The One Mad Tea Party Festival | Jou Radio

From https://www.jouradio.co.za/news/the-one-mad-tea-party-festival-40

The One Mad Tea Party Festival
The One Mad Tea Party Festival

The One Mad Tea Party Festival

After returning last night to my home base, 15 km outside Polokwane in the Limpopo province, I will admit I am still getting to grips with all the happenings from the last week. A few weeks prior I received a message from my now close friend, Johann Latsky. He said they are organising a music festival near Caledon, Western Cape, and asked me if I would like to join. There was no way I was going to miss this opportunity even though it was about 1700km away. The ONE was an exclusive state-of-the-art venue, situated on Shaw’s Pass, between Hermanus and Caledon. With 22 of South Africa’s hottest bands and luxury glamping facilities, this was truly Heaven on Earth and a once in a lifetime opportunity.

I left Polokwane, 14h00 in the afternoon, and after a quick overnight pit stop in Pretoria, I hit O.R. Tambo International Airport, early the next morning. I was graciously flown by Lift Airlines, who were also one of the sponsors for the festival. May I say that Lift Airlines are really a jewel amongst all the other local airlines? They even gave us free wine and chocolate coated, gluten free, vegan, roasted chick peas! Sitting on the plane, waiting for our departure, I saw the crew loading two guitar cases and a bag with drum-symbols. It was immediately clear that I was being accompanied by a band on my flight and I made it a mission to try and identify them. My son recently got into the “Where’s Wally” books and I think all the practice finding Wally, helped me. I had no problem identifying the guys from the band Shadowclub, as well as Mariska Geyer, road manager for the band Prime Circle. They were accompanied by the members from Southern Gypsy Queen and Andre Kriel, guitar player for the Black Cat Bones. On arrival in Cape Town, I had a quick chat with the band and then met up with my long-time friend, Leon Nieuwoudt. We were on our way to the One Mad Tea Party Festival. 

Naturally we had to stop on-route at a few places for some chit chats with the locals and a few glasses of wine. However, we didn’t waste too much time because Anton Goosen was opening the stage and we had to be there. On arrival at the venue, we were friendlily greeted and shown towards our tents. Glamping was only a term I have heard before, but it became more meaningful to me once we got to our tents. The tents had a carpet, two beds, a power point with bed lamps and of course, electric blankets. Happiness!

We got our stuff together and decided to hit the stage. On our way we witnessed the most beautiful sunset and had to stop for a few selfies. The venue was amazing, with a fully stocked bar and seating surrounded by artificial grass. The atmosphere was one of excitement, filled with music lovers who knew what it was all about. Once Anton arrived, I was blown away by the sound and lighting. It was a proper job and way beyond what was necessary, but is it ever enough?

Anton Goosen is a legend in the music industry. Most people still remember his Afrikaans hits from the 80’s and he didn’t disappoint. He did a couple of his hit songs but his stories were the highlight for me. After more than 30 years of performing there were loads of snippets he could share with the crowd and we loved it. He captivated his audience and I was fully mesmerised. Afterwards, we had a quick conversation and hurried back to the stage for the next band. The Southern Gypsy Queen’s performance was talked about throughout the weekend. They went on stage without any flair or pretention but delivered something I will remember for a long time. It was pure passion and fun. They were happy to be there and we all agreed. With Andre Kriel from the Black Cat Bones standing in on guitar, they kicked it off with personality and energy and the crowd eagerly responded to their energy. They prepared a special ‘Rock n Roll’ set and we were jumping around with every song. I realised after their second song, that we were witnessing something special. It was only the second band out of 22 and I was already blown away.

After a quick photo back stage and a friendly introduction, we ran back to the stage to watch one of my favourite musicians, Dan Patlansky. A friend of mine who spent some time with Anton Goosen backstage, while Southern Gypsy Queen was playing, told me later that Dan was chilling next to them and while the band was playing, he was warming up for his set by working out their songs. He was improvising, but it took him no effort to play along with them, even though he had probably never heard them before. Dan is a musical genius unlike any musician I have seen before. His reputation stretches far and wide and I wasn’t surprised to see the guys from Spoegwolf standing close to the stage when I got there, waiting for Dan to appear. He was brilliant. Throughout his show I could see he was mimicking the music in his head. While his lips moved and the veins in his neck popped, eyes closed, he was a player possessed. I don’t think any review will ever do his shows justice. Dan Patlansky is one of a kind. I am honoured and blessed to have witnessed this maestro in his natural habitat. The thing about him is not just his music it’s his attitude as well. Just a short conversation with him will make you feel like you are talking to your best friend. His people skills are as natural as his guitar playing.

