Last month DJ Ruth Pearl Molteno played at Jam that session. A few mutual friends and I decided to check her out. When we got there however, the venue had reached its capacity we and couldn’t get in. This sucked.I love seeing Ruth play. I watched one of Ruth’s very first performances at a gig I had a hand in hosting called, Soul School, where Gary Arsenic played too.
Being shunned from the gig, left me with a weird feeling. Like there was an exclusivity to it, and it kind of made me wonder “what’s all the fuss about and why the hell can’t I get in?”. Now however, I can totally attest why there should be a fuss about Jam that Session.
While doing Love Psalms at the Baxter I met an array of artists. Mfundo Ntobongwana was one of them. While talking to him backstage found, I found out that he was involved in the production of Jam that Session. I then said (‘cause I’m forward like that) “put me on the list to perform” ( I might have threatened him too, I can’t recall, it’s such a blur) . As the universe works, if you ask, it is given, so I was confirmed to performed at Jam that Session on the 7TH of April
The sound check was scheduled for 11:00 am. It took me a while to find the venue, I had only been to Ragazzi when it was in Long street, but now the venue has moved to 7 Loop street. It was great though, walking through the city, I felt very poetry Cape Town. I had decided to channel poet/ performer Natasha Tafari that day. Natasha ran this gig in Cape Town called Words worth saying, which was really a great platform for artists .I was immediately intrigued by her. Not only was her poetry brilliant, but this was a woman with guts. She was soooo hip hop and managed to be a boss in high heels and a long skirt. I won’t ever forget how cool she looked, so when thinking about what to wear, my ensemble was immediately a throwback to Natasha.
The sound check never really happened, but I was there and this gave me time to mingle. I met the owners of the brand Jam that Session, Andy Mkosi and Obie Mavuso. On their production team is Mfundo Ntobongwana , Mawetu Matyila, Sam Lehoko and Ntsika Bradaki.
To start the Jam, The Unity band , consisting of Lumanyano Mzi, Brandon Hendrix and Gideon Gidz accompanied Nyanga singer Bukiwe Zinganto. They really got the crowd going. Additionally the band invited Mfundo on stage and he recited a poem ,that I’m totally in love with, called “Dear Future Wife”. Mfundo seduces with his words , and in the most gentlemanly manner too. I’m sure most of those ladies in the audience were riling to be his future wife with poetry like that.
Up next was Nique-Floe Sithole. Nique also performed with me at Love Psalms. He has the ability to paint the most beautiful images with his words. Nique recited two poems and he was absolutely amazing.
The audience was then blessed by the wonderful Lebogang Nova Masango. Lebogang hails from Jozi and literally just pulled through to do one poem. This woman is powerful. The title of her poem “A love Supreme : A lesson to poetry women and Jazz men” which was quite apt considering it was the International Jazz Festival in Cape Town that weekend as well. Lebogang had the audience sipping on her words as if it was a good glass of wine. The purrs and murmurs that resounded from the audience spoke to the depth and insight she conveyed.Lebogang was also part of the renowned Word N Sound Poetry and Live Music Festival in Jozi (2011).
Kneo Mokgopa then stepped to the stage. I find Kneo very interesting. He has the calmest demur before show time, I’m the total opposite-completely hyper. As soon as he steps on the stage though, he completely transforms. He becomes this ball of energy that gets you mesmerized. He performed the extended version of his poem “I dare you to love me”. Kneo will be representing South Africa as part of the Vocal Revolutions team that will that will be touring to Chicago in August.
I then performed two pieces and that stage immediately felt like home. I was apprehensive about performing at Jam that session, given the array of acts and considering I couldn’t get in last month made me think it was a party vibe, not conducive to poetry, but my fears were totally irrational. It felt like everyone actually listened and internalized what had been said. I’ll state without an inkling of a doubt that Jam that Session is an amazing platform for poets.I totally endorse it.
Reeling from stage high, a phenomenon that will be explained in a later blog, I fixed my eyes to the stage where the remarkable Koleka Putuma worked it out. I sometimes make the joke that Koleka is the artist formally known as Coco. When Koleka started doing poetry she was dubbed Coco, but then one day she plainly stated on Facebook that she would like to be known as Koleka. I don’t blame this sister, she can call herself whatever she wants ‘cause when it comes down to it, she can irrefutably back it up.
What I love most about Coco is that she is a real writer.She is a skilled, concise writer , whose words mask so many meanings and metaphors and you are actually left in awe by how layered her work is. It doesn’t hurt that she’s easy on the eyes and a great performer. Coco IS theatre and coincidentally, she is training at UCT in this art form. Please go check out the play she’ll be in soon called Comic Book. I’ll definitely be writing more about Coco in the future, she’s someone to watch.
