Piet Botha: Die Mamba

Piet Botha: Die Mamba


  1. Warm Heuning
  2. Bye Bye My Darling
  3. Man Met Kitaar
  4. Die Mamba
  5. O My Heiland
  6. Al Die Stede
  7. Skielik Somer
  8. Die Gemmerbroodman
  9. Bordello
  10. Bosveldpad
  11. Herfsgedagtes
  12. Kitty
  13. Jacob Klipkop
  14. Jeffreysbaai

Session tracks:

All songs composed by Piet Botha except ‘Bordello’ which is the traditional song ‘House Of The Rising Sun’ with Afrikaans lyrics by Piet Botha.


  • Piet Botha: vocals, guitars, harmonica, piano
  • Johnathan Martin: guitars, cello, vocals
  • Tertius du Plessis: bass
  • Paul van de Waal: drums, percussion
  • Nina Swart & Lize Beekman: vocals
  • Mervyn Davies: mandolin
  • Danie: banjo
  • Leon van Zweel: sax
  • Lanie van der Walt: guitar solo on ‘Die Gemmerbroodman’

Release information:
June 2003, Rhythm Records, RR042



SA Rock Digest, Issue #230 (29 December 2003)

There were plenty of top rock albums released in South Africa during 2003 and choosing the best of the lot was never going to be easy. Karen Zoid released ‘Chasing The Sun’, her second album (her first was the Digest ‘album of the year’ in 2001), and proved that ‘Poles Apart’ was no fluke and that all the rave reviews about her were well deserved.

Freshlyground, the popular Cape Town seven-person music collective, followed up their string of acclaimed and very packed gigs with ‘Jika Jika’, an album that captured their dynamic Afro-World sound and diverse songs featuring the sensational vocals of new SA star, Xolani. Arno Carstens released ‘Another Universe’, his intelligent debut solo album with the songs developed with his New Porn project featuring the guitar genius of Albert Frost and viola licks of Brendan Jury. Watershed’s second album, ‘Wrapped In Stone’, was another classy piece of work, and young Johannesburg band, Old Mol, released ‘Rock The Bedsprings’, the year’s freshest, funniest and most entertaining album from an emerging SA rock band.

But the album of the year came from one of South Africa’s older troubadours – Piet Botha’s ‘Die Mamba’ was his first since leaving EMI and returning to his indie roots with Rhythm Records. The album found this respected and adored Afrikaans musician releasing what is regarded by his many devotees as his finest work since his seminal album, ”n Suitcase Vol Winter‘, in 1997.

‘Die Mamba’ boasts a stunning title track with its wry look (back?) at groupies, or “bokkies” as they are referred to here. There’s ‘Bordello’, a rewrite of ‘The House Of The Rising Son’ that situates this traditional folk classic in Johannesburg; ‘Die Gemmerbroodman’, which is a nod to the backing track ‘superstars’; and there’s an emotional look at both the destructive effects of the apartheid-era border war (‘Jacob Klipkop’) and the current US situation (‘Al Die Stede’), which is also Piet’s sincere dedication to Nelson Mandela.

Piet Botha dug deep for his inspiration behind ‘Die Mamba’, and the album is a warm, lyrical, sentimental and ultimately powerful experience. Botha has combined his evocative songwriting and musical wisdom and experience, gained from many years on the SA music circuit, with the young musical talents of guitarist Johnathan Martin and the other musicians in his backing band, Jack Hammer, to craft an album rich in imagery, personal observations, and wonderful songs. Piet Botha’s ‘Die Mamba’ is the SA Rock Digest Album Of The Year for 2003.

Die “Man met Kitaar” launched his new album, Carina Laubscher was there.

Yes. It was going to be one of those nights. By early morning I felt it knotting my guts like a voodoo snake. The launch of Piet Botha’s “Die Mamba” would be magic. Filled with rock – in the voices of guitar, drums, harmonica, and the men. Piet Botha and Johnathan inside the mikes and guitars, Duke Paul on drums and Tertius on bass. And oh, sweet Mother of the Earth – the saxophone. Born for the hands and mouth of Leon van Zweel. And they were ready for us. Everybody was there. Loved ones, trusted ones, good ones. Cameras, notebooks, recorders. The sight made me shiver – Café Barcelona was packed to the ceiling; at least 250 people milling around, greeting, hugging, looking for seats, flopping down with a drink, music in their throats – in an atmosphere thick with that trusted electrical buzz called “This is gonna be good. Real good.”