Dan was followed by one of the hottest South African bands at the moment. Every Spoegwolf show will be familiar if you have seen it before but there is something unique about them. Wherever they go, the crowd always enthusiastically sings along to their songs. Danie du Toit has a unique energy and I found myself smiling as they performed their hits. It’s this familiarity that brings people together. The four members of Spoegwolf are a brotherhood. No matter where or when they perform, they have a fan base. They are rightfully the current Face of Alternative Afrikaans Music, as someone accurately commented. I tried to grab another photo with the guys after the show, to add to my already growing collection; however they quickly disappeared into the night. Later I realised they had another show the following night in Pretoria.

The first night ended with something unique and I will admit it took me a few minutes to adjust to the change of pace and vibe. Pascal and Pearce have for a long time been legends in the dance scene. My buddy Leon knew Pascal and therefore they were on our list of artists we really wanted to see. Their show reminded me of my clubbing days and being a dance DJ myself when I was younger. They had it all! It was a high energy light show with a lot of personality, transforming my nostalgia into something recent and very enjoyable. After a quick photo and short conversation, I couldn’t help but wonder what type of adventures they’ve been on and what their day to day lives must be like.

We decided to end our night in the VIP lounge but quickly realised it would be better to save our energy for the next morning. Our warm beds awaited us and I had a good night’s rest with my warm blanket set on a toasty but still mild, no 2 setting. I was exhausted.

We woke up quite early the next morning, according to the Cape standards. We grabbed our towels and headed to the showers. The portable showers were clean and had enough hot water for me to sing a few of my favourite Rock songs. Leon and I drank our daily vitamins, specially designed for men our age, and then we decided to take a walk on the 5km trail. Leon wore his Ice-Cream coloured Tekkies, he called the colour ‘mint’, but this is my story.  I am not sure we did the whole 5km but we ended up in a field somewhere with another amazing view of the valley. The Blue Mountains in the distance reminded me of something ancient and unchanging. We tend to fight our present circumstances at times, worrying about our day to day existence, but still the mountains tell tales of survival and durability. I am getting side-tracked; let’s get back to the festival. Needless to say the view we saw that morning was inspirational.

I really enjoyed the band SNAFU, not simply because of their weird name which I only later realised meant “a confused or chaotic state”, but also because of their weird hats and funky Afrikaans reggae beats. They were unique to say the least and created a refreshing atmosphere in anticipation for the bands to come. They did a cover of ‘Midnight’ by the band 340ml and it left the crowd happy and energized. After an “edible misjudgement”, Nomadic Orchestra had to postpone their gig and it caused a little bit of confusion, which is understandable and also legendary in the same sense. The break in the line-up gave Leon and I another chance to enjoy the spectacular views and sunset. Selfie time. Again, I realised the brevity of life and constants of tomorrow, but let’s get back to the festival.

I could write pages about the band Shadowclub. They are not just, in my opinion, one of the greatest South African bands, they are also very interesting characters and I am not just saying this because we met at the airport. Fronted by genius guitarist and lyricist, Jacques Moolman, with Louis Roux on bass and Isaac Klawansky on drums, they received a SAMA for best rock band in 2012 and deservedly so. They took a hiatus for a few years, but the boys are back to the delight of their many fans. Under the management of Mariska Geyer, I believe we will still enjoy their music for years to come. They played a brilliant set which included fan favourite ‘Good Morning Killer’ and their latest single ‘Dark Horse’, but I will admit ‘Dog Teeth’ completely took me by surprise. It was hauntingly beautiful, honest and inspiring. I could feel how the song captured everyone witnessing this hypnotic performance. Together with ‘All Aboard’, I was transported to music heaven. This is the stuff I live for and is a beautiful sunset to my fragile soul.

Laudo Liebenberg, being one of my favourite vocalists, and with protégé guitarist Frank Freeman playing one of my favourite albums, ‘Eet Kreef Herleef’ was another highlight of an already amazing experience.

