Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

Last week Tuesday evening I found myself perched on a barstool in what I believe to be the smokiest pub in JHB. Can’t remember the last time I spent an evening out that didn’t involve tango so it all felt a bit strange. Those who know me from the tango scene will thus deduce that I don’t get out much – since they have hardly seen me at all the last month or so.

It all started a couple of days before at a family gathering, when my dad painted such an inspiring and an “Oh I can’t wait to see it you must be so awesome” picture of his fabulous music talent and that of his recently acquired muso friends, that I decided I really must go and see for myself. My brother got hooked too like so much fish bait, which was fortunate because I got to bum a lift with him, not being able to drive myself due to sliced thumb issues.

Now you may recall that I have in fact seen Pater play before – at Moyo, but that was an outdoor setting with piles of soccer fans making noise, plus with his mike accidently turned down it was not that easy to hear his performance.

Anyway, with great anticipation Boet and I arrive at the pub and squeeze our way through to a table my clever dad has managed to keep free for us. I say squeeze because the place was jam packed with eager musicians plus their hangers on, all waiting for their go on the mike. Tuesday nights here is jam night – all organized by a very cool drummer called Roy, who also decides who gets to play and when, so you gotta keep in his good books I reckon.

So we order our drinks and wait for the jamming to start, which we are told is about 8pm.
While we wait, my eyes start watering like crazy and the smoke smell is pretty unbearable – the whole pub area has been designated a full-on smokers zone.
My brother is an ex smoker and even he thought it was pretty bad, but he opened a window next to us, and the cold air was way preferable to the smoke.
I am now fantasizing about a smoke free tango floor, but I am here to see Dad play, so I stick it out. Problem is, he’s not sure if and when he will get a turn; you have to wait for the nod from Roy you see.
Meanwhile he’s telling us stories about Dave – the pan flute player who can also sing, his (rendition that evening of Locomotive Breath by Jethro Tull was fabulous), Domingo the guitarist;(who must have been born with a guitar attached), plus quite a few others I don’t recall the names of, he’s only been here once before and he is already friends with half the pub!

So we wait. And we wait. We watch some really great musicians play, plus one sad sack who really should have stayed on the karaoke circuit where he belongs. It’s a mix of styles, from 70s rock like Led Zeppelin to 90s Nirvana and U2.
By 11pm Jem and I are about ready to call it a night – we are both parents of small children and it’s a school night after all!

Eventually though, Pa gets the nod, dons his cool cowboy hat and sunglasses and gets settled at the mike along with a couple of guitarists and Roy the drummer.
They start up a blues number and he wings it with his harp, it’s a jam session so there’s no rehearsal, and Jem and I are blown away. He can not only play, he plays brilliantly!
I am hugely impressed; it just goes to show you are never too old to start something new.I think it is only a matter of time before he wangles his way into some band and starts doing the pub circuit, he has already found a few places in town to play in and I just hope he can keep up with the late night lifestyle all this entails.

Anyway, it was worth the wait and the smoke in your eyes, but I think I will wait until summer before venturing in there again, when the windows can be open wide and I can breathe.
He is going to play again tonight, but I am hearing the tango floor call my name so will most likely be dancing my butt off tonight.


  1. clearly talent runs in the family :-) nice one K

  2. Thanks Marlon - come along next time - you won't regret it.