By @beatnikloves (https://twitter.com/beatnikloves)
Ever wondered what it’s like to be on the road as a touring muso? I asked three of South Africa’s most talented musicians to share their Overberg experiences with us (favourite hang-outs, haunts and secret spots) and to offer us insight into their melodic, moonlit moments in the Overberg.
Thank you Simon Van Gend, Joshua Grierson and Lucy Kruger for sharing your personal stories with us.
Q1: Hi Simon, Josh and Lucy. We know that you performed extensively in the Overberg last year. Please tell us what attracted you to playing here?
Simon: The first time I performed there it was with my band, Simon & the Bande à Part, as the last stop on a tour we did of South Africa. It was really just a happy accident - we needed a gig somewhere between Knysna and Cape Town and I'd heard about the Speakeasy at The Stanford Hotel from Josh Grierson, so I got hold of Thaya (@beatnikloves) and booked the show. It ended up being the best show of our tour - a full house of very enthusiastic and well-lubricated patrons, who couldn't seem to get enough of us. The party went on way after we stopped playing, and we returned to Cape Town the next day exhausted and slightly shell-shocked, but with a warm feeling.
Josh: I was first introduced to the Overberg by a friend. I found the small towns there to be calming and helpful in reigniting the batteries that so easily get worn down in the big-bad city. I loved how quiet the roads were and how friendly the people seemed.
Lucy: Friends had told me how wonderful the space was. I had to come and see for myself. It certainly gave me a wild introduction and has yet to disappoint. People in the Overberg really know how to have a good time.
Q2: We've heard that your Overberg audience can't get enough of the three of you! What makes performing in these little towns enjoyable for you?
Simon: In general, we love playing smaller out of the way places as we often find the people there are really grateful that you've come and are very receptive to our brand of music (folksy, acoustic, lyrical songs). Maybe smaller towns attract more reflective, thoughtful people who relate more to the kind of songs I write. It's also great just to get out of the city for a weekend and unwind a bit - many of the weekends we've ended up spending much of our time just jamming and singing for the pure pleasure of it in Thaya's lounge. We've had great experiences playing in places like Napier and Greyton too.
Josh: I think people who live in small towns, are cut from a different cloth. They value honesty, hand-made music and artists who thrive on engaging with their audience in a real and new way. Most of the people who have come to our shows are artists themselves, and this gives us a winning advantage. I also think it says a lot about the calibre of craft on offer.
Lucy: Smaller towns are safe from the silly standards of cities. City people are spoilt with all the music they get to see and can become complacent. They often end up not engaging it all. Similar perhaps to the person that lives on the waters edge and never ventures into the sea. Smaller town audiences listen with a certain openness. They are not sure what to expect of you, and you are not sure what to expect of them - a more interesting and honest way to begin a relationship.
Lucy Kruger in Stanford - by Francois Visser
Q3: Wonderful answers, thank you. We'd love to know where you like to hang out between Overberg gigs, which have spanned entire weekends in the past. Do you have any secret spots to share with us?
Simon: A lot of the time we've ended up being invited to various people's houses for braais, or post-gig get-togethers. During the day we've found ourselves eating great lunches at Stanford Hills, or indulging in ice cream from Don Gelato's in Stanford. Definitely want to try to get into Mariana's but it's always booked have never managed to think that far ahead. On one of our recent visits we headed down to Onrus for a day - a real hidden gem of a beach, with the cool Indian Ocean on one side and a warm lagoon on the other. For lunch we found a great little seafood restaurant (The Beach Bistro) just above the lagoon, and feasted on fish and chips, before heading back to Stanford for our show.
Josh: Lazy afternoons reading a book, in one of the beautifully laid-out rooms at The Stanford Hotel, are a must. Real Italian Gelato from the new Ice-Cream shop, Don Gelato, on Stanford’s main road is a real treat. Stanford Hills, looking over all of the Overberg. The antique shops in Napier are a real treasure trove.
Lucy: To be honest, I have not been overtly adventurous in the Overberg in terms of travel. Most of my time has been spent in Stanford and that is all the adventure I need. The people are the adventure. My favourite thing about travelling has always been interacting with different people in the places I visit. I have come across the most wonderful creatures in Stanford. It really feels a bit like family that extends every time I come back. Homes are my favorite places and there are many of those open spaces in Stanford.
Swellendam, like many smaller towns, has a real feeling of homeliness. We played there during the Bee Festival and felt a little like we were returning. People embraced us as old friends. My friends Bruce and Simone live there with their two amazing children. They have endeared me to the place tremendously. If such people choose to build there lives in that space, there must be something very special about it.
Simon on Thaya's stoep - by @beatnikloves
Q4: Your performances have spanned the Overberg, from Pringle Bay and Napier, to Greyton and Stanford. Please share one thing you’ve loved about each Overberg town?
Simon: Pringle Bay - the fact that it's so close to Cape Town, yet you feel like you could be on a remote island. Napier – the great second-hand book shop, and a great second-hand everything else shop. Greyton has a really great live music venue - "Searle's Trading Post", with an outdoor area where bands perform in summer, as well as a cosy theatre for winter shows. A pleasant surprise going home from the show was the horses that roam the streets like ghosts in the middle of the night. Stanford - all the amazing food.
Josh: Greyton has the best steak I have ever had. Napier is riddled with stories waiting to be uncovered and Stanford sits in a class of its own. It feels like a country all by itself. It has bohemian charm but also an air of fine-living. The air smells cleaner, the people are that much more friendly – but not too friendly (which is a good thing) and the river is always a welcome sight.
Thank you once again Simon Van Gend, Joshua Grierson and Lucy Kruger for taking the time to tell us about your Overberg flits.
You can follow Simon, Josh and Lucy on Twitter too:
Thank you travelling musical gypsies for your lovely contributions…perhaps the Overberg may even inspire a song one of these days ;)
(Thumbnail pic: "Joshua Grierson and friends" in Napier - taken by Simon Van Gend)