THE Rainbow Restaurant in Pinetown and Concerts SA hosts a concert by the Menyatso Mathole Quartet on Sunday, November 29. Joining Menyatso will be Prince Bulo on bass, Bernice Boikanyo and drums and Leon Scharnick on sax.
Menyatso Mathole was born in Bloemfontein, and brought up by a grandparent in Thaba’ Nchu, leaving the Free State when he was a little boy. He went on to learn his craft from South African guitar legends like Enoch Mtalane, Baba Mokoena, Allen Kwela and others.
His biggest influence of all time is Marks Mankhwane, who was the first guitarist Mathole heard as a young man growing up in Thaba’ Nchu in the Free State.
“I’ve always wanted to be like Marks, to play like Marks, because his music is so real to me, so honest. It’s always been honest to me. You can take a simple Marks Mankhwane song and take it further, breaking it down, all this without loosing Marks’ identity in the song, without losing any of the melodies,” he says.
Like most youngsters of his generation growing up around the country’s townships, the first musical instrument, if you can call it that, was the old can of oil, with a board held together by nails. Twine, if one is so lucky, made wonderful guitar strings.
He bought his first “real” acoustic guitar for 15 shillings from an old friend in Thaba’ Nchu, “who didn’t think it was right of me borrowing the instrument all the time, and felt that I should in fact be owning my own guitar.”
In 1980 Mathole co-founded Sakhile, a combination of Malombo, Renaissance and Spirit Rejoice. He produced six albums plus a maxi album with Sakhile and with this band was involved in cultural exchange programs internationally and locally. They commemorated their 10th anniversary as a group at Wembley Stadium celebrating the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990.
In 1991 Menyatso enrolled with the University of Cape Town to study music. The following year he recruited Motlatsi Herbie Tsoaedi and Vincent Pavitt to revive the trio he’d formed with Mandla Zikhalala and Percy Kunene before his UCT days.
This trio became one of the platforms for township musos such as Musa Manzini, Peter Ndladla, Clement Bernie.
His approach to African folksongs and jazz standards attracted established musicians, legends like Robbie Jansen, Basil Manenberg Coetzee, Errol Dyers, Robert Sithole and more to jam with him and embrace his talent.
Doors open at 1 pm. Tickets are R60 at http://www.webtickets.co.za
The concert is supported by Concerts SA a joint South African/Norwegian project housed under the auspices of the Stakeholder Hub within the SAMRO Foundation.
It receives financial, administrative and technical support from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, SAMRO and Concerts Norway.
By engaging with musicians, promoters, venue owners and audiences, the project aims to stimulate live music in South Africa by finding and implementing ways to create regular, sustainable performance platforms.
Concerts SA also aims to develop an interest in and appreciation of live music by showcasing music performances and conducting workshops at schools.
For more information go to http://concertssa.co.za