Two leading South African musicians, Hannes Coetzee of ‘Karoo Kitaar Blues’ fame, and multi-instrumentalist Pops Mohamed will join Grammy Award winning slide guitarist Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt on stage in a two city tour called Ragas of the Desert. The concert featuring Coetzee will take place on Saturday June 8 at 7.30pm at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, while the Mohamed featuring concert will take place at The Lyric Theatre, Gold Reef City in Johannesburg on Sunday June 9 at 4pm.
This is only the second musical collaboration between South Africa and India and promises to leave local audiences spellbound. This is part of a world tour for Bhatt, which started in Canada and USA in March, and comes to South Africa from Europe, before heading off to China.
Bhatt learnt Indian Classical Music from the legendary sitar virtuoso Pandit Ravi Shankar. He traces his origin back to Miyan Tansen, a court musician of the 16th century Mughal emperor Akbar, and Tansen’s guru, the mystic, Swami Haridas.
Bhatt has taken his version of the slide guitar, also called the Mohan Veena, to audiences across the globe.
He has attracted international acclaim and attention for his successful Indianisation of the Hawaiian guitar with his assimilation of sitar, sarod and veena (traditional Indian instruments) techniques, by giving it an evolutionary design and shape. He added 14 more strings to increase its potential and then was born the instrument the Mohan Veena which is now recognised as a true Indian Classical instrument. With his blinding speed and faultless legato, Bhatt is regarded one of the most expressive, versatile and greatest slide guitar players in the world.
Like his guru Pandit Ravi Shankar, Vishwa Mohan Bhatt is also a composer and innovator. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt won the coveted Grammy Award in 1994 in the category Best World Music Album for his album ‘A Meeting by the River’ with Ry Cooder. He has also collaborated with artistes like Taj Mahal, Béla Fleck, Jerry Douglas, and performed in the 2004 Crossroads Guitar Festival, organised by Eric Clapton.
Coetzee, who hails from Herbertsdale, met David Kramer in 2001 during the making of a programme on guitarists for local television. Since that meeting Coetzee, together with other musicians, joined Kramer in his award-winning production ‘Karoo Kitaar Blues’, in which marginalised and forgotten musicians were showcased, playing authentic “ou liedjies”. His right-hand finger picking style is called “optel en knyp” (pick up and pinch), and combined with his unique teaspoon slide technique, he ranks as one of the most unusual slide guitarists in the world. Coetzee’s composition Mahalla became a rage on YouTube and has since been included on an album by US folk group Carolina Chocolate Drops.
Mohamed is a well-travelled multi-instrumentalist, who has taken it upon himself to keep traditional sounds – from mbqanga to kwela and marabi – alive. He specialises in indigenous instruments; the Kora (a harp from West Africa), the Mbira (a thumb piano from Zimbabwe), the Didgeridoo (native to the Aboriginal people of Australia) and the Birimbau and the African Mouth Bow – developed by the South American Indians and the Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert respectively.
His ‘Kalamazoo’ and ‘Sophiatown’ albums, released in 1991 and 1992, were both nominated for Best Jazz Album in South Africa’s OKTV Awards. Mohamed is also a record producer, who has travelled widely recording ancient music and producing what has been labelled as World Music. Mohamed produced Moses Molelekwa’s double award winning album ‘Finding One’s Self’, which won both the Best Contemporary Jazz Album and Best Traditional Jazz Album in the 1996 FNB music awards.
Bhatt will be accompanied on the tour by the Manganiyars, a group of folk musicians from the desert in Rajasthan, who perhaps have the richest legacy of folk music behind them. With a characteristic vocal technique, full throated singing and an eclectic blend of rare folk instruments, their music is nothing short of magic.
* Tickets are available from Computicket.
WIN WIN WIN
5 lucky readers can win a pair of tickets to experience this magical evening of music. To enter simply email firstname.lastname@example.org with “Ragga” in the subject line. Entries close at 5pm on Thursday 6 Jun.