Tuesday, May 29, 2007

no mercy for dead men

forgive the unprofessionally personal nature of this post. but death is about the living. and music makes angels and demons of all of us.

(read a more tempered, compassionate perspective here)


No mercy for dead men : unofficial obituary : ken E henson

Angry with a dead man I never loved.For holes he made in the love he made. For the hearts he broke.

Yesterday somebody asked me if I was a relative of Ken E. Henson. It was a curious question from Toast (Buckfever Underground). A displaced question, I thought. Nobody asks me that. Nobody knows that. Mine’s as trendy as the next disenfranchised family - post modernly fractured - I’d forgotten I’m connected to him at all. Technically. I put the enquiry down to his status on the music scene. The man better known for his skills on a guitar proved the maxim to its max. in my siblings’ lives he was first a musician, and an unrequited desire ever after. Now. Never after.

Toast knew something I didn’t. the musician is dead. And with him die his sins. The father in him seems never to have been born. But the father he never was lives on. A ghost in flesh. A ghost in death. And we the undparted are living scars in its wake...

I’ve resented him vehemently for the hole he put into my sibling’s lives. For as long as I can remember. In confused moments of loyalty, my siblings have even defended the man against my vitriol, saying I had no right to judge him. Yeah right. Like I don’t hurt to feel the unfilled hopes.

His absence made them heavier. You’d think if nothing was there, it would be lighter. It is now, for his firstborn. She says it feels more honest; she could never rely on him anyway, and now he’s gone. he was no kind of father, and now he’s taken even that with him. He’s taken with him what he never gave. Cleaner. Clearer. She says.

For my brother, it’s different. Gone too soon, everything too late, and nothing ever done. My brother is expecting his first son, and on the eve of becoming a father himself, he wanted to make peace with the man who sired him. To say, ‘I forgive you, I love you, don’t feel guilty, I am fine, I am your flesh, but I am my own, and you owe me nothing.’ But the guilty man was whisked away a moon and a half too soon for it to be said. a cowboy who never cried wept over an invisible grave today. Imagine, even that is denied him; perhaps the most important conversation he could ever have had with the man who set only one kind of example – what kind of father not to be.

I’ve never heard his music. But I’ve heard my brother and sister’s soul songs about him all my life, in all their phases. Short songs. Stuttered. Long sighs. Phrases of hope, and disappointment that wouldn’t go away. Make it go away. Songs about him, about themselves, about the love undone. The love unmade. And how they’ve tried to fix it. all by themselves. Unmade. By love.

What eats me the most is that he stood flesh to flesh with his firstborn, and while he bent over his guitar and his fingers bled warm blood of passion and treason for its ballad, he never lifted a finger in their direction. In fact, mostly he only lifted a glass, to drown the niggling feeling that he’d neglected something important.

They lived with me only till I was six. But I know their weaknesses, their powers. Their lives are woven into mine; their destinies and karmas and accountability and connection, fixed into mine. Their council is stronger than any confusion I may have, and their love is longer than any I may have had. I love these two people and my life would be less if they were not my brother and sister. But none of my love can make up for what he kept from them.

I wonder if we can forget. The dead. The ungiven love. The stolen love. The love denied. The love decried. The love we buried. The love we hide. I wonder.

Be a man. Not a cliché. Or people will hate you beyond your grave, no matter how beautiful the music you play.

I love the blood that beats.
And i will bleed for it and I believe
I will heal from it.

And when I die
Forget me
And everything I’ve undone.
From your hope
To your hatred
When when I die
Forgive me
And Everything I’ve undone.
From your faith to your fated attempts to let go
Everything I have undone
Because I made something I
Could not love
this is the song that wrote me.
And I have died from living this life this way
Forget me
And breathe and bleed and try and pray.
Everything I have undone.

boet and Q he can’t leave you a third time.and i will never leave you. ever.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

flossing instead of frothing

apparently i froth about taxi violence. so. for a tempered, critically insightful, tailored breakdown of why they rock from a little further north of the horses mouth... watch this space

see? i promised. so i deliver. albeit a little late. (coz this is 3 weeks later!)

read why Taxi rocks

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

so you’re a poor musician?

By day you may
have your head on a desk, by night,
fingers bleed over your
(/drums/percussion/keyboard/mic/double bass/flute/sax/insert appropriate),
and chest...
but nothing makes your heart bleed more
than how very fucking far
you have to go to make a buck on a note or a beat,

Musicians are poor. Instruments cost the earth. Gigs and tours and posters and t-shirts and buttons and flyers and drinks for gorgeous fans (it is too marketing) cost the moon and the sun and - the lifestyle, well, it doesn’t come cheap. But surely MTV is proof that musicians can make moerse mullah? Well, yes, but Ma Se Televisie also fuels the argument that you have to be a sell-out to sell lots of records. And that could lead a respectably employed musician to give it all up and take up busking. (which some argue is more lucrative in the short term. till winter comes. and it's winter now.) Thing is, you’re not alone.

