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The Design Train blogs are a series of articles researched and written by Andrew Knapp for submission to various publications and sites. The articles cover a wide range of topics and can be adapted and edited for use in various styles of media application.

  • Writer's pictureAndrew Knapp

Loving the Music - The Sound of September 1st - 7th

Spring has sprung in Loving the Music land and we celebrated with some local sounds, revelled in fresh new tracks from the Black Pumas, uncovered new talent in New Zealand and revisited the '90s dancefloors with contentious Brit-Pop before closing the week with Birthday wishes to some huge names. What a great start to a month!

This series of blog articles cover a week of mini-feature posts from the Loving the Music Facebook page and group. This makes it easier for our music-loving community to search through our ever-growing archive of songs, backstories and trivia.

Sep 1st - 7th: Musicians Featured

Zoe Modiga - Black Pumas - Steve Walsh - Christopher Justin - Kula Shaker

Buddy Holly - Gloria Gaynor - Chrissie Hynde & The Pretenders


1st Sept: I’m always a little dubious when I get notifications along the lines of ’10 musicians you must hear before you die’, or ‘This singer will simply blow your head away’. However, when I clicked through this morning to find out who Zoë Modiga is and why my life would be changed after hearing her second album, Inganekwane, I was happily surprised to find out that the headlines were spot-on. A little research took me to an excellent review of the album by Ntombizikhona Valela on the NewFrames website that led me through the meanings behind my selection of tracks today.

Zoë Modiga has a way of fusing African storytelling with a special blend of Jazz and undertones of traditional rhythms provided by a team of highly talented musicians who, as far as I can tell, are co-composers on many of this album’s songs. There is nothing jarring, in fact, it is a gentle journey through a variety of themes which mostly revolve around reaffirmation and being aware of the space you occupy in life. She sings mainly in IsiZulu, but as a non-Zulu speaker it didn't matter that I had no idea what she was singing about, the sheer beauty of the music is quite enough to keep the album on repeat.

Inganekwane translates to Fairytale in isiZulu. Storytelling and fairytales are a big part of African culture and used as a means of conveying morality tales down through the generations. Zoë’s controlled vocals and the tapestry of sound her backing musicians provide, commands one's attention through every track of the album, the way grandmothers and mothers do when telling Inganekwane to their families.

I’m starting today’s remarkable selection from Inganekwane with the song Intsha. It is an affirming ode to youth who Modiga describes as having “always been part of watershed moments across the world, be it in Paris in 1968, Soweto in 1976 or Black Lives Matter at present”. When I first listened to this song I could hear influences of the late Busi Mhlongo in her vocals. Zoë Modiga, you have made my day.

Zoë Modiga hails from Pietermaritzburg, KZN, and her love of music saw her study at the National School of Arts in Braamfontein, Johannesburg where she majored in classical piano, clarinet and vocals. Her time at the school provided the perfect platform to pursue music as a passion and subsequent career. She also found time to complete a degree in jazz vocals at the South African College of Music, UCT.

The second track today is Umdali, and I quote Ntombizikhona Valela’s excellent review on the NewFrames website. “Modiga plays around with the concept that we are all created with our paths laid out and from a similar source. She creates in our minds an aural cradle of humankind. We have been sent on a mission, a mission that revolves around our worthiness as human beings. We are not only worthy of the healing space she creates in the world of this album, but we also exist for a purpose carefully fashioned before we were born.

There is an otherworldliness to the arrangements. They are rooted in an inexplicable calm almost as though the listener’s soul is being lifted out of its body and taken on a journey through the consciousness of this higher being”. That poetic and slightly wordy description is actually pretty accurate. Close your eyes and relax into this lake of sound and you will see what she means.

The new album has been three years in the making, following Zoë Modiga’s critically acclaimed debut ‘Yellow: The Novel’. When I manage to tear myself away from her latest release I look forward to exploring the debut album, but until then I am happily hooked where I am.

