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We chat to Simon Orange ahead of The Blues Broers’ Atterbury Theatre show

2015-08-20 21:00

Cape Town - Blues rock legends The Blues Broers are returning to the Atterbury Theatre in Pretoria for a one night only performance on 1 September 2015.

The Blues Broers – consisting of Rob Nagel (Harmonica, bass, vocals), Simon Orange (Keyboards, tea-chest bass, vocals), Albert Frost (Guitars, vocals) and Jonno Sweetman (Drums, washboard) – have been playing music in their trademark black suits and dark glasses for the last 25 years.

Since the launch of their seventh album, Into the Red, in January 2014, they’ve performed at the Standard Bank Jazz Festival in Grahamstown and appeared on the major TV networks. They featured on the Durban International Blues Festival and at the Table Mountain Blues Summit amongst others.

Twenty-five years ago the musical landscape was very different. The Blues Broers started out playing in Cape Town’s seedier clubs and bars. Venues like The Fringe and the appropriately named Smokehouse (some nights you could barely see the stage through the blue haze of cigarette smoke) are long gone, but the band expanded its audience by driving long hours to towns further afield. It was around this time that they added their ‘Skiffle set’ to the show. Skiffle is music played on homemade instruments, such as a tea-chest bass or tin washboard and it’s still an important part of the band’s performance.

Coastal tours, album releases and rock festivals followed, but in 1999 the band lost drummer, manager and Albert Frost’s father, Frank, to cancer. It was a blow they struggled to recover from and eventually the Blues Broers announced that they were calling it a day. In 2006 they held a final show at the Hidden Cellar in Stellenbosch.

The band was brought back together by popular demand for a reunion gig in 2009 and they soon started writing songs that would feature on their 2011 CD release Out of the Blue. That album’s success gave a whole new lease of life to the Blues Broers. Now Albert Frost’s mother, Maggie, manages the band and is married to bass player Rob Nagel.

Ahead of their show at Atterbury Theatre we had a quickie with Simon Orange:

Channel24: What has been the one thing that has kept you guys together and playing music for such a long time?

Simon: When you're on stage with people you've worked with for years the music gains a depth that is more than the sum of the individuals performing. We know the show well enough to leave space for each other in the songs.  Also, we tend to look forward to the next project or show instead of being nostalgic about past gigs.


C24: Do you guys ever still make mistakes on stage and if you do, how do you handle it?

Simon: Yes, that happens. The other night Rob counted in a song and we realised that two of us were holding the wrong instruments.

C24: If you could collaborate with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?

Simon: Well, personally I'd like to work with a movie director. I enjoy writing music for video. Maybe someone like Bennett Miller who directed Foxcatcher. Great movie, by the way!

C24: Can fans expect a new album soon?

Simon: We're working on songs at the moment. Probably next year.

C24: What can fans expect from your show at Atterbury Theatre?

Simon: Well, I'm looking forward to playing their piano. It's a Yamaha C5. Beautiful thing. The sound in that theatre is great too. They really know how to mix a band.

Gig details:

Venue: Atterbury Theatre, Pretoria.
Date: Tuesday 1 September
Time: 20:00
Tickets: R150 – available from Computicket.

Read more on:    pretoria  |  music  |  local music
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