South African Rebels Meet East German Underground
A Cultural Exchange Initiative
by Piet Botha & Akkedis & Kilian Nestler
The Black Sheep Rockonspiracy is the brainchild of East German-born Kilian Nestler, who made South Africa his home in 1994. He was previously involved in the semi-legal blues-rock East German underground as a fan, photographer, manager and creator of illegal anti-establishment merchandising. This lifestyle choice led to a 14 month prison term.
The band known currently as Freygang Band was formed in East Berlin in 1977 under the then oppressive socialist regime, as Freygang. The Blues euphoria in East Germany was reaching its peak at that time and the fans loved Freygang for their courage to freely express themselves. Progressive musicians and their fans had to survive troublesome times, including arrests and performance bans. Freygang have kept their appeal to younger audiences, by becoming harder, even with a touch of punk, through the inclusion of musicians who used to be fans and by always being authentic.
Nestler found out that in apartheid South Africa, under somehow similar, but political opposite circumstances, musicians like Piet Botha, had to endure the same troubles as Freygang. Piet Botha, who celebrated a 30 year recording career in 2009, is regarded by many as a true soldier of the Rock ‘n’ Roll lifestyle and an inspiration to fans and fellow musicians alike. These two forces, against all odds, still live the true spirit of rock ‘n’ roll, and Nestler had the vision to make them known to each other.
A desire for freedom and a dislike of politics, is the common background from where Freygang and Piet Botha emerged, as Piet Botha once said ”…that’s why we got into rock ‘n’ roll … we wanted to change the system”.
Kilian Nestler met Piet Botha at a few gigs and the idea of the Black Sheep Rockonspiracy was born.
The STRAB Festival, which was started in 2003 and is held every year in previously war-torn Mozambique, became the anchor point for creating a cultural exchange. After STRAB Mozambique 2013, Freygang will tour South Africa, collaborating and performing with a host of progressive South African bands.
This unique exchange will be documented by ARMADA FILM from Germany, and there is also a joint recording session at the HOME GROWN MUSIC STUDIO planned. The final highlight of this collaboration will be at the MERCURY in Cape Town.
Besides playing together, there will be discussions regarding the way artists can contribute to a better understanding of different cultures, how to use art and music as a weapon against ignorance ( i.e. xenophobia, religious intolerance, etc.) and many more important issues of the day.
Piet Botha and Akkedis will travel to Germany in August 2013 to perform at Freygang’s own underground festival and a number of other gigs.
Thanks to the unselfish contribution of many good-meaning people, the project has started to take shape, and who knows what the future holds, but one thing is for sure, the spirit of Rock ‘n Roll is alive and well.