BARING THEIR ROOTS: Saul Nossel and Noah Bamberger are two of the band’s original members. The band’s new EP, Routes, was just released and is available for free online. Photo: Roxanne Joseph
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.
“We take conventional and obvious sound, and don’t do that.”
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.
By Tendai Dube & Palesa Vuyolwethu Tshandu
Thomas Revington is an indie-rocker and resident Witsie who forms part of the band Shortstraw, was recently featured in Marie Claire’s annual naked issue using his derriere for the betterment of humanity.
This year Marie Claire’s naked issue has caused a bit of a stir on social media and led to the issue flying off the stands in no time. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa
Marie Claire brought together 36 South African celebrities, to raise funds for the non-governmental organisation (NGO) the Lunch-Box Fund. This year’s naked issue comprises a spread of celebrities whose naked bodies have become a talking-point on social media.
Actress and TV presenter Boity Thulo has been trending on Twitter all week because of her risqué pose. The celebrity’s naked frame brought about the most entertaining reactions under the hashtag #BoityReaction.
Wits University has also claimed its stake in the issue, having one of their own baring it all in the name of a good cause.
Revington holds a Bachelor of Dramatic Arts degree from Wits and is also a guitarist. He and his band were approached by Marie Claire after performing at their trunk show last year.
After grudgingly accepting to feature in the naked issue, Revington attributed the charitable impacts as the primary reasons for agreeing to do the shoot.
“At first we were all a bit hesitant, but we got into it. Tons of awkward laughs,” the guitarist said about being naked with his band mates and other celebrities.
Now that the magazine is in store, we imagine fellow students will have a lot to say regarding their fellow peer’s good deed.
Revington foresees ‘lols’ from his friends but the musician doesn’t think it will be awkward, “I’m still Jenny from the block,” he joked.
LOL: Thomas Revington laughs as he tells Wits Vuvuzela more about himself. Photo: Shandukani Mulaudzi
Thomas “Tom” Revington is a long-haired indie kid, who is a student by day and a rock star by night.
The fourth year film student is the guitarist and ukulele player in indie-bele band Shortstraw. His other talents include beat boxing and playing on an electric drum kit.
He lives in a commune in Emmarentia with other musicians, which allows him to jam whenever the urge arises.
Why did you choose to study film?
‘Cause it’s cool. No I’m joking. I wanted to do architecture, but apparently my maths marks weren’t good enough so film was the next best thing. Glad I did though, I get to experience life in its entirety and love the creative process and being able to produce a product at the end.
How did you get involved with the band Shortstraw?
I used to be in a band called The Uncut, but that ended. I just posted a Facebook status saying that I was bored and wanted to jam with people looking for a guitarist.
Jason Heartman, the band’s ex-guitarist, saw it and let the guys know and, yeah, two and a half years later, I’m still the guitarist.
GANGSTA: Tom says throwing gang signs is a talent he has. Photo: Shandukani Mulaudzi
You just went to Oppikoppi with the band. How was that?
It was awesome, dusty and crazy, but I managed to survive it. I particularly enjoyed the performances by Manchester Orchestra and Matthew Mole. He’s a buddy of ours. Also our show was crazy cool, just an amazing experience.
How do you juggle being in a band and being a full-time student?
Yo, it’s hard hey. I do that and I have to work to pay for rent and stuff. Last year my first day of exams coincided with the band’s first day of tour, so I had to fly back and forth a lot and did a lot of studying on planes.
But everything works out somehow.
Are girls very forthcoming with their advance because you’re in a band?
Ha ha ja, but I‘m just not that kind of guy. I have signed a boob though. There’s a lot of temptation I suppose, but I am single and I’m just really awkward anyway. My awkwardness generally just puts girls off.
What are some of your favourite spots in Braamfontein?
There’s so many, I like Great Dane, Kitcheners, Father Coffee – actually just everything on Juta. The urban renovation is awesome, I hope it keeps growing so everyone can come party in the city.
By Pheladi Sethusa and Shandukani Mulaudzi
Pulling the short straw is something that happens a few times in your life. Sometimes you may be lucky and you won’t, this is life.
For the five man band ShortStraw, it was about the beginning of their career. They started out playing for no one then moved on to crowds of about 40 and now, they have two shows on the best Oppikoppi stages.
In an interview with the band, we told them of our sad racist encounter the night before.
“That’s fucking bullshit. It’s fucking 2013 you can only laugh at people who still think that way,” said Russel, bass player for ShortStraw.
Russel told Wits Vuvuzela that one of the first black bands to play at Oppi was Kwani Experience and that was what sparked a cultural change at Oppi.
“Black bands used to be apprehensive. But once they played and were received well they changed their minds about the fest.”
Tom added that music is an experience for everyone and something that should bring all people together.
After pulling the short straw on day one, we were on a mission to find some diversity at Oppikoppi.
Traditional music moves
FIRST OPPI: Bongeziwe Mabandla plays his first set at the festival. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa
The Ray-Ban stage, where the incident happened the night before was where we found a new enlightening Oppi experience.
The act was, Bongeziwe Mabandla, who enchanted the crowd with his sweet traditional melodies in isiXhosa. His sound was one we cannot put our finger on but it made us feel like we were watching a male Thandiswa Mazwai.
The crowd, representative of South Africa’s overrated rainbow nation, more than half of whom did not understand the lyrics, stood and danced along with him.
People lost their minds when he jumped off the stage into the crowd and beckoned him to jump onto the table, which he did without protest.
Oppi’s cultural shift
AO JIKA: Mi Casa’s frontman, J Something setting the stage alight. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa
Bittereinder, who are veterans to Oppi said the festival has gotten bigger and better with more variety in music than ever before.
Jaco van der Merwe, rapper in three man band used the Vusi Mahlasela tribute last year as an example of Oppi’s diversity.
“Mi Casa is a great example of diversity, it’s just beautiful. They also have random black people at our show, who have no idea what we are saying, but they jam anyway,” Jaco chuckled.
Later that evening we jammed to crowd favourites Zakes Bantwini and MiCasa. At these performances, the crowds were just as diverse and responsive. As J’Something asked us to jika, we turned and saw different people jika along with him.