Flo’Mantric Yabo & Nasiphi Orla Matoni then hit the stage with lots of finesse and a no holds barred kind of style.
To conclude the poetry section of the event Jaqui ThePoet Dichabe, Mfundo Ntobongwana and Kgothasto Motshele graced the stage. As mentioned, Mfundo performed with me at Love Psalms and Kgothatso was also part of that show. Mfundo will be joining the Vocal Revolution team in America, playing mentoring role for the participating contestants .
Kgothatso is definitely something magnificent . She has the softest nature and she is so in tune with who she is, that it permeates so effortlessly through her work. She has the same ability that Mbali Vilikazi has with regard to storytelling. She states what she has to say plainly , but it touches because it’s so true, it is wonderful to watch her.
The three poets performed a piece simultaneously and props has to be given to them for being innovative. After their performance Mfundo stated that he was really privileged to share the stage with Jaqui The Poet. Jaqui has been performing in Cape Town for ten years. This was the first time I witnessed her on stage. She also acts as mentor to both Mfundo and Kgothatso and if the work of these poets is testament to her work, she must be a brilliant mentor.
As the theme for this month was visual arts , the guest speaker was talented Loyiso Mkize . I have seen his art posted on Facebook and immediately liked it.Actually meeting him and speaking to him was rather something.
Loyiso spoke about two of his artworks, and let me tell you, this brother is for real. There is so much detail in his art and the symbolism in it , that I’m left to agree with him when he said that just as these poets create with their words “I paint poetry”.
Loyiso is brilliant and he is also still in awe of how his art has influenced people. He said the best feeling is when younger artists deem him as inspiration. Loyiso spoke on freedom and how our generation of artists have the ability to redefine who want to be. He also has the utmost respect for women and spoke of them as queens- my kind of brother.
Jam that Session provided some magic- literally. Meet Jason, who managed to swop a card from my mouth to his, it was very crazy.
A performance by Selwalesizwe, a perscussion group, with a lead singer that pierces the soul.
I met the members of Green Grass Grow. The performed with Mongz Baritone are they are fantastic. This group, who are a kaleidoscope of cultures, translates music through a unique sound .
I also managed to experience The Fam before they hit the stage. These gents are MC’s of the highest order. I was sitting outside with my friends and they just started spitting rhymes about us sitting there.I have mad respect for MC’s their ability and talent are true manifestations of God, they are insane.
I have to give a shout out to the Dj’s that held it down. Your jams had the jammers going! Apologies to the acts I never got to see, I had to slip even though the party was still in full force when I left. Apologies to those that are not mentioned.
It was great being able to meet everyone and talk art . My last blog post
https://shouldbetold.wordpress.com/2013/04/05/this-is-not-hollywood-or-the-uk-or-or-or/ I made some tongue-in-cheek comments with regard to being paid for one’s art form.
I however, omitted that it is not that easy as I made it out to be. Obie informed me that the entry fee just about covers the venue, the bouncers and the sound engineer for the event. If you’ve ever organized a gig, you know that this in itself is a pretty penny.
We did discuss that by getting your event to be reputable, then allowing you to apply for various sponsorships, which would hopefully lighten the load. Sponsorships also you the prospect of then paying your artists. Obie let me know that they are in talks for sponsorship and that paying the artists performing at Jam that Session, is something they are working toward.
Given that I was a performer at the gig, I do have a few tips for the organizers. Clear communication is imperative, so with regard to sound checks, whoever is organizing the event should set the sound check closer to the time of the gig, in that way not having your artists mill around unnecessarily.
This is a tough one, but my advice to organizers is to start on time, or at least an half-hour after the scheduled time of the event. I understand the logic in waiting longer to pull a bigger crowd for the performers, but, one can’t neglect the audience members who were punctual.
Sending the set list to your performers before the event also helps so that you create a line of communication and give your artists and idea of what to expect before hand.
If possible, only have the equipment needed on stage for a specific performance. Too many electronics and instruments on the stage create an eyesore for your audience and may also hinder the artist’s performances.
Further than that, I would say I thoroughly enjoyed the gig. It reminded me of a mixture of Nicole Biondi’s (nee Moody) monthly Verses that took place at the old Zula bar and it also showed resemblances to Toni Stuart and Kent Lingeveldt’s Expression Sessions, that occurred at the former Ragazzi.
Jam that Session is cool, l because it allows for all art forms and contrary to my initial perception, this event is not exclusive, but evidently inclusive.
Check them out here : Jam that Session to support their monthly show.