Category: Albums

Jack Hammer launch new album for Piet Botha’s 65th birthday


Piet Botha and Jack Hammer - 13 Towns

Piet Botha and Jack Hammer – 13 Towns

“I cannot remember
places that I’ve been
I got lost forever
out on Highway 13
but I’m not complaining
by now that road belongs to me” 

– Highway 13 (Jack Hammer)

Throughout his 45 years as a musician, Piet Botha (the Hammer) always felt most at home on the road. Along with his long-standing Jack Hammer bandmates – Johnathan Martin (the Kid), Tertius du Plessis (Bean), and Paul van de Waal (Duke) – he toured across the country to play for a range of audiences, performing anywhere from major music festivals to small town theatres.

Between 2017 and 2019, Duke started recording many of these gigs, which led to the idea of releasing a double album recorded ‘live on the road’ to share some of the magic. The nature of the gigs ranged from mellow acoustic sessions to raucous full electric performances. Along with the regular line-up, the band was often joined by Jake Gunn (Jacques Groenewald) from Cape Town, as well as Gerry Robinson – all part of the Jack Hammer family.

During this period, Piet developed “trigger finger” and couldn’t play guitar, resulting in valuable recordings of Piet’s unique style of piano playing. According to Duke: “In all the years that we played together, it was rare for Piet to play the piano at gigs before this happened. The sounds of piano and acoustic guitar, with bass and drums, playing songs originally recorded on electric guitar, give these recordings a special feel.”

It was Piet’s wish to name the album 13 Towns, reflecting both his love of the road and the number 13, which appears in many of his songs. On 18 July, what would have been Piet’s 65th birthday, the Jack Hammer band and his daughters are pleased to share the first 13 songs of this album online, with the release of the physical double album planned for later this year.

Recorded and mixed by Paul van de Waal, and mastered by Lanie van der Walt (Wolmer Records), the album features both Afrikaans and English songs, carefully selected by the band. As Duke explains: “We wanted to include some songs on the album that were never recorded but were often played at gigs – like ‘Me and Paul’ by Willie Nelson – as well as some classic Jack Hammer songs that were last recorded many years ago, like ‘The Fisherman’. 13 Towns is like a gig, a gig played over a few years at many venues, but brought together like a live show.”

We hope 13 Towns will give fans the chance to once again experience a Piet Botha & Jack Hammer gig live.



More information on 13 Towns.


Jack Hammer stel nuwe album bekend vir Piet Botha se 65ste verjaarsdag

“Hier gaan ons alweer
op daai middernagtrein
kry my in Johannesburg
dan kry ek jou in Bloemfontein” 

– Die Middernagtrein (J.P. Botha)

Gedurende sy 45 jaar as musikant, was Piet Botha altyd op sy gelukkigste op die langpad. Saam met die Jack Hammer band – Johnathan Martin (the Kid), Tertius du Plessis (Bean) en Paul van de Waal (Duke) – het hy die land platgetoer, met optredes by groot musiekfeeste sowel as teaters op klein dorpies.

Tussen 2017 en 2019 is baie van hierdie optredes deur Duke opgeneem, van intieme akoestiese aande tot vol elektriese optredes, met verskynings deur die nuutste Jack Hammer lid Jake Gunn (Jacques Groenewald), sowel as ou vriend Gerry Robinson. Die band het mettertyd die idee gekry om hierdie opnames met aanhangers te deel, in die vorm van ‘n dubbel album wat live op die langpad opgeneem is.

Dit was Piet se wens om die album 13 Towns te noem, sy gunsteling nommer wat in vele van sy lirieke opduik. Op 18 Julie, Piet se 65ste verjaarsdag, deel die Jack Hammer band en sy dogters die eerste 13 snitte van hierdie album aanlyn, met die plan om die fisieke dubbel album later die jaar vry te stel.

Die album is opgeneem en gemeng deur Paul van de Waal, en gemeester deur Lanie van der Walt (Wolmer Records). Dit bevat beide Afrikaanse en Engelse liedjies, uitgekies deur die band. Baie van hierdie opnames stel Piet se unieke klavierspel ten toon, aangesien hy vir ‘n ruk lank nie kitaar kon speel nie. Volgens Duke was dit baie skaars vir Piet om klavier te speel by gigs, wat dié opnames ‘n spesiale atmosfeer gee.