Having met Albert Frost earlier that day and having played his music on my radio show, I still wasn’t prepared for what was to come. Albert, with his extrovert personality and infectious laughter, was another treat. I quickly realised that any serious guitar player has to have veins popping in their necks once they get going. The crowd went crazy every time Albert aimed his guitar at the crowd and everyone he made eye contact with immediately evaporated.

For 17 years, Prime Circle has been on the forefront of South African Rock music and their performance showed this. They delivered a spectacle of international standards. They will outlast many bands that we know right now and started before many of their fans were born. They are a class act that showcases the depth of South African Rock music.

That concluded day 2. Once again I had a warm shower and, together with a coffee made by the barista in the VIP lounge, I was ready for our walk. We treated ourselves again to the spectacular views of the Shaw Valley before we returned to witness the funny and entertaining Kalahari Boere Orkes. Ian Roberts has been someone I have been looking up to since he ran a race against Gavin van den Berg in the series ‘Arende’. He was so impressed by me greeting him, that he shook my hand two times. The festival ended with the majestic Karen Zoid. Tannie Karen is an enigma and even just getting close to her, puts you under her spell. I couldn’t help feeling small in her presence even though I might be older and definitely taller.

I felt so many mixed emotions when Leon and I packed up our bags and said goodbye to the ‘One Mad Tea Party’. Like many things in life, this amazing experience had come to an end. I knew already as we drove away, that this was an experience that will stay with me for a lifetime. Johann Latsky and Nicky Currie, the organisers, have become life-long friends of mine. The festival was more than I wished for. I felt new and rejuvenated again. Life is what you make it and once you understand the music, you will be free forever.

Philip Buys (Radio Presenter, Vinyl Collector and Lifelong Music Enthusiast) 

RUSTIN REINERS’ “MEMORY IS FICTION” IS A MELANCHOLIC CONTEMPLATION OF TIME AND EXISTENCE | Texx & The City

https://texxandthecity.com/2020/02/rustin-reiners-memory-is-fiction-is-a-melancholic-contemplation-of-time-and-existence/

 

Rustin Reiners’ project opens with “Ocean”, a track that captures the young adult nostalgia of missing something that you’ve never had. The soothing, calm vocals and light-hearted instrumental complement the feeling of being so caught up in your own head that you forget to be present. Lyrics like, “These memories inside my head/ They’re incomplete/ They’re fading fast” and “I like to think back to when the ocean came and it went/ And I felt something more than this” evoke a sensation of being so tired of existing purely for the sake of existing. The aching desire to feel something that pulls you out of a life on autopilot is prevalent.

The EP effortlessly flows into “How Long”, which feels like the moment of reflection that comes with accepting who you are as a whole. It is admitting to yourself the things that you felt, and navigating to every corner of your mind, regardless of how dark it may appear. This introspection appears in lyrics like “How long have I been afraid of my own shadow?/ How long have I tried to disappear?” The simple rhythmic guitar, clean production, controlled vocals and alluring lyrics make for a sombre and thoughtful song that will leave you wondering how long it will be before the very view before your eyes goes from extraordinary to ordinary, as every view grows old and all eyes grow weary. Rustin asks himself, “How long will I sing the same song?/ How long ‘til this means nothing at all?”

“Young Hearts” is a track that will take you straight back to your first love; the youthful, fearless, unfiltered love that becomes almost impossible to feel again once it passes. The track plays on the thought of how once the fear of life’s calamities finds its place in your mind, it’s difficult to recapture that same untainted feeling you got from your youth. “Young Hearts will feel any and everything/ Young hearts are nothing like they seem/ We’re all dying to feel any and everything/ No matter all the pain it brings” is a testament to feeling; and how whether it be negative or positive, it is the desire to feel that overpowers everything. The song has a catchy and light hearted tone that will leave you bobbing your head the whole way.

In “Think of Change” Rustin explores the dangerous nature of getting too comfortable, and how, despite knowing it as certain, change always takes people by surprise. “You were all I’ve known for so long/ I didn’t think of change” is an ode to the gut wrenching feeling that occasionally comes with change. It is a calming, reflective piece of music that really plays on the heart strings as Rustin delivers smooth vocals with harmonious precision over a beautiful melody.

