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Raka n Rollers

Raka ‘n Rollas

by Eloise and Jezebel / 19.02.2010

It’s the end of the Raka 2010 weekend. Eloise and I are sitting on the floor in the lounge, comparing the cleanliness (or lack thereof) of our souls and our soles. It’s late, we’re tired, and after all that music in a magical setting, we’re inspired.

We like our laager in a cup

We like our laager in a cup

Eloise: I didn’t wear shoes once this weekend.
Jezebel: I didn’t wear underwear once. And I swam more in two days than I did all summer! Do you know what it’s like to listen to Black Cat Bones live while you swim downstream?
E: No.
J: Oh ja. You didn’t swim. WHY? Are you allergic to water?
E: No, I nearly slaughtered myself trying to shave my bikini line with your blunt razor. (I hope my bikini line doesn’t come up if prospective employers Google me.)
J: Oh em gee. I packed in a rush, sorry. But that reminds me of something else that was icky – I was getting out of the water this one time and I heard this boy say “ek dink ek’t in die water gepoef” – and I’m like, “he THINKS?”
E: Die jeug van vandag. Geen respek.
J: No but. I was out already. It’s a brilliant festival for families. Free range kids around sane adults. All that lawn. It worked beautifully. The vibe was right.
E: Unlike at Up The Creek where kids were sitting in their pyjamas looking around for their parents.
J: Who were probably tripping down the hill. Or up it. What did you think of The Bones, anyway?
E: I thought they had an unfortunate slot – first band Sunday morning. I would’ve preferred to wake up to something a bit more soothing. Like Manouche on Saturday morning. Besides, I’m biased. The lead singer pinched me.
J: So you prefer violent tangos and French bistro bars over naughty, dirty hill billy goats? Tsk tsk. I’ll take the raspy Bones any day – rough, but real. Manouche’s accordion player should sing more. She’s got a lilt I like.
E: And Mandi Lizamore! I thought I was a redhead devotee after seeing Hayley Williams sing for the first time, but Mandi’s converted me to pink.

Gregory Thompson and Mandi Lizamore, the belle of them all

Gregory Thompson and Mandi Lizamore, the belle of them all

J: And those eyes. And that voice. And my heart. Oh my god. The timbre of forty-something Southern blues belle and the innocence of a four year old. Fresh Meat.
E: There’s going to be a blood bath of artists fighting over her. Her collaboration with Johannine broke my heart.
J: That set was world class. I’ve heard Jonathan Velthuysen playing before – mandolin blues under a loquat tree. And singing in The Lua Union, demure-like, no bravado – backing vocals and bass. But the way he marries the vocal melodies and the guitar and the SILENCES in his own compositions. Superb. Unrushed. Meditative. My, my.

E: Mm – melancholic. Almost. I think he’s an amazing song writer. They should collaborate more.

Neil Basson

Neil Basson

L-R : Basson Laubser(and the Violent Freepeace), Beitel Van Der Merwe (Zinkplaat) and Jaco “Mr”. Mans (Tidal Waves)

L-R : Basson Laubser(and the Violent Freepeace), Beitel Van Der Merwe (Zinkplaat) and Jaco “Mr”. Mans (Tidal Waves)

J: Ja. It’s the bands rearranging or reinterpreting their material especially for the fest and the collaborations that stay with me the most. Remember BasSondag – there were players from more than four different bands participating in the closing jams. Ok, covers, but still. An excess of talent in one take. I mean, for a Gun to fall out of bed onto the drum stool and syncopate something none of them had even practised…I was stunned.

Gerald Clark, Beitel Van Der Merwe and Basson get it on uBuntu style

Gerald Clark, Beitel Van Der Merwe and Basson get it on uBuntu style

E: Ja, it really shows which musicians are versatile – both in their genres and instruments.
J: Why was everyone so surprised when Jakes jammed that keyboard? You’d think people would guess that the legend of Tidal Waves can fiddle a few blue notes. Beer kept changing his weapons of mass seduction, and Basson bobbed around between a bass and a solo guitar.
E: Don’t you mean lead guitar?


