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Country Western and other Music in Swaziland

May 15, 2009 @ 4:28 AM | Permalink

It’s true that outside of primitive djs spinning pre-mixed CDs of House or cliché hip-hop the live music scene in Swaziland is severely lacking. However, given the infrequency of live performances here, when there is a live band, I go. And usually I’m not disappointed.

Back in May there was the One Love Swaziland Reggae Music Festival, which despite low attendance, was quite fun. I enjoyed sneaking snacks in from my car and dancing the night away to various South African, Mozambiquen and other African reggae artists. But the past week at House of Fire was particularly good.

House on Fire is in the middle of nowhere. Actually, its in Malkerns, a lush and fairly affluent farming valley about 15 minutes from my house in Ezulwini and about half an hour from the capital of Mbabane. It’s a cross between a little kids imagination and a big kids wallet. It combines Burning Man with Africa and is truly a site to see. There is a stage with amphitheater seating, balconies with wooden chain banisters, mosaics and quirky statues; details abound. There’s a bar in one corner and out back there is a turret for the Repunzles among us.

Last Thursday the US Embassy sponsored a performance by a jazz band with an amazing pianist. After the main act came another band and just as the crowd was about to thin, on came Stones and Bones (or something like that). Two cheery Swazi men in flannel shirts tucked into tight jeans over cowboy boots. They wore Western style ties, had big belt buckles and enormous hats. One was wearing a jean jacket. And then they began to play.

In one of the most entertaining shows I’ve ever seen, an eager audience couldn’t help but jump up and stomp their feet to a mixture of old Country favorites like “Ring of Fire” and “Bad Moon Rising” mixed with some siSwati country songs. My stomach hurt from laughing. The guys in the band seemed to enjoy the peculiarity of their act, cracking jokes about horses and the Wild West. If they weren’t such good musicians, it would have been a joke.

On Saturday, the Country Western act was no where to be seen. Instead the prison guard band opened for a visiting brass band from Benin who danced about in matching outfits and spoke in broken French/English. This week is a Latin Revolution billed as “fiery,” “sexy” and just plain “hot. In Swaziland you learn that when it comes to live music, there’s no point in having discerning taste. You’d better learn to just dance to the beat – be it Latin, Country, or West African – or you won’t be dancing at all.


Posted on 6/11/2009 by

Nicolle OConnor

Nicolle OConnor

A good lesson for us all

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A good lesson for us all

Nicolle OConnor on Country Western and other Music in Swaziland 2009-06-11

just wondering if you have published any results?

David Broska on Into the Field 2010-06-19

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