Monday, January 26, 2015
I wonder what it would be like...
If musicians were appreciated for their talent and worth...
If the constant slog and struggle were somehow worthwhile in the end...
If the years of blood, sweat and tears, of anger, frustration and emotion-draining effort were somehow equaled by the euphoria and the adulation only the lucky few experience...
But you see, I live in Cape Town, South Africa, and unfortunately...
I'm still lucky enough to be able to ignore the negatives to a large degree, but I see how even the staunchest optimists are worn down by the general "lack" and overall disappointments that plague local music and musicians. For every great performance, for every moment of exhilaration, there are countless hours of effort, too many disappointments, too many defeats, too many no shows, too many reasons to let it get to you. We don't do it for the money, you may believe me when I tell you that. But even the most passionate player will eventually call it a day. If only we could all carry on forever.
It is my profound privilege to perform alongside a legend as he bids a final farewell to a life of live performance. On Wednesday evening Mercury will play host to Anton Marshall's swan song, as he caps a distinguished career with one last hoorah! And what a hoorah it promises to be!
SONGS WE MADE FAMOUS - IT'S A BLACK THING. A rollercoaster romp through such awesome artists as Jimi Hendrix, Prince, Chuck Berry, Lenny Kravitz, Sly & The Family Stone, The Isley Brothers, Skunk Anansi, Thin Lizzy and many more! Oh, and a little known act Ice-T brought to life some time back called Body Count. If you think you can stand the heat, I graciously invite you into the kitchen...
Alongside other contributors on the night such as Nic Roos, Cami Scoundrel, the legendary Farrell Adams, Stuart Scott, and Damian Staz, is another luminary who has decided to call time on his own illustrious stage career. The grumpiest git never to goth... Art Pereira, drummer extraordinaire, will be hanging up his sticks, and more's the pity.
So please join us as we give these lads the worthy send off they so richly deserve. If not for the wide-eyed, face-melting entertainment with which you will be assaulted, then for the undoubted grand ol' time you are sure to have. And to pay your respects. The music you so take for granted would not be so freely available if it weren't for the tireless efforts and dogged determination of people like Anton. We pray that we see the likes of him again. Soon.
Spread The Love. C'mon, C'mon, Make Some Noise!
Friday, January 23, 2015
You know how everyone and their mother has taken to posting these ever-so-erudite comparisons of Earth vs Neighbouring Planets vs Galaxy vs The Ever Expanding Universe? The ones which are meant to belittle your problems, but only serve to absolve you of any responsibility, motivation or the will to continue...
I vote get up off your lazy, entitled arse and do something that makes a difference to someone even more insignificant than your oh-so-insignificant self. If you're in a position to make even the slightest difference - any improvement - to the plight of countless souls on this tiny speck of a planet, then your life is important and what you do with it happens to matter a whole fucking bunch.
I'm not even going to bother listing the things you can do - they're as obvious as the conk on my face. Stop attempting to prove that you paid attention in class and that you're not simply reposting something that makes you look like you understand half of Big Bang Theory's banter. And no, reposting does not a good deed make either. Go out into the world and do something selfless for someone or something. Don't "pay it forward", that's a very selfish take on so-called karma. Don't donate simply to experience the gratitude, humility and respect of those who receive. If you can, do so quietly. And never forget that were circumstances any different, that could be you.
Sorry, I forgot it's Friday and your most pressing engagement is getting through the day so you can convene and talk kak over Mojitos at whichever bar is currently trending.
Actually, it just came to me this morning after a conversation I had with my local bin inspector. He actually asked - ever so politely - if I wouldn't mind if he took a look to see if I'd thrown away anything worthwhile. Almost made me feel bad for recycling.
So, on to things less dire on this Friday then, eh? It's a beautiful day in the Mother City - now virtually tourist free. Thankfully. Don't get me wrong, I'm not xenophobic. I'm merely averse to sharing. Xenophobia is reserved for gatvol residents of Soweto who should be venting their frustrations out on a government paralysed by inability and no regard for its constituents. Ubuntu being African and all, you just have to be the right kind of African. I realise I speak from a decidedly advantaged point of view, but it's from such distance that policies are made, and our policy makers are making hay instead. And I'm afraid they won't be aware of the approaching dusk before it's too late. Eskom jokes aside...
