By Martin Myers
The City of Cape Town, with its 3.7 million residents, has decidedly fewer dedicated and focused original live music venues than most other major cities in the country.
A couple of years ago a vibrant campus circuit existed that had a steady flow of events throughout the year. UCT had regular shows at Jameson Hall and Yellow Level.
The late Robbie Jansen and Basil Coetzee were amongst those that did regular shows, as did Savuka and éVoid. Stellenbosch had the Neelsie and UWC hosted huge festivals on the grounds of the campus. Today it’s all gone, and you have to wonder why.
In the CBD of Cape Town we have the live music venues, Straight no Chaser (a fantastic space), The Crypt, as well as Mercury Live and the Assembly. There’s also Manenberg’s Jazz Cafe in Strand Street.
The granddaddies of them all are Club Galaxy and Westend in Rylands, celebrating 36 years in business this year – an extraordinary feat on all levels. The theatre spaces host music, when space allows, and a number of small acoustic spots like Alma Café are stalwart favourites amongst the fiercely loyal local music fraternity.
Gone are Indaba, The Base, The Space, The Playground, Rita’s, Inxes, Space Odyssey, The Purple Turtle and many more.
So what is going on? Is the South African support of live, original music in such a state that fans only go to festivals and not smaller venues on a regular basis? There’s no doubt that we need a new generation of local music lovers to be fostered. One way to instill pride and foster a love of music at a young age is for local schools to host former students who have made a name for themselves in the music business in the school hall to raise much needed funds. Who knows; this could even lead to the next Cindy Alter, or Cindy Alters.
The bigger conundrum as to why the number of fans attending live shows is dwindling remains unanswered. Is there currently not a single band, group or singular singer/songwriter in South Africa that can fill a major Arena in South Africa by themselves? The answer’s simply no.
Who are the next Bra Hugh, Ray Phiri and Stimela, Johnny Clegg, Tribe After Tribe, Hotline, Seether, Parlatones, Prime Circle, Freshlyground, Goldfish, Mango Groove, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Harari, Ringo, Sankamoto, Ladysmith, Hotstix Mabuse, Tananas and Mafizikizilo? That’s a lot to take in and contemplate, but it’s an even bigger opportunity for young talent to steal the silence and fill it with extraordinary, life-changing music that will, like all of the names listed here, play on in perpetuity.
Gig of the week
On Sunday February 15, R80 gets you in to see Kalahari Connection consisting of musicians Alistair Andrews, Bongani Blax Sotshononda, Bennedict de Maar, Barry Van Zyl and Quintin “Jitsvinger” Goliath at Plebs, 61 Durban Road in Mowbray. The gig kicks off at 7.30pm.
‘Music and lights in 140 characters’ with Cindy Alter
Cindy Alter is one of South Africa’s most successful and respected musicians. She fronted Clout in the seventies and had a global smash hit with ‘Substitute’ and sold 12 million albums. Cindy has 12 albums under her belt and is working on a solo album. She is a cancer survivor and her autobiography ‘No Substitute’ is out in April.
How are you?
I’m feeling good, ready to start a new phase of my life.
It’s your round what are you drinking?
The song you wished you wrote?
‘Stay with me’ – Sam Smith
Dream gig to do?
Madison Square Gardens
What makes you stand out?
My connection with the audience
If you were not a musician, what would you do?
Pick five words to describe your band.
Strong, Steady, Emotional, Exciting, Fun
3 South African desert island discs?
Clout’s Greatest Hits
Anything by Just Jinger
Anything by Brenda Fassie
Greatest movie ever made?
Who do you love?
Too many to mention.
What do you complain about most often?
The way people drive.
What is your fear?
That I may not get to do all the things I want before I die.
Sitting on my couch watching a great movie.
On stage I tend to…
Be in my natural habitat.
What are you doing next?
Releasing a book and a solo album.
# Music Exchange