LIVE AT THE FIN DE SIECLE FESTIVAL, NANTES 1997 (MZA005)
1997's gathering of some 380 artists from South Africa on the shores of the Atlantic in the west of France must be earmarked as the most impressive show of our country's culture beyond our borders. The idea of the Festival du Fin de Siecle was to invite to Nantes all kinds of cultural representatives from three of the world's great cities, in order to illustrate the creativity of each of these places at the dawn of the third millennium. The festival began in October 1997, with a celebration of Johannesburg, representing Africa, continent of roots.Beautiful costumes and great visual performances made the festival a unique event.
Several of the musicians like the late Moses Taiwa Molelekwa, Busi Mhlongo, Madala Kunene, Pops Mohamed and Amampondo that were invited to perform at Nantes were associated with MELT. The Melt crew recorded and filmed all the shows for future release starting the series with this unique recording of the late Moses Taiwa Molelekwa.
Moses Molelekwa arrived fresh from the studio in Johannesburg where he put the finishing touches on his then eagerly anticipated CD Genes and Spirits. Moses played in different formations: with Zolani Mkiva, with Sibongile Khumalo both in Paris and Nantes and with his band at La Tour a Plomb. Moses was accompanied by Khaya Mahlangu on sax and flute, Sello Montwedi on drums and Fana Zulu on bass.
Feature: A breathtaking poem written by Monk Molelekwa - Moses father.
A DVD of Moses Taiwa Molelekwa's performance in Nantes with different tracks and lots of invaluable footage of the late Moses is now available.
The idea of the
Festival du Fin de Siecle is to invite to Nantes, in western France, all kinds
of cultural representatives from three of the world's great cities, in order to
illustrate the creativity of each of these places at the dawn of the third
millennium. The festival began in October, 1997, with a celebration of
Johannesburg, representing Africa, continent of roots. Around 380 diverse
artists were selected from every creative field and months of preparation was
necessary to put this thing in place. Pascal Letellier travelled extensively
through South Africa, looking for artists to participate in the festival and,
naturally enough, several of the musicians he approached were associated with
MELT and recommended that he should contact Robert Trunz
The Festival proved
to be a great success, although it was something of a logistical nightmare
considering the scale of the event and the numerous venues involved, but all
the shows were recorded and filmed for future release. We used a mobile
recording studio called The Van, operated by the two Flying Dutchman, Jan and
Paul (right, receiving quiet words of
encouragement from Mr Trunz). They did a fantastic job of running from
venue to venue in order to catch all the performances and worked at least
sixteen hours a day for us. Thanks guys! Amampondo played late night concerts
at the largest venue, a former old biscuit factory - l'usine lu - which has
been converted into a cultural centre. Unfortunately, even the privileged
citizens of Nantes have to go work in the morning, so the place was cold and a
bit lifeless during the week. There was no acoustic treatment and the
atmosphere was cold, so it didn't always do justice to the artists, although
MELT's chief engineer, Chris Lewis, insured that they had the best possible
sound under the circumstances and Amampondo never fail to warm up the area.
A group that formed out of Amampondo (left)
- consisting of Mantombi, who plays umrhubhe (mouthbow), and Mangaleswa playing
accordian, with Dizu playing uhadi (berimbau) - appeared on a separate, smaller
stage, to perform some traditional tunes before joining the rest of the group
onstage for the main event.
Madala Kunene and
his band played the factory with Busi Mhlongo, as well as several concerts at
l'Olympic and both shows were rapturously received. Madala has put together a
terrific new band who it is hoped will be playing more live concerts in Europe
before long. Brice Wassy was also in effect, playing a couple of fantastic
concerts with Busi, who is currently recording a new album with producer Will
Moses Molelekwa (left) arrived fresh from the studio in
Johannesburg where Chris Lewis has been helping to put the finishing touches on
his eagerly anticipated CD, played in different formations: with Zolani Mkiva,
with Sibongile Khumalo, and solo at La Tour a Plomb, where he previewed songs
from the new album and seduced audiences with songs from his debut, Finding
Darius Brubeck (right), the mastermind of Gathering Forces II had written a couple
of new songs especially for the festival, where he performed Gathering Forces
III: '2000 Minus 3' together with his frequent collaborator, Deepak Ram, whose
forthcoming solo album on M.E.L.T.2000 is Flute For Thought (BW104). Deepak
also gave a one-off recital of Indian Classical flute while another great
flautists, Zim Ngqawana played with his Quartet every evening from 10pm at the
Also appearing at the Festival was a new discovery, a maestro maskandi from the
beautiful Umkomaas Valley in Kwa-Zulu Natal, Shiyani Ngcobo (left) who was playing his first gigs
outside of SA. Renowned for his purest approachto maskanda guitar style, plus
his catchy story lines, Shiyani is a popular winner of the fiercely contested
maskanda competitions and now teaches part time at the University of
Natal-Durban. We used the NAGRA-D to record Shiyani in the bathroom of the
hotel room and those tapes are being worked upon, with overdubs from Mabi Thobejane
and some of the Amampondo guys.
In his own unique niche is Pops Mohamed, who had been
playing gigs across Europe to promote his current album How Far Have We Come?.
Pops played a showcase concert at l'Olympic with his touring band and also, together
with Zena Edwards, performed with the Xhosa Singers of Lady Frere n the
atmospheric church of St-Georges Des Batignolles. This choir from, Ngqoko
Village are the last practitioners of umngqokolo - ambient trance music - which
Pops describes as one of the future sounds of Afrika. These concerts were very
successful and Pops attracted several complimentary articles in the local
The South African
groups made great efforts to dress as colourfully as possible and they
certainly brightened up the streets of what is a rather drab industrial town by
wandering around wearing great traditional costumes despite the weather, which
got pretty chilly towards the end of the week! We all had a great time and now
have a lot of material, both video and audio, that will be forthcoming over the
next few months.