Leslie and Darryl’s 10-piece group hits right spot at Pizza Shack

Imagine you’re sitting soaking up some pretty cool sounds . . . Darryl Andrews plucking away on guitar, Dylan Roman on keyboards, Wesley Rustin on bass, Denver Furness on drums, Leslie Kleinsmith and two songbirds handling the vocals and a horn section to die for.

Like a nice cold beer or a chilled sav blanc on a hot day, that should “hit the spot”, right?

Right!. That’s exactly what that group is called – Hit The Spot. That’s the exciting new outfit handling the Sunday night jazz gigs at the Pizza Shack Pub Bar & Grill in Ottery.

The group ain’t exactly “new” new, though. They (without a formal name) have been doing the Sunday night jazz gigs off and on since last year but now management has offered them all the Sunday night gigs in March, starting tomorrow night.

Group spokesman Leslie Kleinsmith said they thought it was an ideal time to hit the “refresh” button on their approach to the music they will provide on the night.

“Previously, we had been a five-piece or six-piece group with various guest spots on the night,” Leslie said.

“Now that we have the regular Sunday night spot for March, we decided to be a bit more creative and give the crowd more value for their money – we expanded the group to a 10-piece.

Hit The Spot vocalists . . . Leonie le Roux (left) and Lynn Fritz with Leslie Kleinsmith. They front the new 10-piece group at Pizza Shack.

“Apart from Darryl, Dylan, Wesley, Denver and myself, we now have two female singers – Lynn Fritz and Leonie le Roux – and a brass/horn section that has Byron Abrahams on sax (and vocals), Athi Ngcaba on trombone and Joseph Kunnuji on trumpet.

“It’s a work in progress. We’ll see where it takes us but we’re all pretty excited about the musical possibilities.

Between Leslie, Darryl and Denver the group has a ton of experience. All three have been performing for 50 years or more. The younger members of the outfit should provide an ideal vehicle to combine the old with the new. The group has prepared a repertoire that will embrace jazz, Latin sounds and anything that Darryl Andrews puts on the table.

“We are very fortunate in having Darryl in the line-up. He brings so much to any group with his capacity to compose and arrange stuff,” Leslie said. “He does some wonderful things with the salsa sound.

“We’re also blessed with having two very talented female vocalists in Leonie and Lynn. It gives us so much breadth and depth in the range of songs we can tackle.

“But what excites us most is the new dimension that a trumpet, trombone and saxophone brings. It should bring out the best in Darryl with his arranging experience.

“We’re hoping that our fresh sound will hit the spot – that’s why we chose the name Hit The Spot,” Leslie says.

Ten-piece groups aren’t an everyday occurrence on the local scene. Makes me think of the days Express used to line-up with the likes of Basil Coetzee, Robbie Jansen, Barnie Rachabane and Stompie Manana.

Hit The Spot is hoping to be a round a little longer than just the Sundays in March.

In the meantime, Pizza Shack is the place to be tomorrow night – International Women’s Day. I’m inclined to check it out myself. The music should be good, DJ Stan The Jazzman always has good stuff on the turntable and the food, like the band, will leave you wanting more.

All up, it should hit the spot, huh?

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Foster kids turn out alright — and the future looks bright

14 December 2019

Foster kids can be a bit like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get. Unless of course the “foster mum” is Sophia Foster and the kids being raised are the young entertainers at her Fostering Foundation.

The veteran singer put her charges on the public stage for the first time last month with her Sistas’ Tribute To Aretha show and now everyone is beating a path to her door wanting to see more of the young talent.

The show, which was a sell-out on opening night, features an all-girl line-up, from the five front-line singers to the five-piece backing group belting out Aretha Franklin’s soul hits.

Social media was awash with Sophia Foster’s novel initiative to use her “students” to honour the name of one of the legends of music.

“It has just been the most incredible reaction,” Sophia says. “We have so much talent here, it’s just unbelievable.

“They just did their first corporate function to an amazing response from South Africa’s top corporate people. I can’t begin to tell you how it warms my heart to see the fruits of our labour get such a fantastic reception.”

Sophia says they worked flat out for about two months to get it to the point where she was comfortable putting her young charges on stage.

For those who do not know, Sophia runs the Fostering Foundation, a finishing school of sorts, for up-and-coming young entertainers. She is a veteran of the South Africa industry with more than 50 years’ experience.

“I pushed them hard. I worked with them seven days a week. The young girl on the keyboards said to me at the start: ‘Sophia, I’m sorry, I have to apologise to you, I can only read music. I play what’s in front of me’.

“I said to her, ‘No, you can do more than that. Do you know what the meaning of improvisation is?   You don’t have to just read it’. I showed her what scatting was. I changed their attitude.

“Straight after the very successful opening night, I went right back into rehearsals, telling them where they could improve. I went through everything with them.”

One of the big talking points of Sophia’s initiative was her use of only females for the performance. It struck a chord with all who saw the show.

“For me, it was all about empowerment. There is an expectation in South Africa that shows have a certain format, and that has been the view for years. Well, we just turned that on it s head. The girls can do it on their own.”

The other eye-catching element of the show was, of course, the glitz and glamour that has become a hallmark of any performance that Sophia is associated with.

