Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Punch-Drunk and Rude, a slice of Ska and the notorious Cape Town band, The Rudimentals.

Raw and rebellious, choppy and full of bounce. Balmy nights, rum interludes, luscious skunk and street fever, Ska is rooted in Jamaican culture. Shaped by Jamaican political history, Ska surpasses merely a Sound, and is more akin to a musical encyclopedia that tells a story. A tale of a carnivalesque lifestyle, of sunny days and turbulent times. It provided a musical realm of freedom, a rare escape from society’s hardships.

Guitar, banjo, the kalimba and bongos, Mento, which originated in Jamaica, blended the sounds of African and European. And Ska, like mento, is an intricate, yet crude, fusion of varied musical elements. Like its listeners, a sub culture in the 1960s who came to be known as The Rude Boys, Ska became a sound that cared not for societal approved definitions. The lyrics reflected societal realities, many of which were a concern.

The original Rude Boys, like Pete Tosh and Bunny Livingstone, were pulsating spectacles of Ska. From reggae influenced “rock steady” Ska moved to the damp streets of England in the birth of British Ska, or “blue beat”. And then again revived in 1979 with the Two Tone artists.

Dubbed after two toned suits sported by the original Ska legends, the Two Tone artists were true patrons to the origins of Ska, covering and honouring songs by the Ska founders. Edgier with increased tempos, this second wave spread the rhythm of Ska,and all it represented throughout Europe, revived it in Britain and even sent waves down south to Aus. The fresh sound recaptured the essence of Ska, and albeit an audio transformation, it still reflected the times, and brought the people together.

An original, raw sound had become globally infectious, and a third wave was born. Heavily influenced by punk, and fusing rock with early ska rhythms, the third wave showed a hunger for instrumental experimentation.

And Cape Town’s Rude Boys, The Rudimentals, share this hunger, as do we.

Easy skanking Jamaican style, this 8 piece band has infused Ska beats with a distinct African flavour. Musically acedemic and humbled by life experience, The Rudimentals are moulding a new sound for South Africa.

Hitting the highs and lows in funky Cape Town style is Teboho Bobo Maidza, whilst Ross MacDonald doubles as the backing vocals and the Trombone man. Simon Bates engages you with his skillful manipulation of the sax and flute, and Jodi Engelbrecht is a maven on the flugel and trumpet. Michael Levy rips it up on lead guitar amplified by Duane Heydenrych, Cape Town’s human drum machine. Antonio Cencherle takes over the keyboard, and Errol ‘Bong’ Strachan finger-licks his bass guitar.

All in all, you witness a potent collective energy that resonates with upbeat funk and pure delight. They’re laughter and sunny days personified, rude and punch-drunk through and through.

These insanely talented musicians have respected the roots of Ska, and their music explores very real, specifically African, issues that society faces today. Dressed like the characters in Reservoir Dogs, an aesthetic tribute to the original Rude Boys of the 60s, the Rudimentals have created a uniquely African, contemporary Ska sound; wonderfully terse and made to move to.

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