Blues For Louise | 1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf
From 1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf by John Samson
The clue to how this song may sound is in the first word of the title. It’s blues through and through, right from the very first rasping guitar note, via the racing drums and swirling organ and through to the whiskey-rasp vocals, it never lets up its blues-ey feel.
The song first appeared on Piet Botha’s 1999 album ‘Jan Skopgraaf’ and it races along at pace. On the live version that can be found on the ‘Bootleg’ and ‘Tassenberg All Stars’ albums, Piet introduces the track by saying ‘hier’s ‘n ode aan ’n heks wat ons geken het’ (here’s an ode to a witch that we knew’) and there does seem to be a kind of devilish energy to the track that brings to mind a mad dance around a fire in the dark woods.
And the lyrics throw up sparks from the fire that haunt and enchant. Piet sings about Louise and how she was ‘nooit ‘n maklike meisie’ (never an easy woman) and that wherever he goes, ‘Loop ek met my bybel/En ‘n nine mil/En ‘n mes’ (I walk with a bible, a 9 mil and a knife), because he is scared of Louise, ‘banger as n’ pofadder’ (more scared [of her] than of a pofadder). This woman is bad news. And that’s good news for a blues track. A bad woman makes for good blues.
There are at least 2 live versions of the track out there. The first is the aforementioned one on ‘Bootleg’ and ‘Tassenberg Allstars’ while there is also a Jack Hammer version on ‘Live At The Nile’. The former is an acoustic version with more muted vocals and seems to soften Louise a little while the latter starts out with a heavier guitar and then launches into a ZZ Top-fest of guitars and brings that down and dirty feel to a Louise who is a cactus of a woman. Not for the faint hearted.
Where to find it:
Jan Skopgraaf – Piet Botha, (1999), Wildebeest Records, WILD 019
New Album from Jack Hammer Band: Second Chapter
“Second Chapter” by the Jack Hammer Band does what it says: without any pretences, the album blasts straight into the driving rock sound that has come to define the longest-standing South African rock band.
You immediately find yourself at a Jack Hammer gig, with Duke steady behind the kit, Bean towering over his black bass like a watchkeeper, and Johno and Jake Gunn wringing rock ’n roll out of their guitars as if their lives depended on it.
There is also the tall presence of the man of myth and his Stratocaster that goes by the name of Green Mamba – it would be difficult to imagine Piet Botha laying down the guitar after departing.
The album, co-written by Johnathan Martin, member of Jack Hammer since 1996, and Jake Gunn, who joined the ranks in the 2010s, was initially set out as an impulse to craft ten songs out of the kinship shared between the two. It soon became what had been called for: an album for Piet. The album’s path was led by an eleventh track – a reworked, never-before recorded version of ‘Diana’, a song Piet Botha left behind.
Raymond Smith, Piet’s brother-in-law, urged the band to write and record as Jack Hammer again and helped to bring it all together. He also wrote ‘One for the Angels’, a song inspired by one late-night party with Piet Botha.
Through songs shared and learned on stage, the band are creating a living archive, not only by telling Piet and Jack Hammer’s musings and stories in musical form, but also by revisiting undocumented material and channelling an immense discography.
Come celebrate the official album launch of “Second Chapter” on 11 November at the JARR Bar & Restaurant, Pretoria’s home of sound.
The Jack Hammer Band are: Johnathan Martin (vocals, guitars and piano), Tertius du Plessis (bass guitar), Paul Van de Waal (drums and percussion) and Jacques Groenewald (guitars, vocals, piano and harmonicas). Gerry Robinson, honorary band member (acoustic guitars).
“Second Chapter” was recorded at Wolmer Records and produced by the Jack Hammer Band, Lanie van der Walt and Moonshine Lee.
~ Written by Jannike Bergh, 2022.
Jack Hammer Band CD Launch LIVE at JARR Bar Pretoria
“SECOND CHAPTER” the new JACK HAMMER BAND Album Launch.
We are very proud to be launching our first album recorded since 2015 and since the loss of Piet Botha our leader and mentor for the past three decades. We dedicate this album to Hammer as our Second Chapter begins…Jack Hammer Band.