The album Inganekwane is an artist’s sojourn with fellow artists who, as Modiga puts it, “are musicians who were equally selfless with how they gave themselves to my ideas and my concepts”. Among these fellow travellers is Nathan Smith, who played the guitar during Modiga’s season on The Voice. Also, studio engineers Papi Direste and Oyama Songo, mixing engineers Carlos Bedoya and Marc Urselli, and mastering engineer Jose Blanco – all Grammy Award winners. This top production line-up shows in the quality of the album. It is a masterpiece in every respect.

The final song for tonight is Abantu, a tale that speaks with a hopeful and affirmative feeling. Modiga wants us to be certain of the arrival of positive change for black people, along with respect for everyone a core principle - a sentiment that I support wholeheartedly. This lady makes me proud to be South African.

One of the benefits of my research for this page is finding out about musicians who were it not for Loving the Music, would pass me by. One of the honours is being able to share them with you. 😎

3rd Sept: When a new band forms it can take some time before any recognition is shown from either the public or the music industry. However, today we’re not featuring a normal band, this is Black Pumas. It was October last year when I first featured some songs from the self-titled debut album which had only been on the shelves for a few months. I predicted big things for the band, but I didn't quite realise how big and how fast.

2020 saw their first Grammy nomination for Best New Artist and nothing but high praise from the music media for their debut album. Rolling Stone wondered at “the tireless, charismatic energy of singer Eric Burton", while Pitchfork observed, “The duo’s flair for drama is so stirring, they can seem acutely cinematic”. I completely agree. They are in a league of their own.

In the short time that Black Pumas have been together they have appeared on all the major TV shows which succeeded in catapulting their song ’Colours’ to go viral and streamed over 60 million times across the various platforms.

I was wondering if we would be hearing anything new from them any time soon, and lo and behold, a few days ago I got the notification that a deluxe edition of their debut album had been issued and contains eleven new tracks. I am not sure why they have released them this way and not as a separate album, but I’m not complaining. I thought that today I would share a couple of the new Black Puma songs with you starting with this beauty, Red Rover.

Black Pumas sound has been called Psychedelic Soul but I don't think that pays justice to the music that singer/songwriter Eric Burton and guitarist/producer Aldrian Quesada create. They have a comforting, yet edgy quality in their songs that are rich in R&B and retro-funk grooves. Why comforting? Although you lulled into thinking you know where a song is going, it's the often surprising vocal and guitar journey to the destination that makes it special.

Eric Burton arrived in Austin, Texas in 2017 and did what he knew best to bring in some money; busk. Through a mutual friend, Adrian Quesada (already a Grammy winner) connected with Burton and was impressed with his distinct voice with its huge range and power. Black Pumas was formed and the rest, as they say, is history. Here’s the second new track from the deluxe edition of their debut album, ‘I’m Ready’

In a genre that has produced some pretty mediocre offerings over the years, Eric Burton and Adrian Quesada quickly set about shaking up the status quo with a distinctive sound that stood head and shoulders above the rest. The early days saw them working their new material both in the studio and on-stage at C-Boys Heart & Soul Bar in Austin, where they had a residency, and started to build a solid following.

From small beginnings they have gone on to play numerous sold-out tours across America and Europe. For a band that has only been around for two years, Black Pumas have the special distinction of having a day named after them. Being the first band to sell-out four consecutive concerts at Stubb’s, one of Austin’s prime live venues, the Mayor declared that from this year, May 7th was henceforth to be known as Black Pumas Day. You can keep your Grammy nomination; I think this accolade counts for far more and conveys the feelings of both fans and musical peers for the phenomenon that is Black Pumas.

The last choice from the additional tracks on the deluxe edition of their debut album is the suitably named ‘Black Cat’, I hope you enjoyed a further peak into the world of Black Pumas. I don’t think it will be the last time we’ll be spending time with them.😎

4th Sept: I saw this come through from our friends at Shoreline Songs in Cape Town and I'm thrilled to share an announcement the news about one of our local legends, Steve Walsh.