Perhaps we need another sporting event to gloss over our social inequalities. Can Bafana make us believe? Tonight is do or die. It all comes together with a Castle, eh...
For Fuck's Sake. Spread The Love.
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Ah yes, mein flock. Back to the bullshit of real life...
The tourists have been sent packing and the Vaalies have all left a wake of demolition and damage in their rear view mirrors as they are forced to once more retreat back North so they can spend every waking moment making money to return and assault us with their presence and their accents. And send their darling little mall screamers back to school. Which is, by all accounts, cool.
Awesome. We have our paradise back to ourselves. And not a minute too soon say I!
At least my guests cracked the nod as approved visitors, having (mostly) previously been residents. And of course, Boude, the man, who spent his entire holiday dealing with the overwhelming argument the Western Cape was making for him becoming a naturalised resident. Sooner rather than later, mate... We weddinged, we wine-farmed, we braaied, we beached, we potjied, we pissed it up...
And a bunch of other stuff. Like the rest of you, I am now officially broker than Pookie in New Jack City. Did I mention Jack? Coolest little lad in the multiverse?
Oh - and we had SOME musical discussions as well! The Raging Romanian and I spent many happy hours picking apart the various virtues of so many bands, all of which were somewhat clouded by the fact that he spent his last birthday getting pissed with one Gregor MacIntosh. I suppose there is an upside to spending all your time in an underground metal tube or drudging through the dull dreariness that describes London.
And now that everyone has rubbed the crusty sleep from their eyes and settled back into a routine, what is everyone up to? Or is it directly back to the daily grind? Luckily my daily grind still involved some fun activities. Football, band and the occasional tipple...
Just so you have no excuse - or to ensure that you have more than enough time to think up a plausible one - here is an exciting list of upcoming shows you do not want to miss:
SUBVERS will be joining the formidable BULLETSCRIPT, THE WARINSANE and WITH DAWN for a seriously seismic show - PREMONITIONS - on 28th of February at Mercury. Be there. Bring clean pants.
But before that, you will have the opportunity to see the latest in Anton Marshall's notable list of tribute shows, the next one being SONGS WE MADE FAMOUS - IT'S A BLACK THING, in which we pay homage to some of the iconic contributors to modern music who happened to be non-white. It will thrill you, then, to hear that this white boy (along with a bunch of other whiteys) will be performing the shit out of a few Body Count songs. Can you imagine... But that's not all, folks! Step right up for Kravitz, Chuck Berry, Hendrix, Thin Lizzy and many more!
Also, it's that time of year again when every single metalhead (and those of us with partners too) converge on Klein Libertas Theatre to celebrate the best in local live metal. Yup! It's Summerfest '15, brought to you once again by the good folks of Metal4Africa! I'll be on the bus ringleading a riot.
Oh yes, and then I'll be spinning some tunes at the PARTY IN BLACK - THE RED EDITION alongside some truly celebrated names! Pull in and prepare to have your tekkie squeaked!
There's so much more I could, and probably should, tell you. But the time has come for me to find a picture with which to entice you into reading this nonsense. I don't know what it is yet, but I'm assuming it worked if you're here. [Print this blog post out, eat it, deny its existence.] You'll find the heading might go with the picture.
Spread The Love. Where In The World Is Neal?
Thursday, January 15, 2015
Last night was hot. It was as hot as hell. In fact, it was hotter. Hotter than a particularly errant whore sweating on a front row pew with an arse full of Columbia's finest export. The rehearsal rooms we frequent are very well insulated. They keep the sound in and the cool out. We have to make do with a rather more figurative "cool". Not unlike the poor boy who was given no toys for Christmas, but figured out he could play with himself instead...
But that's not the hot to which I refer. I'm talking fever hot. As in everybody's got the fever...