Doors open 12:00
Event from 18:00
Performance from 19:30
25 Years Ago: Piet Botha released ‘n Suitcase Vol Winter
- Donkermaan [4.27]
- Sien Jou Weer [4.02]
- Marilyn Monroe [3.09]
- Suitcase Vol Winter [4.21]
- Van Tonder [4.35]
- Die Kind [4.37]
- Goeienag Generaal [4.08]
- Klein Bietjie Reën [4.37]
- In Die Transvaal [4.01]
- Staan Saam Burgers [4.21]
- Gipsy In Jou Oë [3.59] vocals by Koos Kombuis
- Kom Huistoe [3.58]
All songs composed by Piet Botha except ‘In Die Transvaal’ (Valiant Swart) and ‘Gipsy In Jou Oë’ (Piet Botha/Koos Kombuis)
Piet Botha: vocals, guitars, harmonica, piano
Jorik Pienaar: drums
Jason Phillips: bass
Johnathan Martin: guitars, cellos and vocals
Valiant Swart: guitar, vocals
Koos Kombuis: vocals
Brenda Pieterse: vocals
1st October 1997, Wildebeest Records, WILD 005
2009, Independent, JHCD002, remastered by Lanie van der Walt in April 2009
by Brian Currin
Biting Afrikaans commentary with the musical style of Eric Clapton, Mark Knopler, Chris Rea, etc. ‘Goeie Nag Generaal’ is a brilliant hard-rock song about dying for your country but for what? “Toe ek weer so kyk, het ‘n AK jou fucked-up geskiet”. If this had come out ten years earlier it would have been banned outright!
Cover picture was taken at Matjiesfontein station, though the background mountains have been added in.
‘In Die Transvaal’ originally appeared on Valiant Swart’s ‘Die Mystic Boer’ album in 1995.
1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf: Sien Jou Weer – Piet Botha
It seems appropriate that a song called ‘Sien Jou Weer’ (‘See You Again’ if you are not au fait with Afrikaans) begins with that sort of country-ish on the road again sound that you get in the movies as the hero/heroine sets off on a trip. You never quite know if you will see them again.
The music here has a rhythm of a train, a smoothness of the countless whiskeys consumed on the way, the desolation of the open road and a voice as gravelly as the tar on which you ride. You can smell the memories and sadness that gather in the slipstream of the departing sound, but the singer has to go. As Piet sings, ‘kyk nou die langpad/roep my al weer/daar is nou genade en liefe/en nog baie meer’ (‘look, the highway/calls me again/there is mercy and love/and so much more). The call of the open road is strong with this one.
This is Piet Botha and Jack Hammer at their smooth best. They can sometimes rock hard, but when they turn their collective hands (and voices) to those blues, they know exactly what to do and in ‘Sien Jou’ Weer’, they created something of beauty. It’s a song that once you’ve listened to it, you have no objections to seeing it again on your playlist.
— John Samson, 29 March 2019, 1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf
1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf: ‘n Suitcase Vol Winter – Piet Botha
One wonders if the person Piet Botha is singing of in ‘n Suitcase Vol Winter was told to Vat Jou Goed en trek Ferreira. The drifter is on a train to nowhere, on the run from a woman who wants to shoot him, and all he carries with him is a suitcase full of winter. There is a stoicism about the man in question. He is on the run to nowhere, but this suits him (dit pas my goed). It is a rather bleak image, but there is also a gritty realism about it.
Piet’s growling voice manages to capture all these feelings. He sounds almost as if he doesn’t care, yet at the same time there is a desperate edge to the vocals. This is all laid on top of some blistering blues. From the first thudding beats of the guitar and building, with the aid of harmonica and piano, into a desperate, desolate soundscape that seems to compliment the emotional and physical landscapes one can imagine this man on the run is travelling through.
Except for the fact that the lyrics are in Afrikaans and there is a full band sound, ‘n Suitcase Vol Winter sounds as if it could easily have slid out of one of the great Delta blues singer’s guitars. The subject matter and the rhythm fit perfectly. This is, without a doubt, one of the great Afrikaans blues tracks.
— John Samson, 23 September 2012, 1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf
1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf: Goeienag Generaal – Piet Botha
Goeienag Generaal (The 5FM Sessions version) – Piet Botha & Jack Hammer
The border war in South West (as it was then) and Angola had a significant psychological effect of a lot of young white South Africans conscripted to go and fight there. These effects are still felt by many today and, until recently, was hardly ever spoken of.
In 1997, Piet Botha spoke of it and did so in powerful words against an angry guitar backdrop. The track appeared on his critically acclaimed album ‘‘n Suitcase Vol Winter‘ and talks of the war being fought for all the trappings of capitalism. It was fought for ‘Vir Harry Oppenheimer en al sy maats, Vir Rembrandt van Rijn en Alfred Dunhill, En die OK Bazaars, En die hele bloody spul by die SAUK, Julle was die oorlog vir die CIA.’ And while the war was being fought for these people, Whitey, was being shot by an AK47.
Whether you agree with Piet’s view of the reasons for the war or not, this is one of the great anti-war songs that thunders along with venom, anger and a pounding rhythm. It sounds just as good on the live versions that are available as the studio ones do.
