Kenny G in concert

One of the highest selling artists of all time, Kenny G has single-handedly made the saxophone a hit amongst music lovers. Perhaps it is the raspy mid-tones of the saxophone that lend it an air of intimacy, or maybe it’s Read more

Splashy Fen is the ultimate Easter concert

It’s been going since 1990, and Easter 2015 will be the 26th year for the Splashy Fen music festival. I have yet to learn why the music event is called Splashy Fen, though I do believe that the farm it Read more

Oppikoppi, a whole series of concerts rolled into one

The small town of Northam in Limpopo Province comes to life every August. Technically it’s spring if you calculate that you are halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox and you don’t factor in seasonal lag, but Read more

Richard Clayderman in concert

No doubt the mysterious Frenchman’s greatest gift to the world musically has been “Ballad for Adeline.” Composed by Paul de Senneville and Olivier Toussaint in 1976, the co-writers could never have imagined how big the song would become, because disco Read more

Albert Hammond in concert

This is not a name that rolls off the tongue like Madonna or Michael Jackson or Elvis, but Albert Hammond has had an amazing music career anyway. A native of the UK, he has done a considerable body of work Read more

Mamma Mia! heads back to Jozi in 2015

The smash hit musical based on the music of those 4 Swedes (well, actually 3 Swedes and a half-Norwegian) returns to the Teatro at Montecasino in Johannesburg, for a limited season run from Tuesday 24 March 2015 to Sunday Read more

Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse is NOT too cool for school!

On 1 October the Lyric Theatre at Gold Reef City hosted Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse in concert. It’s been 30 years since his hit “Burnout” tore up the charts, and, according to the write-up for his show, 50 years since Read more


Musicians & Money

I heard Margaret Mcnignana (aka Singana) on the radio today singing I never loved a man (the way that I love you). What a song! She also sang the lead vocals for Shaka Zulu (Bayete) and a number of other songs, and was as famous as they come in South Africa. But from what I understand, she died in abject poverty, almost penniless. Our beloved Solomon Linda was another muso who was raped by the industry, and died with less than $25 in his bank account in 1962, the year his song Mbube became the smash hit The Lion Sleeps Tonight. Read more

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Tony Bennett, Tori Amos, Chuck Berry & others: masters of the long haul

I have huge respect for these people because they just keep on going. Chuck Berry is sometimes regarded as the father of rock ‘n’ roll, while Tony Bennett has turned his love for jazz into a 60-year career. Tori Amos, who recently performed in Jozi and Cape Town, refuses to become an irrelevant old woman. Read more

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The Rolling Stones: wrinkly rockers, and smart old men

They are all in their 70s or headed there very soon, and they are all supposedly over the hill. If you watch a movie like Cadillac Records, you will see how people made fun of them when they were first starting out – whether that is true or just for dramatic effect remains to be seen. Read more

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Musical Journey of Material Girl Madonna

The world has a lot to say about Madonna, who turns 56 in August this year. Sinner, saint, Vixen, virtuous, Lady of the night, lady to be admired, woman who will not let the world dictate to her when it is time to get off the stage. Read more

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The power of persistence

I guess this blog post will read as slightly more anecdotal. My singing teacher always used to say to me, persistent and consistent work is what makes a voice. After training with her for ten years, I mastered the technique, and am today able to teach singing because I stuck with her, even when it was very tough. She fired me after those ten years, because I always used to give her so much grief. She left this world in 2012, at the age of 81. I only started training with her when she was 66. I count myself as very, very lucky, that I was able to learn from the wisdom of her many years of teaching. Read more

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Evolution of house music in South Africa

SA is generally regarded as one of the largest House markets in the world. House owes its origins to the great city of Chicago, but has found a modern home in Miami, and is also part of the pulse of what makes Johannesburg such a cool and vibey place.

Some would argue that House emerged as the contemporary successor of Kwaito, though this line of thinking would stimulate great debate among die-hard fans of Kwaito, and puritans of House. Some may even argue that this is one of the reasons why Mandozahas lost his spark, and why a song like Nkalakatha would probably not work in 2014. Well, that really IS a matter of debate.
But perhaps one of the reasons House music has become so prevalent is its engagement with the DJ – this is music that is easily translated onto the dance floor, and easily translated onto the decks. Many a DJ is also a producer, and the music that is born in the studio often makes its way into the public arena when the producer goes out to DJ at a gig or a club.

Of course, the irrepressible Soul Candi Records is the doyen of House music in SA, and has given the music scene the likes of RJ Benjamin, Crazy White Boy and most recently, MiCasa. Soul Candi’s incubator of House beats in the past was their music school, which taught DJing and House music production. This function has subsequently been seconded to another college, but is still done in conjunction with Soul Candi.

And although downloads and music file sharing are becoming a bigger issue with the local music industry, such activities actually fuel the growth of House music, as it becomes popular organically and virally when it spreads across computers, phones and flash drives. To quote Sergio Botelho of Soul Candi: “Music is actually more popular now than it has ever been.” Preach it, brother!

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Avicii makes the cheesy nice ‘n’ easy

Okay, so unless you’re North American, and even then only of a certain ilk, chances are that when you hear the word “bluegrass’ it will conjure up images of what people do to their lawn when the Bulls roll into town to play rugby…
But here is a no-brainer recipe for musical success, at least in the dance genre: take one half of country singer (specifically ‘bluegrass’), not well known outside of his circles performing with Alison Krauss, and mix together with one half of young Swedish hotshot DJ, and the result is music nirvana. Well, maybe… Read more

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ABBA: the phenomenon that just won’t die

It’s been 40 years since the Swedes won Eurovision with their Waterloo. Well, actually it’s three Swedes and a part German who grew up in Norway. But Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid conquered the musical world back in 1974, and have never looked back. Even though it’s been more than 30 years since they last recorded anything, despite numerous requests and pleas to do so (all of course turned down), ABBA still sell millions of albums every year. Read more

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Is Miley really a virus?

Whatever happened to that sweet little girl named Hannah Montana, and how did she become the twerking queen of the world?
Miley Cyrus (nicknamed Miley Virus by non-fans) is the offspring of one Billy Ray Cyrus, who in 1992 (the same year Miley was born) had a scorching hit with Achy Breaky Heart. His equivalent of Pavarotti’s white hanky or Joss Stone’s scarf around the microphone was the mullet, which subsequently became all the rage – and still is, in dodgy suburbs of urban areas around South Africa (and other parts of the world). Billy Ray, complete with his double-barrel name, did for country music what the Three Tenors did for opera: he moved it into the mainstream. Suddenly line dancing became a phenomenon, and like the Macarena, everybody was doing it (even if they wouldn’t admit it now). Billy Ray was Vernon Koekemoer before Vernon Koekemoer (remember him?), and after his flash-in-the-pan hit (which you will still hear at an occasional party today), he moved on to TV, where he became Doc and then starred with his daughter in Hannah Montana. Read more

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One Direction: the art of manufactured pop

Simon Cowell will tell you himself that he cannot sing a note in tune. But this is the man who has slayed the dreams of many a wannabe artist – and has also been instrumental in launching the careers of a few others.

The man who started out in the mail room at EMI Music Publishing and rose to the top of the music world has an uncanny knack for sniffing out a new concept in music and turning it into gold. Enter One Direction, the latest drool-delicious eye candy material that makes young girls go weak at the knees. It’s Elvis and The Beatles all over again, with girls swooning and fainting and crying – and we love it! It makes life so interesting…
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