Category Archives: Music

Elephant Shoes to Ground You.

grob

Winslow Schalkwyk the first feature poet at the relaunch of Grounding Sessions.

So the story goes as follows :Erin Bosenberg a multi-disciplinary media and performance artist  whom I had met  when performing  at Badilisha’s  One Hundred Thousand Poets for Change (2011) , approached me to perform at what was then a very popular gig, called Grounding Sessions . Grounding Sessions was curated by Jamaican born poet D’bi Young as a space for community expression. The event took place at at Tagore’s in Observatory every Monday evening.

Erin hosted the show that evening, but herself  and Desiree Bailey, another performer from Badilisha , took turns at maintaining the show after D’bi had departed Cape Town. That night, I was the feature poet . This meant my set was longer than usual and I could set the tone for the evening.  It felt as if it was my stage , where I could steer the show as I saw fit. The audience members were receptive and seemed to engage well with the work.  Unbeknownst to me , the audience were mostly poets themselves.  Grounding Sessions was a safe space that gave voice to both experienced and novice poets who all wrote around a theme prompted at the prior show.

The theme that evening was – Nothing. After I had had finished, the open mic resumed and poets brought forth various perspectives on the theme.

Like a whirlwind, a young man guitar in hand had entered the room . He stepped to the mic and he said he’d like to share song to which the audience obliged to.The first lyrics of the song were: “I thought I won the lotto, when I fell for miss one of a kind”, okay entertaining enough, but what stuck was when he got to the chorus and belted out the following :  “And all she said was elephant shoes, elephant shoes”. Yes, Jimmy Nevis had intercepted my stage. How did I know this? Because the theme for the next weekend at the Grounding Sessions was …ELEPHANT SHOES and I was completely overshadowed by Mr Nevis!

fr fr2

I never the performance much thought after, despite his voice being pleasant . The very next week however, the radio blasted : “Elle, elle, elle” .  IT was on the radio, that very song!  This guy was famous all of a sudden. I couldn’t believe it! Fast forward to the next time I saw him The next time I saw him after was at Living Room, a club in Bellville. He was booked to perform , but there was not a chance that I could get close to him  to convey this story because he was surrounded by bodyguards!

I still could not believe that this singer guy,who had hijacked my stage, had turned out to be famous the very next week. It was beyond me. In retrospect it makes complete sense. Tagore’s is that the type of venue that allows for that kind of magic.

When going to Tagore’s you never know what may transpire, but you don’t fight the ambiance of the place either.  You go with it.  It has an air of mystery and sanctity about it. It is ultimately a performance space that houses talent. An intimate platform that allows for poetry and music. Many a renowned and unknown artist has touched stage with that venue. Hence the Jimmy Nevis overnight sensation phenomena.

So now that Observatory is where I reside, and poetry seems so far away, a revival of Grounding Sessions seems in order.

Each Tuesday will host a feature poet and an Open-mic where poets are given the opportunity to share writing related to chosen theme.   The commencement date of the first insallment will be February 24th. The theme is  The History of love, in keeping with the month of love (February) and Black History month.  Winslow Schalkwyk will be the first feature poet. Do come,if not for any other reason besides that I have Elephant shoes to fill, and a dream to see through.

.


New kids on the block: Nomad Artiste Colony Cape Town

 

Spoken Word Showdown

Spoken Word Showdown

As far as poetry goes there are a few existing competitions that has gained a good following and reputability. Nationally, the DFL Lover + Another competition sees poets from each province competing for the title. The Word ‘n Sound Poetry and Live Music series runs throughout the year in  Johannesburg and has become a must-see-event with regard to the poetry scene. In Cape Town the InZync poetry competition presented by SLIPnet has drawn huge crowds and fantastic poets, not forgetting the Naked Slam hosted by Lingua Franca that in a short time has also become very popular.

Cue the new kids on the block: Nomad Artiste Colony Cape Town, an initiative by the very talented poet Kirsten Mackie and JP Voster, a DJ,and goes by the name of JP Silver. I had first met this dynamic duo when I was actually set to perform at their poetry show called Ms Kiki presents and since then they still manage to amaze me with their professionalism, respect for artists and the love of an array of art forms.

Ms Kiki is a platform for poets of various genres that serves as a means of self-expression and also allows the audience to experience various poets in their element. Ms Kiki has also gained a very good reputation having seen reputable poets gracing the stage.

Jp Voster and Kirsten Mackie

Jp Voster and Kirsten Mackie

Of late the Nomad Artiste Colony has launched added another leg to their repertoire called the Spoken Word Showdown, a competition that consists of heats that take place every Monday  at Players Restaurant & Bar at The River Club Observatory  at 19:00 pm. What however makes this poetry competition distinct is that it is dualistic. Spoken word in this sense  includes both poetry and comedy, which allows a platform for poets as well as comedians.