“Memories” is the perfect close. It’s the acknowledgement that the only things in life that matter are the things you’ll look back on with fondness; the things that made you feel a certain way. It is a sombre, beautiful, symphonic reflection of what your mind has been through. It is the happy confusion of not knowing which memories were dreams and which were real, and the realisation that it does not matter. Lyrics like “I’ve lived my life through pictures of memories/ I couldn’t tell you why it means so much to me” and “I can’t trust my mind, it tells me lies” accentuate a blurred reflection of life; where the internal feeling far outweighs the external events. The song itself is a gripping ambience that builds up with nostalgia as it goes along, and Rustin really shows off his vocal ability with controlled harmonies and serene singing. “Now it’s too late/ I’m losing what’s left of me” is the last hurrah of reflection, as like everything else, memories too eventually fade.

“Memory is Fiction” is a beautiful contemplation of the significance of time and what it means to exist.

https://music.apple.com/us/album/memory-is-fiction-ep/1490147577



Beat Speak, 14th March 1998

Hi Wonder!

by Sugar

It’s hard to type when one’s feet refuse to stay on the ground. I still keep floating around from the euphoria of seeing two awe-inspiring concerts on the weekend, both by the same ou. I’m talking of course about Rodriguez who finally performed to his many South African fans and it’s difficult to decide who was more overawed by the confrontation.

Rodriguez had not performed since 1981 and even those concerts, in Australasia, did not nearly attract the same fans as the SA concerts, so, when Rodriguez walked out onto the stage at the Bellville Velodrome, he almost staggered backwards from the roar and vibes that poured onto the stage from the first night crowd. The performance that Friday night was fine if a little patchy but no-one seemed to notice. Rodriguez forgot the odd line and on a few occasions played at a different tempo to the band, who very professionally managed to plaster over these musical cracks.

Rodriguez, Sugar and his family and Eva
Rodriguez, Sugar and his family and Eva

The second concert on Saturday night, however, was wonderful. A far larger crowd arrived due obviously to a strong local word-of-mouth promotion. Rodriguez and his band were prepared and well-rehearsed and once again the crowd maintained a remarkable level of energetic approval and non-stop singing to each and every song. All the age groups were represented, from 60-year-olds to young children, all caught up in the magic of the moment, signifying indisputably that Rodriguez’s music has passed the test of time and is not simply a ’70s phenomenon.

The response to these concerts was repeated throughout the tour. The two concerts in Johannesburg at the Standard Bank Arena were sold out and generated the same fanatical and ecstatic reaction. One of the Durban dates was replaced by a show at the Carousel complex outside Pretoria and that too was full. There is a strong feeling that this remarkable tour could be the spark that hopefully kick-starts Rodriguez’s long overdue world-wide recognition. Through the Internet, his fans all over the world have been closely monitoring these events in South Africa and requests for tours have been received from as far afield as Australia, Canada, England and the USA. Some United States newspapers have already started making enquiries, sensing a story in all of this!

Rodriguez is a humble, intelligent and sensitive man who deserves all the recognition he will no doubt be receiving. After both the Cape Town shows, he mingled with the assorted press and fans who had lingered backstage to meet him and shook hands, hugged, spoke to and signed autographs for each and every one of them until he was satisfied that no-one had been overlooked. As they say in Yiddish, he is really a mensch!

I am still quite overwhelmed by the whole Rodriguez situation. We all believed he was dead but he most certainly wasn’t and here he was recreating his music that meant so much to so many people for so long. I will always remember singing along to all those songs that are so deeply embedded in my/our memories, but three special memories stand out for me. The first was seeing Rodriguez’s two daughters, Eva and Regan, sitting at the foot of the stage watching their father perform. Eva was a teenager when Rodriguez toured Australia and Regan was much younger. The pride and joy that radiated in their faces was quite beautiful.

The second was the guitar solo by Willem Möller that turned the band’s jammed improvised version of ‘Climb Up On My Music’ into the high(est)light of a concert packed with highlights. The third image I have is of Arno Carstens, lead singer with the Springbok Nude Girls, standing transfixed at the base of the stage watching Rodriguez perform. On his T-shirt was the simple yet ironic slogan that seemed to sum up the whole evening. It read: “Dead people are cool!”

