January 14, 2013
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

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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.  BroadwayWorld.com

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.”  WhatsOn.co.za

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

BizCommunity.com 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

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