“You know me,” Sophia says, “it’s all about the glamour, the costumes and the flair. People couldn’t believe their eyes with what they saw.”

She has plans to do more runs with the show but at this stage she is continuing to fine-tune her young students.

“God willing, for the new year I want to do a short run in a theatre as these young adults have grown tremendously under my mentorship.

“I already have people trying to poach my artists – as if there aren’t enough artists in Cape Town. I got a message straight after the first show asking if they could use my artists.

Sophia Foster

“I’m very optimistic about the future for them but we have to prepare them properly. To succeed in this industry it is about how you present; something that you have to develop and market and sell.

“What I’m giving them is not information they can buy. I am giving them first-hand experience. I want them to broaden their horizons; I want them to grow wings.”

Veteran entertainer Terry Fortune (now retired, much to the chagrin of many) was effusive in his praise for the budding stars.

“Man, they are just wonderful,” he said. “It warms my heart, as one who has also invested in young talent over the years, to see these youthful, dynamic performers. In Sophia as a mentor, they have one of the best in the business.”

Actor Basil Appollis, who is fast becoming the go-to person when it comes to directing local stage productions, was another who was carried away with what he saw.

“Knowing the Fostering Foundation and Sophia’s mission of nurturing and mentoring young talent, I was wondering whether the treatment would work at all,” he said. “I approached it with trepidation. Aretha Franklin is, after all, the High Priestess of Soul!

“Well, my worries soon disappeared. I was most impressed with these young new voices delivering Aretha’s greatest hits with flair and a maturity far beyond their years! It was truly magnificent and the show, on the whole, one pleasurable surprise.

“It would be unfair to single out any of these young singers because they were all directed to show their unique strengths. At some point during the show I felt a bit guilty because I couldn’t help thinking that I’d love to poach this one, then the other!”

Basil had nothing but praise for the girl band. “They were so dynamic! And so refreshing and appropriate. I’m sure Aretha – one forgets she was a brilliant pianist – was smiling down on them.”

Basil Appollis . . . impressed.

“The presentation was one long, exhilarating medley of Aretha’s famous hits with no break to catch one’s breath. I couldn’t help feeling the performer anxiety with the many (wonderful) costume changes! That is something Sophia is famous for – and it should really be written up in the Guinness book of Records! They’ll get there.”

There was one thing that Basil thought Sophia could do to take the show to another level: “This is personal taste entirely . . . I would’ve appreciated an anecdote or two about Aretha’s inspiring life story.”

More power to you Miss Foster! R.E.S.P.E.C.T!!

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Darryl Andrews: A man of many musical parts – and now a fisherman

Conductor Darryl Andrews puts his students through their paces at a UCT Big Band performance at The Baxter in 2012. Courtesy You See TV.

10 August 2019

Guitarist-composer-arranger-conductor Darryl Andrews played his last gig with his UCT School of Music Big Band outfit last week and will finally cut ties with the School of Music in about three months.

It brings to an end decades of captivating Cape Town audiences with the innovative sound of his youthful students performing under his direction.

As always, the last gig of the UCT Big Band (under Daryl’s leadership) was at the Baxter Theatre and despite it being a miserably cold and wet July night, there was still a good turnout.

“We did a variety of tunes for the crowd – a bit of Whitney Houston, classic jazz, some of my old tunes, Boz Scaggs, Benson, Harry Connick,” Darryl said.

“It was quite an emotional night; I have been doing two or three concerts a year with my students since 1991. It has become something of an institution in Cape Town.”

Darryl’s time as professor of jazz studies at the School of Music has seen some of the best of Cape Town’s young talent pass through his hands.

“There have been some really gifted kids who learnt their craft at the jazz school and I am proud to say they have gone on to bigger and better things. At the moment some of my ex-students are playing with top musicians in Atlanta and in New York.”

Now it all comes to end for the man who started out working as a fitter and turner while doing club gigs with local bands and then went on to gain a BA and Master in music. At age 65 (in November), he has to retire from his post at UCT.

But all is not lost. Followers of Darryl’s music will still be able to hear and see him play for as long as his ability will allow him.

“I will still have my own Darryl Andrews Jazz Orchestra that will be available for gigs and I will also be heading into the studio to record my next CD due for release later this year.”

As with his first CD, titled Cape Town and released last year, Darryl plans to feature a mix of his own compositions and some of the material of local artists.

The Darryl Andrews Jazz Orchestra’s first CD, Cape Town, released in December 2017.

Those music objectives could take a backseat though to Darryl’s other passion – fishing!! He is in the process of buying a boat . . . a big boat.

“I’ve got my skippers licence now; I have qualified as a skipper. I am buying a boat – a seven-and-a-half metre fishing boat.

“Fishing has always been a passion of mine. I have been fishing on the beach for years. Now I want to do the real thing.

“I have an E-licence which means I can go out one nautical mile. When I get my boat, an instructor will take me out, log my hours, and when I get to 25 hours, I get an extension to 25 nautical miles out. When I get to 50 hours, I am allowed 40 nautical miles out.

“I’ll see if I can make money selling fish!” I’ll probably sell to fish shops and restaurants. I’ll be getting the craft soon and it will be fully equipped with fish finder, sonar and safety equipment.

