Last night I did something I have not done is a very long time: I drove over the Queen Elizabeth bridge into downtown Johannesburg with music blaring loud, heading to a party. In the early 90’s this was a regular occourance as, beer in hand, we’d wind our way down market Street way to hit Le Club, maybe later to The Doors or Image, Subway , 52nd street, or a host of the so-called Alternative nightclubs.
Last night however there was no beer and I wasn’t going to a nightclub. I was heading to the launch of the SA edition of Rolling Stone magazine. As a music writer, this must represent the pinnacle of writing available to one. An ambition I was curious to realise I have sort of left behind me. Sure, I would love to pen a few freelance pieces if I find something that moves me, but I was more proud and happy than bitter and excluded.
Besides, I am beginning to suspect I am an elitist musical wanker whose prime motivation for liking music is entirely relative to its obscurity. A musical anorak, if you haven’t heard of it, I probably like it. What I want to talk about has little relevance outside my bubble and no place in the larger bubble that something like Rolling Stone represents. Hell, I made half a career out of managing glorious underdogs of this ilk, why would I think any different about what I choose to write about?
When I say launch, I mean more celebration. Mercifully short speeches, large free bar, awesome food and lots of VIP types I don’t recognise. As I remarked to Rolling Stone Digital editor Anton Marshal, they are under 30, I don’t know them!
I have always desperately wanted to Not be the old guy at the bar. Now in my forties I often feel somewhat like mutton dressed up as lamb. But at an event like this, there are plenty of wolves in sheep’s clothing. A stunning repository of knowledge on South African music and scenes was gathered. I don’t think the PR company got it all right with the guest list, but most of the crucial suspects were there.
So my visit over memory bridge was less about revisiting the heady hey days of my student years when I only listened to music for fun and was compiling the soundtrack of my middle years and more about me looking back over my shoulder at a 15 year career in South Africa’s music media. Yeah, how pathetic. And sad. Jesus, have I really got so old in my head?
But no really, it was great. I am glad to currently occupy a middle ground somewhere between there and wherever the hell I am going. It feels good to have moved on. To still care but not be absorbed. To be able to blag my way into a launch I wasn’t invited to and still know everyone there (well, if they are over 30 of course).
South Africa has been short a decent music magazine for at least a decade and it is my sincere hope that Rolling Stone SA will provide the kind of serious, in depth and knowledgeable discourse around our artist that we so sorely lack. I also hope to drop a word or two into that mix. Hopefully it will contribute to our artists taking themselves more seriously in general and opening the eyes of our public to the real quality that does litter our musical landscape here at home. And how to tell the good from the bad of course. Already their website has sparked a vicious debate over quality. Long may it rage!
Today I have a whiskey hangover and a sense of de ja vu and a cloud of nostalgia. Tomorrow I’ll pick up the threads and carry on moving along. Mean time I intend to spend my weekend reading Rolling Stone SA and time travelling. Odd but true.