BasSolo, The Guitar God (aka Basson Laubser when he’s in the water)

basSolo, The Guitar God (aka Basson Laubser when he’s in the water)

J: BasSolo, baby. That’s his style. Even on bass. He treats his instruments like men should treat a woman’s body. I mean, apart from putting it above his head and biting it. Although… ag, anyway, it was Albert Frost and Gerald Clarke who had me speechless. Such a brilliantly complimentary combination. Show stealers so special they know they can arrive late and we’ll still swoon.
E: And the backup band, “Basson and Basson” really stole Ryno Velvet’s stage. When was that? Friday night.
J: Ja. FotoPlaat – Neil Basson from Foto Na Dans plus Basson Laubser from Zinkplaat. They made that set for me. Not so sure about that vocalist, though. All guts and but no story.
E: Was good to see Neil getting his country on. Strumming acoustic, doubling up the drumming, even slapping a tambourine around during Zinkplaat’s set.You know, statistically there’s a high probability that any one of Zinkplaat’s members will be on stage at any given moment at Raka– and that’s what we love about them.
J: Ja-no. They’re the foundation of the festival. Raka’s really special for music lovers and musicians; a line-up that knows what it loves, and who loves it. It’s got a good sound rig (in fact, the best at a fest so far) right next to the river …the quality, the content; it’s like family.
E: It’s almost incestuous.
J: Incestuous, infectious – it’s a small industry. With loads of new talent lately. Like Youth. They sounded like an amalgamation of New Holland and aKING, strangely enough. Or maybe not so strangely – they’re young; hearts on their sleeves, TeeJay’s melodic hooks in their fingers, and Laudo’s soaring crescendos on their tongues. If not his earth-deep bass notes…
E: The vocalist did a good job of carrying a strong and original set with a young band.
J: Original? I think it’s still heavily influenced by its predecessors.
E: Ok, I think they can go far with a bit of maturing on the song writing front. Although The Pretty Blue Guns show that youth does not necessarily have to equal musical immaturity.

Handsfree: Gregory Thompson and Lucas Swart (The Pretty Blue Guns)

Handsfree: Gregory Thompson and Lucas Swart (The Pretty Blue Guns)


J: Yeah. Now only adulthood is an excuse for immaturity. And …The Guns! Finally showed us they can.
E: can what?
J: Can probably anything they want. Their rearrangements underlined what I like most about an acoustic festival – the improvisation, the innovation, the invitation to experience a familiar sound differently. I was so surprised. Stunned. It’s about time they flared those feathers. The songs have hinted at it for ages, but the makeover they gave them really let more of their musicality through.
E: The last song that André did on his own was exceptional.

The exceptional André Leo (The Pretty Blue Guns)

The exceptional André Leo (The Pretty Blue Guns)

Rattle your bones, rattle your cage (André Leo, The Pretty Blue Guns)

Rattle your bones, rattle your cage (André Leo, The Pretty Blue Guns)

J: Its poignancy puts a lot of other local song lyrics to shame, really. Tom Waits and Johnny Cash would be proud. Did you know it’s about a local girl who was raped and murdered by someone she knew?
E: Wow. No. Well, then, that just shows how mature they are, to handle subject matter like that so sensitively.
J: Speaking of sensitive, what about that guy who spent most of Friday night singing at the campsite?
E: who, Hugo Brand?
J: mm. éF-éL ‘s former drummer. He could claim a place on any number of commercial playlists and in any number of teen hearts with his voice. Not my taste, but talented.
E: And Louwtjie “Loopstation” Rothman. I missed ‘SA’s Got Talent’, so I’d never heard of him before Raka. I was blown away by his set.

Louwtjie “Loopstation” Rothman:  aNEW king on the block

Louwtjie “Loopstation” Rothman: aNEW king on the block



Louwtjie “Loopstation” Rothman : aNEW king on the block

J: It’s a nice party trick, composing layers to a live crowd, but it’s not new. What moved you so much about it? I mean, I can see why one’d get excited about Mr. Cat & The Jackal – they’re wild and these days they’re tighter than a tannie’s lips when you say ‘shit’. THAT blew me away. But lovely lips blew you?

Crackling Gertjie Besselsen (Mr. Cat & The Jackal)

Crackling Gertjie Besselsen (Mr. Cat & The Jackal)

What a spectacle - Pierre-Arnold Theron (Mr. Cat & The Jackal)

What a spectacle - Pierre-Arnold Theron (Mr. Cat & The Jackal)

Dr. Jekyll… Jacques du Plessis (Mr Cat & The Jackal)

Dr. Jekyll… Jacques du Plessis (Mr Cat & The Jackal)

And Mr Hyde - Jacques du Plessis (Mr Cat & The Jackal)

And Mr Hyde - Jacques du Plessis (Mr Cat & The Jackal)

E: Listen, I cried in the trailer of August Rush; obviously finger tapping is an emotional trigger for me. Many guitarists pointed out that all the electronic effects sound a lot more impressive than they really are, but I don’t see his technically brilliant set as being obscured with smoke and mirrors. YOU try performing live and having your mistakes looped over and over and over and over.

