Bluesy, bar-stool ballads

2009-10-09 00:00

THE Maritzburg Musicians’ Club’s (MMC) line-up on Tuesday next week features the South Jersey Pom-Poms, supported by another old-time MMC favourite (although seldom seen), ­Steve de Gruchy.

The South Jersey Pom-Poms was born in early 2006, when guitarist ­Jochen Zeller teamed up with vocalist Eva Jackson and bassist Ben Murrell. In ­October 2006, Grant Emmerich joined the group and the four quickly built up a song set, consisting mostly of their own material (including tunes in French and German). The compositions — written by Jochen, with Eva contributing some of the lyrics — have been described as laid-back, bluesy, bar-stool ballads from forgotten decades: “Pavement café ruminations on lost love and longing combined with playfulness in musical arrangement” (Mail & Guardian). The band ­released its first CD in January 2008 and played at the Grahamstown Arts Festival in 2008. In January 2009, Murrell moved to Cape Town and and was replaced by Sean Stewart.

De Gruchy began his musical journey at the Barleycorn Folk Club in Cape Town when he was still at high school, and continues to perform when the time and mood is right. The acoustic guitar work of Paul Simon, James Taylor, Arlo Guthrie, CSN&Y and Bob Dylan have contributed to his musical training and style. Recognising that he wasn’t ever going to make it as a professional musician, De Gruchy has ended up as a professor in the school of religion and theology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He has performed on and off at the MMC over the past nine years.

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