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



Most of us agree that the choice of music on radio stations in Cape Town is pretty sad. After much frustration and searching the airwaves in my car without cd player, I dial in 104.9fm whenever I can get a signal! Heart fm is known for playing classics and old favourites, perfect for singing along to in the car.

Some of you will already know about Clarence Ford’s show on a Sunday evening at 6pm. He calls it ‘Me Time’ and plays classics such as:

‘With a little help from my friends’ – Joe Cocker

‘Moon River‘ – Andy Williams

‘There’s a kind of hush’ – Engelbert Humperdinck

‘Chestnuts roasting on an open fire’ – Johnny Mathis

‘I write the songs’ – Barry Manilow

…and those are just a few from last night’s show.

Clarence Ford, Alistair Izobell and superbly talented performers & musicians are bringing you a LIVE version of ‘Clarrie’s Favourites’. RADIO CLASSICS will be at the Baxter Theatre from 22 November 2012 until 5 January.  This is Radio in 3D! You won’t want to miss the costumes, sets, glitter and beautiful lighting in the Baxter’s Main Theatre.

I was lucky enough to sneak in during their first week of rehearsals and Nur Abrahams’ vocal stylings already had everyone falling off their chairs in excitement.

Performers on stage include: Clarence Ford, Alistair Izobell, Nur Abrahams, Edith Plaatjies and Aleshia Solomons

Supported by the magnificient band:

Don-veno Prins – Musical Director & saxophone
Trevino Isaacs – keyboards
Keagan Links– drummer
Jason De Laney – guitar
Brandon Ruiters – trumpet
Trombone – Murray Buitendag
Charlton Daniels – bass guitar

Ticket prices range from: R125 to R150

If you book early, there are low price previews: 22nd, 23rd and 24th Nov with all seats at R110.

This would be a great way to spend  New Years Eve!

Creative Portrait: Lucy Tops

I’ve been doing a few creative portrait sessions recently and I’d like to share this fabulous shoot with up-and-coming recording artist, Lucy Tops.

You may have seen Lucy in her one woman show ‘Absolucy’ or ‘Face the Music’. She was a National Arts Festival Ovation award winner in 2012. Lucy is managed by Stereotype records and you can listen to a few of her tracks here.

We began the shoot in Woodstock using some of the rocking street art that is decorating the area due to the efforts of A Word of Art.  Lucky for me, Lucy was not too shy to strut her stuff for the camera and the many, many workmen driving past with their tongues hanging out of their bakkie windows.

We were inspired by Lucy’s new song, That’s Not Cool written by Riyaan Cornelius and Neil Payten which will be hitting the radio waves soon.   The song has an Eighties Euro-Pop sound and you can see we had lots of fun with some Eighties pop styling. Big thanks to Courtney Holgate and Claire Hills for the styling and make-up, it was wonderful to work with such a cohesive and creative team.

You can see and hear Lucy Tops at her next public performance at Cafe Manhattan on 18 November or follow her schedule via twitter @lucy_tops or on Facebook.
Photography/Art Direction: Jesse Kate Kramer
Stylist: Courtney Holgate
Make-up: Claire Hills
Artist/Model: Lucy Tops

Yoga kids

Last year I was asked to contribute a photo to the first Devayani Charity Calendar. The idea is that photographers from all over the world are asked to donate an inspiring photo of a child practising yoga and choose a charity they would like to support. All the photos are available to the public to vote for their favourites. Proceeds from the sales of the calendar get divided amongst the 12 charities chosen. It is a wonderful international project in kindness and the spirit of yoga.

This photo which was used in the Devayani 2012 Calendar came about because of the extraordinary work of Off the Mat, Into the World, the Earthchild Project and  The Global Seva Challenge. I spent a hugely inspiring and memorable day with these organisations and I love the photos so much, they always bring a big smile to my face. I hope they will for you too.

Here is a little bit more information about the organisations (and then there are lots of happy photos I promise):

Off the Mat, Into the World (USA)  use the power of yoga to inspire conscious, sustainable activism and ignite grassroots social change.  Every year they choose an international destination and raise funds. “Since 2007, the Seva Challenge has raised over two million dollars for projects in Cambodia, Uganda, South Africa and Haiti. These funds are raised mainly by yoga teachers and enthusiasts in the States and the top fundraisers are invited to join The Seva Challenge: a transformational journey that builds community, provokes awareness and action around global issues, and raises significant funds to support communities in crisis.”

In 2010 Off the Mat, Into the World (OTM) travelled to South Africa and one of their chosen benefactors was one close to my heart, the Earthchild Project.

The Earthchild Project schools programme educates children on environmental and self-awareness and run extra-mural activities such as yoga, arts and crafts; practical teaching on how to grow and maintain an organic vegetable garden; a holiday programme; educational outings and a hiking club.

Janna Kretzmar, Director of the Earthchild Project was asked to write a wishlist of items that would benefit their programme. To the Earthchild Project’s delight, Off the Mat, Into the World decided to make  dreams come true and granted them funding for their largest request, a yoga studio for the children at Sakumlandela Primary School in Khayelitsha.

Below are some images of the absolutely wonderful day that the group from Off the Mat visited the Earthchild Project at Sakumlandela School to celebrate the new yoga classroom.


We were the first to arrive at the school and were greeted by a small group of enthusiastic little Yogis eager to show us their moves! The connection between Earthchild and OTM was said to be quite unique as they were the only NGO visited by OTM who incorporate yoga as part of their programme. 

When the kids started getting a little too hyped up, one of the more experienced volunteers suggested that they meditate….

The Earthchild teachers and students arrived to welcome and an emotional thank you to the OTM group who had travelled from the States. Nokuphiwo Jada from the Earthchild project, teaches lifeskills and yoga at the school but was previously only able to teach yoga outdoors due to the lack of indoor space and was overjoyed at the news. One of the older Earthchild students volunteered to lead a short meditation to bless the day. It was so inspiring to see the kids that have been in this programme for only a few years, passing on their knowledge and mentoring the younger ones already.

Then it was time for some fun ice-breaker games for everyone to get to know each other. The Americans suggested an introduction song and boogie which got loads of laughs and put everyone in a great mood for the rest of the day.

A number of teachers from Off the Mat, Into the World took turns to lead a wonderful yoga class for everyone which was such a treat!

There were some really fun positions for the kids. Here you can see tree position ‘being blown in the wind’ and an animal impression, looks like a lion doesn’t it? 

Then time for some partner yoga. I’d never seen this before, particularly to see the adults and kids working together. Everyone loved it!

Nokuphiwo wraps up the class and everyone is very relaxed. 

The kids then proudly took their new friends  to show them their vegetables and worm farms  which they look after at the Earthchild Project gardening club. Food grown here gets put towards nutritious meals for the kids during the school day.  It is quite remarkable to see this abundant haven in Khayelitsha which is usually seen as sandy and devoid of greenery.

The final activity of the day was to paint the big gift! Everyone got stuck in to paint the outside of the new classroom with bright colours  and happy pictures.

Nearing the end of the day, it seemed to be more fun to paint each other than the classroom  and Suzanne, one of the Directors from OTM, really got into the spirit of the day and let the kids get very creative!

Bottom Right: Suzanne Sterling (OTM Director), Janna Kretzmar (Earthchild Project Founder & Director), Seane Corn (OTM Founder & Director).

I don’t think anyone wanted to leave at the end of the day and goodbyes were said with gifts, grace and great big hugs!

One of my favourite images of this day has been put forward for the 2nd Devayani Calendar (2013). If you love the Earthchild Project and this image, please join the Devayani Facebook page and vote for it to be in the calendar before the end of July 2012!