Jacob 'Zakes' Wulana is a LEGEND (Tidal Waves)

Jacob 'Zakes' Wulana is a LEGEND (Tidal Waves)

J: I don’t sound very original but the one thing I never ever, ever, ever get tired of is Tidal Waves. There’s always so much energy and poise in their sets. And their song writing is decidedly deceptive – simple, but so strong. They were worth waiting up for.

Abrie Mmakola on keys (Tidal Waves)

Abrie Mmakola on keys (Tidal Waves)

E: It was quite a nice pairing, Hot Water following Tidal Waves. A nice way to end the night. Or at least my night.

Donovan Copley (Hot Water)

Donovan Copley (Hot Water)

J: Mm. I love the dreaminess of festivals. Though depending on who (or how) you are, it’s possibly less a hangover or sleeplessness that’s responsible, and more a result of snorting sand (like Oupa) or eating chicken that’s been out in the sun all day (with a bito buns). And it can lead to broad-minded balladeers suddenly singing ‘jy maak my styf’ and ‘something something jou lyf’. Can you fit Raka in a Twitter post?
E: “@Raka you’re more likely to bump into an old friend than to score a random. It’s clean. It’s the type of fest you can take a sceptic to.” 
And you?
J: “Raka is so much more than a local, acoustic festival for music lovers. It’s a state of mind that keeps you singing long after the last song.” 
Your best moment?
E: When I shut you up so I could listen to Louwtjie Rothman.
J: Mine was when you ran like a girl to listen to Gary Thomas. After driving like a woman to get there on time for his slot while I put up the invisible tent. Was it worth it?
E: You should ask the trigger happy boys who were in the car with us – they certainly thought so.

Eloise and Jezebel do agree on one thing: this weekend is exactly what the hosts De Plate Kompanje (DPK) stands for – good vibes, good friends, good music. Its charm reaches beyond the audience and into its relations with the men and women who make it all possible – the musicians. In the spirit of uBuntu , DPK members are willing to be the organisers and the performers, to share the stage with colleagues and competitors alike. In so doing, DPK createsa unique space in the festival landscape for true quality and a place in the South African music scene for true love.

All photos © Eloise the classically trained Plus One.

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RESPONSES (15)
  1. gustav says:

    exceptional review/report hierdie … ek was daar … that’s how it was! Thnx!

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  2. Martijn says:

    Nice foto’s! Sal definitief vir Lize meer laat sing, sy het ‘n fantastiese stem.

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  3. Annie says:

    Love the fresh way the review is written. Well done, girls! It really captures the fest. Can’t wait for next year.

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  4. Stephan says:

    This review is pretty cool, but the thing is just that thing they said about Youth, about their originality. I’m the lead singer of the band and in the band’s defence, I’ve been writing songs like these long before aKing or New Holland came on the scene, maybe it’s because I’m from belville, or maybe it’s just the vibe I grew up in, who knows, and the mind sees and hears only what it wants to, so if you thought we sounded just like a mixture of aKing and New Holland, thats your story, but if you say that I may just as well say for instance the Tidal Waves sound too much like Bob Marley, or something like that, music is a kreative state of mind, an experiment in some ways, and I believe all music is original, because their are so many bands these days it’s impossible that your band will be the first to do anything, their is bound to be some band nobody even knows about that’s doing the same or has already done it, yet they believe they are original.

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  5. Andy says:

    Dude.. I’ve never heard your music – please send me a CD so we can review it (contact me here). But there is no way I can let you try drop the facile comparison between Bob Marley and Tidal Waves because they are world’s apart. While there’s a reggae backbone to Tidal Waves they infuse so many divergent South African styles and genres in their music, they’re another planet away from Bob Marley. Whereas aKing, Thieve and New Holland are kinda samey in sound.

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  6. whateverdude says:

    whatever

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  7. death to interior decorators says:

    @whateverdouche. Your one-word grunts convey nothing but indifference and disregard. That makes you mediocrity’s bedfellow. A good reason why we should all feel better about hating you.

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  8. leo says:

    new shoes!

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  9. Jess says:

    We don’t want war – we want warm shoes!

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  10. jezebel says:

    @ Stephan. as an aside, I agree with Andy’s clarification on Tidal Waves and Bob Marley., and perhaps this point of departure is the essence of your and my disagreement.

