So there’s this hip new TV series called The English, and series 1 episode 6 starts off with Crucify Your Mind…
Thanks to Ronnie Daniel Yapo for the heads-up message on the SugarMan.org Facebook Page.
By Lenny Mailer, from Sugar Music News
It’s no secret that the renowned DJ, Gilles Peterson, has long been a fan of South African music, especially the sounds coming out of Cape Town. Gilles is a French broadcaster, DJ, and record label owner. He founded the influential labels Acid Jazz and Talkin’ Loud, and started his current label Brownswood Recordings in 2006. He was awarded an honorary MBE in 2004 and is currently hosting his very popular and acclaimed Saturday afternoon music program called ‘Joining The Musical Dots’ in which he features a mixed-up selection, “joining the musical dots” between soul, hip hop, house, afro, electronica, jazz and beyond”, in his own inimitable style.
On his recent ‘Joining the Musical Dots’ program, on Saturday 22nd October, Gilles played the brand new John Wizards’ track called ‘Rwangaguhunga’. Back In 2017 Gilles was one of the first DJ’s to pick up on the strange story and wonderful music of the Cape Town group John Wizards and brought them into his studio during their UK and Europe tour where they played live.
In August of that year, the British newspaper The Guardian’s music editor, Tim Jonze, wrote a feature on John Wizards, documenting how Emmanuel Nzaramba, a Rwandan car guard in Cape Town met John Withers, a South African advertising music writer, and after adding some of John’s musical friends to the band, they became John Wizards.
The band later released its self-titled debut album, which showcased their unique sound featuring elements of R&B, soukous, Afropop, reggae, South African house, Shangaan electro, and dub, and included the singles ‘Lusaka by Night’ and ‘Muizenberg’. At the end of 2017, the band’s album appeared as No 8 on The Guardian’s list of the 40 best albums of the year.
The six piece band, consisting of vocalist and guitarist John Withers, vocalist Emmanuel Nzaramba, drummer and percussionist Raphael Segerman, bassist and keyboardist Alex Montgomery, guitarist Tom Parker and guitarist and keyboardist Geoff Brink, combined electronic sounds with more traditional African influences on their self-titled debut album, and the success of that album led to their touring extensively across Europe alongside Mount Kimbie and Jagwar Ma.
John Wizards effectively began when John Withers met Nzaramba outside a coffee shop in 2010 and the two became friends. They subsequently fell out of touch for a period. In 2012 they happened upon one another in Cape Town and it turned out they were both living on that same street. Prior to their meeting again, Withers had been working on recording and producing the set of musical ideas that would later become John Wizards’ self-titled release of September 2013.
Nzaramba added vocal recordings to some of the songs and began to perform with the rest of the band. John Wizards released a mix tape in August 2012 that roughly sketched out the songs to be included on the album. This mix tape was passed on to Mike Paradinas, owner of Planet Mu records. Planet Mu would announce the band as part of their roster in November 2012, releasing the album some ten months later.
In February 2017 Gilles visited Cape Town to record an audio documentary about the city’s musical heritage as part of Lufthansa City of the Month. The documentary followed Gilles over the course of a day as he set out to learn about the history of the city’s music, and infiltrate the dynamic contemporary scene. He began with the music of the Khoisan Bushmen, through to Cape Jazz of the ’60s, onto hip hop of the ’80s and ’90s, through to the spoken word and current musical climate of today. By discovering where the music was from and where it was going, Gilles discovered what makes Cape Town so special.
In the documentary, Gilles visited a bunch of the local music scenes’ leaders to hear their stories. From jazz musician Tony Cedras to spoken word artist Khadija Tracey Heeger, local hip hop legend DJ Ready D, the Chimurenga crew, legendary A&R Donald ‘Jumbo’ Van Renen through to today’s upfront talent like Nonku Phiri! The show also featured tracks by Tony Cedras, Miriam Makeba, Dollar Brand, Jumbo Track, Black Disco and more.
On that trip, Gilles also visited the iconic Cape Town record shop, Mabu Vinyl, where he met the shop’s founder and owner Jacques Vosloo, as well as the staff like DJ Mighty, SA online music guru Brian Currin and Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman of ‘Searching For Sugar Man’ fame.