11th March The Carousel Pretoria

The Set List

  1. I Wonder
  2. Only Good For Conversation
  3. Can’t Get Away
  4. Crucify Your Mind
  5. Jane S. Piddy
  6. To Whom It May Concern
  7. Like Janis
  8. Inner City Blues
  9. Street Boy
  10. A Most Disgusting Song
  11. Halfway Up The Stairs
  12. I Think Of You
  13. Rich Folks Hoax
  14. Climb Up On My Music
    Encores:
  15. Sugar Man
  16. Establishment Blues
  17. Forget It

A Night To Remember

Review by Michelle (Micci) de Clerqc

You ain’t seen nothing yet… Rodriguez is NOT dead…he is very much alive and still the same inspiring poet he always was. On the 11th of March the man himself performed at the Carousel just outside of Pretoria – he is a brilliant artist and a humble man. Rodriguez, alive and performing in South Africa ? I cried when I heard this over the radio. I was broke and I HAD to see the show. So, I climbed on my phone and spoke to my mother, she and my sister decided that since it was so close to my birthday, they would buy me the tickets. This brought the smile back to my face.. So there I was on the 11th of March, broken ankle and all, on my way to the Carousel. Upon arrival, there was this huge tent and I thought that that’s gotta be it. When I went inside I was pleasantly surprised by the huge amount of people that were waiting for their “Sugarman”. There were people from all ages, even a little girl who sat right in front of me – I think she was 10 years old, next to her was a guy of about 55 and there I was, 22 going on 23, waiting for a life long hero.

Rodriguez walked onto stage and started singing “I Wonder”, the crowd went wild! It looked like it was so easy for him to sing, it was so natural, as if he just opened his mouth and the words flowed out like a calming river over his fans. Everyone jumped to their feet and cheered harder and with more feeling than they would for their favourite rugby team. He just smiled and kept on singing. Some of the people screamed, others just sat mesmerized, captivated by the words, the music and the man. Between songs his name was called like a mantra, no one was quiet; he gave all the credit to the band.

He bent down to touch the audience, as if to make sure that they were real. The songs were known off by heart by the audience and most of them sang along to old favourites like “Sugar Man”, “Like Janis” and “I Wonder”. He had captivated everyone with his down to earth manner and honesty. It was a night to remember and memory I will treasure forever.

10th March Standard Bank Arena Johanneburg

The Set List

  1. I Wonder
  2. Only Good For Conversation
  3. Can’t Get Away
  4. Crucify Your Mind
  5. Jane S. Piddy
  6. To Whom It May Concern
  7. Like Janis
  8. Inner City Blues
  9. Street Boy
  10. A Most Disgusting Song
  11. Halfway Up The Stairs
  12. I Think Of You
  13. Rich Folks Hoax
  14. Climb Up On My Music
    Encores:
  15. Sugar Man
  16. Establishment Blues
  17. Forget It
Ellis Park Sold Out
Ellis Park Sold Out

Long Live Rodriguez

Review by André Bakkes

At last Rodriguez arrived and I was going to see a show by the Man.  It was with a bit of uncertainty that I went to the show. I wanted to go, but I also didn’t want to go. The thing that struck me was how mellow the people were, there was no pushing at the doors to get in, there was a nice steady flow into the arena. People from all walks of life were there. In the audience I saw serious new wave ravers (the one’s who cut their hair except for a little lock on the front of the hairline), also there were old guys with bald heads. I could not believe that Rodriguez had such a wide spectrum of followers.

When he came on the crowd went wild. The same type of reaction as at recent, very well known bands concerts. As the songs were sung the people sang with him and they vibed to the sounds and the music.  The jazzing up of “Climb up on my Music” was brilliant and could do well as a mix for the dance floor. It seems that Rodriguez is such a NICE person he would rather give limelight to his support band than hog it himself. He came across as an absolute gentleman and unaffected by the hype. My overwhelming feeling as I left the concert was one of peace and fulfillment,  here was a person whose music stood the test of time and was honestly grateful that we paid money to see him perform.

Long live Rodriguez!! I hope you do very well.

