Category Archives: Blog

Freshlyground banned from Zimbabwe

The regime of Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe has banned South African band Freshlyground from touring the country. The president was angry that they mocked him in the video “Chicken for Change” which seems to criticise his stubborn clinging to power.

However, this has triggered a huge upsurge in views of their video on YouTube.

Freshlyground were, according to, due to play at the Harare International Festival of the Arts, but were refused entry at the country over inexplained ‘delays’ to the processing of their work permits.

“Chicken to Change” was originally released on the group’s celebrated “Radio Africa” album ahead of the 2010 Soccer World Cup, following which the band decided not to include Zimbabwe in their 2011 world tour.

At the time, Freshlyground lead singer, Zolani Mahoba, told the exiled opposition newspaper, The Zimbabwean:

“We had wanted to tour Zimbabwe but it would not be a good idea to do so following the issues around the song. The song is about Mugabe who is opposed to change. He is chicken to change.”

Three years later, Mugabe is still too “chicken” to change, and has a long and spiteful memory.


Esquire Magazine recommends Tune Me What?

It’s Official! We’re an “Essential Podcast”

We were very pleased and flattered to have been chosen by Esquire Magazine as one of “21 Essential Podcasts” in their “Best of 2013” review.

We’re delighted too that more people will be exposed to the vast and virtually untapped spring of South African music  available to the world – which of course is our primary mission.

If you’d like to see the full list – and discover some other great podcasts – you can get the digital edition of Esquire via iTunes.

Matthew Mole chosen as SA iTunes Editors’ Choice Album Of The Year

Matthew Mole albumCapetonian singer-songwriter Matthew Mole’s debut album ‘The Home We Built’ has been chosen by iTunes as their Editors’ Choice – Album Of The Year in their Best of 2013 campaign.

Matthew Mole made South African chart history earlier this year when he became the first local artist to enter the SA iTunes album chart at No.1 beating off stiff competition from international superstars JAY Z, The Rolling Stones, Michael Buble and Robin Thicke, as well as the world’s biggest compilation series NOW That’s What I Call Music to top the chart.

Mole’s debut album, ‘The Home We Built’, produced by Matthew Fink (Shadowclub, Tailor, Nakhane Toure), is already attracting keen international interest on both sides of the Atlantic where he has already been chosen as Record Of The Day in the UK (twice) and A&R Worldwide’s ‘Artist Of The Week’ & ‘Video Of The Week’ in the US over the past few months.

Commenting on his album being voted iTunes Album Of The Year, Mole said: “This blows my mind. It’s so encouraging seeing how supportive people have been. Double thumbs up!”

Karl Anderson, owner of Mole’s record label Just Music, added: “It’s been an amazing year for Matthew Mole given that he was a complete unknown twelve months ago. This is the best Christmas gift we could have ever asked for! We’re incredibly appreciative of the support iTunes have given Matthew’s album since the release at the end of July.”

Rozanne Gewaar

An afternoon with Rozanne Gewaar

I spent a very enjoyable 90 minutes at the Orange Bull Bar in London on Sunday afternoon watching Rozanne Gewaar delivering her fragile and introspective tunes for a small but appreciative audience. She was in London just for the weekend on her way back to the States (where she currently lives) from Amsterdam where she played earlier in the week.

The intimate setting belied the fact that the Orange Bull is known more as a rowdy sports bar catering for South African expats and a growing number of London locals developing a taste for ‘braai’ cuisine (hopefully they’ll add a few vegetarian dishes to the menu soon as well) and rugby on the big screen.

However the venue has a fair-sized stage and ample stage-facing seating to make it a great venue for South African music, which the proprietor, Gunter, tells me is precisely what they’re  aiming to do. Hopefully the knowledge of venues like the Orange Bull – which are geared up for live music – will attract more South African acts to London.

Gewaar performed a selection of tracks from her three albums, a mixture of English and Afrikaans songs, and was later joined by another guitarist, and then another, who added a more robust backdrop to her own gentle playing.

Rozanne Gewaar CDs

Rozanne kindly donated a copy of each of her three CDs to the Tune Me What? library so listen out for more of her music on future shows. The albums are all available via Bandcamp.

Visit Rozanne Gewaar’s website to find out more about her.

Leave a message to honor the life of Madiba

Nelson Mandela 1918-2013

Next Friday, to honor the legacy of Nelson Mandela, we will be airing your personal reflections.

You have three ways to have your thoughts aired on the show:  

  1. Call and a leave a voicemail at +1 (281) 946-9948
  2. Record a short MP3 and email it to
  3. Send an iPhone voice note to

Please make sure you state your name (first name is required) and city before your message. All messages must be in by Wednesday at noon GMT.

For memorial information from around the world visit our Gigs & Events calendar at

Breaking the Sound Barrier

There’s a very interesting 10 minute TEDx talk by South African Ethnomusicologist Ingrid Bianca Byerly about the power of music to break down cultural barriers which is well worth watching.

Hosted by TEDxCincinnati: Sound Ideas, the talk is summarized as:

Ethnomusicologist Ingrid Bianca Byerly explains why the shortest distance between two cultures is music. In her provocative talk, she reveals how music is not merely unsurpassed in aesthetic and entertainment potential, but unparalleled as a defining, transformative and prophetic force of communication between individuals and societies.

