Category: Albums

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

Discography:

Review:

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

Biography:

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

Jack Hammer at the Whammy Bar, 11th November 1999

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’.

This is when I first met Piet Botha and Johnathan Martin.

Brian Currin