How blessed we were to be able to attend opening night of the Kalahari Karoo Blues presented by David Kramer!
Today our heart beats to the rhythm of Africa and our souls rejoice in the knowledge that we are African! David Kramer thoroughly deserves a number of awards for this masterpiece, a “national geographic” tour into the historical African and South African music!
The Baxter Theatre was packed with such a mix of our beautiful rainbow nation, but we were all united through the African rhythms. I sincerely hope that the remaining 8 shows will be sold out!
David opened the show with the following phrase: “This is the Baxter, normally it’s full of music and drama, but tonight it’s full of David Kramer and anything can happen!”. And did it all happen! It was the most sincere and unpretentious show I had ever seen.
The line up consist of:
David Kramer as we all came to know and love him. Those red shoes shining bright and making every one of his, very agile, steps clearly visible. Man, can he move! At one point he was playing his guitar while bent over so low that the bottom of the guitar was sweeping the stage! He does not seem to get any older and will put most of us to shame on the dance floor.
Die Sonskynsusters, Elsbeth Davids and Ruth Hector, whose appearance strongly reminded me of old ladies on their way to church. The hems of their beautiful dresses gently swaying to the rhythm of their hips, church hats completing the respectable look. My favorite performance of the night had to be Ruth’s rendition of Calvinia. A heart wrenching tribute to Helena Kleingeld. She had me in tears and left goose bumps on all.
Aunty Mary Kriel from Vredendal, clad in traditional Namaqua dress complete with “voortrekker kappie” and apron, strums / drums a medium sized coffee tin. She started of slowly with her first song. However, when we applauded her inspiration soared and she went straight into another, more upbeat song. The Kalahari spirit kicked in and took over. At this point David helplessly threw his hands in the air and sat back down. She was an absolute winner and he new better than to try and stop her. The longer she sang the more daring her Riel dancing became and Hannes Coetzee and Outeng Piet spontaneously joined her in dance.
Hannes Coetzee is no stranger to performing arts. He became a youtube sensation for his slide spoon method of playing the guitar. At over 60 he and David were, jokingly, trying to outdo each other at winning the “Salusa45” prize for who could dance and perform the longest! He took a trip with David to Seattle in 2010 to teach his slide spoon method. It turns out that the Dolly Parton band are huge fans of his. Another accolade to his name is that Grammy winning folk group, Carolina Chocolate Drops, will this year be recording his song Mahala.
Then there are the 3 artists from Botswana: Outeng Piet, Ronnie Moipaloi and Babsi (didn’t get his surname unfortunately). Only Outeng Piet could speak English and Ronnie does not understand a word of English. David was visibly nervous throughout the show and it was clear that he didn’t know what the audience would make of their songs in a completely foreign language. His nervousness was in vain. Their musical abilities drew us in and made us part of their heritage.
Outeng Piet was dressed in buckskin and I guess the best way to describe him would be as an Energizer Bunny! For the life of him he could not sit still and was constantly getting up to dance to the other performers music. I found it beautiful that, even though he understands no Afrikaans, he completely merged with their music and was thoroughly enjoying himself. He gave the most heartfelt thank you to the audience. He plays the one-stringed segaba, which kind of looks like a shovel turned sideways and slung over the shoulder. He produces the most haunting sounds from it. Something like a rusty windmill turning in the wind. He sings mainly to give HIV education to kids. His first song was about the necessity of using condoms. His second song had me in stitches. It is a very funny narrative of the milk man who should never wear a cap while milking (circumcision) and never put the milk straight in your mouth, but in a bucket first (condomize!). It was great fun.
Ronnie is the other internet sensation in the cast. It took David the better part of 2 years to track him down after he first saw him on youtube. It was well worth it. He plays the notes on the guitar much like one would play the piano, with the hands playing from the top, rather than from the bottom as you normally would, even using his elbow at times. Sometimes he does all of this with the guitar held behind his head, the back of the guitar facing the back of his head! Very talented indeed. He sang a song called “Marakaras” meaning miracle and as David said 2013 is a year of miracles and wonders.
Babsi in his pristine white suit, who is at 80 also the oldest of the cast, lit up the stage with his performance. He plays the tendjoro. a 3 stringed guitar made of a Castrol oil can which he plays with a bow made of branch. It sounds so much like a violin and you could easily mistake it for being a one.
The show came to an end with the 3 Botswana performers combining their three instruments as an orchestra, David, Aunty Mary and Hannes doing a traditional Riel Dance and Die Sonskynsusters gently swaying to the melody. As I closed my eyes, I could easily imagine myself sitting in a remote. village with a fire crackling in front of me.
A most magical evening, one we will not forget. The culmination of 12 years work for David, a masterpiece in every sense of the word.
Cape Town, get to the Baxter! The show runs until the 19th of January and it is worth every cent and more.
Thank you David! You have reminded us of our African roots.