Last Monday , I attended the second quarter-final of the competition and was immensely impressed by the way these two art forms worked so well together. The showdown sees each  poet/comedian perform , thereafter the audience is asked to shout of a few words which the artists then have to use to compose something original on the spot. There after , the audience is then asked to vote by applauding whom they regard to be their favourite and voila …we have a winner in each craft.

The show was hosted by wordsmith Kyle Louw who did a stellar job and again proving that he was born for the stage. The poets that made it to the second  quarter-final included DejaVu Tafari, Sharnell Hill and Peter Gabriel McKinnon Wright. Dejavu could unfortunately not compete as she was in Bloemfontein working on the Reversing the Legacy exhibition with which she’s been touring to various provinces. The two remaining poets still managed to carry the show and provided great entrainment and insightful poetry.

Kyle Louw

Kyle Louw

 

When you first meet Sharnelle Hill,she may appear somewhat timid, but this petite lady reveals herself as a firecracker if enough time is spent. In some way her unassuming manner provides softness with regard to her poetry which focalizes a female narrative. Having seen Sharnelle perform a few times, I was quite taken aback by how her writing has grown, as well as how she now filled out the stage with her presence. Sharnelle agreed with my sentiment that she had improved since her maiden poetry performance “I feel as if that the competition has pushed me to be more creative and think more seriously of what I produce”, Hill said and also stated that she feels that her level of performance and writing is on the pinnacle of a personal breakthrough.

Sharnelle Hill

Sharnelle Hill

 

As with Sharnelle, Peter also seems coy at first until he hits the stage. This was my first time seeing him perform, and I was quite taken by his poetry. I did however feel that him reading his poetry, did deter from his performance, but he also concurred that he is fostering that side of his performance. Peter does however have an enduring quality about him and his writing ability is not to be questioned as he trumped everyone with his impromptu poem based on the words provided by the audience.

Sharnelle Hill and

Sharnelle Hill and Peter Gabriel McKinnon Wright

The comedians were very entertaining and I was so appreciative that this component of the competition existed. It opens one’s eyes that with in every art form there exists a community of artists committed to living out their dreams and pursuing their passions. In the quarter-final comedians Eugene Matthews, Westley Cockrell and Lee-Ann Anny Davis were the competitors.

Eugene Mathews is nothing short of fabulous to say the least. He has been performing comedy  for “3yearsand 4months” to be exact. You may recognize him from the CTV television show called TaxiVision, and also features on the radio show called The Taxi. He performs regularly at the Armchair Sundays in Obseveratory and has regularly hosted to The Premium Comedy for Angels event. Eugene has a natural flair and his conversational style of comedy makes one feel quite comfortable even though his jokes are on the racy side. Eugene’s set speaks to culture, but also the realities and nuances of being a gay man and this is rather refreshing considering how he tells his tale and is unapologetic about it. Eugene also said the following with regard to the competition “I’m impressed by how well the event has been organized and advertised”.

Eugene Matthews

Eugene Mathews

Westley Cockrell, a sound engineer originally from George incorporated his small town roots into his comedy. He is Afrikaans speaking and though he does his set in English, he pokes fun at stereotypes of Afrikaners. Wesley suggested that there be specific time allocations, especially for he comedians.

Westley Cockrell

IMG_0847

Lee-Ann Anny Davis

 

Lee-Anne Anny Davis had me in stitches throughout her set. She has a great stage presence and layers her set with topics about her education, motherhood and her heritage. She mentioned that one of the comedians who inspired her was Melanie Shevlane, who’s been in the comedy game for yonks. It was interesting that she mentioned this, as I could see similarities with regard to the content, but Davis does have her own style, distinct, concise and hilarious.

The winners of the evening, by vote of the audience were Shanelle Hill and Lee-Ann Anny Davis. Both well-deserved.

Lee-Anne Anny Davis, Kyle Louw and Sharnell Hill

Lee-Anne Anny Davis, Kyle Louw and Sharnell Hill

The crowd was also entertained by the guest performer Michael-Ashley Jones, who has the most spell bounding voice. I first meat Michael at a series of gigs called MUTE in the Northern Suburbs. He is refreshing and very talented.

Michael-Ashley Jones

Michael-Ashley Jones

The heats for the third quarter-final has already begun. To sign up as either a poet or comedian you can send your bio, a photo aswell as your contact number to nacct@mailbox.co.za.

 

 


The man my mother wanted me to wed: Kyle Sheperd

kylie

It was the start of high school and at 14 , scrawny and anonymous I felt disconnected. I found myself in a class without my “closest friends”. My fellow classmates seemed to have formed cliques and groups and there was a real sense of camaraderie about them. I did not share in these feelings.

