Finding Sugarman – Tribute To Rodriguez 22 MARCH
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In the wake of a massive resurgence of interest in the music and fairy tale story of folk icon Rodriguez fuelled by the Oscar nominated documentary Searching for Sugarman, Centrestage presents its own salute to Rodriguez !
“Finding Sugarman” is headed up by Wayne Kallis, along with a new look line-up which introduces drummer Devon Van Rooyen and bassist Andrew Warneke to the Centrestage fold and reacquaints fans with percussionist John Dickin, who augments the 6-man ensemble with tasteful percussion.
Sherid Van Rooyen plays guitar and Khanya Matomela plays keyboards in the band.
Despite being completely unknown in his home country, the music of Mexican-American Rodriguez was extremely popular in South Africa in the 70’s and 80’s as its poetic, anti-establishment lyrics touched a chord with the troubled youth and came to serve as anti-Apartheid anthems.
In 1969, many believed that his initial album Cold Fact would secure his reputation as one of the greatest recording artists of his generation. Instead, the album bombed and the Rodriguez seemingly disappeared into obscurity, even being subject to rumours that he had committed suicide by setting himself on fire onstage and other imaginative tales.
The album took on a life of its own when a bootleg recording found its way into our own South Africa. Banned by the Apartheid government, the album became a nationwide phenomenon over the next two decades, and the soundtrack to a resistance movement of liberal African youth.
The Searching for Sugarman documentary tells the story of two South Africans who set out in the 1990s to find out the truth behind this elusive and shadowy legend. In doing so, they uncover the humble construction worker who had no idea he was a superstar!
Once contact was re-established initially, subsequent tours to South Africa in 1998 and 2003 were arranged and Centrestage themselves had the rare privilege of staging the sold out concert in Port Elizabeth at the time.
Nick Wilson, brother of Centrestage co-owner Tanya Hemmings, recalls socialising with Rodriguez whilst playing pool after his PE concert:
“I was working at the Herald in Port Elizabeth as a reporter when I saw Rodriguez live in the city. My colleague Fredlin Adriaan snapped a pic of myself with Rodriguez after the gig and I was blown away by how humble and how unlike a rock n roll icon he was.
Later on another colleague Hagen Engler and myself went a jazz bar, I forget the name, and were both surprised as hell to find Rodriguez there playing pool with some of the people involved with his gig.
It completely exploded the myth of Rodriguez for me. I had grown up hearing and kind of half believing the legend that Rodriguez had shot himself on stage after reciting the lines "Thanks for your time and you can thank me for mine".
Obviously seeing him in person and then talking to him was something else. He had no clue that he had had such a massive impact on myself and other young teenagers in South Africa going all the way back to the 70s. He was shy and humble and kind of like an Hispanic Brian Wilson”
With Rodriquez currently scheduled to perform in Johannesburg and Cape town later in February under the banner of Big Concerts, the PE salute will afford local fans a chance to enjoy Rodriguez’s classic songs from Cold Fact and Coming From Reality, performed live up front and close by a top group of local fans and musicians.
Favourite songs will include the likes of Sugar Man, Crucify Your Mind, Hate Street Dialogue, Forget It, I Wonder, Like Janis, Rich Folks Hoax, Jane S. Piddy, Climb Up on My Music, A Most Disgusting Song, Halfway Up the Stairs, Cause and I'll Slip Away, amongst others.