— John Samson, 11 June 2011, 1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf
by Stephen Segerman
This first solo album of modern, Afrikaans folk/blues songs happened on the instigation of Eckard Potgieter, the owner of Wildebeest Records. He suggested an album of slow, soft and relevant Afrikaans songs. After four months of production at the Sunset Studios in Stellenbosch, under the guiding hand of Jurgen von Wechmar, ‘Suitcase Vol Winter’ was released. Although many of Stellenbosch’s finest musicians helped with the album, it was mostly Piet Botha’s labour of love and was very different to his previous work with Raven and Jack Hammer.
The 12 songs on this album are acoustic-based, laid back and emotional. Botha wrote all the songs (with the exception of Valiant Swart’s ‘In Die Transvaal’ and the Koos Kombuis written-and-sung ‘Gipsey In Jou Oe’) and delivered the finest vocal performance of his career with ballads like the beautiful and sad ‘Van Tonder’ and the reflective title track. Along with Swart, Kombuis and Koos du Plessis, Piet Botha was responsible for establishing Afrikaans as a competitive rock music “taal” again.
These sensitive and narrative songs cover all those SA subjects that had affected Piet Botha as a South African growing up in the apartheid-era. From the Anglo-Boer and Border wars (‘Goeienag Generaal’), life, death and politics to wives, film stars and “the road”, Botha covers all these relevant topics with strong lyrics, steady and sympathetic backing and a wide range of feelings that leaves this album up there with the best from Koos Kombuis and Valiant Swart.
The other artists appearing on this album are Jorik Pienaar (drums), Jason Phillips (bass), Johnathan Martin (guitars, cellos and vocals) as well as Koos Kombuis, Valiant Swart and Brenda Pieterse. While it must be mentioned that Piet is the son of the long-serving Nationalist Party Foreign Affairs minister, Pik, it should also be said that Piet Botha’s alternative career certainly puts paid to that old Afrikaans cliché, “Die appel val nie ver van die boom af nie”. A great SA artist and album.
- Piet Botha: ‘n Suitcase Vol Winter
- Piet Botha: Jan Skopgraaf
- Piet Botha & Jack Hammer: Bootleg
- Piet Botha: Die Hits
- Piet Botha: Die Mamba
- Piet Botha & Jack Hammer: Live At The Nile
- Piet Botha: Spookpsalms
- Piet Botha: Die Middernagtrein
- Piet Botha | Jack Hammer Double LP
- Piet Botha & Jack Hammer: 13 Towns
- Piet Botha & Jack Hammer: 13 Towns, Vol 2
A Piet Botha Tribute, 20th August 2021
The year was 1987 and Piet Botha had just brought out his first album. Little did he know that his path would one day cross with a wild-haired musician who, at this time, was still in his diapers. Jake Gunn was 18 when he heard Piet’s music for the first time. The album ‘Die Hits‘ had converted the young Gunn to a life-long Piet Botha disciple and played an instrumental role in Gunn’s musical development. After years of following his idol’s tours in the Western Cape, becoming his self-appointed road manager and his driver, Piet eventually appointed Jacques Groenewald as an official Jack Hammer member. Jake will be joining Johnathan Martin, Tertius du Plessis and Paul van de Waal on stage at A Piet Botha Tribute on Friday 20 August to pay tribute to The Hammer.
#TheHammer #PietBotha #ATributeshow #TheDaisyJones #JakeGunn #JackHammer
A Piet Botha Tribute, 20th August 2021
The engine room of music is the rhythm section and these two are the soul of the Jack Hammer band: Paul ‘The Duke’ Van de Waal & Tertius ‘Bean’ du Plessis.
Tertius first saw Jack Hammer at Cherry Too? in the late 80’s “het geskeem dis heavy cool…” A few years later he met Piet Botha when he was working at Mainline Music (Wildebeest Records) and his band opened for Jack Hammer and the rest is history…
“Volgende bel Piet my, Ons het ‘n nuwe bass player nodig, wil jy jol?”Ek sal kom vir ‘n audition, sê ek toe.”Wil jy jol of nie? Ek het jou mos klaar hoor speel…” tune Hammer toe.”Tertius du Plessis
So daar klap Bean nou al 20 odd jaar diksnaar saam met Jack Hammer.
Paul van de Waal had just moved into a new house and was painting the inside of the lounge on a Saturday afternoon, sometime in 1995. He met Andy, who was playing for Jack Hammer a few weeks earlier and they had exchanged numbers.