"We are super stoked to present the first single from Steve Walsh's long-awaited album "Lucky Packet". An eclectic bunch of roots and blues songs, featuring the timeless groove of Harvey Cohen and Patrick Humphries. Contributions from Albert Frost, Rob Nagel, Robin Auld and Dan Shout make this album a contemporary classic... albeit in a vintage kind way. Songs with hard-hitting political themes, roots reggae and surfing ballads, by a singer whose phrasing and delivery is that kinda masterful that don't come easy.

Massive jaw surgery due to cancer impacted on a singer who has sung all his life. From the soloist in the school choir to the Steve Walsh Buddies band, both Jesus and Judas roles for Jesus Christ Superstar, and many blues outfits. Continuing to write and work throughout this painful time has built a beautiful album, produced by old compadre Robin Auld)"

I'm featuring a few songs from this under-the-radar legend today. We started with a track from his new album, but the second clip is a live performance with a group of very talented friends.

Here's a little bit of Steve history in his own words:

"I have done quite a lot of different forms/styles from starting out as a folky to solo and duo work, mostly with Robin Auld, to rock and reggae bands, and then onto musical theatre and Cabaret. {musical theatre hi-lite was definitely playing both the role of Jesus and then Judas in JC Superstar}

In 1995 I left the music business and became a restauranteur starting out on the West Coast and then Cape St. Francis and Jeffreys Bay after which I returned to Cape Town and after a personal tragedy made the decision to re-enter the music business back in 2014..." To be continued...

We’re listening to some tracks from our very own Steve Walsh today and pick up his story in his own words:

“Getting back into the music industry has been a slow process mainly because being away from it for so long, breaking back in has been pretty hard.

Helping me on the music road again has been my forming a group, the LekkaBand with the ex 'Falling Mirror' rhythm section and of late, also teaming up with percussionist Derek Craig after his return from Australia. Derek, an old friend from back in the '70s has helped enormously with my getting back onto the music-stage and he and I are starting to put some good rhythms together.”

It is always good when a musician as talented as Steve overcomes blocks that life throws in their path. Here’s another track from his Lucky Packet album, and it's all about Regret. What we don’t regret is getting the heads-up about this album. From what I’ve heard so far, it’s a cracker. 😎

5th Sep: It’s always a pleasure to discover a new young talent who has had his eye’s set on his goals from childhood. Thanks go out (as usual) to Radio Caroline for introducing me to the New Zealand born 19-year-old, Christopher Justin.

When Christoper’s parents found their three-year-old son strumming a guitar along to AC/DC, they had an inkling of possible talent but I don't know if they were quite prepared for just how much. He wrote his first song at age eight and by nine Christoper had formed his own band, Slipstream, insisting on only playing originals written by this young guitarist/singer. At 17-years old they recorded their first album. At the end of 2019, Justin recorded and produced a debut solo album, Mile High Ride, and that’s where we are starting today’s three-track mini-feature. Here’s the song ‘Brilliance’.

Music isn’t the only love in Christopher’s life. Aerospace engineering was a strong contender for his attention, and picking between a career in music or aerospace engineering was the hardest decision of his life.

Christoper Justin was no slacker at school and several leading universities wanted him to join their campus in 2020. The University of Miami offered him a presidential scholarship, he gained entrance to the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, and he was also invited to study aerospace engineering at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. However, he opted for the rare opportunity to join the University of Southern California (USC) program and a four-year bachelor of music degree.

USC’s Thornton School of Music only accepts 5% of its applicants and is regarded amongst the most elite in the world. Rolling Stone regard it as “the site of Los Angeles’ most productive new music scene”.

In Christopher’s own words when discussing his decision to follow music, “As much as I love engineering, music is my passion, and I can compose music all the time without getting bored – I can’t say the same for engineering.”

The second song came as a complete surprise to me. It’s a ballad - the only one on the album - and showcases this young man’s voice perfectly. I think that there are qualities of Michael Franks and James Taylor in his handling of this beautiful song ‘Miles Apart”

The lockdown restrictions didn’t halt Christopher Justin, and with the same passion he devotes to most things in his life, he released two rock singles that have since aired on radio in Singapore, Spain, Indonesia, Japan, Australia, the United Kingdom and, of course, his homeland of New Zealand.