“I have an NSRI app on my phone just in case something goes wrong. I’ll do all the right things by lodging my details with them every time I put to sea and if something goers wrong I hit the app.

“It’s not all new to me; my nephew had a boat and I used to go out with him. My love for fishing started when I moved into Plumstead. My neighbours taught me and I got right into it . We used to sit for hours down at Strandfontein.”

He could start a new line of selling . . . one CD with every snoek. And maybe a discount ticket to his next performance with the Darryl Andrews Jazz Orchestra.

Related Content:

Darryl Andrews conducting UCT Big Band at Baxter 2012: You See TV

Darryl Andrews: A musician in tune with what he wanted in life

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When Harry met . . . Ibrahim and Zelda (and two others), the oldies cooked up a jazz storm

Vintage jazz standards performance from veterans and a couple of young guns –  drummer Roy Davids, bassist Tino Europa, keyboardist Ibrahim Khalil Shihab, singer Zelda Benjamin and guitarist Harry Peacock.

8 July 2019

Jazz guitarist Harry Peacock, singer Zelda Benjamin, keyboardist Ibrahim Shihab Khalil . . . all on one stage. That’s almost 200 years of musical entertainment experience right there!

Throw in bassist Tino Europa and drummer Roy Davids and it’s well over 200 years. No matter how you slice and dice it, you’re going to get good music if you’re listening to that quintet.

That’s is how it panned out for the crowd at Spiro’s Restaurant in Hout Bay last week when they treated the crowd to what one patron described as “real cool jazz”.

It was essentially a diet of mainstream Sixties jazz standards – Stella By Starlight, There’ll Never Be Another You and East of the Sun (And West of the Moon).

Ordinarily, this would just be another jazz gig featuring five local artists. But what is worth mentioning is the fact that two of the five – Harry and Zelda – are in their 80s. That’s right, octogenarians. And Ibrahim (Chris Schilder to those who know him from the Sixties) isn’t far behind. He is 73 tomorrow.

All three have been playing and performing for more than 60 years.

We should celebrate and support the achievements of our “mature age” musicians who are still plying their trade.

Harry Peacock doing what Harry Peacock does best.

According to Harry Peacock, the gig was a one-off at the moment but he is hopeful the restaurant will make it a regular Sunday afternoon event when summer rolls around.

“It was pretty good all-round,” he said. “There was a lot of experience on that stage. We didn’t have to do much in the way of rehearsals because we all know the jazz standards and the crowd loved it. It is good to see that there is still opportunity to play those old tunes.”

For Zelda, it was the “atmosphere” in the place that blew her away.

“There was a such a good vibe and the audience really appreciated what we doing,” she said.

“It’s been a few year’s now since I’ve played with Ibrahim – he was still Chris then – but he is still pure magic, notwithstanding the health issues he has.

“We got together for a sort of rehearsal but we chatted more than we played. We settled on songs that he was very familiar with.”

In the end Zelda had a set of about 15 songs that included Call Me Irresponsible, Day By Day, It Could Happen To You, It Might As Well Be Spring, and But Not For Me.

Jazz diva Zelda Benjamin

Ibrahim said it was a gratifying experience playing those old jazz standards for an audience who loved every minute of it.

“I couldn’t believe it, they gave us a standing ovation. It gave me such a good feeling,” Ibrahim. “It’s been many years since I have done a gig like this and appreciated the opportunity of doing it with Harry, Zelda, Roy and Tino.

“I especially loved the improvisation parts. It’s the best I have played in a long time. The drummer and the bass player really ‘cooked’ and Harry was going great.

Ibrahim turns 73 tomorrow and his career is going through a bit of a resurgence of late. In recent months he has released an album, Essence of Spring, with fellow keyboardist Ramon Alexander and also featured at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival three months ago.

After the jazz festival gig, he was interviewed by an American music magazine journalist who was so impressed with his playing that she encouraged him to work on a solo album.

“That’s what I am doing now, putting together some original tunes and interpreting some standards,” he said.

Cape Town may be producing some exciting young talent but we must never, never forget our veteran entertainers. They can still deliver – just ask those people who caught their act at Spiro’s in Hout Bay last week. Let’s hope they can land a regular gig there soon.

Ibrahim Khalil Shibab . . . jazz standards on the keyboards.


Related article:

Ibrahim Khalil Shihab . . . a name that strikes a chord


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Steve Fataar rekindles memories of Flames at The Daily Music Show

Steve Fataar will be playing some of the hit songs of The Flames during his week-long gig at The Daily Music Show in Loop Street starting tomorrow. The Flames was South Africa’s top in the Sixties.


11 April 2019

Steve Fataar, leader of iconic Sixties band The Flames, starts a week-long gig tomorrow as part of The Daily Music Show at 110 Loop Street in the city.

It will give fans of the legendary group an opportunity to listen to Steve’s take on their monster hits, For Your Precious Love, Tell It Like It Is, Place In The Sun and Don’t Make Your Children Pay among others.

The veteran musician said yesterday he was delighted to be playing in Cape Town, which he regards as his second home.