The lights dimmed and the silence came. Piet put the microphone to his mouth and greeted his people. And so it began. Easing us into the cold windy night with some of the old stuff, Jack Hammer sweating through every note, sharing a smoke with Piet Botha in the rough raw beat. All the CDs were playing in front of our eyes. “Blues Vir Louise”, “Staan Saam Burgers”, “Goeienag Generaal” – all the favourites. “Liberty” – and again I saw this old man peering at me from the body of an angel, singing with the secret knowledge of a rock musician’s heart. Piet moved closer to Johnathan, his body close to the Fender. Tertius coming in with that big guitar, closing the circle. Applause and screams rising again and again from the back of the room like a heated wave, repeating itself with every beat of my heart. Piet smiled. Walked back to his mike, looked over at his band, nodded and slammed our eardrums with more blowtorch poetry.

“Die Mamba” was thrown on the stage with Fender and Gibson, gleaming with a frantic energy in the yellow lights, harmonica blended with sweat and throaty rock beats, sultry saxophone touching every note with the tongue of a siren – and I was floating. “Kitty” started, dark and deep. We disappeared into Leeudoringstad, to De Wildt, following the story. Looking for the woman who stole the priest’s soul. Floating on Piet’s voice – then yanked back by that impatient “rufff-rufffff!!!” from Duke’s corner, sticks dancing on his fingertips, his body contorted by the beast called Rhythm. Out of him came this solo, a thing with the colour of Mexican chillies, drawing us close, his hair flung back, the voices of stones and canyons and deep dark caves echoing the beat.

Johnathan, Piet and Tertius with a seamless re-entry, heads rocking and veteran fingers fastened on guitar strings that wouldn’t stop. “Bordello” and “Die Gemmerbroodman” presented themselves with gusto. Piet’s dad sat and watched – his smile a mixture of fresh surprise and unadulterated pride. While we yelled, stamped our feet, beat the tables, punched fists in the air, gulped more beer, and fell – once again – all over in love with this man’s music.

Piet Botha made “Die Mamba” with hardcore talent, persistence, passion, unease, love, dust, myths, travels, the earth, his heart. “Die Mamba” arrived last night in 200 CDs. Midnight came. And then there were only 3. Grab your copy very very soon. Let Piet Botha show you how to wear a mamba like a tie.

“Hulle roep my Die Mamba – die hele kontinent behoort aan my.”

— Carina, Melville (Jhb)

Wag al lank vir hierdie een. Veertien nuwe goed uit Piet Botha se hart en kitaar. En warrimpel, Jack Hammer is ook vir die braai genooi. Hoor hoe skop hy die agterdeur om in te kom. Draai die CD om – hier sien jy ‘n hand op ‘n kitaarnek onder ‘n spokerige groen lig. Kyk mooi, daai vingers beweeg. En gaan ook nie help om jouself sielkundig voor te berei dat hierdie ding straks ‘n puik produk sal wees nie. Dié slang gaan vir jou pik. Maar ek dink nie jy gaan baie omgee nie.

Moet ook nie dink Bra Piet streel jou met ‘n loom soutvrye aptytwekker soos die CD oopmaak nie. Nee. “Warm heuning” is ‘n ding met liefde en passie, ‘n snapsie hartseer – en respek wat nie eens weet van ‘n bodem nie. “Ek het jou vanmôre bekyk in jou tuin, met die aarde in jou hand, jy weet dit nie maar daar is niemand anders as jy, dis alweer somer en warm ek weet – maar dit voel net soos gister”. ‘n Warm saksofoon hou die woorde bymekaar. “Jy asem my in, ek asem jou uit, dit lag en dit kreun – warm heuning”. Ontdek die res van die lirieke saam met daai een wat jou hart kom vat het.

“Bye bye my darling” wys vir jou die lem van die oorlog. In die refrein kom jy af op ‘n onopdringerige sagte harmonie wat die bitter onder jou tong uithaal. Die lirieke is gekreukel. Fokkol versagmiddel in hierdie een. “In 1975 het die Yankees ons mislei, vinnig in Angola in en toe te lank gebly, kinders gevoer vir die groot geldhoer, die aasvoëls bak en brou – bye bye my darling it’s time to go.”

Die note van “Man met kitaar” behoort vir jou bekend te klink as jy die afgelope ruk vir Piet en sy manne gaan luister het. Jy kry ook meer van daardie knap elektriese Fenderblitse wat agter elke bos uitspring. Luister hoe klim ‘n man se hart uit sy vingers. “Ek ken die N1 en twee en drie en vier en so aan, paaie in die wildernis, dit beteken alles, dit beteken niks, op Langebaan en Vredenburg – goed gegaan maar hard gewurg”.

