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Mr Cat and The Jackal

Original Pirate Material

by Robin Scher / 23.11.2010

As we descended deeper into the heart of Brackenfell, evidently very lost, I assured my travelling companions who I had convinced to venture out of the confines of the City Bowl that “it would be worth it.” A few phone calls, a stop at a garage and scenic tour of the countryside later we arrive at our venue – the Hazendal Plaasteater. The mere fact that the band we are here to watch regularly choose this out-of-the-way location as a favourite gigging spot, is just a small indication of the kind of cult following they attract.

The Plaasteater is an old converted barn come live music venue, illuminated by lamps and providing a tavern-esque intimacy. Tombstone Pete starts things off with his brand of ‘percussive guitar’. Pete is entertaining to watch as his hands move quickly over the acoustic, playing the strings whilst tapping the beat on the guitar. If I hadn’t seen Gary Thomas or Guy Buttery before I would have been more impressed, nonetheless Pete wins the audience over with his charm and bad jokes.

The stage, scattered with a plethora of instruments, then proceeds to dim and onto it step the group of pirate-folk minstrels and the real drawcard for venturing this deep behind the boerewors curtain – Mr Cat and the Jackal. The set opens with an intro courtesy of a saw and a violin bow, eeking out a haunting melody that establishes from the start that this is going to be far from your typical four chord pop song. The band then erupts into whatever it is that folk drenched in rum would sound like. Gertjie, aka Mr Cat, howls into the microphone theatrically, and we set sail, for a brief moment you could mistake the theatre for being the innards of a ship on the high seas. From this first song, the band holds the audience with a firm grip that doesn’t let go until the last note.

With each passing song, the players switch roles. Gertjie transitions from guitar and lead vocals to accordion. Jacques ‘The Jackal’ moves from saw, to lap steel guitar to vocals. JC moves between bass guitar and percussion. The other two remaining members maintain an intricate and creative rhythm using everything from a Jamaican steel drum to a number plate and a stick. If there’s one thing this band is far from lacking its monotony. The songs range from the piratey chant of ‘Walk the Plank’ to an acapella bluegrass number.

If I had to find any fault with the evening it was with the fact that the venue, being a theatre, didn’t allow for a crowd to stand near the front of the stage. Having to sit down whilst watching these guys is comparable to copulating through a sheet – Mr Cat and the Jackal is a band that needs to be enjoyed viscerally, as close as possible to the stage with little restraint. If you consider yourself well versed in the Cape Town music scene but haven’t seen these guys yet – then you’re watching the wrong bands.

As we prepared to nervously try navigate our way back to the Southern Suburbs we were accosted by a drunken, Down Syndrome midget. I kid you not. As strange a sight as this was it somehow resonated accurately with the show Mr Cat and the Jackal had just put on – not something you see every day.

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RESPONSES (16)
  1. Rog says:

    I saw them open for the Easy Star All Stars at Assembly a few weeks back. They were fantastic. Great review. Spot on.

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  2. Withaak says:

    Snap, saw ’em open for the Easies. Fucking great, can’t wait to see them again.

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  3. dr dre says:

    these guys are incredible!!!!

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  4. loose moose says:

    I have never seen anything like this. They are by far the best thing to come out of SA since Mango Groove.

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  5. Aaar says:

    Billions of blistering barnicles but these shipmates are yo ho ho 😉

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  6. marlize says:

    Great, keep up the good work!

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  7. mick says:

    Naas. Woulda been great via a loooonger more into-the-rum-swaying depths piece!

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  8. Adriaan Bergh says:

    Whoever is giving every comment a “kak”, is a City Bowl asshole who can’t stand anything good that comes from outside his little over-rated backyard. Cape Town folks from the CBD and Southern Suburbs need to open their bloody minds. There is more to Cape Town than your trendy restaurants and overpriced apparel stores in Long Street.

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  9. marlize says:

    Good show. You have to see Mr C & J. Real music not main streem mumbn jumbo!

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  10. marlize says:

    Good show. You have to see Mr C & J. Real music not main streem mumbo jumbo!

    Mr C&J is creating music from the sole and what they belive in.

    Keep up the great work boys. We are watching you! Soring to greater hights!

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  11. marlize says:

    Good show. You have to see Mr C & J. Real music not main streem mumbo jumbo!

    Mr C&J is creating music from the sole and what they believe in.

    Keep up the great work boys. We are watching you! Soring to greater hights!

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  12. dude, what? says:

    I want the new CD!

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  13. heino says:

    this band is always entertaining – and their use of instruments incredible.
    oh, and really cool heading for the article, by the way.

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  14. Laura says:

    Funnn times!

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  15. Gus says:

    I saw them at Strab last year. I bought their album the next day. It’s the first CD I’ve bought in two years. Best band of the festival.

    Sadly, however, it seems they don’t play much outside the Western Cape. Joburg needs Mr C and the J’s pirate folk too, okay?

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  16. Anonymous says:

    JHB has their own Gus… The Sunday Punchers.

    They should both be touring and playing shows IMHO

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