Us here at Rock Tot are passionate about the local bands in Mpumalanga; and The White River Swamp Rats are no exception. The Band is known to play swampy, rock, old school music, and as Michael explains, some ‘Latiny’ style grooves, too.
We asked the band how they came about and Michael (Vocals & Guitar) explained that it actually kind of started years ago. Justin (Percussion) met Michael’s mom when he worked at Uplands and she suggested that he jam with Michael and his brother Jimmy, after which, a lot of time passed with nothing happening.
Michael explained that in 2017, they both played in the band, Face Jackson, for just over a year, however at the beginning of 2017 year Jim, Joss and Ric (the other members of Face Jackson) left for Bangkok to try their luck over there. “They’re doing pretty well! Anyways, Michael needed to finish off his degree at Wits and Justin had other commitments in White River.”
After graduating in May, Michael returned to White River and Justin and him just decided to jam together and see what happens. And so, The White River Swamp Rats were born!
The band have 3 originals. Two written by Michael and his friend Joao Machado, and the other by Justin. “The rest are more unconventional covers by the likes of Tony Joe White, Mark Knopfler, JJ Cale, Delta Moon and Chuck Berry” explained Michael. He continued by saying that the band is not really interested in releasing an album any time soon, and that they are more focused on live shows and entertainment.
When we asked what the biggest issue is/was that the band has had to overcome, and we’re not sure if the answer is comical, or serious, but we think a bit of both: “Money, we don’t talk about it…”
“As I’m sure everyone will agree, this is a beautiful part of the world. It’s also lekker being close to family and friends,” explained Michael, after we asked them what the best and worst parts are of being a local musician. The Worst part? ”There is little room for niche markets, which includes certain kinds of music. It’s therefore hard to make a living for many musicians.”
When talking about music venues, Blue moon came up as first on the list of favorite venues for the WRSR, followed by Summerfields; ”We would, however, love to go island hopping playing at beach bars. Somewhere like the Caribbean”.
One question that we ask every musician/band that we interview is: If you could change anything about the South African music scene, what would it be? ”Perhaps work out and a agree to a set rate for hiring a live musical act. According to a certain caliber. It would be great for professionals in the industry to be recognized and be able to expect a certain amount for a job. In the same way you except to pay certain amounts for hiring a plumber or lawyer”.
See The White River Swamp Rats near you soon:
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