There is an organisation that believes in you and puts their money where their long list of How Tos is. If you’re a
composers, songwriters and/or music publisher (or all 3), you can make more than the door at your next gig. And while, unfortunately, in a post lib SA, we still lack the inherent infrastructure to make this a smooth process, you’ll be unsurprised to discover that your actions could make all the difference.

I asked wise, wonderful Roach about it all.

tell, what's the score for restaurants and cafes playing SA music inhouse?> are there royalties incurred? what's the law on royalties?

SA copyright law says that any venue performing music publicly, that includes live or recorded music, foreign or local, must get a license for 'public performance of music from the local performance rights society. In SA that’s SAMRO.

Note - they're only paying composers and publishers - NOT the performing artists / labels.

So what should happen is that each venue should negotiate and pay a blanket license fee to SAMRO for the rights to perform any and all music in their venue (bar, restaurant, festival, club, even clothes store playing CDs). This should be as essential a license as a liquor license, and in countries like France it's treated as such, but here it's sadly not the same.... yet

By SAMRO’s estimation, some 70% of venues are not applying for licenses or paying their fees, and they're not pursuing it particularly hard either (cos they collect 20 times as much money from public performance via broadcasters). Also, there's no onus on the restaurants themselves to report what music they actually played. The onus falls on the composers themselves. So, when you register your tracks at SAMRO, they give you a bunch of 'live performance notifications' forms. You should take one to every gig you do, fill in your set list with the names of your songs at the end of the show, get the venue to stamp it, then submit these to SAMRO. Anyone who does this gets a share of the blanket licenses collected by SAMRO for public venue performance; anyone who doesn't, well, can't get any.

So, if you as an SA band want to get paid public performance royalties from gigs (i know some who've been paid thousands extra just by being diligent with paperwork from even small gigs):

1. Register your music at SAMRO

2. Remember to fill in your 'live performance notification' forms after each gig and get the venues to stamp ‘em

3. If the venue won't stamp, report ‘em to SAMRO so they can send someone round to start the hustle for payment

4. Send your forms back to SAMRO

5. Wait 2 - 5 years to get paid :)

SAMRO is also a member of CESAC the international association of collection societies, so you should get paid for foreign gigs n tours etc via their reciprocal arrangements with sister CESAC members who collect performance royalties in other countries. Overseas in places like France and Belgium, the onus falls on the venue, not the artists, to report what was played, so you have a far greater of chance of being paid more effectively and quickly.

How much do you get paid???

Depends on how much they've collected and how many other people have submitted claims - as far as i can tell. i do know some people who made many thousands from doing a few regular gigs at smallish venues that paid their smallish fees. my feeling is that most people aren't submitting reports, so they end up paying the few who do a much bigger amount then they should get from all the monies they collect and aggregate.

hope that helps...

big up Roach. Always on the backs of the demons and the shoulders of the darlings...

buckfever underground

Wrap your tongue around Buckfever Underground. They're a departure from the norm.

Just when you thought poetry was dead, here comes Toast to read you his writes. There's something achingly soothing in an even voice telling tempered tales of the imbalance in things. he could even tell the whole truth with that voice, and probably escape execution. A lot of what he says is simply profound. And grounded. And funny. And poignant.

But it's even better that it's fitted out with tightly tailored bass and drums that are practically married to each other and a careful lad coaxing all manner of moans and humms out of his electric mother. The moods shift. The landscapes shift. Images flash. Fade. It's an audio-visual journey across the country. (the bassist also runs the city's coolest live music venue , so is it any wonder it's called the armchair theatre? the trajectory is tangible. the timeline, not)

Ten years strong and still looking into the looking glass to find out what's behind music's smile, they've found their freedom in sound and it sounds something like i'd imagine a stretch of the karoo in full, blushing bloom after a gushing downpour to sound....if flowers could sing...

Monday, May 21, 2007

withdrawal - - it's never too late.

so ok. i've been listening to frogs sing and flippin rain fall and the tones that wind cuts through telephone wires that don't work... (ever heard it?)(it's weird).

and as much as i need nature, the countryside is no place for a live music lover. unless indulging in langarm gets you going. my trip to the wilderness of music showed me one thing: a few days without live sound, and i shrivel.

god bless musicians. and decent sound engineers everywhere.