    The sounds like reference was mine, and I must apologise for sloppy semantics. What i meant by “influenced by” was a more generic “has elements of”, or perhaps more accurately, “subconsciously influenced by” . I didn’t mean to assume that you’ve consciously listened to those bands and tried to emulate their music or that you didn’t write those melodies before the bands mentioned (hell, i’ve heard the same from Hunter when i’ve asked him much the same about melodic similarities between HIS bands).

    But it does bring up a mystifying question that i am hard-pressed to answer (and maybe Mahala’s readers and other musicians have some suggestions?) – how come Belville bands share certain melodic forms and ascensions? While each act has their own quintessential sound, I can often trace what i’ve come to think of as the brethren’s melodic bloodtype in Fokof, aKING, Heuwels, Youth, Theive, and VCK. Some bands share members, so understandably they would also share compositional inclinations. But i wish i could figure out the root (route?) of this shared spirit en masse.

    And while it’s entirely unfair, one must admit that even if your sound is your own (or you think it is), we are all
    a) undeniably influenced by our social, cultural and geographical environment and influences, and will interpret anything creative through this and we all
    b) tend to notice that something sounds like something else if it DOES. Even if we enjoy it and see prospect and value in it, as I do in yours.

    All I’m saying is, listen carefully to your own sound, and keep exploring creatively. Your ‘voice’ is in your music, both literally and figuratively.

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  11. Eloise says:

    Jess, so intellectual! Stephan: love jou stem en songs. Wat ek try sè is dat julle jonk genoeg en talentvol genoeg is om weg te beweeg van d assosiasie met belville bands, sou julle band n meer stand-alone en individual sound wil he. Bygesê, dit help nie jy probeer anders klink, just for the sake of being different. En ek is n groot fan van al daai belville bands. Maar as jy bietjie explore en experiment kan jy dalk vind dat julle oor n paar jaar n nuwe sound define vir d paarl scene of whatever. Ek dink jyt iets special in jou keel en ons gaan met anticipation uitkyk vir wat julle doen! All the best!

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  12. benito musclelini says:

    Jess, it’s cos they all have the same record collections (or MP3 files) that have been circulating amongst a fairly close-knit crowd in that fair suburb. Sounds like aKing have checked out a fair amount of Big Country and Doobie Bros.

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  13. Stephan says:

    Okay, so gesê, @Andy, jammer oor daai comment van Tidal Waves en Bob Marley, maar jy verstaan nou natuurlik my punt, the mind hears what it wants to hear, en dat ekt al daai songs geskryf voor ek daai bands leer ken het, en ek luister na hulle nou eers. Uhm, ek moet wel teen die genoemde stelling gaan van aking en New Holland en Thieve wat dieselfde klink, want daardie bands is original in hul eie reg en ek is vir kreatiewe denke en vir good music, maar ja. Maar dankie vir die comments van my stem en vir my songs, dit beteken vir my en die band baie, want ons werk flippin hard, en probeer soveel as moontlik by plekke jam en kry nou nogal goeie gigs. My punt is wel dat “Nothing is original. Take what you want.” Want daar is dalk ander bands iewers in die wêreld (Wat ons nie eers van weet nie) wat New Holland, aKing, Fokof, DHF en al daai bands net na ‘nog ‘n band’ laat lyk. En wat ek nou gesê het is glad nie teen enigiemand nie (so ook wat ek voorheen gesê het) dis net my opinie, en soos ek almal se opinies respekteer (BTW, thanks for the clarification Jess, I appreciate it.) vra ek dat u my opinie ook respekteer. Music is king, it’s not a competition of who is better or who is more original, because tastes differ and some people are narrow minded, sometimes blinded by majority thus creating commercialism, but commercial is expression, underground is expression, music is expression, and if we’ve lost the abitlity to express ourselves without caring what people think about it, we’ve lost our ability to live.

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  14. Chantel Whitfield says:

    I stumbled across this today – rather late than never – I have a number of pis up on my FB profile of the PBG; BCB; Mandi; Basson etc. you might want to have a look at – I’ll be taking them off in the near future – since the bands have already accessed them. You will have to do the ‘friend’ thing – but once you have accessed them, you’re welcome to remove your link to me… I don’t get offended easily 😉

    I was severely over-aged at the fest, but had a ripping time anyway!

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  15. georgeharrison says:

    Thanks for the photos Chantel… lovely. 🙂

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