Music: Kalahari Karoo Blues

Last week I spent some time with the musicians featured in David Kramer’s Kalahari Karoo Blues.

Similar to the previous, Karoo Kitaar Blues, this showcase of unique talent is rare and a glimpse into a remarkable part of Southern Africa that most city dwellers would never otherwise experience.

“Dit is ’n bruisende, onvoorspelbare viering van die ongelooflike skeppende krag en talent van die mense van Suider-Afrika.” Die Burger

The musicians have travelled to Cape Town from rural parts of the Karoo and Botswana to showcase their unique talents at the Baxter Theatre.  Music, for most of them, is a hobby and a way to pass the time.

David Kramer with Oteng Piet

David Kramer with Oteng Piet

Oteng Piet is a herdsman from Botswana who plays his handmade one-stringed Segaba to keep himself company during long solitary work days. The instrument is made from hand carved wood, a wire from a tyre and a squashed oil can as a resonator.

“Oteng Piet creates an entertaining blend of beautiful music and peculiar humour that is a delight to watch”  Cape Times


Mary Kriel

Mary Kriel hails from Vredendal. She sings traditional songs and accompanies herself by strumming an empty coffee tin. Off stage she is a polite pensioner but put her on a stage and her confidence shines.

“Mary Kriel melted hearts with her traditional Namaqua dress, her animated Karoo rieldansroutines and her unpretentious soulful songs.”  Rolling Stone SA

Babsi Baralong in Kalahari Karoo Blues

Babsi Baralong in Kalahari Karoo Blues

This is Babsi’s first professional gig at 80 years old.  He is a class act and a snappy dresser. Babsi plays a handmade  3-stringed Fenjoro (not pictured). If you are lucky enough to see him dance, you are in for a treat.

Ronnie Moipolai in Kalahari Karoo Blues

Ronnie Moipolai in Kalahari Karoo Blues

Ronnie's upside-down left hand "katara" style

Ronnie’s upside-down left hand “katara” style

Ronnie Moipolai was the inspiration for Kalahari Karoo Blues. The YouTube clips of him have had millions of views and prompted Kramer to track him down. Moipolai is a troubadour, he earns money playing in shebeens around Botswana.

Moipolai is astounding. Jaw-dropping stuff.

Hannes Coetzee's original teaspoon slide guitar technique

Hannes Coetzee’s original teaspoon slide guitar technique

Hannes Coetzee was featured in the original Karoo Kitaar Blues concert and the documentary of the same name. He invented this teaspoon slide guitar technique as a teenager and has become well-known around the world for this challenging and inventive style of playing. Hannes makes his living tapping aloes in the Karoo and thanks to the power of the internet, he now earns money from his music and performances as well.

“If you aren’t compelled to rise to your feet at the end of this show and applaud until your hands are raw then I’d suggest you go see a doctor, because you’re probably dead.”

If you’d like to read more about Kalahari Karoo Blues, here are links to a few of the first reviews.

Rolling Stone SA by Willim Welsyn by Eugene Yiga

BroadwayWorld by David Fick

Die Burger  (Afrikaans)  

9-19 January 2013 at the Baxter Theatre

Tickets from Computicket or any Shoprite/Checkers


Theatre: A Number

Caryl Churchill’s father and son play, A Number, starring Timothy and Samuel West (real father and son), opens at The Fugard Theatre this week.

Directed by Jonathan Munby, the play examines the intricate concept of identity, the age-old question of “nature versus nurture” and the highly controversial concept of human cloning.

This production (unexpectedly) really made me push my camera to it’s limits. There were a number (excuse the pun) of photographic challenges to try and capture a variety of interesting shots.

I love this one because it was literally “a shot in the dark”, one where you keep snapping with a small chance that you might capture something without being able to see. Two beams of light move around the stage rather quickly during a scene change and I caught one as it moved over Tim West. Magic! Like capturing a firefly, so exciting.

Timothy West in A NUMBER at The Fugard Theatre

We are very fortunate to have a production of this calibre in Cape Town at the moment, thanks to Eric Abraham and The Fugard theatre for bringing it to our doorstep. The London reviewers say:

***** ‘Theatre at its powerful best’ The Sunday Times
***** ‘A sensational play in every sense’ Sunday Express
**** ‘The West dynasty thrives” The Times
**** ‘Superb acting from the Wests’ Evening Standard
**** ‘Jonathan Munby’s riveting revival’ Mail on Sunday

If you’d like to see more, there are photos of rehearsals and production on my website.

Theatre: Purgatorio

All the best to the Baxter Theatre team who are premiering Purgatorio at the National Arts Festival today!

Purgatorio is a reworking of the Jason and Medea story and stars Terry Norton and Dawid Minnaar, trapped in purgatory because they can’t forgive each other for the wrongs they have committed.  After it’s Grahamstown debut, you can catch it on the Flipside at the Baxter Theatre from the 7th-30th July.

Written by Ariel Dorfman

Directed by Clare Stopford

Designed by Leopold Senekal

Lighting Design: Patrick Curtis

Visual Score: Kai Lossgott

Wardrobe & Props: Koos Marais

Teater: Wag

I really enjoyed photographing UCT’s student production of Wag last night. Some really fun moments, local references and sleek design. Only 4 chances to catch it 11-14 May 2011

Final year UCT Drama students Gerald Dhunrajah, Bianca Flanders, Electra Nathania Hartman, Iman Isaacs and Hannes Otto can be seen in Wag at The Little Theatre. Directed by Sandra Temmingh, the play reflects our economically challenging climate where the arts take a back seat, with five young, ambitious actors ‘temporarily’ resort to waitering in a restaurant – the waiting room for life.