Duke som 13 Towns as volg op: “13 Towns is like a gig, a gig played over a few years at many venues, but brought together like a live show.” Ons hoop dit bied aanhangers die geleentheid om weereens ‘n Piet Botha & Jack Hammer gig live te ervaar.


Kontak vir meer inligting

From The Vaults: Jack Hammer at the Whammy Bar, 11th November 1999

This was when I first met Piet Botha and Johnathan Martin (that is the correct spelling for Johnathan, I found out years later!). Piet often used to say that I put them on the internet before they even knew what the internet was!
— Brian Currin, 10th July 2020

from SA Rock Digest, Issue #39, 21st November 1999

Whammy Bar 11 November 1999

Whammy Bar 11 November 1999

Piet Botha’s famed blues-rock band is releasing a retrospective of their 4 albums on a new compilation CD early in December. Titled simply “Anthology” this CD will include 4 or 5 new songs plus a new re-recording of the classic ‘Fort Lauderdale’ alongside tracks from all 4 previous albums.

Those of you who were lucky enough to see Piet Botha on his recent “Skopgraaf” tour would have heard a couple of the new tracks, including ‘April’.

Piet Botha, Jonathan Martin and Tertius du Plessis wowed the enthusiastic audience at the Whammy Bar in Cape Town recently. Their set included Piet Botha solo songs, Jack Hammer tracks and some covers including a stunning version of Zeppelin’s ‘Tangerine’ and Bob Dylan’s ‘All Along The Watchtower’.

Please see the Original post

Please also see: South African Rock Legends: Piet Botha and Jack Hammer

Piet Botha | Jack Hammer Double LP Now Available

Piet Botha Jack Hammer Double LP

Piet Botha Jack Hammer Double LP

Piet Botha | Jack Hammer

Piet Botha | Jack Hammer Double LP


  1. Donker Maan [4:28]
  2. Richmondstraat [4:24]
  3. Suitcase Vol Winter [4:22]
  4. Vandat Jy Weg Is [3:59]
  5. Blues Vir Louise [4:42]
  6. Stad Sonder Naam [3:58]
  7. Die Mamba [4:56]
  8. Goeienag Generaal [4:09]
  9. Man Met Kitaar [5:15]
  10. Staan Saam Burgers [3:40]
  11. Highway 13 [3:13]
  12. January’s Son [3:48]
  13. The Pilgrim [6:32]
  14. Welcome To Azania [4:27]
  15. Mr Midnight [3:41]
  16. Mozambique [4:12]
  17. Liberty [3:43]
  18. Fort Lauderdale [3:41]
  19. Sarajevo [4:47]
  20. The Fisherman [5:02]

Release Information:

2LP: 2019 Wolmer Records, 199753E
CD: not unreleased on CD

Buy at


See separate album releases


Songs were recorded at various studios across the country between 1985 – 2011

Limited edition, double LP, uniquely numbered, mixed specially for vinyl by Lanie van der Walt / Wolmer Records


Wayne Roux, 2019

Wayne Roux, 2019

It’s taken me a long time to truly assimilate this release. Ironically enough I know all the music on this compilation, but allow me to explain the importance of this particular release. Piet Botha passed away this year but left us with some of the grittiest, down-to-earth, soul searching music. The renegade son of a principled and extremely well-liked politician, Piet was one of the most amazingly talented local musicians ever to grace us with his presence, persona and was liked by all. His blues and pure rock in Jack Hammer was the mainstay and result of a life on the road, touring incessantly but always giving a piece of his heart away to fans, friends, roadies and music junkies and the music sung in English, and would not be out of place anywhere in the world. This is a double album with one record dedicated to material by Jack Hammer, and the other to his solo work. His solo work was generally performed in Afrikaans (his native tongue), but was equally rewarding and he regularly delivered the most incredible albums. He was a rocker, a husband, a father, a maverick, a beautiful soul with a powerful gravel-laden voice, a entertainer and the epitome of what humans can achieve when they channel all their creativity into their music. A belated tribute to our fallen son, not to be forgotten. Wolmer Records, 2019. Limited edition. Sleeves notes judiciously acknowledge all members of both incarnations. Even Billy Bob Thornton.

