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Weekend Witness - - Scene Around - ESTELLE SINKINS

LAU­RIE Levine, one of the coun­try’s most gifted singer-song­writ­ers, is ex­plor­ing new mu­si­cal ter­ri­tory on her soon to be re­leased fourth al­bum, Bor­der Cross­ing.

“I’ve been do­ing folk for a long, long time and I’ve been mak­ing lovely in­ti­mate acous­tic al­bums… my last al­bum was very melan­cholic,” she said. “But I feel that right now I’m in a phase of my life where I want to take the mu­sic to a hap­pier, more up-tempo place, so I’ve been ex­per­i­ment­ing with dif­fer­ent sounds, like soul and rock.”

Help­ing her to craft this new mu­sic are a range of mu­si­cians who Levine has never worked with be­fore. They in­clude Tebogo Se­dumesi, who plays bass gui­tar and pro­vides back­ing vo­cals, drum­mer Justin Baden­horst and pro­ducer Dan Roberts, who played acous­tic in­stru­ments and gui­tar on the al­bum.

“Tebogo, es­pe­cially, has had a big in­flu­ence on the al­bum,” Levine said, “she’s added a real funk soul feel­ing to Bor­der Cross­ing. It’s been in­cred­i­bly ex­cit­ing putting it all to­gether. I ini­tially worked with one of the co-pro­duc­ers Barry Burke, and spent a year in a home stu­dio do­ing demos with him. We came up with the vi­sion, which was then fully re­alised in Dan’s stu­dio. The songs re­ally came alive once we got into the stu­dio.”

Levine made her de­but on the South African mu­sic scene with Un­spo­ken in 2007. Since then — and thanks to a trio of records and count­less live per­for­mances — she has taken her orig­i­nal ma­te­rial to a grow­ing fan­base, earn­ing mul­ti­ple ac­co­lades along the way.

Among th­ese was a best pro­ducer South African Mu­sic Award (Sama) for Roberts for the crit­i­cally ac­claimed al­bum Six Win­ters (2011), in 2012. Levine’s sec­ond al­bum, Liv­ing Room (2009), was nom­i­nated for a Sama in 2010 and her per­for­mances at South Africa’s National Arts Fes­ti­val in Gra­ham­stown in July 2011 earned her a cov­eted Stan­dard Bank Sil­ver Ova­tion award.

At the heart of Levine’s ma­te­rial is her sto­ry­telling abil­ity. Whether tales of grief, loss, sex, be­trayal or first loves, her abil­ity to open a door with her words, and let lis­ten­ers into an in­ti­mate world pop­u­lated by a cast of lovers, strays and strangers is im­mense.

And it clearly went down well on her tour to the UK in Novem­ber and De­cem­ber last year, dur­ing which she got rave re­views and opened for Matthews South­ern Com­fort, a band founded by Iain Matthews of Fair­port Con­ven­tion, at Whit­stable in Kent.

She also per­formed at St Bon­ad­ven­tures Club, where some of her favourite artists have played, in­clud­ing Justin Townes Earle, Beth Nielsen Chap­man and Thea Gil­more.

“The tour was won­der­ful … and it’s so amaz­ing to play else­where in the world and to ex­pe­ri­ence a dif­fer­ent live mu­sic scene, es­pe­cially when it comes to folk,” Levine said. “Here at home folk is re­ally a niche genre, but it’s mas­sive in the UK. In Lon­don the shows were amaz­ing. I worked re­ally hard at pro­mot­ing them and got an amaz­ing re­sponse. I’m hop­ing to go back to the UK in the first half of next year.”

Levine is cur­rently on a na­tion­wide tour and will be head­ing to KwaZulu-Na­tal next week to play a se­ries of con­certs. Fans can catch her at the fol­low­ing venues: • The Red Door in 5 Quarry Road, Pi­eter­mar­itzburg at 8 pm on Tues­day, Au­gust 13. Tick­ets R30 at the door. • Rock Bot­tom, 59 Sta­tion Road, Umzumbe at 7.30 pm on Wed­nes­day, Au­gust 14. Tick­ets R40. Book­ings: 079 396 5724. • Blue­stock­ings, 16 Dan Pien­aar Road, Kloof at 7.30 pm on Fri­day, Au­gust 16. Tick­ets R80. Book­ings: 083 659 3628 or narene@telkomsa.net • Caver­sham Mill at Caver­sham in the Mid­lands at 2.30 pm on Satur­day, Au­gust 17. Tick­ets R85. Lunch starts at 11.30 am and the show is at 2.30 pm. Book­ing is es­sen­tial. Phone Di or Terry Acres at 033 234 4524 or e-mail caver­sham­mill@mweb.co.za • St Cle­ments, 191 Mus­grave Road, Dur­ban on Satur­day, Au­gust 17 at 7 pm. Tick­ets R80. Book­ings: 031 202 2511.

Levine said she couldn’t wait to get to KZN, adding: “It’s my favourite place in South Africa to tour… the peo­ple are so spe­cial and the venues are awe­some.”

She’s es­pe­cially look­ing for­ward to per­form­ing in Caver­sham. “I’ve played all the venues on the list ex­cept the one in the Mid­lands, so I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to it.”

PHOTO: NICK BOUL­TON

South African folksinger ex­traor­di­naire Lau­rie Levine will be per­form­ing in KwaZulu-Na­tal next week. • Lau­rie Levine was the sup­port act for Joe Jack­son and Ro­driguez; • She per­formed at the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum in Switzer­land and CBGB’s in New York; •...

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