Once, a long, long time ago, my Oupa looked me in the eye, and said “if you don’t have anything to say, don’t say it”. My Oupa was a conservative Christian teetotaler (apart from a single brandy at Christmas) who spoke only one language. Despite those handicaps, he had given me good sound advice over the years, most of which I have forgotten or ignored. “Boeta, moet nooit met jou baas terugpraat nie. En noem hom altyd Meneer” (Boeta, never argue with your boss, and always call him Sir) and “Bly weg van kroeë, en moet nooit gratis drankies aanvaar nie” (stay away from bars, and never accept a free drink) Sound, sound advise, as solid as the ground beneath my feet. But wasted on me. The only “boss” I ever had was the Regional manager at the SABC here in Cape Town, who tried to fire me on so many occasions that eventually I felt sorry for him, and resigned. And just look where I am today – I OWN a bar! And if people aren’t buying me drinks, I am buying them drinks. As for the nothing to say advise …

Every time I sit down to write my newsletter, I have nothing to say. Absolutely nothing comes to mind when I am sitting in my slowly deteriorating yet still beautiful retro office chair in my so-called office. Nada…Na-Thing….sweet fokol. So I just start writing, anything.  I have no idea where its going to go, if at all, but I don’t care. Because I know my keyboard has the best invention ever – the delete button! Course, my Oupa knew sweet nothing about buttons, nevermind delete buttons. Yep, my Oupa would be turning in his grave if he had to see me today. He might not be alone, though.

He may well be joined by a gennelman called Vivaldi. I wonder if he would love or hate what Meneer de Beer and his friends are doing to his 4 Seasons?   Me, I love it. The audacity of taking a piece written for a full orchestra, and reducing it to three instruments – one being a violin of course, but the others being an accordion and a bass guitar. Electric bass guitar.

Vivaldi is either turning in his grave, or twisting & shouting.

The combination of the classical violin & accordion, played to perfection by the prodigy, Piet de Beer, and Stanislav Angelov, is striking as it stands, but adding Schalk Joubert on electric bass is either a stroke of genius or an act of folly so immense it could boggle the minds even of those that have none – and they are legion, especially here on the eve of local elections. Happily it turns out to be the former.

De Beer is that rare specimen of musician that is equally at home at City Hall and the Blah Blah Bar, perhaps to his detriment. (I wonder if the masters at the Symphony Orchestra will take kindly to this outstanding perversion perpetrated on our little stage? Do they require that their musicians behave in a particular way, embrace only the stiff, penguins-in-bondage style of the formal arena, or can they climb to the top of the ladder regardless, their rise based only on raw talent?). The genius of this version of 4 Seasons is firstly established by the selection of instruments, then the players of those instruments, and finally completed by the performance, which to my great surprise – and probably to Jouberts’ companions too – differed from the one night to the next. Joubert actually played some of his parts differently from the night before.

Can you imagine what that means? What will happen if a single instrument doing Vivaldi in City Hall decides to vary his/her play, even slightly? Catastrophe! Chaos! Anarchy is unleashed upon the land! And rightly so. That is not the platform. But here at the Blah Blah, we love it, encourage it, even require it as a pre-condition. (Don’t think for one minute you can come here and play your songs the same, time after time! What do you think this is? City Hall?) Joubert can get away with it, because, strictly speaking, Vivaldi did not write the bass line, nor the accordion line – Angelov & Joubert have essentially written their own parts, a condensed interpretation of the high notes and the low notes (simply speaking), adapted to their personal styles.   And hey presto! A 4 Seasons that is sparse, yet full; complicated, yet simplified; and more beautiful than ever….

 

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