Wayne Roux, 2019


Jack Hammer: Handful Of Rain | Press Release

Jack Hammer - Handful Of Rain

Jack Hammer – Handful Of Rain

The Jack Hammer line-up featuring on Handful Of Rain has endured over the years, with Piet Botha (guitars, keys, harmonica, vocals), Johnathan Martin (guitars, vocals), Tertius du Plessis (bass) and Paul van de Waal (drums). The album also features guest artists Arthur Dennis (guitars, vocals) and Rudolph Dennis (drums, guest vocals) from Akkedis/Lyzyrd Kyngs. Piet Botha’s harmonica is present throughout the album, and the style is familiar, lingering long after, like a renegade’s signature tune in an old western.

The timbre in Piet Botha’s singing is full of longing and resistance. In the title track, he sings “Here I go again on a lonesome highway / A handful of rain and empty heart”, with Johnathan Martin, ‘The Kid’, by his side, harmonising, singing the same words. Cut from the same cloth. “That’s How We Roll” echoes Neil Young, “me, I got nothing / just this old guitar”; a song about this brotherhood of musicians defying the Man, choosing the road over the rat race with its fitting rock ‘n roll chorus.The haunting cover of Four Jacks and Jill’s “Master Jack”, a song about choosing solitude over society, flows into the album’s theme: “no hard feelings if I never come back.” Delving into the songwriting is a melancholy joy, and each listen reveals new meanings and interpretations. Is a song like “When the Moon Was Young” a love song first, a protest song second? Piet Botha gently contends,“They think they can own her / but even a fool knows / the moon belongs to lovers…” 

The hair-raising harmonies of “Emily” and “Where Is the Clown” remind us why Jack Hammer are at their best when Piet Botha and Johnathan Martin come together. Not only do they whistle the same tune when it comes to existing and creating outside of the mainstream, but their musical accord completes Jack Hammer. Handful of Rain can best be summed up in “Sweet Soul Music”, Piet Botha’s collaboration with the Soweto String Quartet: violins, harmonica and electric guitars join on a song about rivers turning into seas, about songs turning our solitude into a universe of connected souls: “Keep the music in your heart / You will never walk alone.”

Released January 2016

Track Listing:

  1. Where Is The Clown
  2. Handful Of Rain
  3. That’s How We Roll
  4. Emily
  5. When The Moon Was Young
  6. Deep Blue Sea
  7. Master Jack
  8. Sweet Soul Music
  9. When The Morning Comes

Persverklaring: Spookpsalms …’n nuwe Afrikaanse album deur Piet Botha.



Na 8 jaar het die veteraan kunstenaar Piet Botha weer ‘n Afrikaanse album die lig laat sien.Die nuwe cd heet “Spookpsalms” en bevat 11 splinternuwe komposisies.

“Daar was al ‘n paar liedjies maar toe die TV program “Wie lê waar” opduik het dit die hele album in ‘n ander rigting gestuur.Vanaf September tot Desember 2010 was ons op die pad besig met die verfilming, dwarsdeur die
land en omdat die program so ‘n sterk historiese inslag het, het daar ‘n ander element ingetree in die werk nl. ‘n tipe tradisionele , tydlose gevoel…wat dan weer aanleiding gegee het na die idee van die Spookorkes wat hierdie liedjies
opvoer .”

Daar is ook gepoog om soveel as moontlik by tradisionele instrumentasie te bly. Derhalwe is die album vol akoestiese kitare, klavier , mondfluitjie, trekklavier, saksofoon en orrel. Dit is ‘n eiesoortige stuk werk, heeltemal buite
die moderne genre en totaal anders as Botha se vorige Afrikaanse albums.

“Die moeilikste ding is sekerlik om met eenvoud ‘n gewigtige saak te kan oordra, en dis wat hier gepoog is. Selfs die humor wat opduik is satiries en laat mens lag maar met nabetragting.”