“It’s always a buzz to be back here,” Steve said. “The Flames and its music has a special place in the hearts of the locals and I’m just glad I can bring back that warm nostalgia glow.

“The Daily Music Show is put on at this very nice, relaxed venue where you can interact with the audience at a nice, intimate level. It is a novel entertainment concept and I’d like to see more of the local music lovers get behind it.

“Hopefully the fans of The Flames will be coming out to see it, not because I am playing but to support local ventures. This week the kids from the Jazz Yard Academy played there and they were great. It just shows how much talent there is in our midst.”

Steve will be accompanied by the father-son duo, Alistair (bass) and Ethan (guitar) Adams of Vanguard Estate. “I met them at the Jazz Academy Yard and we just gelled.

“They’ll be the core of the band for this gig but I’m hoping guys like Tony Cedras and Mervyn Africa will pitch up and we can jam a bit. The Daily Music Show is suited for that type of thing.”

Steve says he talks to former Flames singer Blondie Chaplin (who gave us that memorable version of For Your Precious Love) regularly and they haven’t ruled out playing together again. Blondie now plays with former Beach Boy Brian Wilson and is planning to a visit to Cape Town later this year.

The driving force behind The Daily Music Show is Joey Fourie who says he is a classically trained pianist who loves and plays jazz. He has been involved in tourism for 14 years but the arts have always been close to his heart.

“I combined my passion for tourism and the arts. The Daily Music Shop uses music as the universal language to showcase our cultural heritage,” he said.

Steve Fataar with Alistair and Ethan Adams who will join him on stage at The Daily Music show.

Fourie has structured the daily offerings with a distinctly local flavour pitched at the tourist market traipsing around the city centre.

“It starts around 6.30pm as a cocktail half hour where guests are offered samoosas, daltjies, snoek pate and other local cuisine with a glass of wine and beer to unwind after a day of sightseeing,” he says.

In between the music, Fourie slots in poetry readings, buskers and dancers to show off the broader spectrum of local arts talent. The audience can interact with the artists and round off the night with a full meal of “egte kos” (Cape cuisine).

The “egte kos” initiative is something that Fourie has been doing for a number of years as part of his tourism job where he took international tourists onto the Cape Flats for a local experience and feeding them traditional local dishes like breyani, bobotie, and curry. “It is exactly what we have been eating in our homes for yonks.”

He also has a permanent artist in residence, Kenny Alexander, who exhibits his work at the venue and also does portraits of patrons while they are there.

Poet Tracey Carmelita Heeger

One of the standout features in The Daily Music Show’s short existence has been the poetry readings.   Fourie says poets Gadija, Tracey Carmilta Heeger and Bongweni have been exceptional in the readings of their work.

“They’ve gone down very well with international audiences. At first I told them to drop Afrikaans but when they did use Afrikaans, it helps because it becomes a talking point in relation to our Khoi and San ancestry.”

“I’m giving those artists the opportunity to perform to an international audience in the heart of Cape Town. I also have to find a balance between showcasing the young talent and the old legends.”

Fourie’s target market is primarily the passing tourist but he wants more involvement from local music lovers because, he says, they provide “context”.

“The locals will help the visitors understand the experience otherwise it will not be as authentic as I’d like. The locals are key to what I do.”

Joey Fourie . . . novel concept.

Fourie has experienced some hiccups through slow bookings but that is to be expected with a relatively new venture. One should give him credit. He is trying something new, and, just as importantly, he is providing work for local performers. That in itself makes the venture worthy of support.

Check it out. Get a blast of nostalgia from Steve Fataar and support the home-grown efforts. Local is lekker.

Related articles:

So Much Good Music Locked In A Burning Soul

The Flames Burn Brightly 50 Years On Thanks To ‘For Your Precious Love’






Leslie Kleinsmith: Back home, ‘all wound up’, ready to rock Tietiesbaai

One of Cape Town’s finest . . . Leslie Kleinsmith knows how to work a crowd , and he’ll be doing that at Tietiesbaai next weekend and at two concerts around town in April. Photo by: Wilfred Paulse

Leslie Kleinsmith is back – in case you hadn’t noticed – and he’s “all wound up” ready to break loose at a series of big gigs in Cape Town over the next couple of weeks.

It all starts at the Jazz On The Rocks festival at Tietiesbaai next week when he fronts his first big public gig in Cape Town since moving back home from overseas late last year.

It will be followed by two concert shows in April: one at The Baxter and the other at Nassau Centre auditorium at Groote Schuur High in Palmyra Rd Newlands.

Leslie, one of Cape Town (and South Africa’s) top performers for decades, has been living and working out of France for the last few years, doing the popular cruise liner gigs around the northern hemisphere countries.

Leslie’s last CD, All Wound Up, still gets lots of airtime on local stations.

“Living in France and performing in Europe is great but it is always, always, good to be back in Cape Town. I’m in my comfort zone here,” he said.

Although he got back around December last year, he hasn’t rushed into accepting bookings, even ones at the height of the festive season.

“Moving house, especially from overseas, is a helluva thing,” he said. “Don’t let anybody tell you differently. Your whole world is just an endless line of boxes.

“I thought I would sort that out before accepting any new work.”