On Saturday’s ‘Joining The Musical Dots’ program, after playing the newly-released John Wizards’ track ‘Rwangaguhunga’ (starting at about 24 minutes), Gilles also mentioned that the drummer from John Wizards, Raphael Segerman, is also the son of Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman, thereby “joining the musical dots” between John Wizards and Sixto Rodriguez followed by his playing of Rodriguez singing his own track, ‘Can’t Get Away’.
The story of Sixto Rodriguez can be boldly called one of the most powerful in the history of music. His songs were copied by millions, they inspired anti-apartheid warriors, and legends were being told about him, while he was working at construction sites back home. One of the best songwriters from the end of the hippie era has finally earned the merited recognition thanks to the Oscar documentary “Searching for Sugar Man”. We are very happy that Pohodans were able to enjoy his performance on Pohoda 2018. https://www.pohodafestival.sk/en/
“…the stuff that dreams are made of…”
- March 15 – Dallas Brooks Hall, Melbourne
- March 17 – Regent Theatre, Sydney
- March 18 – Regent Theatre, Sydney
- March 20 – Festival Hall, Brisbane
- March 23 – Regent Theatre, Sydney
- March 24 – Canberra Theatre, Canberra
- March 26 – Festival Theatre, Adelaide
- March 28 – Concert Hall, Perth
- April 3 – Dallas Brooks Hall, Melbourne
- April 6 – State Theatre, Sydney
- April 7 – Civic Theatre, Newcastle (2 shows)
- April 8 – Regent Theatre, Sydney
RODRIGUEZ ALIVE, RELEASED IN 1981
Rodriguez: Vocals, Acoustic guitar
Steve Cooney: Guitar, mandolin (from Australia)
Doug McDonald: Drums (from New Zealand)
Jake Salazar: Bass
José Guadiana: Flute
Jake and José were Americans who left three-quarters of the way through the tour and were replaced by an Australian Joe Creighton on bass. The local boys all came from the Mark Gillespie Band who were the support act.
…his aussie tour in 79 was an awesome experience…Stuart, Australia, May 1998
We will never forget the atmosphere and power of Rodriguez first Australian performance at Melbourne’s Dallas Brooks Hall on 15 March, 1979. (We have the “Alive” record released here and treasure it)Jason and Anne, Australia, April 1998
Sydney Morning Herald, 19th March 1979
Rodriguez – 10 years after
by Ted Robinson
Rodriguez Regent Theatre
Rodriguez’s first Sydney concert was the stuff that dreams are made of. A man lost in time and space he reeled on to the stage to pick up the threads of a 10-year old career. A generally young audience on Saturday embraced both the myth and the man supporting his every move with astonishing warmth. He was theirs and they were his. Not such an unusual occurrence or at least until you know the Rodriguez story. A decade ago he made a couple of records in the United States. They went unnoticed and he turned his thoughts to other things: an academic life, social work; and unsuccessfully running for both local and State office. Unbeknown to him, his records continued to sell… and sell in Australia, where until recently his background has remained a total mystery and the subject of much conjecture. He has long since passed the cult stage with gold records, a published anthology of his writing and now nationwide sold-out concerts. This huge success has something of the fairy tale about it. Not only for Rodriguez, but for the two young Australian promoters who have seemingly pulled off an enormous gamble… to play Svengali to his Trilby.
Rodriguez writes (or wrote) simple but often dark songs of street life, drug culture and street life love. His neon-lit world celebrates characters that would be equally at home in Damon Runyon or William Burroughs. Some songs take the form of powerful commentaries and some are merely musings, most seem to somehow, almost inexplicably, touch the emotional pressure points of a young middle-class white Australian audience. Technically the night was sometimes shaky but more sound than you might expect from someone who virtually hadn’t performed for eight years. Someone plucked from innocent obscurity and delivered to the pressures of expectation and anticipation that surrounds the living legend. Whoops of joy and recognition greeted the introduction to each song, often a chord, feel or broken arpeggio was enough for the identification.