9th March 1998 Standard Bank Arena Johannesburg

The Set List

  1. I Wonder
  2. Only Good For Conversation
  3. Can’t Get Away
  4. Crucify Your Mind
  5. Jane S. Piddy
  6. To Whom It May Concern
  7. Like Janis
  8. Inner City Blues
  9. Street Boy
  10. A Most Disgusting Song
  11. Halfway Up The Stairs
  12. I Think Of You
  13. Rich Folks Hoax
  14. Climb Up On My Music
    Encores:
  15. Sugar Man
  16. Establishment Blues
  17. Forget It

The Star Tonight 12 March 1998

Time and time again

by Peter Feldman

The legend that is Rodriguez simply couldn’t believe his eyes or his ears at the fanatical response he evoked at his opening Johannesburg concert on Monday. I don’t know who was more awestruck, the performer or his capacity audience. He couldn’t stop grinning. The minute he stepped onstage, in a smart dress-suit and clutching his guitar, the arena exploded. And as he casually strummed the opening bars to I Wonder, the crowd rose to their feet in sheer adoration. It was a magical moment in music, and an eerie kind of a time-warp, in which this folk-rock icon rekindled a string of memories of an age of stirring protest. The songs have not dated and have as much relevance today as they did when Vietnam, the draft and campus drugs were high on the political agenda.

Young people, many not yet born when Rodriguez stormed the barriers in South Africa, one of the few countries to embrace the man and his music, sat transfixed as the hits unfolded. The voice has not been corroded by time – only made better. The hardcore cynicism, the angst and the disillusionment remain dramatically intact. Sugar Man, Inner City Blues, Cnrcify Your Mind, Jane S Piddy, the highly emotive Street Boy, Rich Folks Hoax, Slip Away and Establishment Blues formed the core of a concert nobody ever dreamt would actually happen here in Gauteng. After all, the rumour was the man was dead … how wrong could one be. Rodriguez was so delighted to be onstage, and so overwhelmed by the occasion, that he kept asking for the house lights to be turned up to remind himself it was not an illusion. He also took great delight in shaking hands with various members of Big Sky, which gave him solid support throughout.

Big Sky, with an energetic Steve Louw at the helm, provided a tight set with a nicely honed country-rock edge. They waded through many of their hits, including Waiting For The Dawn, Another Country and Get Down With Mr Green, and introduced the right mood for a happening.

Wow!

7th March 1998 Bellville Velodrome Cape Town

The Set List

  1. I Wonder
  2. Only Good For Conversation
  3. Can’t Get Away
  4. Crucify Your Mind
  5. Jane S. Piddy
  6. To Whom It May Concern
  7. Like Janis
  8. Inner City Blues
  9. Street Boy
  10. A Most Disgusting Song
  11. I’ll Slip Away
  12. Halfway Up The Stairs
  13. I Think Of You
  14. Rich Folks Hoax
  15. Climb Up On My Music

    Encores:

  16. Sugar Man
  17. Establishment Blues
  18. Forget It

Scan of the sound engineer’s set list, dated and autographed.

Set List 7 March 1998

From Sweet Songs To Street Songs

Review by Brian Currin

From the simplistic, yet instantly recognisable bass guitar intro of I Wonder, to the last fading echoes of Thanks For Your Time, this was a show that enthralled everyone from the die-hard old fans with their balding heads and beer paunches to the new virgin devotees.

From sweet songs to street songs,
from bitter to beautiful,
from minor keys to metal mayhem,
from tear-jerker to tear-it-up,
from disgusting songs to rock anthems…this was truly a magic show of vast proportions.

Rodriguez has not released new material in over 25 years, he has no chart-topping singles, yet he opens to a standing ovation – and everybody sings along to all the songs.

Colin Taylor from KFM radio opened the show by shouting with great enthusiasm:
“Cape Town, put your hands together and welcome a true legend on stage – Rodriguez!”

Reuben Samuels started a slow drum beat and when Graeme Currie introduced that classic bass line (de-de de-de de-dum) the crowd went wild in instant recognition and when The Man slipped quietly onto the stage, the Velodrome stood up in adoration for this long-lost legend. I Wonder was wonderful and after the song, Rodriguez just stood and stared at the audience in awe.

Only Good For Conversation was done hard and heavy with great guitar from Willem Möller.
“..you’re so proper and so cute” sang Rodriguez with a smile in his voice.

Can’t Get Away was superb and when he started to sing the second verse again by mistake, the band supported him and the audience forgave him.