“He gave me a call on that Saturday because he was double booked and was supposed to play for Jack Hammer and a blues band in JHB that evening. Andy asked if I would do one of the gigs for him and because I had played for the blues band before, he asked me if I wanted to take that gig. When I heard that the other band was Jack Hammer I decided to take that one instead, even though I had never even been to a Jack Hammer gig before.”Paul van der Waal
The gig was at Crossroads blues bar in the Tramshed Centre in Pretoria where Paul had played for a few years with the blues band Jo Blu & Risky Business. He met Piet, Lanie and the Deacon (Lowell Jeffery) for the first time on stage while they were setting up for the gig.
“The gig went unbelievably well and it felt like we had been playing together for years.”Paul van der Waal
They played to a packed crowd into the early hours of the morning. Piet asked him to join the band that night and the 20 year journey began.
“Looking back, I could never have predicted how things have turned out and I’m grateful that Piet asked me to join the band and to be part of the musical family of the Jack Hammer band.”Paul van der Waal
Limited ticket left online at Quicket – https://qkt.io/RS1OWH
A Tribute To Piet Botha, 20th August 2021
Piet Botha‘s right-hand Johnathan Martin has been a part of Jack Hammer since 1996. ‘For Annette‘ was the first song that these two collaborated on and ‘Liberty’ was the first of many songs Piet and Johnno wrote together in the 2 decades they spent touring the country performing over 3000 shows and recording 11 albums to date. Johnathan will be flying down with The Jack Hammer band to pay tribute to The Hammer on Friday 20 August at The Daisy Jones Bar at OMG.
“Back in 1995 I was a fan of Jack Hammer and used to go to shows in Sunny Side. After Lanie vd Walt left in ’96 my mother passed away in a car wreck and at the funeral Piet asked me to join the band. My first tour was in Feb of ’97 and we toured from then on non-stop, doing 250 shows a year, at least! The first album I worked on with Piet was the classic ”n Suitcase Vol Winter’ album’ and I’ve been grateful to Piet ever since for giving me all these opportunities!!!”Johnathan Martin
Limited ticket left online at Quicket – https://qkt.io/RS1OWH
A Tribute To Piet Botha
Today [18th July] would have been Piet’s 66th birthday. To celebrate this legend of a man The Daisy Jones Bar at OMG has a special event planned for August. The Jack Hammer band will be flying down to Cape Town to pay tribute to The Hammer, the legend Piet Botha. Joining them on the night are Piet’s long-time brothers of the highway, Akkedis Band, honorary 4th Jack Hammer band member Jake Gunn and a special appearance by Jeandré Swanepoel.
Tickets are limited so get them online now to join us for this special evening – https://qkt.io/RS1OWH
There will be merch on sale as well as an exhibition of portraits.
When: Friday 20 August
Time: Doors open at 5pm
Showtime to be announced closer to the time, depending on curfew.
Event link – https://www.facebook.com/events/1212297022564866/
Food and drinks available at the venue.
No mask, no entry.
Covid-19 regulations to be adhered to.
Photo by Hein Waschefort
A Piet Botha Exhibition – Band of Portraits
Piet Botha’s three daughters have put together an exhibition to remember and honour the rock legend who toured the highways and byways of South Africa for 30+ years. There will be 17 pieces from various photographers and artists on display, including Lien Botha, Hein Waschefort, Jo Splice and Neels Venter. The pieces range from portraits of Piet, to lyric pieces and paintings. Merchandise such as postcards, t-shirts and albums will also be on sale.We invite you to come and experience how different artists have captured The Hammer’s iconic spirit.
Opening night: 24 February, 6-9pm
Exhibition will be live until 10 March 2021 at the Jan Blohm Fine Art Gallery in Michau Street, Strand, Western Cape. For all the other fans not in the Western Cape you can view the pieces online at www.janblohmart.co.za and place your order until 18 July 2021, Piet’s Birthday. In memory of The Hammer’s altruistic nature, a percentage of the profits will be donated to two charities: Join Bands, Not Gangs, a registered NPO from Cape Town that uses donated instruments to start programs that can help at-risk youth avoid joining gangs by staying constructively busy, and the Feed Malongane Initiative that sustains families in Piet’s beloved Mozambique.
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13 Towns, The Journey Continues
For Piet Botha & Jack Hammer, the month of December always involved touring “coast to coast and up and down that crazy road…” This year, they’re still bringing their music to the fans, in the form of 13 Towns (The Journey Continues) double live album.
Following the release of Vol. 1 on online platforms earlier this year, Vol. 2 is now also available.
Even better, Vol. 1 + 2 can also be purchased in CD format from Johnathan Martin, Bean, Duke or Jake Gunn.
If you are in the Helderberg area you can also go grab yourself a copy at the Soul Café in Strand.