To give you an idea of his mindset, when asked last year about his pending University career in America he said: “Every so often I have bursts of creativity, everything flows freely, and I can write song after song, that’s what I envision it will be like when I get to the US but on a much greater scale.”

It's finding new artists like this that make me roll my eyes when people complain about 'today's music'. After listening to these few tracks I think that you’ll agree with me when I say that this young man is going to be around for a very long time. Here’s the song ‘You Fly’. 😎

6th Sep: Today’s theme came out of the blue when I heard that mid-90s butt-shaker of a song, Hush, from the Hindu-inspired named band, Kula Shaker. I remember when I first heard the band's name clearly. I was talking music with some friends at a bar in Midrand, Jhb when a complete stranger turned around and said “You should take a listen to Kula Shaker”, and then walked away. It took a while, but when I did hear their debut album ‘K’ I thought them interesting but a bit pretentious.

What I considered pretentious is probably what propelled them up the charts numerous times during their peak years (96 -99). Their Brit-Pop sound combined with 60’s psychedelia influences and Sanskrit chanting was just a bit too contrived for me, but their success proves that I’m in the minority, although some of the musical press was in agreement with me.

To answer the question as to why I’m doing a mini-feature about a band that I’m not a big fan of is simple. What they did, they did very well, and so I’ve chosen a couple of tracks from the ‘K’ album that shows why they deserve their place on our page. They also have a pretty controversial backstory that makes for interesting reading.

Before we get into the details lets start with their second single release and hit from their ‘K’ album, 'Tattva'. I think that they capture the cultural cross-over they were aiming for pretty well in this song and it’s easy to see why the song peaked at #4 on the charts.

The second song from Kula Shaker’s debut album is undoubtedly my favourite. Probably because they left out the Indian chants and over-produced tabla and sitar backing and concentrated on creating a mindless, but very catchy song that well deserved its success.

‘Hush’ is rich in those swirling keyboard and guitar sounds that create immediate flashbacks to those heady 60s bands, but with a Brit-Pop energy that helps to seamlessly gel the fusion. The lyrics are infinitely forgettable, and to be honest I had never read them before today. They are on the YouTube page if you want some torturous reading.

NME has always been particularly critical of the band as their comeback review of the 2007 album ‘Strangefolk’ clearly states: “Kula Shaker were eminently punchable mid-90s toffs with an irritating line in Indian spirituality-obsessed psychedelia, and, in Crispin Mills, the most instantly hateworthy frontman who ever lived. There is enough woolly-minded idiocy and crass contrivance in this one record to consign the whole indie-pop scene into the abyss”

I think that NME was a bit harsh, even for a non-fan, and you have to ask yourself the question “If they hadn’t have followed their polarising brand of Brit-Pop, would they have been as successful? While you ponder that, here’s ‘Hush’.

NME’s reference to Kula Shaker being a 'bunch of toffs' stems from founder Crispin Mills being the son of 60s film star Hayley Mills and grandson of Sir John Mills. Not his fault, but hard to live down in an industry where is the norm is to champion those born with plastic rather than silver spoons.

What could have also caused some of the negative views were Crispin’s statements about the staging of their shows that created a press furore of note. It's not wise to say ”I’d love to have great big flaming swastikas onstage just for the fuck of it”, as he told NME in the late ’90s. In the back-peddling of apologies, he did explain that he meant the original Hindu symbol and not the Nazi emblem. We've all been guilty of the same thing - an easy mistake to make! 🙃

Talking of Eastern spirituality, I’m closing today with a song that is brimming with it. ‘Govinda’ was the 4th single to be released from the ‘K’ album and perfectly encapsulates what I like and dislike about them. It’s over-produced, excessively lush, dreadfully contrived, but so bloody well done! It was fun putting today’s post together. It’s not often I allow myself to be this critical and I hope I haven’t offended any die-hard Kula Shaker fans. Here’s Govinda. 😎

7th Sep: I am taking the easy route with three musicians (past and present) who celebrate birthdays today. Not only does it give us a chance to honour some of the musical greats, but allows for a varied selection of tracks in very different styles.

