PUNCH-DRUNK AND RUDE – THE RUDIMENTALS
Dec 30th 2009, 00:00
Raw and rebellious, choppy and full of bounce, balmy nights, rum interludes, luscious skunk and street fever, Ska is rooted in Jamaican culture. Shaped by Jamaican political history, ska surpasses mere sound, and is more akin to a musical encyclopedia that tells a story. It’s a tale of a carnivalesque lifestyle, sunny days and turbulent times that provided a musical realm of freedom, a rare escape from society’s hardships.
Guitar, banjo, the kalimba and bongos, Mento, which originated in Jamaica, blended African rhythm and European tunes. Ska, like Mento, is an intricate, yet crude, fusion of varied musical elements. Like its listeners, a sub culture in the 1960s who came to be known as The Rude Boys, Ska became a sound that cared not for approved definitions.
The original Rude Boys, like Pete Tosh and Bunny Livingstone, were pulsating spectacles of Ska. From reggae influenced “rock steady,” Ska moved to the damp streets of England with the birth of British Ska, or “blue beat” and was revived again in 1979 with the Two Tone artists. Dubbed after the two toned suits sported by the original Ska legends, the Two Tone artists were true patrons to the origins of Ska, covering and honouring songs by the Ska founders. Edgier with faster tempos, this second wave spread the rhythm of Ska throughout Europe, reviving it in Britain and even sending waves down south to Australia. The fresh sound recaptured the essence of Ska, reflected the times, and brought the people together. An original, raw sound had become globally infectious, and a third wave was born. Heavily influenced by punk, and fusing rock with early Ska rhythms, the third wave showed a craving for instrumental experimentation. Cape Town’s Rude Boys, The Rudimentals, share this hunger.
Easy skanking Jamaican style, this eightpiece band has infused Ska beats with a distinct African flavor. Musically academic and humbled by life experience, The Rudimentals are moulding a new sound for South Africa. Hitting the highs and lows in funky Cape Town style is Teboho Bobo Maidza, whilst Ross MacDonald doubles as the backing vocals and the Trombone man. Simon Bates engages you with his skillful manipulation of the sax and flute, and Jodi Engelbrecht is a maven on the flugel and trumpet. Michael Levy rips it up on lead guitar amplified by Duane Heydenrych, Cape Town’s human drum machine. Antonio Cencherle takes over the keyboard, and Errol ‘Bong’ Strachan finger-licks his bass guitar. All in all,The Rudimentals are a potent collective energy that resonates with upbeat funk and pure delight. They created a uniquely African, contemporary Ska sound. They’re laughter personified, rude and punch-drunk through and through.
by Sarah Picton