BLK (read “black”) Sonshine that is Masuko Chipembere and Neo Muyanga. They performed on the rooftops of JOZI CBD their fusion of hip hop, jazz and traditional African influences, blending soulful melodies and percussive flurries over unplugged guitars.
Monday, July 26th, 2010 by Duduzile Mathebula, images by Claire McNulty
Blk Sonshine at the Alexander Theatre somehow manage to transcend the venue’s rich ambience. It says a lot. Right in the heart of Braamfontein’s student district, by day the place bustles with workers and thousands of locals who live in the surrounding high rises. And by night the new middle class colonizes the streets: visible, boisterous and good-natured they trek here for sounds like no other.
Blk Sonshine is Masauko Chipembere and Neo Muyanga. Their first eponymous release came out in 1998. After ten-years, during which the duo split apart, one to the States, the other to Slaapstad, they released their second album, Good Life. They blend soulful melodies and percussive flurries over an acoustic flow evoking hip hop, jazz and folk among other traditional African influences.
The Alexander auditorium was happily full on the night. First up was Bongeziwe Mabandla, an up and comer, who dazzled with nothing besides a voice and a guitar, sincerely setting the tone for the show. After him was Two-parts Black who have rapturously diverting harmonies, then Tumi Molekane, poet turned MC, joined in. With spryly conscious rhymes and velvet lyricism, he was always going to be a crowd pleaser. Then Blk Sonshine took over. I had to recline in my seat and take in the music. It was like a show tailored just for me. The band played a set list right out of my dreams. “Borders”, “Born in a Taxi”, “Building” and “Crazy,” – all firm favourites. Painter Nico Pocco – who did the covers for both their albums – dressed in a dashiki and white pants busied himself with canvas and paint (dirtying his pants). Soon an abstract painting emerged. The artist who has been with them from the beginning is a testament to the band’s easygoing commitment to keeping in touch with their roots. You’ve got to love that.
There’s sometimes a moment when audience and band are in unison live. Brought on by a familiar note, a gesture or a shared something in a song. At this show that moment happened during the tantric “Soul Smile”. Helped by its acoustic sparseness which enables intimacy as the vocals sink foxily in.
Songs from The Good Life made the crowd beam. It’s a much praised and understandably loved release. Watching the duo effortlessly interact with the audience, I was struck again by how consummate they are at winning a crowd, hatching a vibe and filling a room. The highlight for me was when Tumi returned with the rather dull MXO (who at this stage should like totally retire or completely renovate his sound). Along with Two Parts Black they all performed “Nkosi”. Masauko helpfully explained that Nkosi has a double meaning: “It means you know God for all those who believe, or just plain Thanks for anyone who doesn’t.”
The night came to a euphoric close with the song “Bahlalefi” (Sotho for “wise people”) from the first album. It seemed an appropriate end to a show dedicated, movingly, to the memory of Robbie Jansen and the dear departed Busi Mhlongo. Blk Sonshine are carrying the fire. We should thank them.
The Alex Theatre, 36 Stiemens Street, Braamfontein
Friday 9th July 2010, Doors Open 8PM
Fresh from wowing audiences at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, celebrated acoustic duo Blk Sonshine will be treating their Joburg fans to an all too rare live performance. (See details above) In late 2009 the act released their critically acclaimed, SAMA nominated album ‘Good Life’, ten years after their eponymously titled debut album.
“Blk Sonshine melted a freezing audience on Sunday night as they kicked off the music line-up at the National Arts Festival, cementing their performance as a rare musical treat on the festival line-up this year. And since we rarely get to see the chemistry between the very serious Neo Muyanga and charismatic New York-based Masauko Chipembere work its magic, it did not take long for audiences to warm up to them and let their hair down. Both armed solely with acoustic guitars, and equally matched in their playing and singing skills, their soulful music stretched and uplifted, even for those hearing the songs for the first time. Their final charm was when they sang: When we make love, you make my soul smile, with replies of “beautiful!” from the women, and the entire crowd drifted off, successfully wooed. The duo ended their set with the hit single Born in a Taxi and had the entire crowd singing along.”
Atiyyah Khan – The Star Tonight, June 22, 2010
Those who watched the Japan vs Cameroon and Italy vs Paraguay match enjoyed performances by BLK Sonshine, a local Afropop group that blends melodic and percussive acoustic guitars with hip hop, jazz and folk influences. Their soulful music, including songs such as ‘Born in a taxi’, and ‘Bahlalefi’, got fans moving and shaking. They were followed by CODA, a popular South African band that combines classical electric strings and Afro-jazz to create a uniquely local style. Their soccer song ‘Blow your vuvuzela’ – fast becoming the official anthem of the World Cup – was particularly popular.
It’s not the end of the world if you have missed out on your World Cup tickets, you can catch ALL the games live as well as hundreds of live acts at the Cape Town Fifa Fan Fest. Taking place on the Parade Ground, in front of Cape Town’s iconic City Hall, the Cape Town Fifa Fan Fest is set to be the biggest party in Cape Town over the World Cup.
Every match day each game will be shown on a 17sqm screen for your viewing pleasure. In between the games you can catch the best live acts South Africa has to offer, indulge in our local food, have a few drinks, or catch some 5-a-side soccer action. Besides that there will be daily entertainment and amazing themed days.
And the best part? Entry is FREE!
Have a look at the latest line-up.
Fri 11 June Jimmy Dludlu
Sat 12 June Oliver Mtukudzi, Oliver Mtukudzi
Sun 13 June Goldfish
Mon 14 June BLK Sonshine, Coda
Tues 15 June Moreira Project,Tucan Tucan
Wed 16 June Loyiso, Dance for Life
Thurs 17 June Liquid Deep, Plan B
Fri 18 June The Rudimentals
Sat 19 June Kalahari Surfers, Johnny B + da Realistics
Sun 20 June Robbie Jansen +friends, Dave Ferguson
Mon 21 June Gang of Instrumentals, Fezeka High School
Tues 22 June Brasse vannie kaap, Allou April
Wed 23 June IQulah, Azania with String Quartet + McGinity
Thurs 24 June The Roger Milla Ensemble, AmaBhulu
Fri 25 Jun Ghorwane
Sat 26 June Phuzekemisi
Sun 27 Jun Danny K, Keeno Lee
Mon 28 Jun Flat Stanley
Tues 29 Jun K’Naan, Junior Kiswanga
Wed 30 June NO GAME
Thurs 01 July NO GAME
Fri 02 July Karambola, Regan & Nicodemus
Sat 03 July Freshly Ground, Krushed + Sorted
Sun 04 July NO GAME
Mon 05 July NO GAME
Tue 06 July Capsolys, Gugs Tenors
Wed 7 July Abekaya
Thurs 08 July NO GAME
Fri 09 July NO GAME
Sat 10 July The Rockets, Claire Philips
Sun 11 July Prime Circle, Flash Republic
Every single game day will be packed with entertainment, the Cape Town Fifa Fan Fest really is the only place to be during the World Cup, whether you have a ticket or not.
For a full line-up with times (may be subject to change) click here.