There has been the odd gig here and there to titillate the fans. He did the popular Sunday brunch turn at Winchester Mansions in Sea Point and he has a regular Tuesday nightspot with legendary pianist Sammy Hartman at Pigalle’s Restaurant in Sea Point.

Leslie will perform with jazz guitarist Darryl Andrews’ Big Band at The Baxter on April 9 along with – wait for it – Madeegha Anders.

It will be something of a “reunion” for the two. It will be the first time they will be performing together since their starring roles in District 6: The Musical back in 1987. Madeegha (then Velma Anders) played Mary, and Leslie was Cassiem, her love interest.

“It is going to be something special,” Leslie said. “We haven’t worked it out yet, but I’m sure we’ll be doing something from the musical. We have to, don’t we? Just for old times sake.”

Darryl Andrews is the senior lecturer in jazz at UCT and has produced a number of these very successful Big Band concerts.

The jazz concert at Nassau Centre is on April 28 with Sammy Hartman. That should be something special because a Sammy Hartman concert is such a rare occasion. And Sammy Hartman is special!

“I’m in awe of Sammy’s prowess,” Leslie said. “He is the consummate professional.”

At all three gigs, starting with Tietiesbaai next Saturday afternoon, fans can expect the normal mixture of jazz and ballads, including songs from his last CD, All Wound Up.

“I can’t wait for Saturday to roll around and see all those people on the beach and in the water, listening to the music. It is such a cool gig.”

Madeegha Anders . . . on stage with Leslie Kleinsmith for the first time in more than 30 years.

Songs from All Wound Up still gets a lot of airtime on local radio stations even though it was released in 1968.

Leslie still hopes to fulfil another recording dream . . . a compilation album of jazz standards backed by a full-on big band.

“I’d also like to do a concert like that. Maybe later this year when I can focus on things other than settling in to a new house.”


Related articles:

Leslie K . . . a man for all reasons

Madeegha Anders . . . ‘I am woman hear me roar’






Little Wing comes home to roost and ‘party like it’s 1969’

[Click on picture to see caption]

Little Wing, that popular band from the ’60s and ‘70s, is having reunion gigs next month and they want their fans from yesteryear to come and “party like it’s 1969” – the year that gave us the famed Woodstock Festival and Flower Power”.

It’s all happening over a two-week period in March when former members fly in from Australia to do two gigs at Kaleidoscope in Claremont, and the Royal Cape Golf Club in Wynberg.

All the original members of the group, bar one, will be onstage for the gigs and the repertoire has been worked out and practised in Cape Town and Sydney.

The New Beginnings band will share the spotlight with the group, providing depth to the whole initiative. New Beginnings has a strong following in Cape Town satisfying a need among older music lovers for songs of the ’60s and ’70s.

Back then, when Little Wing was packing out venues, the line-up was Mike Smith (guitar), Randall Bezuidenhout (guitar), Bernie Lawrence (bass) and Noel Kistima (drums), with Jimmy Engelbrecht on vocals. Mike, Randall and Noel are flying in from Australia.

“This is going to be one helluva party,” Bernie said.

[Click on picture to see caption]

“The guys are all aged 70 or hitting 70 shortly. Mike and Noel turned 70 in December last year. So we thought while we are all still alive and kicking let’s get together and have a party to remember. It will be a collaboration with New Beginnings of course, and with friends who want to join – the project is called Little Wing, New Beginnings and Friends.”

At this stage, for personal reasons, Jimmy had indicated that he would not be able to be part of the reunion.

“We have some good vocal talent in New Beginnings and, since Jimmy won’t be there, the New Beginnings singers will handle it. Jimmy is more than welcome to join us if he wants to do a song or two,” Bernie said.

“It’s 50 years since the three-day Woodstock festival in 1969. Those were good times. Our repertoire will be the same songs we played back then – Carlos Santana, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Mountain, Eric Clapton and we’ll segue into the Earth Wind and Fire stuff when everybody is on stage.

Randall Bezuidenhout

The opening nights are March 16 and 17 (Sat and Sun) at Kaleidoscope in Claremont and the following weekend, March 22, at the Royal Cape Golf Club in Wynberg.

On March 23, the reunion tour moves to St Aidan’s hall in Lansdowne. It is a venue that holds a special place in the hearts of the Little Wing band and its followers. That was the group’s home base and they packed them in there.

“Playing at St Aidan’s is part of a very nostalgic journey. It mean’s so much to us and I’m sure it will to many others,” Bernie said.

The group would like to do one more gig on March 21. “We’d like it to be a ‘themed’ gig, sort of like a Flower Power Party with people coming dressed in their hippie gear, bell bottoms and flowers in their hair. And maybe bring their kid and grandkids along.”

They haven’t settled on a venue for the gig yet but it is quite possible that it will be at Royal Cape as well.

Bernie was at pains to point out that the reunion was not a money-making venture.

“It is not intended to be a money generating exercise. Mike Smith is only going to be here for one week. He can’t get off from work for very long. He comes in on the 15th and has a private get-together with one of his earlier groups, The Renegades. He is gone the following week.”

Bernie has some advice for their old fans: “I’d suggest you book early. Kaleidoscope only takes about 150-200 people and some people from Australia have already booked three tables.