Die album is in April opgeneem deur Lanie vd Walt wat ook die regie en meng behartig het asook die “double -bass” gespeel het. Die tromme is oudergewoonte deur Paul vd Waal gespeel en die baskitaar deur Tertius du
Plessis. Piet Botha het kitare, klavier, orrel en mondfluitjie gespeel en gesing.

Die pragtige vrouestem is deur Loandi Boersma gelewer. Verder was dit
geweldig opwindend om uiteindelik vir die legende Ollie Viljoen saam op ‘n
album te hê , op trekklavier en orrel. Nog ‘n ou vriend en eertydse lid van die Jack Hammer groep, Leon van Zweel het die saksofoon laat huil. Donovan Borne het agtergrondsang gelewer en so het die Spookorkes die liedjies in die
lewe gebring.

Wat opvallend is van hierdie werk is die suiwer Afrikaans wat gebruik word.

Daarbenewens die gevoel van “n ander tyd”, as mens dit so kan stel, wat
mens ervaar met die deurluister daarvan. En dan die oorspronklikheid.

Piet Botha sal tydens Meimaand ‘n paar vertonings rondom Pretoria gee waartydens die nuwe werk lewendig gehoor kan word en die album beskikbaar sal wees, soos by Cafè Barcelona op Saterdag die 21e en Sondagmiddag die 22e by die Blue Flame Grill in Montana, alvorens daar weer teen einde Mei na Mosambiek gegaan sal word vir die jaarlikse STRAB musiekfees. Hierna sal daar ook vertonings in die Kaap geskied asook in die Vrystaat in Juliemaand tydens die Volksbladkunstefees.

Van die musiek op “Spookpsalms” is ook in die TV reeks (“Wie lê waar”) gebruik maar nie in geheel soos dit op die album verskyn nie. Hierdie opnames is deur Riku Latti gedoen.

Van die nuwe nommers wat klaar aftrek kry by gehore is “Bitterfontein”. “Sysie September” (‘n nuwe verwerking van ‘n tradisionele Griekwa liedjie), “Stad sonder naam”, “Die heks is dood” en “Richmondstraat”.

Notes regarding the songs on, and the recording of “Highway 13” by Piet Botha

Jack Hammer: Highway 13

Jack Hammer: Highway 13

The title track was written last April [2007] when somehow the theme first realised itself. Somehow the songs were going in the same direction. They were all about retrospection, realisation and what lies ahead …. the road … highway 13 … behind us and ahead of us.

The first songs written for the album were “Stay at the wheel”, “This song is old now” and “Pharaoh’s Blues” (previously titled “The Devil’s House”). “Broken Promises” had also been lying around for a while as well as “Jozi Town”. With “Jozi” I always wanted to use Tidal Waves in the studio as we did on the previous album ”The Pilgrim”.

Well, five songs were not enough, but it was a start. Something new was developing. New songs were coming out “off the bat”, making up the lyrics and the music in one go, or at least the bulk of it. No pen to paper. No lyrics being made to fit the music.

It was something that had happened before, but not too often. “Highway 13” was written in half an hour, intro and verse. At first I thought it would be a long guitar-solo driven tune but another verse came to light and at the demo stage a chorus came knocking on the door.

From then on the title of the album was set. So far the songs had a recurring theme i.e. The Road, a musician’s friend and also his Nemesis. But this time there is no romanticism and expectation, this time the road has been travelled and the mistakes have been made.

Slowly the songs started getting a vibe, but by November [2007] things really started happening. We started rehearsing the new material at Duke’s new pad, recording every rehearsal, listening and going back and doing it all over again. And suddenly the songs came out of nowhere: “Mr. Midnight”, “Rear View Mirror”, “Don’t Let Your Love Fade Away”, “Eden’s Lost” all came to life in December and January.

Carmelita: Sometime last year I heard a song playing on the TV as the credits were rolling after a movie, but I did not know who it was, all I recall was a beautiful sad song and some lyrics. After some research on the Net I found this incredible song “Carmelita”, written by Warren Zevon, no less. I was well aware of his amazing songwriting ,as Brian Finch and Kenny Henson had covered “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner” for quite a few years, back in the 80’s. “Werewolves of London” was another famous Zevon song. Anyway I practised the song for a month, trying to find a key that was comfortable, but although the song only has 3 chords it is a difficult piece to perform. But I wanted desperately to put this song on the album.

