Shakin’ with Shakatak

Posted: April 2, 2014 in Shoots in short

Angola border, 1982. Me bordering on insane, if it wasn’t for Shakatak’s jazz. Little did I know I would one day meet my idols.SH_ND41420

It was one of those tapes that got played incessantly, two Shakatak albums recorded on both sides. I could air-guitar every riff, play the electronic piano solos like I’d written them. Even years later, I could still remember every chorus line, and drum the solos on my steering while while driving. Shakatak was part of my upbringing, a mystical band from far away that kept churning out the hits.

Fast-forward to the 2014 Cape Town Jazz Festival, and by the time I surface from whatever job was occupying my being, all tickets were sold out. And Shakatak was headlining. Drat.

A chance mention of an extra concert on a radio program had me scampering to buy a ticket. Once I had my ticket, I was thinking – you want to sit at the back and watch this show? Then I had a brainwave. I contacted the event company, the very friendly people at Barooch and PR firm Networx Pr and offered to shoot the event for free. It came with an all-access pass, to my great delight.

Sunday afternoons are made for jazz. Capetonians came in their droves to the concert, and patiently sat through the opening acts, building up a pretty good head of steam for the moment that the band would step on stage.

Roger Odell, drummer for Shakatak

Drummer Roger Odell sharing some history. Pic by Jacques Bartie

Backstage, I met drummer Roger Odell and was astounded to learn that the band still toured extensively, played around 100 concerts a year and was about to launch a new album. WTF? These guys are not young anymore, where do they get the energy?SH_ND41433

And energy there was aplenty when lead singer Jill Saward, keyboardist Bill Sharpe, bassist George Anderson and vocalist Jackie Rawe stepped on stage. It was more or less here where my dilemma made itself felt – do I shoot the crap out of this event, or chill and enjoy the show? Both won – I worked the Nikon D4 to its limits in the difficult light, as the band members were half in and half out of direct sunshine.

Not ideal, nor were the shooting positions available to myself and photographers Jacques Bartie and Simon Shiffmann. Being a daylight event, it was difficult to isolate the band members against a very cluttered background, even shooting wide open on my 70-200m f2.8 lens. It was really tight, and being on stage didn’t really help either, due to the huge contrast range we had to deal with. SH_ND41412

Outside, the crowd was insatiable and showed their appreciation. It was amazing to watch, close up, how the Shakatak band members enjoyed the crowd’s pure enjoyment. They were grinning from ear to ear. Clearly, the thrill of this kind of crowd participation never wears off!

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Another behind the scenes look from Wordsource Productions.






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