After a rather unfortunate transport arrangement shambles, we managed to walk into a steaming Mercury as Anton Marshall was announcing the beginning of his latest SONGS WE MADE FAMOUS - THE ELVIS EDITION. First up, fronting the ever impressive Allstar Band of Marshall, Scott & Muller, was KC Royal, of Ratrod Rats fame. Joining this scruffy bunch on harmonica was Zoltan (you may don the bubble wrap and make the sign) as they swaggered their way sublimely through a variety of The King's hits. Then it was the turn of Tony Shine to take the mic, but not before completing his civic duty at the bar and keeping the venue afloat. Now THIS man has style. He also has the pelvic punctuation perfect for any Presley performance. [*I swear to you that wasn't on purpose...]
Intermission... and a chance to tear my eyes from the stage to see that the place had filled up nicely. Getting in another round of beverages, and spying Anton making his way to the mic, no one was prepared for what happened next. Look, I know the man can sing. And play guitar. And bass. And drums. And keyboard. He's no slouch with the written word either. And I know I have been accused of less than subtle sycophancy in one or 2 reviews, but FUCK ME! The velvet crooning floating from this man's lips dropped jaws and soothed the world's ills simultaneously - as he gave possibly one of the most moving and mesmerising performances I've had the pleasure of seeing recently. I'd put it right up there with some of the best by Shannon Hope and Lucy Kruger. Ok, they weren't his songs, but his delivery was nothing short of divine. I stood enraptured - not something that happens too easily.
Shaking us from our collective reverie, the male contingent of The Flaming DeVilles, along with Scott and Muller, shook, rattled and rolled the shit out of us! I can't remember exactly who all did which number on the night, but their rousing version of Hound Dog was a definite highlight. Not to be outdone, and much to everyone's delight, Daniel Fernandes finished off proceedings with a typically energetic and brilliant flourish.
I hope I haven't left anyone out. I was a bit dronk.
Thang ya! Thag ya verr musch...
Spread The Love. Me. Tender.
Tuesday, January 13, 2015
How astute were the immortal words of Monty Python? I know quite a few people who like to moer each other behind closed doors. Well, not the way that would get you into trouble outside a nightclub in Claremont, just the consensual titillating type which will get you into all sorts of other trouble and, if you're lucky, some restraints... Wicked, bad, naughty, evil Zoot!
Just a little bit of peril, anyone?
As you are no doubt aware, school is about to restart for the year. You can tell by the sudden vanishing of the Vaalies On Harleys from our roads and the fact that you can actually get a reply on an email now. People are back at work and their screaming, spoiled brats are thankfully ushered into various institutions that babysit them until they are old enough to drink and drive.
Colour me cynical. Much has been made of the matric results of late, and I have been watching with the same enthusiasm I usually reserve for banting recipes, but I thought I might share my thoughts on modern day education...
..."Mathematical Literacy" - a subject invented purely so that school leavers who are not quite capable of the daunting specter of linear algebra can one day confidently determine that they have been under tipped.
Clearly language studies have proven entirely superfluous and should be scrapped in favour of "Literacy Literacy", in which you are forced to recite the full meanings of texting abbreviations.
The standard is so low that even OUR Department of Education decided to rename the curriculum and slightly raise the level. This can only mean that rock bottom had been achieved in 2013. I despair for the future of any avenue of life these school "graduates" assault. It's not their fault they don't have textbooks, and in many, many more tragic cases, even access to basic human necessities. But these are the people who are going to decide what happens to the economy at around the time you decide to retire. Perhaps we owe it to ourselves to try and help the poor little devils.
Decent schools cost a LOT of money. Don't waste your time reading this drivel - get back to work! When your progeny finally finishes with 235% because you can afford a quality education and no one else can, you can proudly beam, before running for cover because it's unfair. That is if they make it at all, given the gauntlet of wedgies, being locked in cupboards under stairwells and singing embarrassingly dirty songs. Not to mention the inevitable struggle through puberty and the discovery of what they very mistakenly think is rebellious music.
Ah, I loved school! Imagine being allowed to spend your afternoons playing sport with your mates. And lying through your teeth about your hook ups on the weekend. Mind you I suppose that's entirely different these days, given social media and prolific promiscuity. Perhaps I should re-enroll...
Point? I don't have one. I mean, do you even?
Spread The Love. Back To School Is Cool!
