Two of the most powerful, positive catalysts in a person’s make up are music and sport.
I bring up the point as a friend of mine, Mike Greenaway, one of the foremost rugby writers in South Africa (he wrote John Smit’s best-selling book ‘Captain in the Cauldron’), wrote a piece this week about my number one passion, rugby.
He penned how the All Blacks (the team I love and have been supporting since childhood) lost a game against the Springboks in 2006 in the less than salubrious surrounds of the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg.
I was at the game with Mike and remember every last detail, including the crazy after party, and it got me thinking about the parallels with great music performances.
What musical memory do you have that is as clear as daylight as that rugby game in 2006 was for me? All the stars aligned – the game was a truly memorable once-off, never to be repeated in quite the same way again by those world-class athletes.
Music and performance does the same thing to the human spirit. Think of that first slow dance, and the party hits in your final year at school. Whatever the year may have been, those hits and memories will always stay with you.
My question is, are those performances, the songs I talk about, a distant memory due to way we consume music nowadays? Or are artists in South Africa not pushing the creative co-operation button hard enough?
A selection of music shows that stand out for me while I was growing up include Juluka at UCT’S Jameson Hall; Stimela and Ladysmith Black Mambazo on their ‘Unfinished Story’ tour; David Kramer at Red Level at UCT; never mind the gigs at The Base, situated at 88 Shortmarket Street, where the likes of Sakhile, Bayete, Don Laka and Basil “Mannenberg” Coetzee played. Add Yossour N Dour, at the then North Sea Jazz Festival at the Good Hope Centre; and to top it all, Shaun Morgan from Seether, at the height of his powers, doing a solo acoustic show at Mercury Live to 500 people.
These shows I mention all had something special that captivated the audience and which are still talked about today by aficionados who where happy to be at the right place at the right time (like my Rustenburg rugby jol).
Recently saxophonist Don Vino Prins, who can blow a tune or two, impressed me immensely, but he now needs to find that original song to carry him to a broader audience. Frank Paco is another name, along with Buddy Wells and Moreira Chonguica. These are just some of the names audiences across the Western Cape should seek out and whose music they should immerse themselves in. You’re bound to catch a show from one of these artists that is so powerful that it’s committed to memory and fondly remembered over and over again infinitum.