Sapperloot! Hier’s “Die Mamba”! Kitaar is totaal in beheer hier. “Hulle roep my die mamba, die hele kontinent behoort aan my.” Loop nog so ‘n entjie saam op die pad, begin dan draf. “By die hoor van my naam begin hulle bewe, en as jy by my pad loop staan, dan kom die bliksem ek belowe, jong bokkies, bokkies om te byt.” Nou kry die tempo rigting bos toe, en jy kry jou tweede asem. Oooo jaaaaaa. Kitaar kry nou stuiptrekkings van die lekker. “Ek en my vriend Adder loop by die nag, al daai heerlike diertjies wat wag”. Rou en warm Afrikaanse rock so uit ons eie grond uit. BLIKSEM.

“O my Heiland” pluk die mat netjies onder jou voete uit. “En liefde moet gaan dans vanaand met die man wat daar buite staan” sit die knop weer terug in jou keel. Veral as die dood al in jou huis kom sigaret opsteek het. “Maar niemand weet wie wat moet betaal, en niemand weet hoeveel, maar die wiele moet draai en die mense wil speel in huise van hartseer, strate van reën”. Jy kan alles hoor. Die stil ruggraat van die melodie, die koue woede van trane wat droogwaai in die winter.

Dan kom sit Piet ‘n stuk van jou land voor jou voete neer. “Al die stede” sit die prente in jou kop. “Rook en mis altyd in die pad, net buite Johannesburg, die stad waar die struggle voortwoed op sy eie tyd, eie manier, laatnag klink die jazzmusiek, net soos psalms, soos gesange in die strate en in die shebeens.” Heish Bra Piet.

“Skielik somer” maak ‘n donker deur oop. “Vreemde stede, vreemde aarde, ver van jou engel, naby jou skade, vriende het jy baie, nuwes elke dag – maar jy gaan slaap alleen in die nag.” En hier kom die son. “Jy het altyd gelag as jy sê ek is ‘n dromer – en toe ek aan jou dink, toe word dit somer.”

Die pikante jazz-ritme van “Gemmerbroodman” is verraderlik speels. Tussen die lyne loop ‘n vlymskerp tong. “Haai ek is tog te oulik, elke spieël sê dit vir my, en as ek iets wil hê, sal my bestuurder dit vir my kry, my naam in goue letters, maak seker dis reg gespel.” Laat jou voete roer met die lekker doemm-disshhh en hoor die skewe glimlag in “maar oppas my ou maat, want die ou spreekwoord praat, elke boontjie kry sy loon – jy gaan maklik terug in die oond.” Kry dan ‘n boom of ‘n pilaar om aan vas te hou voor Lanie (Not My Dog) se elektriese kitaarsolo jou in die agterent skop. Dit klink of hy ‘n harp met sy kitaar gekruis het en toe nog tien vingers bygegroei het. Jy het nog nooit so ‘n woeste spul agterstevoortoonlere in jou lewe gehoor nie.

“Bordello” is growwer, en die strot is droër en kwaaier as die oorspronklike “House of the rising sun”. Piet Botha maak hierdie een woes. “Daar is ‘n huis in Johannesburg waar die rooi lig brand elke aand en baie siele het hier alles verloor – dobbel, slegte vrouens en drank.” Einaaaa. Kry die onrus uit jou lyf met “Bosveldpad” se tokkelos, krokodil se vel en Mabalel. Hei. Jy is doringboom se kind.

Om ‘n ding te kan skryf soos “Kitty” en dit so bedonnerd mooi vir mense te kan speel, is iets wat net aan Piet Botha behoort. Warm snare. Klavier. Die dromme is onrustig. “Ek was nog baie myle weg van Leeudoringstad”. Moenie dit sag speel nie. “Ten minste weet ons nou jy was hier, daar’s orals tekens van jou” en jy wonder oor hierdie vrou. Kitty. “…en die reuk van ‘n vrou – maar dis nie sommer enige girl, dit moet julle onthou, hierdie een kom met die sekelmaan, hierdie een maak die lug blou, hierdie een het al ‘n leeu geskiet sonder ‘n scope” en die refrein van die basviool maak die hek toe met Bra Piet se diep donker neurie. Speel dit dan weer. Met oorfone.

“Herfsgedagtes”. Met die eerste luister gaan sit die note so agter jou borsbeen. Fyn vrouestemme. Ver paaie. Winter. Liefde. “As jy dan moet gaan, laat die son en die wind en die maan jou altyd terugbring na my.” Dis Bra Piet met oop hande en nuwe oë. Dan, “Jacob Klipkop”. Hier binne lééf jy die storie van Blikkies en Whitey.

“Die Mamba” – towerslang met stories. Hierdie slang hou jy in jou huis. Sodat die spoke nie deur die dak kan klim nie.

— Carina Laubscher, SA Klank Uitgawe #7, Junie 2003