Even when he faltered in the introduction to a song and had to start again the spell remained intact. Ovation poured on ovation. Rodriguez sang his songs, hunched over his guitar and drank nervously from empty cups. Finally he told his audience “after ten years you gotta be kidding… I’m just an everyday person”
Rodriguez has several more Sydney concerts at the Regent and State theatres.
The Australian, 19th March 1979
by Karen Hughes
Rodriguez was nervous. On Saturday night the house lights of the Regent Theatre dimmed and the band began to play but there was no sign of the tall, enigmatic Mexican singer. Suddenly from the wings he appeared, looking frail in a beige suit and open neck blue shirt carrying what appeared to be a student’s briefcase and a handful of music sheets. Hard core fans screamed, shouted and gleefully exchanged knowing smiles as Rodriguez, eyes downcast, but beaming excitedly, sat on his stool, turned side-on to the audience and after a sip of something soothing began the familiar opening to Street Boy. There was a collective sigh of relief as the phrases tumbled out with the same intensity that had enamoured listeners of his two solo albums. Obviously his talent had survived the changes of a decade completely intact.
Unused to playing large concert halls, Rodriguez managed to transform the Regent Theatre into a smoky intimate club. A kind of holy communion which only cult performers inspire was taking place…The only thing wrong was the singer’s own continuing nervousness — though he did eventually manage to move around the stage, face the audience and exchange jokes. Rodriguez sang and played his guitar with great authority and presence. The thunderous applause which greeted every number was modestly directed to his musicians. With him from America were Jake Salazar on bass guitar and José Guadiana on flute, though it was the Australians, guitarist and mandolin player Stephen Cluney (actually Cooney) and drummer Doug McDonald (both from the supporting Mark Gillespie Band), who provided the music’s real push.
Apart from a rare and strong empathy between performer and audience the music was the most important factor in the Rodriguez concert, a not insignificant fact in these days of glittering stage and lighting extravaganzas.
Perth 1979 I remember going to his Perth concert in 1979 because I loved Cold Fact. The concert was pretty disappointing and I said so in a review I wrote for the local evening newspaper, the Daily News. Rodriguez appeared to be right out of it, mumbling and carrying on like more excessively than Dylan in 1966. I wrote a scathing review which his daughter may have shown you. In hindsight, I should have been more tolerant. I look back on his music with great affection. I’m astonished and pleased to hear he is still on this earth and singing.Arthur Hanlon, May 2000
Steve Cooney Fair play to you! I played guitar/ mandolin on the Australian tour in 1979 and my name is Cooney not Cluney! I was amazed at the Perth reviewer’s ‘repentence’!Steve (in Ireland), March 2001
My abiding memories of Rodriguez are his sensitivity and vulnerability. I particularly remember a delicate moment when a gentle breeze blew his lyric sheets around, but he caught them so delicately; he and the wind seemed to be really at one…
My name is Jake Salazar. I am the bass player who went to Australia with Rodriguez the first time around in 1979. What an experience it was for all of us. I am ecstatic although not surprised that Rodriquez is still making music and doing well as an entertainer. I got an email from someone who stumbled upon my name while visiting a website pertaining to Rod.Jake Salazar, USA, April 2001
It has been many years since that tour. I have nothing but admiration for him and feel honored to have worked with Rod. The thing we went through to prepare for that tour and the events leading to each concert were ritually rock and roll. Rod is a phenomenal song writer and composer. A composer who creates melodies that establishes lyrical visions.
I remember the afternoon José Guadiana who was on the tour asked me if I would join him and return back to the US on account of him and Rod having a fall out. I tried to change José’s mind and I also tried to talk to Rodriquez but to no avail so we were both asked to leave. Basically, Rodriguez fired us both in the middle of the tour. I have always regretted what happened. I enjoyed being around Rodriguez, Connie and the kids.
José Guadiana has since passed away and I haven’t done so bad after 3 Grammy Nominations as a record producer (1986, 1997 and most recently in 1999). I really hope that Rodriquez continues writing and performing his great songs. I will always be a fan and a friend. I would enjoy to someday jam with him again.