Dr Byerly was born and grew up in South Africa but is now a Senior Lecturing Fellow at Duke University.


On a Gallo Guitar and a homemade speaker box

During our chat on the current episode with Ivor Haarberger – the former head of Gallo in South Africa – the fact that the company made guitars (and other items) as well as records in its early days came up. I mentioned that David Kramer sang of a “Gallo Guitar” in his song chronicling the early rockers called “Budgie & The Jets” and thus the instrument had its place in SA rock mythology.

What I didn’t know was that it also had a place in international rock ‘n’ roll iconography. Ivor pointed out that there was a Beatles connection. And so there is. This photograph of a young John Lennon is famous, but I bet you didn’t know that he’s clutching a South African-made Gallotone guitar. I didn’t!

John Lennon, with the Quarrymen

John Lennon, with the Quarrymen performing at St. Peter’s Church fête in July 1957.

Doing a little research on the Gallotone guitar (there isn’t very much) I discovered that another rock colossus started out on a guitar from a factory outside Durban with the marketing slogan: “guaranteed not to split” .

Guaranteed not to split label

The tell-tale sign of an authentic Gallotone guitar.

Indeed, Jimmy Page of the Yardbirds and later Led Zeppelin fame is also pictured as a lightie with a Gallotone ‘Wonder’ model:

A young Jimmy Page

A young Jimmy Page with his Gallotone Wonder

Now you may be wondering how these South African guitars become seemingly so popular in Britain. The answer is that in the 1950s there was a Board of Trade ban on the import of American goods into the UK, and even when it was lifted the duties were quite heavy making Gibson and Fender guitars too expensive for aspiring teenage rockers. In contrast, cheap guitars made in the Commonwealth were very obtainable.

There is one small inaccuracy in David Kramer‘s song, however. When he sings that Budgie played ‘a Gallo guitar’ with a home-made amplifier and used the whammy-bar like ‘Hank Marvin’ he’s taking a bit of artistic license: Gallo never manufactured electric guitars, “only acoustics,” Haarberger reminded us.

Catch the episode where we chat to Ivor Haarberger the here.

Fantastic Tony Cox offer

Tony Cox

Master-guitarist Tony Cox has turned to crowd funding to raise money for his new album. He says he has no record company support at this time – which is beyond comprehension! How can an award-winning, internationally respected musician with many successful albums to their name be abandoned like this? But you can’t keep a great muso down.

He says via his Facebook page:

I’ve been working hard on my new album over several months now and will be ready to begin recording in January. Padkos is an album that is very different to all the others that I have made over the years because it has a large percentage of covers. I have made my entire career on the back of exclusively original work and so for Padkos, I decided to arrange covers of some of my favourite South African tunes that stretch all the way back to my youth. Among them are, P J Power’s, Jabulani, Bright Blue’s, Weeping, the old traditional Sarie Marais, Abdullah Ibrahim’s Mannenberg and Nico Carsten’s Zambezi. Mixed in there are a few new thought provoking songs and instrumentals that have been inspired and pushed out by my life experiences these last few years.

I have named the album Padkos (road food) because so many people write to me and tell me how much they enjoy the music while travelling and we all know music is food for the soul…

Helping me give the tunes some verve and power will be a line-up of some of my favourite SA musos such as Jimmy Dludlu and Steve Newman. There will definitely be a few surprise guests not mentioned here.

To fund the Padkos project, Tony is pre-selling signed copies of his forthcoming album to be released early next year. Copies cost a mere R160 (or $20/£12.50 for international orders). However, a great deal is available for R320. This will include the album, plus you will be Dropboxed digital copies of three more of his award-winning albums: Matabele Ants, China and Blue Anthem.

You couldn’t ask for a better deal. If you’re in SA, you can buy it via bank transfer (details here) or if you’re overseas you can buy it using Paypal  from his website.

A ‘Walk in Africa’ Launch Party

Tune Me What? co-presenter Leon Lazarus was lucky enough to be in L.A. to attend the launch party to celebrate the release of National Wake’s “Walk in Africa 1979-81” by Light in the Attic Records where he caught up with former band member Ivan Kadey who steered the remastering project.

Leon Lazarus with Ivan Kadey

Leon was also thrilled to meet Baba Vusi Shibambo. Vusi was a neighbor of the Khoza brothers and landed up living in the house with Ivan, the Khoza brothers and others at the age of 16. He played African drums at the launch party. A very talented man indeed.

Leon Lazarus with Baba Vusi Shibambo

If you haven’t listened to our special episode with Ivan Kadey in which he talks about his time in National Wake, the remastering of the archives and spins some of his favourite records, catch it here!


Jam in the Desert

Robbi Robb, of Asylum Kids and Tribe After Tribe fame, invited our very own Evan Lazarus to jam with him and his band at the Palm Canyon Roadhouse in Palm Desert. On stage with Robbi and Evan are Eric Mouness on drums and Jorge Bassman on bass guitar. Listen to Robbi’s latest project, 3rd Ear Experience, at

You can also listen to our interview with Robbi and listen to his favorite South African songs