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Dave Ledbetter: Diversity and Unity

Seton Hawkins By

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AAJ: Similarly, another really striking track is "Awagawan." This is in memory of Gito Baloi, correct?

DL: It is. It's a direct translation from the Sanskrit. It means "coming and going." It refers to the cycle of birth and rebirth in the Hindu scriptures. Gito and myself shared a room for a week at the Grahamstown Festival in 1996 or so, and got quite close walking back and forth from the gigs, hanging out and playing music together. Gito was a beautiful person, a very laid-back guy and a wonderful musician. He was friends with so many of the people that I know and have worked with. He was from Maputo, and I work with musicians from Maputo like Jaco Maria, the Paco brothers, and so many amazing Mozambicans. The beginning of the piece came pretty quickly to me, and we did early versions of that live when Ronan and I first started to play together. We didn't play it again for a long time, and then it came back up just before we went over to Europe. So I thought it was time to record it. So we recorded it on the second album.

AAJ: In terms of projects on the horizon, you mentioned a duo with Hein, and you mentioned also that you're going to also be recording yourself in a guitar and voice context. I noticed on YouTube that you had done a little bit of that work with Amanda Tiffin already.

DL: I have just done an album with Amanda and Hein, and also with an amazing pianist and accordion player from Brazil named Guilherme Ribeiro. So we did an album of compositions of mine, Amanda's, Hein's, and Guilherme's. I think it's being mixed as we speak, but I'm not quite sure when it's going to be released. So that will be coming out quite soon. I'll also be going over to Europe, in February next year and recording with a Swedish saxophonist by the name of Per Thornberg. So there's plans to do some stuff there. You've got to keep busy!

AAJ: That's a very wide range of projects, then!

DL: Yes. I think South Africa is extremely diverse in music and there's so many different influences that are all different but yet all the same. You can hear they're from the same place but from different parts of the same place. That's the great thing about South African music. Since 1994, people have been able to get their stuff out there and have it played and heard. It's reached a wider global audience, and long may it continue.

Photo credit: Maya Morgan-Skillen

Selected Discography:

Boereqanga, Made in South Africa, (Nebula Bos Records, 1996)
Dave Ledbetter, Scorpio Rising, (Lions Head Records, 1996)
Deep South, A Waiting Land, (Self Released, 2013)
Deep South, Heartland, (Self Released, 2015)

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