South Africa: Tune Me What - Meet the Cousin

Jack Parow.
29 April 2014
ThinkAfricaPress

Catch up with the latest music from South Africa with Brett Lock and Leon Lazarus of the brilliant Tune Me What? podcast.

Popular comedian Barry Hilton is the special guest on the extended 90 minute episode of Tune Me What?, the podcast about South African Music.

Presenters Leon Lazarus and Brett Lock play some tracks off Barry's own playlist while the comic shares stories about his start in the business and his own occasional forays into song-writing. Below is an audio clip of the podcast, but to hear it in full be sure to visit the Tune Me What website here.

Hilton reflects - in hilarious detail - on how he had to pretend to be British in order to get his first gig in the 1970s because there was so little opportunity for home-grown comedians, but says things are so much better today.

He praises the new generation of South African stand-ups including Deep Fried Man, Glen Biderman-Pam and the "phenomenon" Trevor Noah. "I'm proud to be a South African artist," he says.

Featured on Barry's playlist were:

Kwaito superstar Kabelo (formerly of the group TKZee).Marathon-running Kabelo scored a massive hit with his song 'Pantsula for Life.'

Superstar soul singer and jazz guitarist Jonathan Butler who "grew up in the Cape Flats but now has a mansion in California," according to Hilton. Butler recently visited SA to launch his foundation aimed at providing musical education and preventing substance abuse.

Jeremy Taylor's song "Ag Pleeze Daddy" was a 60s folk hit which Hilton credits as one of the sparks starting his interest in comedy. The song fell foul of the government at the time because they accused it of "corrupting the languages". Later it formed part of a musical revue by Taylor and musicologist Andrew Tracey which criticised the apartheid regime.

More comedy music with social satire followed with David Kramer and his song "Royal Hotel" and Jack Parow and "Cooler as Ekke". Both Kramer and Parow are finding international audiences for their Afrikaans material by performing regularly at the Festival voor het Afrikaans held annually in The Hague in the Netherlands.

The song 'Simple Things' from the album Scatterlings by Juluka. Juluka was formed in the mid 70s by by Johnny Clegg and Sipho Mchunu at a time when the apartheid government made it very difficult for white and black musicians to collaborate.

Nevertheless, Juluka blazed a trail, breaking down barriers, and became hugely successful. Mchunu later went into semi-retirement and returned to his farm, while Clegg formed Savuka and became a global act.

One of the beneficiaries of Juluka's trailblazing was Mango Groove. Barry Hilton's selection for the show was 'Special Star'.

Mango Groove was formed by John Leyden with Andy Craggs and Aaron "Big Voice Jack" Lerole, but the line-up really gelled with the addition of vocalist Claire Johnston. As one of South Africa's most successful bands, they've enjoyed 12 number one hits.

Freshlyground is a very successful current band building on the foundations of both Juluka and Mango Groove - in fact it features former Mango Groove drummer, Peter Cohen. Hilton praises the band for making fresh and exciting music that was not cynical, but positive and unashamedly South African.

Rounding off the playlist are a few cuts from Barry Hilton's own comedy repertoire and tracks by Just Jinger, Steve Hofmeyr and Watershed.

The show closes with some funky dance music by Goldfish, who are fast gaining a global audience. Collaborators Dominic Peters and David Poole produce some very interesting music blending electronica, jazz and African music into an interesting sonic cocktail.

Poole formerly was the saxophonist for rock band Dorp and integrates sax and flute into the group's sound.

Tune Me What? is a podcast and blog by Brett Lock and Leon Lazarus that highlights South African music and artists at home and around the world. For more information, visit tunemewhat.com or facebook.com/TuneMeWhat.

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