My brother, Ossie, on the left. Owen Adriaanse next to him. Errol Alexander on drums and on the right, me. This would have been late 60’s.

Mike Smith, guitarist with Little Wing, seen here on the right with his first band, The Renegades. Ossie Smith is on the left, Owen Adriaanse, and Errol Alexander on drums. [Picture sourced on social media.]

Sophia Foster: Our queen of song to honour Aretha, Queen of Soul

The Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin . . . and Cape Town’s song queen Sophia Foster

For Cape Town songbird Sophia Foster, soul queen Aretha Franklin was a major part of the soundtrack of her life. She grew up with Aretha’s songs, she identified with the sentiments and she included many in her repertoire.

Sophia is no different from most who grew up in the Sixties listening to all the legendary soul singers – Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Wilson Pickett, Sam Cooke, Percy Sledge, Oscar Toney Jnr.

Aretha’s passing last week hit home with Sophia, so much so that she says she feels compelled to honour the singer. She is planning to put together an “Aretha tribute” show to honour and celebrate her life.

“I am already planning it in my head and have spoken to a female pianist who accompanies me on my shows,” Sophia said at the weekend.

The focus, she says, will be on female entertainers, who no doubt will channel Aretha’s clarion call in songs like RESPECT, Young Gifted And Black, Try A Little Tenderness and Change is Gonna Come.

A young Aretha Franklin . . .

“I am busy scouting the females, as my angle here will be putting together the vintage and the current female singers,” Sophia said.

Sophia’s career started around 1967 when she joined the Golden City Dixies Variety Show as a dancer but quickly showed a talent for singing as well.

“Off course, I always had Aretha’s songs in my repertoire back then as most of her lyrics resonated with me at the time and remained evergreen . . . songs like Natural Woman. Respect. Young Gifted and Black, which is the song my Foundation kids open our show with.”

The foundation she refers too is her Fostering Foundation she founded last year to nurture young, raw talent in Cape Town.

Sophia first became aware of Aretha when she heard her singing A Change Is Gonna Come 50 years ago.

“It was at the height of apartheid. I cried and cried listening to her lyrics and thinking; ‘will there ever be a change in our country’?

“The same year, RESPECT came out and I learnt the lyrics of these two songs and performed it at a club in Soweto. I kept lifting the arm of the long-player needle to catch up writing the lyrics in long hand.

“Then in 1968, there was People Get Ready and I waited in anticipation thinking the revolution was coming.

“Aretha’s style was unique in the sense that you heard the truth from the get go. That’s what became, like, my mantra – to sing with honesty first..”

Her favourite Aretha song is A House Is Not a Home. “I cry when I sing it.”

Much has been written locally and internationally about the impact of the song RESPECT. It became something of a battle cry for black oppressed and for women. It was first a hit for Otis Redding but Aretha took it to another level.

Its significance wasn’t lost on Sophia back then already: “Back then there was nobody to tell you what you were worth and a regime that made you feel you did not fit in, degrading you at every turn, no hotels, sleeping on a bus, on stage, washing in a hand basin, no hot water, and even in a cowshed .

“And all we wanted was respect and dignity.

“I’d like Aretha’s story of hardship and suffering to serve as a classic example of how we can overcome adversity. She can be a role model for the youngsters in my Fostering Foundation by teaching them the meaning of Respect and the price we artists had to pay back in the day.”

Sophia says she already has the RESPECT show mapped out in her head. “I’ve got in mind to open with something potent, and then weaving her life story through dialogue in between.”

Sophia Foster . . . remembering Aretha.

Any show highlighting Aretha’s contribution to our lives would be like revisiting some of those heady times of 1967-68 when the soul fever hit Cape Town.

Who can forget hanging around Jay Jay’s record bar at Athlone Station listening to this exciting new sound blaring from inside. It was a “cool” time, things were “uptight and outtasight”.

If you were old enough, you could catch, “live”, some of the hit songs at Jay Jay’s nightclub, The Soul Workshop, around the corner. Bands like The Chayn Gang, Wild Thing, The Cheyennes and Respect belted out those song with as much fervour as the US stars. I have an idea Respect chose that name as a tribute to that great song.

Aretha will be buried later this week but there will no doubt be a major event in the US at a later stage.

I look forward to Sophia Foster and her Fostering Foundation presenting their effort on stage.

Related Articles:

Sophia Foster — The Lady is a Vamp

Diva Foster does exactly what that last name means

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Lunar 5, Respect, Little Wing . . . a last hurrah to re-live the sixties?

Respect . . . from left Issy Mohamed, Mel Da Silva, Noel Kistima and Issy Ariefdien. There is talk, just talk at the moment, of a reunion. And there may be other bands involved.

In the Sixties and early Seventies, three of the top bands in Cape Town were the Lunar 5, Respect and Little Wing/Big Daddy. Each, in its own way, had huge support.

There were others, of course, too many to mention. For the moment, let’s focus on those three because something very interesting is bubbling under with some of the members of these old bands.

All three are talking of having one final reunion.

