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Mac Mckenzie and The Goema Captains Of Cape Town (South Africa)  
Mac Mckenzie © Steve Gordon

'Healing Destination' - a tribute to Cape Town City, the mother city with her mountain, sea and port.

A musical role call of alumni, centered around the delightfully romantic composer lauriet of the city, Mac Mckenzie.

This is the re-emergence of goema, the unique music of Cape Town City. Mac Mckenzie, son of the great banjo player and carnival leader Mr Mac, rose as if a phoenix proclaiming the re-emergence of the underground into the mainstream. 'Ex gangster makes good through music,' wrote Iain in the Cape Times, James at the Big Issue called it 'Bargain Box erotica', and 'penthouse playboy's sound is smooth suggested Jayne in the Times with delight.

Within a moment the entire city of Cape Town was abuzz with this sound of goema and the brilliant humour of toothless Mac.

Mac was at the core of a musical revolution like Jobim in Brazil or the tango of Argentina. 'Hier kom die goemerati,' proclaimed Theuniss in Rapport. Goema was musical but it was political the times, mid fifties, when Mac's dad coached the Cornwalls carnival troupe and in two years turned them around from being hopeless hobos and hookers to a tight musical unit.

Genre: goema
He hired a Fred Aistaire fellow with the fleetest moves in town to lead the troupe, enlisted rows of dancing girls and men with trumpets and piled them onto the back of a large van with the band - double bass, piano, drums and Mr. Mac in the middle with his banjo. Hundreds of brightly dressed carnivaliers would rush the streets dancing in its wake.

They won the annual competition of that year and some to come. Gympie Street became the Moulin Rouge of Cape Town, a flamboyant, indulgent entertainment strip, which shone with the confidence of knowing its carnival team was the champion. Gympie Street with its extravagant goema was transformed into the sort of stylish gangland you see in the movies. And the carnival was at the centre of it - a tremendous sport, with a wealthy and influential hierarchy and massive support.

...There was a time in the late 80's when Mac junior brought goema back into vogue with his powerful pop quartet The Genuines. Alongside Hilton Schilder, Gerard O`Brien and a young Ian Herman, these gents were very excited and popular. After a few albums and some success the band disbanded in Amsterdam when Mac's van fell into the canal. Wherever they went these guys were the party. And they ran it dry.We're twenty-five years from the Genuines and fifty years from the Cornwalls. The Goema has always been there. We ignore the silences and respect the goema's resting for when it re-emerges it is beautiful.

Mac hadn't played much in the last ten years since the Genuines but in the Winter of 2002 things started to change. Vince Colbe took Mac to the District Six Museum and settled him amongst his peers: Hilton Schilder and Alex Van Heerden. Hilton is the son of Tony, the original Mr Cool in the lounge. Alex is a tall, slim accordion and trumpet player with the punctuality of Piazzola. When he left home for Cape Town by bus ten years ago he made it as far as Bridgetown, Mac Mckenzie and Hilton Schilder and that's where he settled.

Things went well but took on a new dimension when Mac Mckenzie and his all star band - the Goema Captains of Cape Town, took the stage. The musicians had interpreted the goema exactly as it was meant to sound. Sultry, sexy, stealthy, emotion-packed.

The Goema Captains of Cape Town is a Cape Town band. But beneath the obvious lies the significant. The Goema Captains are the Cape Town band. Never before has a band in Cape Town so widley taken in the fabric of Cape Town culture, lifestyle and fantasy.

Mac's legacy is Christmas Choirs, Malay Choirs, Coon troops and music on every corner. Hilton Schilder is from Grassy Park on the Cape Flats, he's a pianist from a musical dynasty - the biggest musical family in the world. He's Mr Cool in the lounge, playing the piano better than anybody in the whole wide world.

Alex Van Heerden is the boy in the bubble from the small Afrikaans republic of Tulbagh who left his home with no direction - only purpose. Of course his end point is sleeping on the floor of Macs home, performing with the last breaths of the Genuines and imbibing the intoxicating history of Cape Town. Alex is Alex in Wonderland, dancing the streets in his leather winkelpickers, caressing the movement of the sea with his accordion. He follows his path with diligence and delight, embroiled in a spontaneous comedy.

From Delft, one of the greatest gangster zones in the Cape, comes double bass player Riedwaan Bollie. He's been playing since he was 10 and his brilliance lies in playing the rhythm of life. It's his blood.

From Kewton, just below Bridgetown comes the coach, banjo and mandolin player Kaatjie Davids, from Port Elizabeth comes drummer Clement Benny, from Woodstock there's trombonist Jannie van Tonder and from Elsies River there's the Cape Doctor, Robbie Jansen. Robbie is the great lion. He plays the saxophone as if he had consumed all the pain of a lifetimes generations and is breathing it out with the furious roar of yang and a loving ying whisper.

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