Let’s start the celebrations with Buddy Holly whose catchy brand of Rockabilly not only made him a star in his own right but also a huge influence on bands like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Although only 23 years old when he died, he was a pioneer in the early history of Pop music.

The tragic story of the hectic Winter tour that ended the lives of Ritchie Valens, “Big Bopper” (JP Richardson), and Buddy Holly in a tragic plane crash is well known. The musicians had chartered the plane in hopes of cutting travel time between gigs. Waylon Jennings was also a part of the musical tour, but gave his seat to Big Bopper who was feeling ill, something he has felt guilty about throughout his life.

However sad the Buddy Holly story is, his songs have never failed to bring a smile to music lovers of all ages through the years, and special memories to those 50’s teens who hailed him as an idol. Here’s one of my favourite Buddy Holly songs to start today, Everyday.

Our second round of birthday greetings goes out to that disco diva, Gloria Gaynor. Gloria came from a musical family and paid her dues in the early days of her career playing small clubs and venues around the east coast before being signed to Columbia Records in 1971.

She released a few albums to moderate success, but it was when the Love Tracks album was released in 1978 that things started to go ballistic for Ms, Gaynor. Both the album and it’s hit single, I Will Survive, shot up the worldwide charts for a run at #1, and its place in musical history.

I Will Survive has become a theme song for both the Women’s movement and the LGBTQ community, where it became, and still is an anthem. Musically it differs from many of the disco hits of the time, which tended to be overproduced and sped-up to drive the beat. Not so I Will Survive which opted for a cleaner less complicated sound which let Gloria’s powerful voice shine and made the song stand out.

In 2016, the Library of Congress deemed Gaynor's original recording to be "culturally, historically, or artistically significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Recording Registry. Well deserved!

Our third and final Birthday shout-out for today goes to a lady who is no stranger to this page and a favourite of many of our members, the wonderful Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders fame, who turns 69-years-old today.

Chrissie Hynde’s adventures about getting into the music business and her subsequent success make for fascinating reading and I highly recommend her biography, My Life as a Pretender.

Consistency has been a watchword in her career and she has released 13 studio albums and a slew of collaborations and projects over her 40-years in the business. Like most music-lovers, I have a favourite Chrissie Hynde song, but I have chosen a track from the latest album to close today.

When ‘Hate for Sale’ was released earlier this year it blew the critics away. Chrissie Hynde has lost none of her songwriting skills or vocal style over the years and the album is packed full of potential #1 hits. Here’s the track ‘Didn’t Want to be This Lonely’. If you haven’t heard it yet, it’s high time you did! 😎


I hope that you find these weekly recaps of Loving the Music mini-features make your musical world a little easier. Happy exploring! Join our Facebook Community here for a music group who does more than just post a link to a song.

Please enjoy browsing through our archives:

Sept 2020: 1st - 7th Sep

August 2020: 1st – 7th Aug - 8th - 14th Aug - 15th - 21st Aug - 22nd - 31st Aug

July 2020: 1st-7th July - 8th - 14th July - 15th -21st July - 22nd - 31st July

June 2020:1st - 7th June - 8th- 14th June 2020 - 15th - 21st June - 22nd - 30th June

May 2020:1st - 7th May - 8th - 14th May - 15th - 21st May - 22nd - 31st May

April 2020:1st - 14th April - 15th - 30th April

March 2020:1st - 7th Mar- 8th - 14th Mar - 15th - 21st Mar - 22nd - 31st Mar

Feb 2020:1st - 14th Feb - 15th - 28th Feb

Jan 2020:1st - 14th Jan - 15th Jan - 31st Jan

The Design Train is a social media marketing company run by music-lover Andrew Knapp, who also hosts the Loving the Music Facebook pages. The Design Train specializes in content creation on a wide variety of topics designed to compliment the client's objectives.

Words © Andrew Knapp

The author does not own the copyright of any of the videos used in the article

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