Those who were in the Lunar Five – Charlie Ismail, Mel da Silva, Bernie Brown, Raymond “Vonkies” Charles, would all be aged in their 70s (Raymond Meade, the drummer, has died).

In Respect, Issy Ariefdien, Noel Kistima, Ivor Wagner and Bernie Lawrence are all still with us, And, of course, Mel da Silva played with Respect. (Original vocalist Issy Mohammed hasn’t been seen for years and their other vocalist Tyrone McCranus has died.)

Mel Da Silva and Charles Ismail when they were part of the Lunar 5 back in 60s.

In Little Wing the personnel was Randall Bezuidenhout, Mikey Smith, Jimmy Engelbrecht, with Noel Kistima and Bernie Lawrence being part of them as well.

As wonderful as the idea sounds – and wouldn’t it be a blast if it were to happen – it would take one helluva logistical exercise to pull one of them together let alone all three. They would have been living separate lives.

Interestingly, the Lunar Five guys were talking independently of a reunion, as were the guys in Respect and Little Wing.

Bernie Brown . . . could be part of a Lunar 5 reunion in Cape Town and belting out She’s A Yum Yum and HI Hi Hazel.

Given that there was an overlap of membership – Da Silva played with the Lunar 5 and Respect; Ariefdien, Kistima and Lawrence played with Respect and Little Wing/Big Daddy. Also, Bernie Brown sang with the Lunar 5 and had guest spots with Respect.

The biggest hurdle would be for the overseas players to get themselves to Cape Town. Bernie Brown lives in Brisbane, Noel and Randall live in Sidney and Mel lives in Canberra.

Here’s me just thinking aloud: What if there was a suitable venue, like say the Wittebome Civic Centre where people could sit down as well as dance?

And what if all three bands were on the same bill? Two or three bands at one gig was all the rage those days. Bands would do a two-hour set, pack up and head off to another club to do another two-hour set.

The nice thing about having all three at one venue on one night would be the opportunity for fans of music and bands of that era to enjoy a nice walk down memory lane.

A set from the Lunar 5 would include their hits like She’s A Yum Yum, Field of Yellow Daisies and Hi Hi Hazel and Bernie’s Sing Out Glory.

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Respect never recorded but their fans would certainly like to hear, one more time, their take on Hendrix’s Hey Joe, Joe Cocker’s Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood, Spooky Tooth’s Society’s Child, Vanilla Fudge’s You Keep Me Hanging On, and The Kink’s Tired of Waiting.

Likewise, fans of Little Wing grooved on Jeff’s Beck Jody, Santana’s No One To Depend On, and Cream’s Crossroads at the home venue, St Aiden’s in Lansdowne.

The Little Wing/Big Daddy sound is still being heard through the group New Beginnings. With Clive Fester and Bernie Lawrence steering the ship, New Beginnings has regular gigs around the Peninsula, offering a ’60s-’70s sound to a solid following who like to reminisce.

This may all be pie-in-the-sky stuff, but let’s all to do a bit of positive channelling and maybe it’ll happen.

Below is Respect’s Mel da Silva (bass) and Noel Kistima (drums), and Issy Ariefdien (lead) and Ivor Wagner (organ) as they are today. Click on the image to see the full picture/

Related articles on this blog

Bernie Brown . . . the Sixties Sensation who had so much to give

The life and times of Ivor Wagner

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At Montreal: Anatomy of a hit song that gets them moving in Cape Town

The late Tony Schilder . . . composed At Montreal more than 30 years ago to boost the profile of a club and the song turns out to be one of the most popular tunes on the Cape scene.

 26 May 2018

At Montreal, you can always have a ball

Where the girls are so pretty

And the guys seem to know they have it all

Picture this: a jol or a stage show is as flat as last week’s beer and going nowhere fast. Then someone plays Montreal and voila! – the joint comes alive and everybody’s clapping, stomping their feet, dancing!

That’s it! That’s what that song can do. It’s like an adrenaline shot for a slow-moving gathering that’s just short of rigor mortis.

But why? It’s not as if it is purple prose. It’s not an international hit. It’s not even a South African hit. But it is a Cape Town hit. A big hit.

What is it about Montreal and the people of Cape Town, particularly those from the Cape Flats, (and those in the diaspora in Melbourne, Sydney, Toronto . . .)?

This is my little effort to try to put it all on the record, as it were: how Montreal came to be one of the most popular songs around. Music historians like to do it for songs like Hogey Carmichael’s Georgia On My Mind and Paul McCartney’s Michelle. 

So let’s unpack Montreal.

Bassist Gary Kriel . . . was with Tony in the recording studio to lay down tracks for At Montreal. 


Tony composed the song almost 40 years ago, with his daughter, Delene, contributing to the lyrics.

But there is so much more to the story than just those bland facts.

The song refers to a nightclub in Manenberg that was extremely popular in the late ’70s and early ’80s. Initially the venue was called The Sherwood, also very popular in its early days, but the patronage dwindled after a few years. To get the place back on its feet again, the management called in Taffy du Toit who sang with jazz combos in Cape Town nightclubs before moving, briefly, to Canada.

