There’s a new musical legacy brewing in Marina da Gama – Ian Gordon and Jonathan Laing form the Southern Brothers Blues, a dark country/rock blues band.
There’s a plethora of new material being written, and in the mix are many retakes of work they have individually done, which is now going to find a spotlight on the acoustic band’s stage.
Both are upcountry boys but have put down roots in Cape Town. They’ve lived and loved here for almost long enough to be called local, and both live in Marina da Gama. Music is their reason for being.
There’s something to be said for the blend of guitar voices, blues/rock and a dark country sound in a world of auto-tuned sameness.
“Bluegrass, piedmont blues… that’s what we are working on. We’ve found an audience hungry for this sound again,” says Jonathan, who is on vocals, guitar and harmonica.
He speaks with great respect about previous bands, including the folk rock band Broken Arrow, which he formed and led, but his current band animates him entirely.
The fact that he has been part of Joe Cocker tribute shows gives an indication of the gravelly power of his voice, but don’t typecast him.
In his original song, Queen of my Heart, there is less Joe Cocker and all Jonathan Laing.
This is country done just right. “We all have stories,” he says. “For me, music is about telling them.”
Ian is known as Snakeman. There’s a fitting tattoo on his right forearm and his raspy laugh says how he got that name is a story for another time.
Ian’s forte is guitar, harmonica and the mandolin.
Ian has been part of a serious line up of bands including FreeFalling, The Goslett Project, Caliente and Bluesboy. He founded and led Diamondback Blues Band for years. Both musos have committed their experience and gravitas to Southern Brothers Blues. It is here and now that you will hear the culmination of years dedicated to their own sound.
Jonathan is reading Johnny Cash’s autobiography which he calls “a pretty impressive story” and is steeped in the music of giants like Hank Williams, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson.
His creative surge isn’t limited to music alone but has experimentally spilled over into painting which is a new hobby inspired by his girlfriend. Ian says his painting prowess is limited to his garage door – its music all the way for him.
Laughter is often and easy between them, and the banter is typical of the unique bond that bands form.
It is no mistake that they are called Southern Blues Brothers – there is no age in music only experience – although Jonathan does refer to Ian as his “creative father”.
They have played markets and festivals and are increasingly found at local gigs, having taken the stage at the Striped Horse in Muizenberg last month and The Red Herring in Noordhoek last week. The two met, gave each other a chance, and from that the Southern Brothers Blues was formed. A year into the partnership they are stronger, more committed and are inviting audiences to extend them that same chance.
Lend an ear to the brothers. You’ll be glad you did.