Monday, May 14, 2007

raw and boundless : taxi violence in belville

i don't think i survived the weekend. was it the music? the sleepers, josh grierson(Mercurial), taxi violence. but then, according to the stone roses, you don't have to wait for death for this kind of heaven in the first place. if i am writing from beyond my skin, just know that you can still catch them live. who?

my perennial princes :

Taxi Violence


it was an acoustic set at Kuns Kafee in Belville Saturday night. between the backend of nowhere and the beginning of beyond ("behind the boerewors gordyn"), where old school meets new wave, the boys blew us away.

everything about them is understated and sexy.most of all the naturalness with which they live their passions and give it all to the music.

this time, louis (drums) strummed a geetar. they rearranged the songs to suit the scene. it might have been acoustic, but it was more powerful than anything i've yet heard from them - a tempered intensity. the guitars that sing. stop. drop. climax. a vocalist whose whole heart is in every breath. vocal harmonies that blend perfectly to court the guitar. drums that underscore the earth and fire in everything, that punctuate and perforate the harmony enough to move it from vibrating though your flesh down to your bones to redesign your blood. a steely crescendo that takes you higher and higher and deeper until


it's like drugs. like love. it's the finger of the sun breaking into a dark vacuum.

Taxi violence is the consequence of synergy

Josh Grierson (Mercurial)

I don’t think there are words. But I will pull some together anyway. Considering profanity is my profession.

I have never been belted by beauty. I think. Disarmed, distended, upended; yes. But belted, no. Not until Josh (performing variously as Mercurial, Emokidjosh, and Josh Grierson, and often grabbing a mic during Taxi sets). As a precursor to its magnitude, I was knocked over by his voice during sound check - blasting though two doors and three walls over every other plugged instrument. With no mic. Thank heavens I was sitting already.

Then he came on stage, unassuming, warm, easy. And slaughtered us with the sweetest sounds. One man standing.

If you’re old enough (and no I’m not, but) think human rights concert 1987. A girl with a guitar. Captivates the whole crowd. (that was Tracy Chapman). Only, this is a guy. And we’ve got our rights. Or so it says in the constitution. This is a guy, with a guitar, and the voice of a vengeful angel.

This is what they call dumbstruck. Never mind the thunder.

It’s dry lightning with a kiss at the end. Just like last night’s almost-storm.

Josh Grierson's voice made my soul cry.

Use your rights. open your ears. and let him sing the sin out of you.

Monday, May 7, 2007

hear it : ROAR

if you think of Mordor as a dark land of wild things, you're probably right. in the local and fantastical sense. here in luvmeland, it was the darkish haunt of local noise. it's now home to ROAR> and it's putting blood back into the mostlymuffled mildwild that is capetown "sound" engineering...

the only thing i know for sure about it is the one thing that's well worth shouting about in a half-deaf town:

the sound rig is friggin brilliant.

listening to Her Pretty Face and Taxi Violence there on friday night was a catharsis. clean sound, cutting through every edge of air, into your bones - taking the music home. when sound is this good, you can hear everything the artists put into the music.

it's a grreat place to sample a band for the first time. again and again.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

cockfest 007

cape town, workers day, 01 may 2007

So what was it like?

If you like kilometre-long queues for the loos and lots of dust up your nose when you stand around perfecting that manicured, bored look at everyone’s expense, then you know you’re doing it Coca Cola style. Sigh. With 5fm sucking crock somewhere backstage.


Mmmillions of middle class kids paying through their noses to get sozzled and scorched on Kenilworth racecourse. O. and listen to some music. Who was it they said was playing again?

(in order of appearance…)(these are links, kitlings)(use them)

Bed on Bricks

Taxi Violence

Love myself Jones

Dirty, naughty Skirts

Parlotones (coldplayOnAgoodDay)

Sprinkbok Nude Girls (aka SNG aka ZZZ)



3 Doors Down


Lonehill Estate

Unsurprisingly all got merrier as everyone ODed on their beer limit (lending a refreshing, new meaning to the phrase Top Up. Or is it bottoms up?) and lent their artists passes to passersby to get more beer. As pink and piss coloured draft bent brains and the sun set to sinking, more people fell on their faces and more smiles were plastered there between drool and mud stains and bruises. The demise into joy didn’t seem much connected to the music. Chatting to the hoards, the line ja, no,which song? I wasn’t even listening bru,but cheers,hey came up all too often. Which is sad. Because there were some momentous moments. (and some – SOME – great music)

My best of fest :

TAXI VIOLENCE. Proved. that size doesn’t count. They fill any stage with their sexy synergy and sweet, slicing sounds. Smash them together like pebbles in a penny or give them the scapes of big-budget boards, and they make love to music. Take it away, taxi.