All the favourites followed with the arrangements staying very close to the originals and the crowd hanging on every word. Tonia Selley from The Pressure Cookies and Big Sky provided superb backing vocals throughout.

A highlight was the solo rendition of “A Most Digusting Song” sung with great humour. “There’s someone here who’s almost a virgin I’m told” was met with much laughter.
And when he sang “…your government will provide the shrugs” a responsive chord was hit, even though this song was written in 1970!

Rodriguez doesn’t say much, he lets his music and words speak to us, but he did give us one message:

I want to wish you the best of luck
in everything you do,
you’re gonna do it,
you’re gonna solve it,
you’re gonna heal ’em,
you’re gonna do it

– perceptive and profound words from this poet and prophet.

And then into an absolutely incredible blues-rock version of Climb Up On My Music. Willem Möller burnt up his fretboard with a classic rock guitar solo and Russel Taylor played a jazzy-blues keyboard solo which left us breathless.

Rodriguez slipped away as the band ended the song, but soon returned to perform a 3-song encore starting with Sugar Man, then Establishment Blues and ending with the perfect show-closer Forget It with those poignant words “Thanks for your time“.

Thank you, Cape Town” sang Rodriguez.

No, thank YOU, Rodriguez – the mystery and myth may be gone, but the music and memories will live forever and the magic of that night will stay with us always.

Rodriguez and Brian Currin on the 7th March 1998... with just autographed, rolled-up set list clutched in his hand!
Rodriguez and Brian Currin on the 7th March 1998… with just autographed, rolled-up set list clutched in his hand!

6th March 1998 Bellville Velodrome Cape Town

  1. I Wonder
  2. Only Good For Conversation
  3. Can’t Get Away
  4. Crucify Your Mind
  5. Jane S. Piddy
  6. To Whom It May Concern
  7. Like Janis
  8. Inner City Blues
  9. Street Boy
  10. Halfway Up The Stairs
  11. I Think Of You
  12. Rich Folks Hoax
  13. Climb Up On My Music

    Encores:

  14. Sugar Man
  15. Establishment Blues
  16. Forget It

Here is a scan of the planned set list from the sound engineer’s mixing desk; compare this to what was actually played!

Set List 6 March 1998

Sunday Argus 8 March 1998

Rodriguez Live in Bellville
(reprinted here with kind permission of Evan Milton)

70s (and 80s and, it seems 90s) folk-rock “icon” Sixto Rodriguez played his first South African performance live at the Bellville Velodrome on Friday, 6 March 1998.
Evan Milton was there.

“He’s really alive!” were the words on more than one nostalgic fan’s lips as a crowd of over 2 000 listened to Rodriguez’s first ever live performance in South Africa – and his first appearance on stage in 18 years. The “Sugar Man” enthralled from the first, instantly recognisable, notes of “I Wonder” through to the much requested and long-awaited “The Establishment Blues”. South African Music Association “Best Album” winners Big Sky ably supported the visitor, with Willem Möller’s electric guitar providing a focus during the simpler musical songs, with Russel Taylor’s hammond and Graeme Currie’s bass underpinning the set. Rodriguez was visibly moved by the audience’s enthusiastic response, chanting his name between every song, and with a round of applause and calls of “Rodriguez we love you” following each song.

The Mexican American revealed a refreshingly contrasting “superstar attitude” to other recent international visitors, repeatedly bowing and thanking both band and audience. At one point the singer called for silence, in his unmistakable voice said, “A picture” and stepped back, miming the action of taking a huge snapshot of his fans. Ranging in age from 16 to 50-plus, those fans sang along to most tunes, with nostalgia and youthful idealism in equal measure as the older remembered their upstart 70s youth and the younger drew on the libertarian lyrics and social commentary as idealistic focus inspiration. Finishing the one-and-a-half hour set, Rodriguez was briefly visible on a parapet leading to the dressing rooms, and waved a final farewell to the ecstatic crowd. After the concert, he shook hands with, and personally thanked the hundred-or-so VIP guests, eagerly and animatedly signing autographs, engaging with stories of when and where people had listened to his albums and impressing everyone with his warmth and sincerity. Many left the concert with plans to purchase a second ticket for Saturday night’s performance.