A week into school, our teacher Mr Fransman announced that a new boy would be joining our class and his name was Kyle Sheperd. As if out of an American chick-flick, Kyle Sheperd casually walked into our class and perhaps it was my imagination, but I swear, there was an orchestra, and wind, yes, definitely wind.

This boy was good-looking, but his attractiveness fell not mainly on the eyes, for he had an air about himself and yet remained completely accessible.

Kyle Sheperd had come from Boston Primary school, I can’t retain exactly why he missed those first few days of school, perhaps it was to make an entrance? Back then I was an aspiring musician. I played the piano, not as miserably as you would think, but I was way too lazy to practice and fared much better in the theoretical part of music than the practical part. The benefit of being a music student at The Settlers High School was that we has the luxury of having free periods whilst students took turns for their practical lessons. It was during this time that I got to know the boy behind the orchestra and the wind-in-hair visuals.

I was that girl who had two male best friends, both named Kyle. One a Sheperd , the other a Fortuin. They were both Casanova’s and I had it in my mind that if I was attentive enough I would never fall so blindly for men with charm and good looks as the other girls did. So yes, we were friends. We chatted, we joked, we partied together ( and yes, we did party), and more so, we had an intimate bond that could only be defined as love. Whenever I greeted Kyle goodbye after a school function outside the school gates, my mother would always marvel and say ” Sjoe maar hy’s ‘n mooi klong, so ‘n seun moet jy trou” (Translation: Gosh, his a beautiful boy, you should marry a boy like him).

When we reached Grade 10, sixteen and sweet, something changed. Sheppie, as we affectionately called him, started to lose his mind, or so we thought. Instead of our usual banter during breaks times and our weekend escapades and our Monday morning recollections about the weekend’s escapades, Kyle had found a new love and she was called Piano and he spent all his time with her and her trebles and clefs

I for one was mortified. What had happened to Kyle? Why was he acting so old, practicing and practising? He had already mastered the violin why this new girl Piano? Of all the females vying for his affection, she just blatantly pissed me off. Kyle became somewhat  of a recluse, mumbling about Abdulla Ibrahim, choosing to spend his breaks in the music room under the wing of the eccentric, only now I realise brilliant , music teacher Mr Hugo Smuts. Why Kyle? Is all I ever asked, and conspired with his then girlfriend and Fortuin to unravel this mystery.

Eventually, we just let him be and do his thing. It was worth having percentage of him , than losing him in his entirety. High school progressed and thereafter we lost touch. Kyle attended UCT, to pursue a music degree and subsequently left University prior to attaining his degree. Thereafter I have physically spoken/seen Kyle a total of three times.

1) 2008: I chatted to him over Mxit (Yes Mxit was trendy then, and yes this did constitute real contact). He was living with my then boyfriend in Johannesburg trying to make it as a young artist .It was a fruitful conversation about everything and it reminded me of the good old days
2)2008: At the 21st birthday of an mutual friend, where we danced and chatted and became aware that Kyle was a fantastic saxophonist, since he played masterfully at that evening.
3)2009: At the Baxter Theatre where I performed in a show and ran into Kyle at the entrance, only to find that he was in fact coming to my very show.

The rest, well goes a little something like this:

Kyle Sheperd bursts onto the Jazz scene. Kyle Sheperd tours with Afrikaaps. Kyle Sheperd’s debut album Fine Art nominated for a SAMA (South African Music Award) for Best New comer and Best traditional Jazz (2011). Kyle Sheperd’s A Portrait of Home nominated for a SAMA award in the Best traditional Jazz category (2012). Kyle Sheperd’s South African History!X nominated for a SAMA award for the Best traditional Jazz category (2013). Kyle Sheperd on kykNet, Kyle Sheperd touring the world, Kyle Sheperd winner of the 2014 Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Jazz.

historykylealbum-portrait2

album-fineart2

And finally this evening: Kyle Sheperd on Top Billing. I almost missed it, but my best friend sent me a message and reminded me in time. We both marvelled at how handsome he still is and how grown up he looks.

She ( the best friend) then went on to say, “he made it”, and she’s right. He did. He believed in his dream and pursued it relentlessly and it only seems to be taking him to greater heights. Additionally, Kyle tunes into a history ignored, the legacy of the traditional and I’m always in awe as to how his journey of unearthing this history coincides with his art. He fuses the history of South Africa into his music and traditional sounds such as Ghoema music is very present on Kyle’s albums. He currently performs worldwide and will also be featured early July next year at the Grahamstown National Arts festival.

Needless to say, I doubt I’ll ever marry Kyle to my mother’s disappointment , but I am so glad  that Sheppie found that girl called piano and so immensely proud of all that he is to Jazz and art in South Africa.