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Rambling Bo-ho-nes

by Andy Davis / 20.07.2009

Trouble with Rambling Bones is because they’re an acoustic band they’re always tasked with kick starting the proceedings. The problem arises after their set because Rambling Bones are generally always better than the bands that follow. Which means, if you’re late you miss the best act. And if you get there early you get all excited and riled up and then have to sit through a whole bunch of relative kak-ness. Such was the case last Saturday night at the Bohemian, that old dive (and that’s meant as a compliment, there are too few dive bars around these days) just underneath Melville in Jozi. It could well be described as a punk jol – probably much of the same crowd who support Fuzigish and have twigged on to the acoustic meanderings of their front man Jay and his new act Rambling Bones, jolling with Kevin Flee on percussion and harmonica. Kevin, you might recognise as the lead man in the Death Valley Blues Band – make a note to check them out at Oppikoppi next month. But I digress. So there I was having sucked in the joys of a fresh Rambling Bones set, tapped my foot and slukked my beer down to their rootsy acoustic bluesy-folk-punk sound. I love it when they play Fuzi hits like “Secret Police” and Jay sings the lead guitar. And all was well. Their new songs are also getting better. Jay’s honing that skill of infusing humour into the lyrics and the results are most satisfying. You laugh while you bob your head. The dude’s got talent – and apparently there’s a new Fuzigish album in the ether so hold your hats. The funnels will be back in full force soon.

In between the sets, my brother, who lives in the UK for his sins, and was my wingman on this chilly night at the Bohemian pointed out that the punks who packed club were some of the cleanest he’d ever seen. He was right. The Jozi punk scene has a lot of African mama’s to be thankful for. You can almost imagine Mavis ironing their freshly laundered ripped jeans, trying to work it around all baby-pins and chains.

Next band that took to the stage were pretty interesting. They’re called Rev. Wright & The Mystery Train Gamblers. The lead singer played a big black and white double bass, and they did a rocking Johnny Cash cover in amongst their psycho-billy, alt. country blues. It was a cool vibe with some catchy songs, but again, a bit of a step down from Rambling Bones. Although the crowd was less discerning. They swelled and moshed and heaved while spitting beer in the air. After the Reverend came a new band, their first gig ever, Pistol Whipped .45. A cacophony of derivative punk noise ensued, and the crowd got looser. Maybe they’ll get better. By this stage we were playing pool in the back, in between trying to attract the attentions of the slapgat bar staff. Bumped into Hagen Engler, one of South Africa’s unappreciated literary luminaries, currently getting paid as FHM’s editor, in the back. He was chaperoning some drunk, Gonzo mayhem in the name of his soft-core titty mag. We blathered a bit before heading for the door. Pistol Whipped .45 were still belting their instruments but the gig had been over for a good few hours by then.

The whole thing was inverted. The last band should have played first, albeit loud and loose, to get the party started. Rev Wright was in the right spot, and Rambling should have capped it off with their well-tuned, fine-honed acoustic core melodies and clever lyrics, the drunk and appreciative crowd filling in as the rhythm section.

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