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BlaqPearl: Canary In A Storm

Monday, February 25th, 2008

Singer and spoken word poet and social activist BlaqPearl kicked off the weekend line-up at Mercury with a pretty but fragile performance to a rather rough-edged crowd. After all, despite the all-inclusive ethic, not everyone is ready for Goema and spiritual awakening. Yet…

more photos on Biz-Blog

Unlike most of the acts that vault the stage at Zonnebloem’s only live music venue, BlaqPearl is not a band. BlaqPearl is Janine van Rooy who performs elegant, soft, sensual, feel-good jazzy sounds. Perhaps the rock-orientated Mercury’s not the right venue for the R&B vibe. To her credit, BlaqPearl’s a skinhead, so the R8-a-beer types can at least relate to that…

Ask her what she’s about, and you’ll get this: “To contribute to positive change in our country’s current state regarding the music industry and youth empowerment. To be successful and inspire upcoming artists & musicians. Also to grow immensely and continuously in her musical talents and self.” [blaqpearl.co.za]

Band-members included a drummer, lead guitarist, bass guitarist and a saxophonist. While a number of close friends and family hugged the wall, a few of the loyal fans, including [deleted name], got pretty smashed, and the result was that there was both too much and not much love shown for BlaqPearl. But she put on a good performance anyway. Original, at the very least.

Blaq/Pearl (which one is it?!) even recited a poem in Afrikaans on abusive substances etc. Admittedly, my Afrikaans is terrible so I just about got the gist of it. It was refreshing to hear spoken word pierce through the heart of the often-formulaic “song-clap-song” live music scene. Along with some stellar guitarwork, BlaqPearl and the boys would do well to hit the more sober and appreciative crowds of Manenberg’s Jazz Café or the V&A Waterfront’s Green Dolphin. Forego it, and go for it.

Guest post by Sindy Peters and images by Ruth Cooper of Biz-Blog

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    Groove Nation With Southpaw

    Monday, February 25th, 2008

    Even four years after you’ve beheld Southpaw bassist Newton Stanford pop a super-rough demo of City of Sin into your CD player and ask what you think for the first time, there’s still something about the song that makes you wanna just sing along. Aloud. Even when the turnout is kinda dismal, the lefties get down to some tightly practised material at Mercury Live in Cape Town alongside funk threesome Stereozen and spoken word siren Blaqpearl.


    Ok, I won’t mince the green beans here, I’m mates with the band and their manager. Let’s get that out the way. But let’s also take a close look at the group, and not just a glossy front-row report that you’re likely to get in some bulk email from the latest blog rocker. We’ve been covering them a lot lately. Let’s do some actual music journalism here.

    Southpaw take their clothes off at Groove Nation.
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    Lead singer Stephan Roach – a totally Kravitz-inspired sex symbol with genuine moments of Chris Martin songwriting and a left handful of glam-pop glitterati thrown in (miss ‘COCAINE’ in gold-print on the t-shirt and you’ve had one too many). Actually, the jazzy, film-interlude-styled songwriting credit here goes to rhythm guitarist and rocksteady wingman Daniel, who pairs up with Stephan to come up with material and plays some weird chords deliberately. Left-handed.

    The band is extremely marketable. There’s talk. Take a look at what Overtone has to say about this, and let’s all hold thumbs while they make the decision that’s gonna shape their careers as alternative, Generation II SA musicians. Whatever that means. We all know SA music IS already international music, and seeing as the MP3 revolution is already crossing waters, why won’t this kind of music? There’s nothing stopping the international image and sound of Southpaw from earning a following in areas like the United States, Australia and Europe when the album lands (more from Stephan about this). Or even right now.

    Unless you’re Zane Henry, the tendency in this industry is to examine all the artists and praise/criticise them one by one, for their various on- and off-stage strengths, and to “please support” local music. Bollocks. Right now, this band is a bunch of amateurs, compared to where they’re going. At the risk of sounding like some lovestruck 19-year-old girl (you know who you are), Southpaw have got loads going for them. Material seems to keep coming in; they don’t seem to be one of those groups that recycles their Myspace EP for ten years. It’s good to see drummer Kurt‘s talking kak with his shirt off. Now if we could just get some more movement on stage to match the creative flow…

    I’m no professional, but I think that any group with the right sound, look, vibe and determination will eventually get where they’re going. It’s inevitable. Especially when you’re practically all related and seem not to know how to do anything but luminescent songwriting that (strangely) compliments the eye candy. The girls in the front row may be getting a bass chairbuzz, but guys like me at the back are also digging the sound. Bigtime. Keep an ear out for the alien invasion…

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