By end of January I met with Lanie van der Walt, our producer of many years and we scheduled to start recording during the last week in March. I already had a green light from our executive producers at Playdough, Mike Joubert and Alistair King.

I was very fortunate to spend the first two weeks in March with our dear friends Barry and Jackie Frey in the city of Dubai in the U.A.E. We saw some amazing things there and it changed a lot of preconceptions I had regarding the Middle East. When one travels to new places there is always something that comes out in the music.

On the Sunday before we went into studio I was alone at home, playing guitar, jamming bits and pieces when I came upon a new song “The Haunting”, out of the blue, less than half an hour later it was alive, words and all. I am very excited about this song as it really seemed to arrive by itself.

Highway 13: No mystery here, the song tells a story that has been told many times before. The character looks back upon his life and realises that the road has become his home. But he resigns himself to this without remorse, even offering advice to fellow journeymen. The chorus part: “If I am the river…” just arrived by itself, I have no idea what the deeper meaning is.

The Haunting: A haunted house, a murder, retribution, lost souls that cannot cross to the other side. Lighthearted stuff.

Stay at the Wheel: A variation of the “crossroads” legend. The character wants to change the previous arrangement: “I come here to make a new deal, the wind says no…” Out on highway 13 he is told by the wind that his fate would be to “stay at the wheel”…

Rear view Mirror: Social commentary in the verses i.e. no passport needed … the brevity of life … environmental issues … the cycle of life … The driver keeps looking back, memories haunt him but he cannot stop … searching for someone or something that he might never find … the recurring line “one day at a time” is for everyone who has been there…

Eden’s Lost: Probably qualifies as a protest song. All about the demise of Mother Earth at the hands of the Giant Corporation…

Jozi Town: The plight of refugees in the place of gold, in this case the tale of two brothers Virtue and Honest (honesty is a virtue) from Zimbabwe who cannot resist the call of Johannesburg, as so many from different countries do. Some get lucky but for others it’s a nightmare, sometimes with tragic consequences.

Don’t let your love fade away: Another song that arrived by itself early one morning. I was fooling around with the idea of an “island” rhythm. The character is working class, plays in a travelling band and is very naïve and optimistic.

This song is old now: This story is old, but it must be passed on to a younger generation. Proverbs and morality checks. Very old school.

Mr Midnight: Fooling around with drum tracks and an electric guitar. The boogie just happened but it was never going to be another fast 12 bar, so the keychange from E min to Amaj takes us somewhere else and before it goes pop guitar solos bring it back.

Pharaoh’s Blues: The Devil’s House is the casino… Madame Rosa is another well known figure in folklore. The Pharaoh is who we think he is, or rather they are who we think they are.

Broken Promises: A tune based around the “clawhammer” guitar-picking style. The bass alternates every beat (thumb) and the three fingers play a 2/3, 4/2/3 pattern. I hoped that it would turn out as a country song. The ingredients are there, lost love, loneliness, bad luck. Much respect and thanks to Johnny Cash for the beautiful music over the years.

Jack Hammer …. new year, new tunes

Piet Botha and Jack Hammer will be recording a new album, “Highway 13“, in March and April 2008. There is a specific thread that runs through the whole album, as suggested by the title track. Most of the new songs will be heard live when Piet Botha and his longtime associate Johnathan Martin tour the Cape on a hectic ten days, 9 gigs excursion in mid February. Piet said: “We want to really play the new material into shape before April, as we would like to actually launch in Mozambique at the Strab Festival, end of May”.

The new album has been a while coming. “After ‘Pilgrim‘ it was time to let the sound and style of the band regenerate by itself and sometimes this takes a bit of time because it’s not a tangible thing that you can manipulate”, Botha tried to explain, “hopefully we have achieved that by going against the mainstream, as per usual, but the deeper you go the more soul you will find.”

Some of the new titles are “Rearview mirror”, “Highway 13”, “This song is old now”, “Stay at the wheel”, “Mr Midnite”, “Jozi Town” and “The Devil’s House”. Old favourites will be available in their extended repertoire for the Cape Tour.