Monday, January 12, 2015
I refuse to repost, so here is another pic of Charlie that you may find relevant.
Someone please tell me you got the reference...
And the social media manipulation monster rolls ever more gloriously forward, gaining momentum until one day we really will be running for our lives, dodging lasers, Skynet and the awful acting of Arnie.
I resolved to remain schtumm on the subject of the horrific killing of Charlie Hebdo staff in Paris, but can no longer hold my tongue. First impressions and the entire world raises its arms in a roar of indignation, flatly condemning this heinous crime - and rightly so. One or 2 more astute commentators hold up a cautionary finger. Twitter becomes french. More cartoons containing a clever play on "the pen is mightier than the sword" are manufactured in one day since - well - never. Journalists the world over, especially the ones content with regurgitating the slop found at the bottom of any barrel cry "freedom of speech!!!" and the world blindly concurs.
I thought there may be a bit more to it, so I googled "unnecessary Muslim attack" and was sent directly to Mia Khalifa's pornhub page. I am of course, at the risk of having my own head blown off, kidding. Perhaps a little tastelessly, given the gravity and the brutality of the attack, but then I have never pretended to be too serious a journalist. A real search did lead me to some very well written, thought provoking pieces... There are a ton more, particularly this one, you can go look for yourself.
Charlie Hedbo is an exceptionally racist rag, by all accounts. As much as I believe in the freedom of speech, surely the depraved level of blatant blasphemy should be regarded as over the line and perpetuating a stereotype which I know first hand to be untrue. I will never condone the use of violence as a means to sort out differences, but if the world is being led to believe that the belittling of your deeply held faith is something to laugh over, one blind eye at a time, then it's understandable that someone somewhere is going to reach a tipping point. The images and message depicted on these hallowed pages was not satire. It was the lowest form of self serving shit. I know I'm going to be cast as the liberal in this, but ask yourself how you'd feel if someone was that insensitive about something you held dear, continually taunting and provoking you in the basest fashion?
Conspiracy theorists would have you believe that it is another "false flag" operation orchestrated to garner sympathy for the West to raise their game of fucking with Islam. That approach also seems a little too politicised for me to deal with, but perhaps they too have a point.
The problem is as old as the hills. People do not get on. They hate each other and clever people insidiously use that to keep the fire burning under the status quo because there's money in it. "The pen in mightier than the sword"? Have you seen 'Casino'? Keep your fucking pens. They have been responsible for more deaths than any other weapon in history, so yes, they most certainly are mightier.
People so quickly beat their chests in anguish. Tears flow for those lost to tragedy. How hard did you cry for the thousands of African babies who starved over December while you stuffed your face? After you logged off from Faeceboobs, having shared a few animal welfare pictures, how much time did you spend at your local shelter doing something worthwhile? Humans are, after all, animals in every sense of the word.
We should know better though.
But let's quickly look at our track record:
We breed indiscriminately, creating a demand for food and shelter which cannot be met.
We treat other humans like animals simply because we are from different areas or backgrounds.
We exploit every possible resource we can until it's too late.
We ruin that which we are meant to nurture.
We submit to greed and violence in order to elevate ourselves above the so called average.
We believe that a life superior to everyone else is our birthright.
We refuse to accept accountability for anything - it's never our burden.
Well, I have news for you humanity, YOU are what's wrong with this picture, not just the guy who pulled this particular trigger.
Do we need satire? I believe so. Where do we draw the line? That I cannot tell you. Who arbitrates such a fine balance? Zapiro is a great example of satire. His depiction of Jacob Zuma is that of a bumbling buffoon - referencing what actually happened in order to discredit him for his disgraceful actions and his treasonous incompetence. He does not blame the fact that he is a black man. Yet even our distinguished Mr Zapiro finds himself in hot water from time to time. Luckily, as we know, showers absolve...
I don't believe anyone should be killed for taking the piss. Heaven knows I'd be knee deep in virgins were that the case. I'm saying the problem runs deeper than some fundamentalist going postal. And anyone who is naive enough to believe what main stream media is spoon feeding you like Purity, is a fucking clueless idiot. Why don't you go hashtag some shit you barely understand. It'll make you feel better.