This review was also published with a few changes in the Sunday Argus on the 8th March 1998 under the title: “Sugar Man” Rodriguez sings it to adoring crowd.

Cape Review April 1998

Cape Review, April 1998

Hail Sixto Rodriguez!

“Hey I thought this guy was dead?”
by Kitty Couzyn

It’s one of those Fridays. You know the ones; tickets and invites abound, but all a poor journalist feels like is slipping down a pool cue into a coma some where. Mr Branson’s Virgin Cola launch on Wednesday still monkeys the brain (The Sandton Sun will never be the same again… yuk yuk – those little red canned Virgins with a twist of V-vodka thrown in. shudder). Ah, what the hell, it is after all the Rodriguez concert I’ve been invited to. Time to scrape the carcass into the volkswagen and speed off in the same direction as Zaire. Finally, after finding directions from a toothless garage attendant that assuredly I’ve seen speaking backwards in a Lynch movie, screech to a halt outside the Bellville Velodrome. It’s always heartwarming to see how the local constabulary selflessly protect us at big concerts. (It’s like the annual Big-Blue-Braai out here). Judging by all the rumour and heresay I’d heard this concert was either going to a significant moment or a vaguely embarrassing spectacle. Didn’t this guy shoot himself in the head on stage to protest the general dullness of life when I was about seventeen? Didn’t Agent Mulder discover proof that Nancy Reagan had abducted his father? After eventually wheedling my way into the VIP section for free booze, I witnessed a story that could unfold into an epic fable:
They found him serving petrol in a garage in South America”
“No it was America.”
“Isn’t it amazing that this guy was only famous in Australia, New Zealand and SA”
“You’re kidding? I always thought He was a god in America!”
“Nah, his record company went bust before he was distributed.”
A PR company couldn’t have created a better angle if they had been on Peyote and Prozac simultaneously. We were about to watch a man perform for the first time in about twenty years. I met the SA journalist who had tracked him down and asked him how he was doing. “Well the truth of the matter is that he’s got severe stage fright. We’re just calming him down.”

As the crowd waited and the news of his shyness filtered out to the four thousand odd devotees, a chant begun. Rodriguez! Rodriguez! Rodriguez! We were all gently encouraging the dude that virtually defined our hey-shoo-wow contemplate-the-universe and overindulge-in-giggle-twig-years. Finally there he was. The Bob Dylan of the Southern Hemisphere, the green poet of our generation. The deliciously anti-establishment prophet of the grey-pit in which we currently reside.He’s dressed in a tie, black shirt and squiggly-print waist coat like some caricatured spaghetti-western version of a coke-dealer.
“That’s funny, he’s actually the age now that I’ve always expected him to be”
In most of our minds he was the dude from the Cold Fact album cover. There he looked like some big bad-ass Indian oil-rig worker. The sweet man with the Donny Osmond shades and ingriating smile was not who we expected. It was impossible not to pick up the sheer bewilderment on his face. It was like:
“Hey esse! Who da fok all these people shouting fo?”
Then began the singing. There it was, that golden voice. After twenty years, like it was mellowed in casks of oak – if anything, more rich and golden. The only way to describe the tidal wave of emotion that erupted is with gratuitous exploitation of expletives and superlatives. Unbelievable! Awesome! Shivers up a thousand spines! One of, if not the best concerts ever in Cape Town. Everyone, knew every word. No, you don’t understand. Every! Word! At one point, the man faltered on a verse and the crowd calmly kept on singing, lifting him back onto the melody like a nurturing mother on the day of her baby’s first steps. What made the whole scene specially touching was the transparency of his true amazement. Imagine going to an obscure country that you’ve never seen before, just to find there are thousands of people who still adore you, for songs you sung in your youth. He was literally a resurrected angel for two mightily special hours. The encore would have gone on all night if they had been allowed to.

At the after-party, the buzz was just soooo infectious. He signed autographs and graciously met all those who wanted to shake his hand. I am Twenty-seven and like to think of myself as beyond the sycophantic irritation stage. But this I had to be part of. Everyone in that room had dreams of Rodriguez taking over America – a resurrection supreme. Some sadly doubted the reality, I for one believe wholeheartedly that Rodriguez could storm the Grammies in 1999.
If we have anything to do with it, he will.
Thank you Mr R, we’ll never forget you,
Now give us your sunglasses!

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