Thato Rossouw writes about Stone Mayo’s single launch turned jam session, held at Pitseng African Restaurant.
Pitseng’s intimate setting, with its fluid mixture of couch-and-dining-table décor, provided a fertile ground for merriment between loved ones, irrigated by sets of live music played with enough passion to convert even the most philistine of music listeners into true lovers of its magical notes, arrangements and harmonies.
As if itself a song composed for the delight of those who had chosen to listen to it, the night began on a slow pace: with the soothing sounds of local artists that were emanating from the speakers helping the gathered crowd ease into their seats, preparing them for the ecstasy to come; and the sounds of the joyful laughter of those gathered adding their own distinct notes to the song we were all now accomplice to the composition and execution thereof.
A song was being cooked at Pitseng, and we were all ready to not only take part in its consumption, but to also abstract our own versions of happiness from that which we had worked so hard to create.
The reason we were all gathered at what has become Bloemfontein art scene’s home away from the city’s cold streets that promise to consume it, was for artist Stone Mayo’s show: a live musical orgy featuring an amalgam of acts including Mamickey, Maida, Vendile, Kb Mokaila, and Colourful Souls – to name but a few.
The first note in our nocturnal compositions together was struck in an impromptu jam session between drummer Taubas, keyboardist Chere, and lead guitarist was Ntate Phori. The night had just begun, and it already promised to produce a masterpiece.
Music is seen by many to be a unifier of people, and nowhere has it ever been more exemplary than when these three phenomenal artists were playing together. For the moments they played together – without having the privilege of ever meeting before the set – the three became one, and the music they played together weaved a thread of connectivity between them, a thread between their superb individual musical genius.
They were later joined by Mamickey, a vocal and performance powerhouse whose stage presence is paralleled only by a few. She came to the stage, took classics we all know and harbor some form of sentimental value towards – songs like Brenda Fassie’s Weekend Special and Promises – and made them her own. She evoked MaBrrr’s spirit and invited her into our space, and our song found its ascent towards intended apex.
Our song, our slowly crafted masterpiece, reached its apex with Stone’s ascension to the stage. He began by singing cover songs, inviting the gathered crowd to join him in the composition of his section of the night’s song. Backed by the members of his band and the never disappointing members of Colourful Souls, Stone took charge of the night and gave us a couple of songs to sing along to before leading us in renditions of his new songs.
His set was a mixture of unnecessary preambles and moments of pure musical ecstasy, oscillating between the song we were busy composing between moments of phonetic pleasure and droned, absentminded head bobbing.
We danced, our bodies tiredly moving to the rhythm of the song busy fermenting in our collective pot and, in the hours leading to the death of our Saturday night, the night looked too healthy to want to lie down and die!
Then came another jam session, this time with Ntate Phori, the nostalgic musical genius that he is, leading Colourful Souls in a session that saw Duduetsang take command of the mic and lead us in a rendition of Asa’s gem Eye Adaba. Her performance was brief, taking only a couple of the bountiful moments the night had to offer, but its impact was felt, leaving many wanting, begging, for more.
This then later lead to Mamickey’s turn to add to our collective song: we, her listeners, bobbing to her phenomenal voice and her, the lead curator to this unplanned composition, leading us in her majestic renditions of songs we all know.
She was later joined, at her own request, by Duduetsang to render an enchanting offering of Inkwekwezi full of moments too magical to capture in any of men’s languages. She later closed off her session with her own offering, a song she calls “Afrika”.
Ntate Phori, with his wealth of experience both locally and internationally, was the ring leader and closed the night off with yet another jam session as he pitted his style with that of Colourful Souls lead guitarist Neo in an educational and entertaining playoff, and in another inter-generational duel had Mamickey and Duduetsang scatt the night away. It was a night that will surely survive amnesia for eons to come.
Thato Rossouw is ART STATE Senior Writer. Follow his rants on Facebook.
FEATURED IMAGE: Ntate Phori and Neo of Colourful Souls exchange notes. Credit: Nthabiseng JahRose Japhta