Pretoria based, multi-instrumental Blue-Billy-Folk-Pop band, Georgetown, are well known for their live performance, where they use a variety of musical instruments including: acoustic guitar, piano, ukulele, upright bass, mandolin, harmonica, clarinet, saxophone, a washboard and a 1935 suitcase, promising a unique and creative sound to contemporary and original southern style music.
They released their debut album ‘The Dog Show’ last year.
I first interviewed Michael in 2016. They had just released their first EP. Then, the structure of the band was 3 permanent members and additional session members would be added to the mix when needed.
How has the band changed over the past two years?
“We have evolved into a four piece with Rynier Prins permanently on upright and electric bass; he just fit the band like a glove. We have also experimented with some other musical elements like a string section, brass section, fiddle and drums on “The Dog Show”. We still mix things up using session musicians for the live shows, as it keeps it fun and changes the show dynamic constantly.
We always have these thoughts “what would the music sound like if we incorporated a trumpet or a lap steel”.. In 2 weeks’ time we’ll be doing a show with a Bagpipe player – why the hell not!”
This is another milestone for you, with the release of your first full length album, The Dog Show.
A few questions:
Why ‘The Dog Show’?
“I’d like to think that every band traveling some distances constantly run into problems, sometimes self-inflicted and many times it’s things beyond your control. Every time this band leaves home, crazy experiences happen. Many of these times, a fellow musician and sound technician Johnno Georgiades travels with the band. When things like running out of petrol, bad storms destroying events or rolling a trailer occur, he’d just look up and say ‘Bra, It’s a dog show!’”
Why do you think it took so long to finish this album (over a year)?
“We wanted to be 100% happy and content with the musical content. We took our time and put in a lot of time to get it right, even if only we thought it was good, that would be good enough!”
What message did you want to convey to your fans in this album?
“An elaborate act of bullshit, generally used to distract attention away from the sheer uselessness of the actual project or act.”
You are such a big band, how do you all eventually agree on the sound of each song, and of course which songs would go on the album?
“We usually agree quite easily. If a song is good and catchy, it’s a done deal. We follow a basic recipe that we find works for us; someone will pitch an idea, whether it is a melody, a verse or a guitar riff, we try to add good lyrical content, build it into something and Bob is your uncle.”
What sparked the idea to incorporate a String Quartet into the album and how will you emulate this sound in your live act?
“Over the last 5 years we have made a lot of really talented friends in the music scene, so naturally we wanted to play and collaborate with them. The ‘Avo String Quartet’ is one of those and we couldn’t resist not featuring them on our album! As for performing live we usually try and play those melodies on several instruments we have on stage at the time.”
Which one song off the album best defines Georgetown now and why?
“The most defining track on the album must be Shake Rattle. It says something about the vibe of the band from the last 5 years, the Dixieland type brass, ragtime piano and folk music inspirations but it is also pointing in a new direction that the band is heading towards – a contemporary approach where we’re drawing on a wider variety of modern influences by making music that is not a copy of a bygone era but something that is fresh and original for today’ audiences.”
Plans going forward; gigs, etc?
“We’re busy working on some early 1900 Afrikaans folk songs. Writing and workshopping some great new original music. We’re hitting more theatre shows this year, also holding thumbs for a Euro tour by the end of the year!”
The full album can be streamed and downloaded here – http://smarturl.it/georgetownthedogshow
For all up and coming shows can be found on our website. www.Georgetown.co.za