. I can barely contain myself. The band starts up and a new wave/spidergirl/chameleon/warpainted/cousin of Adam Ant/jerky dancing magician arrives on stage. And then there is the voice. That voice.
Ella Mental sang out my youth, my South Africa, my creative passions. Ella Mental was the band version of what I wanted to do on stage. Heather Mac was exactly who I wanted to be.
Today I have just come back from a rehearsal with Heather Mac and her new band as they put final touches to the show that launches her new album, Within, tomorrow night at The Baxter. And, I was standing in a doorway, listening to them, and I got that feeling again. I can only describe it as sheer inspiration connection. Obviously, the songs are much more grown up, the mood has shifted, some stuff is mellower, more layered, more loaded. But, there was a moment, with even her back to me, I was transported. I went straight to that magic, Heather Mac of my youngness, and I fell in love all over again.
Join me when I celebrate tomorrow night at The Baxter!
It goes with working in the industry; I have amazing and talented friends. Trevor du Buisson happens to be one of them. He is a superb musician who I have had the privilege of working and playing with for over 15 years. He is a brilliant composer, fabulous performer, amazing accompanist, backing track maker, in fact, he can do most things musical. Most recently he made a brilliant and hilarious backing track for my latest industrial theatre show.
He has also entered a submission into a competition on indaba music where he remixed a track. I have listened to it and voted, because I think he has done a great job. And now, here is my experiment. I want meganshead readers to check it out and vote for him. It isn’t complicated. Go to the link. Vote for Trev. Make me happy.
I swear, if it wasn’t for Big Friendly I would be a forty something music heathen; one of those people who last bought and listened to music in the early nineties. He is amazing. If I say I like the sound of something he’ll find out the who, where, when and how for me, even if it’s an obscure song, in a soundtrack of a movie.
Last night we were channel surfing and we watched a bit of Jools Holland. There was this amazing, weird band with the lead singer singing in English and Italian, a piano accordion player and strange percussion, and it was fantastic. I heard a weird Russian sounding name. That’s all I had to go on, and off Big Friendly went, to find me the band. Not two minutes later he was introducing me to Devotchka, my new favourite band.
They are described in Wikkipedia as a four-piece multi-instrumental and vocal ensemble that fuses Romani, Greek, Slavic, Bolero, Mariachi music with American punk and folk roots. How brilliant?
I feel like I am being musically reeducated. There is so much stuff out there that I am discovering, connecting with and absolutely loving. It’s inspiring. Music has a way of going directly to the heart and soul, and this kind of music speaks a very ancient soul language to me.
Big Friendly also introduced me to Wolfmother, an Aussie Rock band with good vocals and a nice clean rock sound. Now I just have to get over calling them Motherwolf, in that embarrassing totally uncool way that old people mess up the names of bands, the interweb, movie titles and other hip cool stuff!
One of the upsides of having a job related to the 2010 World Cup is that I am finding out some amazing things. I am doing quite intense research and am full of facts, figures and interesting bits and pieces, giving me huge insight into a world I know little about. The great visuals on youtube are really inspiring, but it’s the music I have fallen in love with! My absolute favourite is Algerian Cheb Bilal’s Bafana song. I love Arab/Middle East/North African music with a passion, and this one is a classic; and it’s called Bafana.