February is a crazy month for awards shows right around the globe. The leading shows are the Grammy Awards, which I am sure will be filled with heartfelt tributes to Natalie Cole, David Bowie and Glenn Frey; never mind the Oscars, which will pay tribute to excellence on the big screen. In South Africa, the Metro FM Music Awards will hand out a sizable chunk of taxpayer’s money, along with statues to the winners, making the month of love a big one on a whole host of levels. Of the latter, I’ve heard it rumoured the prize value, for winning (per category) currently sits at around R100000 a pop. Now does that make sense? Big cash for Metro FM defined winners? Surely the award, and associated PR, should be enough to propel your sales in the right direction? Yes, we all know the goodie bags at the Academy Awards are enough to pay off your bond (especially when you convert dollars to rand) but those bags don’t get flung around to buy votes, do they?
We have also just had the legendary US Super Bowl half time show, with writers like Los Angeles-based music authority Bob Lefsetz giving it a full go, and canning the show’s lead act, Coldplay, in the process. I quote: “Chris Martin looked like a dork. And although the video stage was cool, he and his band’s music never lit up the joint. And the diversions looked like something from the June Taylor Dancers, but Jackie Gleason would want nothing to do with them. You could barely hear the vocals and you had the nincompoop teens running out to swarm the stage, even though they were barely conscious the last time the band had a hit. It was a celebration the audience was left out of. You could do nothing but sit there and wonder why anybody cared.”
That is until Bruno Mars took to the stage…
Mars knew it was not about music, so much as show, and he delivered! Slinking around on stage with his backup singers, you were energised and enticed. It may have been meaningless, but at least it was satisfying. Music is like pornography – you know it when you see it. And Mars was the only person on stage that seemed to come from the music business.
Beyoncé came from the gym. She was working so hard that when she aligned with Chris and Bruno, in the finale, she was nearly too exhausted to participate in any meaningful way. She too missed the message. 2016 isn’t about revelling in your excellence, with fans adoring you from afar. It’s all about embracing your audience. I’m not in the best of shapes, and most Americans aren’t either. Watching Beyoncé was like watching an Olympian – you respected her, but you just could not warm up to the physical commitment. Never mind the chutzpah to perform her new song. too. I give her credit, for that, actually. The audience was unfamiliar with most of Coldplay’s material, for the most part, so what difference did it make? Did it help Coldplay and Beyoncé sell tickets to their tours?
My point being that, by quoting the quotes above, we highlight that we are all in a global village, and reviews like this, backed up, are an inspiration to read.
We need that regular, critical, voice in reviews in South Africa, in order to make the creative sector more critical of the work they produce. Too often we accept mediocrity as the norm, and, ironically, most of the audience is oblivious to that fact too.
On a lighter note, an iconic South African artist Sibongile Khumalo has just released a new album called ‘Breath of Life’, and hopefully the electronic music exponent Sibot puts more music into the market, as his set at the Cape Town Electronic Music Festival amazed and delighted everyone involved.
(picture: Sibongile Khumalo has just released her first album in seven years)
Gigs of the week
The venue Straight no Chaser (SNC) in Cape Town is like what the Orbit is in Johannesburg and this weekend the lineup is stellar at SNC, situated at 79 Buitenkant Street.
All In One: Friday February 12
Steve Newman, Errol Dyers and Hilton Schilder are all respected masters of their own music. Together, they are the band All in One.
Newman is a master guitarist who has toured the globe with his award-winning band Tananas,
Dyers, who also writes plays, stories and poems, is credited as one of the pioneers of the distinctly Cape Jazz Goema sound.
Schilder is a Cape Town born multi-instrumentalist who has gained much respect as a pianist and composer. He also plays various other western and indigenous instruments
With Dyers and Newman on guitar and Schilder on percussion, they will perform their own compositions, and will also add a few more unique instruments to tell musical stories that originated in Cape Town’s District 6 and, like them, have made its journey all over the world to defy categorization.
Sets at 8.30pm and 10pm.
Admission: R80 per set, or R140 all night.
Derek Gripper: Saturday, February 13
A sonic adventurer, Derek Gripper works in the slipstream of traditional African music and European classical, crafting a captivating blend of reinterpreted standards, original compositions and improvisations solely with an acoustic guitar.
For the first set, guitarist Derek Gripper will perform music from ‘One Night on Earth’, his most recent album which includes Kora music from Mali played on acoustic guitar. For the second set, guitarist Reza Khota to perform music from Mali, will join Derek.
Sets at 8.30pm and 10pm.
Admission: R80 per set or R140 per night
Bookings are essential. Text/WhatsApp: 076 679 2697 with your name, number of seats and preferred set.
Upcoming Highlight next week is the fantastic Bokani Dyer on Tuesday February 16