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

Sony and the FIFA World Cup

It’s been four years since the Soccer World Cup graced our shores. It’s either the largest, or one of the largest, sporting events in the world, and Sony is one of the main sponsors. Of course, if you’re a Sony Music recording artist, that’s good news for you, because it means you stand a chance to either perform at the opening or closing ceremonies, or you might be asked to sing the theme song. That’s why J Lo performed at the opening ceremony in 2014 (she is signed to a label whose parent label is Sony Music), and why Shakira performed WakaWaka with Freshlyground four years ago – both are signed to Sony. Read more

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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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From Waterloo to Mamma Mia!

So one could argue that Agnetha, Frida, Björn and Benny were the catalysts for the coming of age of the Swedish music machine. Benny had a knack for a memorable ditty, as did Björn, who was also the primary lyricist, while the ladies were the great singers. After they all went their separate ways, Björn and Benny carried on working together, and in conjunction with Tim Rice started working on a little show called Chess that spawned at least two mainstream hits as well as being a major smash musical, those hits being One Night in Bangkok and I Know Him So Well, which helped turn Elaine Paige and Barbara Dickson into household names. Read more

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ABBA: bigger than Volvo

Research suggests that there are only three economies in the world that are net exporters of cultural products, so in other words, the amount of cultural products brought in is less than that which goes out (movies, TV programmes, art, music, and so forth). These are the United States, the United Kingdom and Sweden. If you look at the uncorroborated sales figures of the largest artists in history in terms of album sales, 3 of the top 5 artists are American (Elvis, Michael Jackson, Madonna), 1 is British (The Beatles), and 1 is Swedish – ABBA. As is the case with U2 for Ireland, ABBA has made so much money for Sweden that the band has altered the Swedish GDP – or so the claim goes. 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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I Heart Joburg – Johannesburg music festival 2014

No, you did not read it wrong – this is I HEART Joburg, not I HATE it.

For all its ills, Jozi is an amazing city in many respects. The pulsating heart of Southern Africa, its still-dusty streets rose out of nothing some 128 years ago, fuelled by that shiny yellowish stuff that even today makes the world economy chug forward: gold. Johannesburg is often compared to Sao Paulo (racy, pacey, thrilling, dangerous), and while Jozi’s fortunes were built on gold, Sao Paulo’s were built on coffee. Still, both cities are known for their pulsating energy, not their natural beauty or sedate lifestyles. 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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Madonna, Michael & Pepsi

So, what do these three have in common?

In the 1980s, amidst the Cola Wars, at which time Pepsi taste tests were showing that consumers preferred Pepsi’s sweeter taste to Coke, Pepsi embarked upon a marketing strategy to upstage Coke even more, by hitching its star to the two biggest musical stars at the time. Read more

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Retro Review: Thriller

Thriller is the biggest selling album of all time, and will probably remain that way. In the 110-year-odd history of recorded music, no other artist has had their album bought an estimated 115 million times, though figures vary wildly between the official 42 million and the unofficial 50-65 million or higher. But there can be no doubt that the album is the Everest of contemporary musical works. Read more

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