But enough of that. Reverse the curse. When next you reach out a hand, make sure it's to help lift someone up, not to push them down.
Spread The Love. We Have To Start Somewhere.
Thursday, January 8, 2015
Let me just make my way through these adoring masses, 'scuse me... 'scuse me...
Ah, there you are. Welcome back. Or should you be welcoming me back? Into your terrarium of luke warm opinions and your mildly soggy mind... You miss me?
I most certainly did not miss the shackles of the insipid mediocrity perpetuated on social media. It was so refreshing being offline for 3 weeks. And it is with a heavy heart that I now admit that, as much as I despise so much of what it inspires, I too am a victim, slave and addict to its convenient charms.
So as I sidle back into my well worn office chair, I am forced to contemplate my next move, it being a New Year and all. That's a vicious lie. New Year Resolutions are for people who have been doing it wrong up until now, or who have the courage and fortitude to make a serious change where one is required. I already gave up smoking and exercise regularly. Perhaps all that's left is to resolve to live life outside the constrictive confines of Faeceboobs, Twitter and Instagram. Fat chance. How WILL I communicate? I'd invest in pigeons were it not for my crippling ornithophobia.
Speaking of annoying things that we can't seem to avoid. I somehow cannot stop exposing myself...
...to Expresso - your feelgood breakfast show on SABC3. The programme in which 5 super amped individuals try and sell you shit between extended ad placements and the odd lifestyle tip. The entire 2 and a half minutes of news/sports/weather every hour is merely incidental. It's still better than eTV's alarming choice in music acts to showcase, which leave me on the verge of Cobaining, and certainly less dire than SABC2's constant lapsing into political melodrama. But I need the chatter in the mornings, if only to distract myself from the monotonous motions of getting ready for the drudgery of the day ahead.
As you can imagine, not much happened while I was on holiday, bar the mandatory over-indulgence. Oh yes, the wedding! Commander Conker finally made an honest woman out of Rose Thorn and the ceremony and reception were awesome! Rose Thorn looked stunning as her proud dad held her back to normal strained walking pace down the aisle. The setting was equally gorgeous, deep in the winelands of Stellenbosch on a very, very old and particularly picturesque farm. The vows and accompanying lack of sermon were kept to a grateful minimum, before the new Mrs Conker grabbed her partner's hand and sprinted out to the signing, hasty to make this thing official. Poor TDB and I had been working our fingers to the bone to learn a particularly poignant (and fucking difficult) song to play as she and her hubby were to sashay back out along the aisle, but we hardly had a chance to get to our guitars before she'd fled past us.
Needless to say I needed the glass of bubbly that followed shortly, and was hardly amused when it turned out - after a greedy gulp - to be Appletizer. Thankfully, we more than made up for that later at the bar. Congrats to two of my dearest friends. I love you both and thank you for including me in your special celebration - it couldn't have been better. In fact, many say it was the best wedding they've ever attended.
And flying in especially for the wedding were my friend and her fiance, who now go by the power couple nickname of Tiete & Boude. We've had a LOT of fun these last few weeks, doing touristy things that involve booze. And Jack, the meanest (pronounced "mainest") little man alive! Infants in restaurants are always a huge hit. Until their digestive systems remember to explode. Officially, we're petitioning you guys to stay in SA. This shit of going back to New Zealand cannot be tolerated.
And so I make my awkward return to the trillions of pointless pages of the world wide web. The big news today, that of the senseless slaying of innocent people over a cartoon that some religious fundamentalists deemed tasteless. You want tasteless? Leaving families without fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters because you took offence at something that certainly could do with some scrutiny precisely because of the actions of cowardly cunts like you. I'll leave it there because no one will ever be swayed one way or the other. Steve Hofmeyr must just quietly thank his lucky stars I'm not predisposed to violence against things I don't like.
NGDG: In a worryingly daring and brave move, Neal now prefers to express his jaundiced humour using pictures instead of words. So, since my folks celebrate their wedding anniversary on the 1st of January (every year) and I'm expected to be there despite my life threatening hangover, here is his contribution to today's frivolity.
Spread The Love. All Over Her. Like Nutella.