I have very little information about this tour. I know that Rodriguez played on the same bill as Midnight Oil (at The Tanelorn Festival) and that the album Alive, recorded in 1979, was released to coincide with this tour.Brian Currin
Midnight Oil: I feel that Midnight Oil is a top band. I first watched them perform in 1981. I witnessed their powerful stage performance at past two in the morning in the freezing cold of the Australian wind. It was so cold that as Peter Garrett performed steam was rising from his head. It was almost phantom-like. He is musical, political and international. I also love the Stones. For me, Mick Jagger is king, but Peter Garrett is also high on the list of music aristocracy. I’ve been lucky to have been backstage with Midnight Oil on several occasions. We were on the same bill in Australia in 1981 … it was a trip!Rodriguez, 1997
I think he is speaking about Tanelorn. The Oils playing at 2am, I remember the steam rising from Garretts bald head too. That 12km dirt road into the festival took us over 6 hours drive on that Friday night but we got there in perfect time to see Rodriguez perform.Alison Elliott, October 2022
Canberra: I went to see Rodriguez in 1981, it was in Canberra at the Canberra Theatre. He appeared on stage with a support guitarist who’s name escapes me. There was no support acts at all, just Rodriguez. I remember it being an eerie/ chilling experience listening to this extraordinary artist.Mark Hohmuth, August 2000
OCT 20 1981 – Canberra Theatre, Canberra, Australia
OCT 11 1981 – Brisbane Festival Hall, Brisbane, Australia
OCT 10 1981 – Brisbane Festival Hall, Brisbane, Australia
OCT 7 1981 – Hobart Town Hall, Hobart, Australia
OCT 2 1981 – Tanelorn Music Festival 1981
SEP 26 1981 – Bridgeway Hotel, Adelaide, Australia
SEP 25 1981 – Stage Door, Adelaide, Australia
SEP 23 1981 – Ferntree Gully Hotel, Melbourne, Australia
SEP 19 1981 – Commodore Hotel, Melbourne, Australia
SEP 17 1981 – Prince of Wales Showgrounds, Bendigo, Australia
SEP 12 1981 – Royal Antler Hotel, Sydney, Australia
SEP 11 1981 – ANU Bar & Refectory, Canberra, Australia
Information from Setlist.fm
- Australia 1979
- Australia 1981
- South Africa 1998
- Sweden 1998
- Blues Room 1998
- South Africa 2001
- Namibia 2004
- Garden Route 2004
- South Africa 2005
- London 2005
- London 2006
- Australia 2007
- Rotterdam 2007
More Rodriguez Tour Dates at Setlist.fm
We are always interested to hear about Rodriguez songs popping up in the soundtracks for new films and TV series. So, for those who have been watching the excellent new series called ‘The Resort’, you would have spotted a song by Rodriguez being used in Season 1 Episode 4 of this series called “A History of Forgetting”
The plot of this new series is briefly but accurately described on IMDB.com as “Exploring love and the weird things we do in the name of it, encased in an elaborate true-crime conspiracy”.
And the music used in this series is a varied and eclectic selection of songs including the Rodriguez song ‘Forget It’ off his ‘Cold Fact’ album.
You can find all the music used in the first season of ‘The Resort’ here:
Video of the making of Sixto’s mural in Southwest Detroit. The lyrics couldn’t be more accurate for this times. This is not a song it’s an Outburst: Or, the establishment blues…
One South African superfan’s quest to unravel the truth about his favourite artist
Released On: 01 Sep 2022, available for over a year
Stephen ‘Sugar’ Segerman’s nickname came from the song Sugar Man by the American singer Rodriguez. In 1970s South Africa, Rodriguez was a household name as his anti-establishment lyrics resonated with many of those opposed to the strict apartheid state. Sugar, a Cape Town record shop owner, was one of his adoring fans. Very little was known about Rodriguez, apart from that he was dead; rumour had it that he’d killed himself during an unsuccessful concert. But years later, when Sugar decided to find out that had happened to him, he uncovered something astonishing.
Presenter: Emily Webb
Producer: Emily Webb and Emily Naylor