He’s playing our language, but where are the young pluckers?

Guy Buttery plays at the The Crypt at at 3pm today. (See below for all his remaining performances.)

You love accoustic? You are selfish? You can have a world virtuoso almost all to yourself.

I did.  OK, shared him with 15 others at 5pm in the basement of the St George’s Cathedral last night.

What a hoot. He’s laughing at the turnout. Previous night he played to a full house in Kommetjie where the vibe was co-o-o-kin’.

Back to beng a solou: Guy gives it. Despite recovering from serious man flu, the fingers are working fluidly, veins pump in his forearm as if he’s just soloed Russian Roulette on TM.

His forehead flushes, a strand of minstrel lock hangs over the strings of his Cape Point-crafted geet.

This is cool man!

He uses his handsaw and violin bow to create those creepy wheeoooh noises and cracks a joke about the fan who asked which CD had the “saw” music, and proceeded to buy all the others!

Perhaps there is something to said for that. I have a Buttery song that I play often as I head for Nahoon Corner in East London for a surf. I think of it as the walking song, and if I had asked him to play it last night, he probably would have.

Point is, listeners want different things from our artists. I enjoyed his honest, wry, warm, and open stage manner, and loved working with him, following those hands and fingers on a magical sound trip. Work, bastardos, work!

But when I want to listen to him, I might be like that oke who wants to engage with a particular element or side of Buttery’s genius when cruising in the car.

By the way, the song I love is on a Homebru compilation which Guy shares happily with the grungy, scratchy Capetonian rockers, the Woodstock Mafia.

Is it fair or reasonable to want to distil what we want from our performers? Is Guy the sort of composer who gives what he has got and if you don’t like the mix, well you can kiss my ….?

The essence of Buttery is originality. He creates as he moves through the world and I don’t think he looks back much. The late James Philips said we should throw rotten tomatoes at our fellow musical citizen who play covers and treat us like morons.

This is too extreme. I have enjoyed remixes of Hendrix and Joni Mitchell classics. Artists are taking something loved and adding a burnish. If it works, it’s lakka.

But James was a pioneer. He and his creative makkers were forging a movement which held that original South African music was an awesome and desirable. This was our language which spoke of identity and place. We hated ourselves back then, and James, and now Guy, are saying, let’s love and enjoy ourselves, our rhythms, our beats, our swirling times and sudden changes. Let’s travel in our own backyard. Let’s keep on finding and reinventing ourselves.

He chuckles at how he played to a full room of Durbanites in London where he plucked at their homesick heartstrings.

Yet, here in the pumping cultural hearth of Cape Town’s city bowl, it’s just us, this forgotten room of 15 odd-bods, a civilised man playing to a fossilised world.

Where are the school kids chang-a-langing on their guitars in the garage at home? Where are these young pluckers?

It’s a marketing challenge, and Cape Town Fringe must not allow our real-life guitar heros to be wasted like this. Jeez, even if the tickets were R5, I can’t imagine Guy would complain if the audience was deserving.

He has some cool techno toys too.

It we are in a battle against computer war games, then let’s play to win.

Finally, one question to Guy. I am with you in concert, but ya, I also want the cool, surfy, Karoo-trippin’ acoustic gems all on one CD.

Can you doen it?

* Guy Buttery performs at The Crypt today at 3pm, Friday 8:30pm at the German Club, and on Saturday at 3pm at the Crypt and 10pm at the German Club. His last show is at The Crypt on Sunday at 1pm and is half-price.

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