Johannesburg band Go Barefoot creates music that makes you want to dance. Described as a mixture of urban-African, jazz, rock and folk, they “really love” their city, a lot.
John Smith, a graphic design student at Vega, is one of the band’s guitarists, vocalists and a “Kenny G” lookalike. The other is Michael Dawson, an architecture student at the University of Cape Town. When he is not coaching soccer, Clive Vicker is Go Barefoot’s bassist. Saul Nossel, a third year music student at Wits, plays the drums and finally, Noah Bamberger, a second year applied computing student, plays the keys.
New kids on the block
The band are relatively new to the South African music scene and take example from other local groups, such as Desmond and the Tutus and Shortstraw, who organise and book their own gigs, manage their own tours and work together in everything they do.
Each of them brings a different set of influences and styles to the group, according to Nossel. Jazz, rock, blues folk, indie and electro are all thrown into the mix when writing a song and practicing for a show. They even have elements of maskandi genre, which Michael learnt from a busker on the street.
“But we’re very experimental,” Bamberger said. “We take conventional and obvious sound, and don’t do that.”
Their audience, they said, has changed from just their friends, to a variety of people. They cater to the up and coming generation, but want to reach out to places like Hillbrow, Soweto and Yeoville.
“Joburg is a progressive, but segregated place,” said Bamberger. “And we want to get out of that by partying together.”
Doing something different
Their music speaks to people of different races, classes and backgrounds. One of their favourite places to play is Braamfontein’s Kitchener’s because it is one of the “coolest and most integrated clubs” in the city.
“We love an audience that loves to lose itself, and who loves dancing. It hurts us if they don’t dance, we struggle to play if people just stand there,” Bamberger explained.
Both Nossel and Bamberger agree that they do not fit into the South African music scene, because they are “trying to do something different”.
“There’s no such thing as original music, only original combinations of it.”
They want to encourage fans to explore the inner city a bit more, and believe their music can help that happen.
Go Barefoot recently played a string of gigs across the city, from Melville to Greenside to Braamfontein, and are about to start a small national tour, starting with an “epic” show at Kitchener’s next weekend. They also just released an EP, called Routes, which, according to Nossel, is about “the routes we take and the roots we come from”.
Their EP, Routes, is available for download online.