This entry is a repost that I deleted and then put up again and then deleted and am now putting up again. I took it off because I want to do this thing justice but I keep feeling that I’m missing it like a beast.
This was first written on 17 August 2010 after a wicked weekend that was filled with beer, laughs, love and heartbreak.
This is a tribute to a band that, in my ‘expert’ opinion, has changed the face of music in South Africa – most notably underground South Africa. This band has sadly called a hiatus after over a decade of playing.
The reason that they have called a break to their amazing sound is the fact that the South African music industry is impossible to crack if you are MORE talented than The Parlotones and better looking than Steve Hofmeyer.
I’m not going to complain about the industry though. I’m going to give a shot at praising for a change – not the industry however.
The Death Valley Blues Band has shut down operations and has left a hole in my social life and interest in bands. For those of you who don’t know about this prolific band you need to, firstly, beat your head in with a blue hammer, and secondly, check them out on MySPACE. The sound clips do them ABSOLUTELY no justice what-so-ever as they are primarily a live act but it is well worth the listen.
They consist of 7 members but have been known to have up to 12 people on stage performing. They are a bluesy swingy rocky type of act, but due to my loathing of labels, you cannot take my word for the type of genre. Let’s just call their musical genre: sex.
My girlfriend and I were lucky and sober enough to catch their last two shows in Jo’burg. The Friday night gig, which was held at The Bohemian in Auckland Park, was amazing despite the guitar amp calling it an evening half way through the second song, but the situation was handled gracefully as the lead singer and rhythm guitarist’s (Kevin) guitar was stolen from him a few times in order to deliver a deadly solo that painted every colour possible across your sound receptors.
While enjoying this musical assault on our ears, the news arrived as I was speaking to a boyfriend of the band,
“Dude, they’re splitting up but you can get a CD from Ampie,”
Tears were going to greet my face but I took it like a man and downed my beer instead.
The news of a band splitting up generally gets greeted by people saying things like, “Dude, it’s about time! These muso’s suck more than a black hole on its period.” or, ‘Man, I can’t believe it! This is my first time hearing them,’ or it is greeted by people laughing when the band announces it and then realisation sets in,
“Unfortunately we are! Thanks for coming out and supporting us but…”
Death Valley gave no ‘but’.
And that is the thing about Death Valley; they’re more about ‘butt’ than ‘but’. Their music has guided many a stoner into greener pastures of sativa draped highs and many a drunk into a happy stupor of disbelief,
“Dude, they’re South African? How hot is that chick! Is that Ampie Omo? What type of name is that? Why are they singing about shrimp cheese? What? Oh… striptease, they should pronounce things clearer,”
“You should hear clearer,”
The Saturday gig was insane. It was held at the new Cool Runnings in Victory Park, an awesome venue – especially considering that the band plays on pretty much the floor and not a stage in the traditional sense.
Naturally the band blew the roof off the place and had their amps working perfectly. The crowd was mental and the booze was crystal. An incredible end to an incredible era, despite the fact that they will most likely return in February 2011 for a 3 week tour, the era has ended because it has closed a chapter for me and my lady – no more skipping out on other things in order to catch Death Valley. Pity…
So what is the point of all this rambling that most likely reads as if it was written by a hormonal teenager in standard 8?
Every once in a while a band comes along that helps you remember why you fell in love with music and why you use your hard earned money to go and watch the bands that you want to support. The Death Valley Blues Band is that type of act. They put the fun back into the live experience because they understand their audience and they don’t really give a shit about conformity. They are the type of band that you punt to all your friends and force them to see. They are the type of band that your sister-in-law would never enjoy listening to until she sees them live and then ends up buying their CD. They are the epitome of variety and a constant crowd pleaser.
Death Valley Blues Band, you will be sorely missed, but until your return I will spread the gospel of Death Valley, I’ll ‘shake some tail’ and ‘send in the planes’.
Thanks for reminding me why I fell in love with music and why South African music will remain more colourful than any other scene.
But that’s just my opinion…