— Brian Currin

South African Rock Legends: Piet Botha and Jack Hammer

February 2000: This was the original entry for Piet Botha and Jack Hammer on the South African Rock Files website (which was launched on the 1st January 1999), before being expanded into its own website on 21st January 2001.

Piet Botha Gypsy 2000



SA Rock Digest Issue #47, 21 February 2000: The Digest caught Piet Botha and Jonathan Martin’s unplugged set at two different venues in Cape Town recently. First at the Big Tree in the Strand on the 12th February and again on the 17th February at the Whammy Bar in Table View.

These 2 musicians are incredibly talented and they entertained the enthusiastic crowds with songs from all 4 previous Jack Hammer albums, as well as Piet’s 2 solo Afrikaans outings.

They also played a few covers which included Nick Drake’s ‘Northern Sky’, Soul Asylum’s ‘Runaway Train’, Bob Dylan’s ‘All Along The Watchtower’, Led Zeppelin’s ‘Tangerine’, Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here’, Guns ‘N Roses’ ‘Sweet Child ‘O Mine’ and Robert Johnson’s ‘Crossroads’.

Two brilliant evenings of Acoustic Afrikaans Alternative Folk Rock (pick one or all of the above) which will never be forgotten…
Brian Currin, February 2000


For over 30 years, Piet Botha has been working, playing and building a legendary reputation on the SA rock scene. He began writing songs and forming bands while still at school and then hooked up with Abner Smith at university to develop their acoustic duo. Botha then connected with the members of Tusk (Doc Barendse, Dino Salvatori and Derek Riley) to establish the band Raven. This hard-rocking four-piece won the “Beat 79” nation-wide competition for new rock groups and released the singles ‘Wheel Of Fortune’ and ‘The Horseman’ on David Marks’ Third Ear Label.

Botha then formed Catherine Wheel with the two members of Wildebeest, namely Dave Tarr and Colin Pratley. With Botha on bass, piano and mouth organ, the group expanded to a five piece and in 1981 the classic ‘Bushrock 1’ album was released. In 1984, Botha’s new band, Jack Hammer, was started with Boet Faber, Jan Maloney and Eric Birckenstock, but the band’s activities were put on hold when Botha relocated to the US in 1985. There he met Billy Bob Thornton with whom he began a strong friendship; Thornton also played drums and sang on the first Jack Hammer album. Twelve years later, Billy Bob Thornton won the “Best Actor” Academy Award for his part in the film ‘Slingblade’.

After returning to SA in 1986, Botha restarted Jack Hammer and for the next ten years they released four excellent and acclaimed SA rock albums – ‘Jack Of All Trades’ (1987), ‘The Judas Chapter’ (1990), ‘Ghosts On The Wind’ (1994) and ‘Death Of A Gypsy’ (1996). During 1995, Eckard Potgieter decided to grow his successful CD club, Mainline Music, into an SA record company, and Wildebeest Records was born with Piet Botha very much part of their plans. Wildebeest released the Jack Hammer albums alongside albums by Valiant Swart, Koos Kombuis, Transformers and the quirky Naaimasjiene.

In 1995 Jack Hammer played support for the Gauteng leg of the Uriah Heep/Deep Purple “Masters Of Rock” South African tour. Jack Hammer also supported one of Piet’s main influences, ZZ Top, on their SA tour. In 1997, Piet Botha and Wildebeest Records released Botha’s first solo album, the All-Afrikaans, “n Suitcase Vol Winter’, which has received critical and public approval. A second Afrikaans album, ‘Jan Skopgraaf’ was released in October 1999 and Piet toured South Africa with Jonathan Martin and Tertius du Plessis during November 1999 to promote this album and his back catalogue.

A Jack Hammer compilation titled simply ‘Anthology’ was released in January 2000 and featured tracks from all 4 previous albums plus 5 new recordings including a re-recording of their classic song ‘Fort Lauderdale’.

Piet and Jonathan Martin toured again in February 2000 to promote the ‘Anthology’ CD.

Brian Currin, February 2000