“They gave me carte blanche to get the place up and running again,” Taffy, who now lives in Adelaide, said. “I had been in touch with Tony, with whom I had sung in a white club before I left. When I came back he was playing in The Surwell with Gary Kriel and Leslie Kleinsmith. It wasn’t exactly a swinging joint with hipsters.

“When the time came to launch the revamped Sherwood, I didn’t have to ask them twice.”

Taffy du Toit . . . named the new club Montreal.

How did it come be called Montreal, then? “I had spent some time in Montreal in Canada and I found it to be such a vibrant  place, it left a lasting impression on me. When it came to naming the place, I couldn’t help but think of the good time I had in Montreal.

“One night, Tony and the band surprised me by playing At Montreal. It blew me away. It was such a nice gesture. The crowds just loved it.”

The song itself was recorded in 1984 at UCA Studios in Bloem Street for Paddy Lee Thorp’s Mountain Records. Tony recorded all three of his albums on that label.

“I don’t know how many takes were necessary in the recording it but I suspect that Tony and the guys were pretty well rehearsed. It would have been recorded rather quickly,” Paddy said. “Montreal first appeared on the album Introducing Tony Schilder. It was quite popular and went out of print pretty quickly.”

Ten years later, Paddy took the group back into the studio to redo the track for a CD and add Jonathan Butler’s voice as a duet with Robbie Jansen.

A feature of the recorded song was the fact that neither Jonathan nor Robbie sang the lyrics the way Tony had written it.

“It annoyed the shit out of Tony from the very beginning,” Paddy said. “I think the only guy that knows what the real lyrics are is Leslie Kleinsmith. He was the one who used to sing it with Tony at the club.

“Jonathan and Robbie come from a school of singers who don’t pay a helluva lot of attention to lyrics. They will get it right and see to it that it rhymes but they would come with the most incredible lyrics.”

Paddy said there were quite a few versions of Montréal recorded.“

“I have recorded three versions. The latest version is the one that is going to be part of the forthcoming Cape Jazz volume, which is an instrumental version by Ramon Alexander. The Sons of Table Mountain played it as did Tony’s son, Hilton, with his various groups.

“If you talk about standards, it is a jazz standard in the Cape. It is among the top five jazz standards in the Cape, along with Seventh Avenue and Mannenberg.

Paddy point’s to another irony of the song Montreal.

Paddy Lee Thorp . . . released At Montreal on Mountain Records.

“The most popular version of Montréal on the radio was Leslie Kleinsmith’s version. He recorded it with the SABC as part of their transcription recordings. It was never released commercially. It was one of those unfortunate things that used to happen in those days. The SABC only circulated these recordings internally. They never had the commercial rights to the recording. That belonged to my record company.

“Tony was allowed to do the transcription recording and the SABC played the hell out of it .

“Robbie’s version was not as well known as Leslie’s version. When we finally did the Jonathan and Robbie duet, it became the version of choice.”

Leslie has his own particular memories of Montreal.

“Tony, Willie van Bloemestein, Cecil Ricca and myself were playing at Scruples in Welcome Estate when Taffy came in one night and said he was re-opening Sherwood as Club Montreal . . . and two weeks later, there we were.

“We opened Club Montreal and I broke the song. We played at the venue two or three years, every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.”

What many people ask is: if Leslie was the regular singer in the group, how come he never recorded it with the band for commercial release.

The way he recalls it, it was all a bit of miscommunication about being at the studio on the day they were due to record.

“I got a call from Paddy about 11am wanting to know where I was,” Leslie said. “Well, I had had a late night from coming home from the gig and watching movies until the wee hours.

“Apparently Paddy had organised with Tony and Tony was supposed to give me the message but he didn’t. Words were spoken and I didn’t end up doing the vocals, Robbie did.

“How do I rate the song? For me it is one of those obscure songs that you never really pay much mind to and then it shocks you. That’s how the public reacts to it. For me it is just another song but it turned out to be almost a national anthem for the club goers.

“What amazes me about the song is it’s simplicity; it is straight forward, it’s got a nice dance groove to it. But I do cringe every time I hear it on the radio and I hear the wrong words.

“Everywhere I go I have to sing it. At the recent Suidooster festival, I did a medley that included Club Montreal and Flying High. They crowd hears the introduction and there is this roar from the audience.”

Hilton Schilder said they played the song whenever he did a tribute to his father “and the crowd always goes bonkers”.

“It’s a feelgood song and it’s local song with a local composer, not something imported. It’s just a happy song.”

Last word from Gary Kriel, the bassist on the recording and long-time band member with Tony Schilder: “It was just an advert for the club, man. Nothing more, nothing less.”

Leslie Kleinsmith . . . best known version of At Montreal but never recorded it for release.

MONTREAL lyrics (courtesy of Leslie Kleinsmith)

At Montreal,

You can always have a ball

Where the girls are so pretty

And the guys seem to know they have it all

Club Montreal

the jazz is wild and free

You can swing with your lover

And your wife can discover

She’s a queen

(Chorus) In your jeans or your sable

You’ll find you are able to fly

With a glass in your hand

And the sound of the band you’re not shy

So come one, come all

To the place that has it all

Where the vibe is so happy, ask a girl or a chappie to dance

It’s a social experience, summer winter or fall

When you hear the good vibes call, at Montreal

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