Best of the rest

  • Bed on Bricks : full force and wonderful as always
  • Not to be outdone or hemmed in, the Dirty skirts : pop-rocking their indie butts off.i like that they like what they do.

Quite impressed but unconvinced :

Parlotones. Pretty. Clever. A bit pale this sunny day, though.

For your scrapbook :

The Have Your Say bigscreen clips. SA kids being loud and ‘avin it large. Loved it.

Ever wondered why…

We let the Nude Girls get away with rehashing the same old same-old year after year? (especially when there aren’t ever any nude girls). It’s been over a decade of overkill now. Is it because arnie works out? Is it because the bubblegummers under their boots can’t really discern between expensive noise and rock music?

Low blows :

kak sound. Again and again and again. But like Jess said, it was beautiful weather.

Trend signifiers ( ≠ stylish ) :

  • The Only Miss Jone’s bleached,table top, pudding-bowl ‘do. (the future? i shudder; I’m a low maintenance kind of girl)
  • Self-conscious, black fingernails. Bitten. But not bleeding. (the neo-alternatives? Come to scream for Evanescence? Exactly. How deep. How dark. And with fingernails that colour you’ll never see the puke stains).
  • Parlotone’s eyeliner for boys in three easy streaks. Both sides. (hey! He’s pretty – he pulled it off masterfully) (and I like boys with eyeliner, we established that long ago with the sleepers)
  • Limited edition coke buttons anyone? I heard people were fighting for them like dogs. O. no. people were just fighting like dogs.

Big (bad) joke :

free coke. The liquid form. Pfffff. Won’t touch the stuff.

Pathetic :

Hoobaskank's half-hearted, half-minute rendition of the Pink Floyd theme tune. Not cool. Especially when all the bricks on the gravy train were gaily singing along, blissfully unaware that they’d been lulled into thinking they know something about music just because they know some of the words and wear chicks with sunglasses around their shoulders at festivals. And anyway, covers are cool only if you give them a facelift.

‘Just Call Me Stupid’

booboo from the ill-informed interlocutor with one red knee and one sleeveless arm who called the Skirts “Cape Town’s best rock band”. the skirts don’t. Make . Rock. And “best” is in the ear of the belistener, baby.

Progressive :

free squishes of factor 20 from the info booths. For the pale faces. (this is a very pale city!). respek to the organisers for acknowledging moneyed demographics and the need not to burn them.

Best line :

Wiseboy George (Taxi Violence) dubbed it the "cockfest" most appropriately.

The runner up:

[Can you take 1st and 2nd prize? You can if you’re clever.] The Hair had a(nother) witty moment with the privileged ones when he called their inner circle the “the golden shower”. They all screeched back gleefully for their five hundred odd bucks worth, and spilt more beer on each other. Sigh. I’m just being antsy because I wanted to be in that ring under the noses of the stars, too; the dull and the shining. and the only stars i was under couldn't be seen for the clouds.

Touching :

  • the almost religious humility of Staind’s Aaron. Ooh. And it’s a biblical name, you know. I wonder if he’s Amish.
  • Louis (Taxi Violence) wearing a Bed on BricksT-shirt (he has taste)(the bricks are tasty)(yum).

A touch of bad taste :

Love Jones’s wearing their own T–shirt. Helyieu. That’s not branding, it’s narcissism. As if their band name doesn’t say it all. But then at least they weren’t all dressed like kitsch patchwork quilts with a life of their own….

The bottom line :

Taxi’s rock out. Cocks out as always. Metaphorically speaking. They were winners, come wine or whiskey. Or beer or .. uh.. beer. (or coke)(pffff)

Next time, dump the queues; have a line of- instead of a free shlook of- coke. And support good local music week to week, rather than once a year rancorously out of pocket. It’s a looôoot cheaper (count the zeros). (And the sound is better, if you’re at mercury or armchair). Besides and more importantly, the money stays in the hands of local musicians. Who make all the difference to our days.

Time for a little Economics lesson. Big acts need big profit margins and only come here if they can afford to. (they’re supposed to do community service too to give something back in exchange for all the ronts they’re leeching out of our economy! And most of them don’t. What kind of government enforcement don’t we have, ekse,. Go vote. ) They can’t afford to come here if the local music scene is supported by its moms and mistresses. So the bigger local music gets, the bigger the far away acts you can get on your doorstep. Remember that next time you pay cover, or buy a local band’s cd. It’s a global investment in sound.

Big up to the boys and girls who played for nothing, for you. for the love.

But next time, put your money in the mouths of those who make music sing. Not into the pockets of organisers and headliners who leak it away into European holiday villas and offshore expense accounts…