By Martin Myers
The famous saying by Hunter S Thompson that starts with the words, “The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench,” often rings true, but almost as often artists plot against themselves without realizing it, and here attitude comes into play. There are numerous paths to success, but one thing that cannot be removed from the equation is hard work. (And yes; a smidgen of luck does play a part too.) Talent counts, but graft is almost as important. What counted in the past pretty much still applies today: all you need is a great song. A hit can change your life forever, but often those hits require a degree of trial and error to stumble upon. Fortitude, brother; commitment, sister!
The flipside is a never-ending blame game and hand out mentality, where artists believe they are owed more by society. When this happens they become their own worst enemy.
Only this week I had a keyboard player for an awards evening show up sans his keyboard stand, as well as a peddle-less guitarist. What compounded the drama was the fact that the latter player arrived a cool 30 minutes late, nearly causing the whole group to be late for flights. Then you have a band that’s asked, by a client, to do two songs and they then take it upon themselves do their own thing and change the running order. Well, it doesn’t work like that.
Artists also look to blame radio for the lack of airplay of their product. Yet, so often, the presentation and effort in submitting songs are so mediocre, and the production so poor, that airplay is simply not a realistic expectation.
This leads me to focus on a young woman by the name of Siphokazi Jonas, a UCT graduate, and former Queenstown local, who holds a Masters degree in English literature, as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree in Drama and English. She is doing everything herself, and not waiting for anyone to push her career forward.
This vital and voracious poet has been pushing the envelope in the work she has been producing over the past few months, and has been featured in the Inzync Poetry Sessions in Stellenbosch, and has been an opening act for American poets Ezekiel Azonwu, Janette Ikz and Alysia Harris.
Musicians should be knocking on her door, asking her for lines, phrases or ideas to help with the songwriting process. Working in a group has always been more rewarding and surely, as an artist, you want to be pushing the envelope.
Respect and always remaining humble towards the source are of key importance. With no stage there can be no audience. And with no audience, no career, so I urge all artists to take ownership of and responsibility for their creative fates. The alternative – a sniveling ingrate, expecting a free ride to the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame – is too unattractive a specimen to dwell on.
Shows of the week:
• We go Stereo this week, namely “Cape Town Experience” – The Launch of the first high definition CD recording of the Cathedral’s magnificent Hill Organ, played by Grant Bräsler.
Catch the action on Friday, February 27, at 7.30pm pm at St Georges Cathedral in Wale Street.
CDs will be available to purchase at a special price of R150 at the show.
• Siphokazi Jonas will present her debut solo poetry show on Saturday, February 28, at 45 Kerk Straat, Amandelrug in Kuilsrivier at 7.30pm.
Fruit Vendor and Keanu Harker will provide vocals and instrumental accompaniment on the night.
Tickets cost R60 and guests are requested to bring some non-perishable food that will be donated to a 76-year-old grandmother taking care of seven orphaned children in Lwandle, Strand.
# Music Exchange