Category: Rock

Matthew Field, guitarist with pop band Beatenberg,  performs in a concert in the Guy Butler Theatre at the National Arts Festival, Grahamstown, 08 July 2015. (Photo: CuePix/Harold Gess)

“They said it was sold out, but I didn’t really imagine it. So, I’m dealing with it now.” Matthew Field, the singer and guitarist of Beatenberg, looks a little bewildered, the lights in his eyes, his face locked in that slight frown he always makes when he sings.

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Trying to act as cool as I could was no easy task, having walked up the steep stone stairway to the Monument’s Guy Butler Theatre, where Arno Carstens said he’d be setting up. I quickly fixed my hair and shirt, hoping to appear presentable before the iconic rock-star duo of Carstens and Francois van Coke, but my words failed me.

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Dan Patlansky (CuePix/Harold Gess)

Janis Joplin has said that audiences like their blues singers to be miserable, lonely individuals. If that’s true, then they’re not going to enjoy rock ‘n roll guitarists Albert Frost and Dan Patlansky, if their rehearsal is anything to go by.

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Chris Chameleon
performs songs
from the band Boo.
Photo: CuePix/
Mia van der Merwe

Die-hard groupies may attend every show, follow every tour, collect all the band’s albums and collectables, but they may never hear the behind-the-scenes stories exploits of their favourite artists. If you follow Chris Chameleon to the Smirnoff Music Room, however, you’ll sneak a peek into some of the deepest rock ‘n roll secrets of South Africa’s iconic MonkiPunk band, Boo!

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fame to infamy

Does the road for Afrikaner rockers run from rebellion through respectability to desperate publicity? And are Arno Carstens and Francois van Coke on the respectable leg of their journey?

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It’s 23 years later, but musician Chris Chameleon still recalls his favourite Festival memory with fondness. Not only was the 1989 Festival the first one he attended, he was also the actor in his one-man play Boy, which took all the awards that year.

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Westley Engelbrecht (vocals/guitar) and Charles Dubber (drummer) are the band Acoustic Liquid. Their music is a mix of Spanish flamenco guitar and tribal drums rhythms which evade a general allocated genre title.

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The National Arts Festival has provided a springboard for many a band and musicians in the past. With big dreams and small budgets behind many of these musos, the Mee Brothers are no different. The Mee Brothers, a band from Cape Town, decided to take on the challenge of Festival this year. Although they faced some hiccups – they emerged smiling.

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“An artist who doesn’t change is either dead or lying. You’ve got to change.” This straight from the mouth of Chris Chameleon, vocalist and bassist for the band Boo! And, true to his name, he changes in style, vocal range and clothes.

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They don’t dance, jump around stage or wear funny costumes. They can usually be found alone, perched on a stool in the middle of a small stage, with a guitar in their laps. And when they play, the notes are plucked so delicately, precisely and fast, eliciting a mixture of sounds so unique and diverse that one can hardly believe it’s only a guitar making those sounds.

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