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Tuesday, July 14, 2015


(Richard Haslop)

(Reviews from the artSMart team at the 2015 National Arts Festival in Grahamstown)

Haslop’s presentations are informative, interesting and entertaining. (Review by Keith Millar)

Integral to the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown is the Think!Fest. Think!Fest is a public lecture series designed for the festival goer who may be in the mood for something a little more cerebral.

Among the many subjects covered are insightful talks and demonstrations on the subject of music delivered by Richard Haslop in his Listening Lounge at the Monument Restaurant.

Haslop, who is a practising labour lawyer, has been involved in music for most of his life. Other than being a performing musician he also presented an eclectic music programme on radio for over 14 years and has been contributing to music publications, both local and international, for the past 30 years. He has lectured at UKZN and other institutions on the subjects of the history of music, African-American popular music, world music, the blues and even country music.

Haslop’s has a massive, encyclopaedic knowledge of music and he is more than willing to share that knowledge and to entertain on the subject.

The talks he delivered at the Think!Fest this year where The Blues Had a Baby and they named it Rock and Roll; 15 Fantastic Songs from 2014 That You Not So Much Probably But Actually Almost Certainly Didn’t Hear; The Pipes, The Pipes Are Calling, and the one I was fortunate enough to attend, Political Songs at 331/3Revolutions Per Minute.

If your knowledge of protest music is restricted (as was mine 0 to a bit of Bob Dylan, Country Joe and the Fish, and We Shall Overcome then you have another think coming. Haslop presented no less than 30 protest songs from early last century up to present times. According to Haslop, this is just the tip of the iceberg as music and musicians have played an important role in political protest over the years.

He played examples of protest music from countries as diverse as Nigeria, America, Chile, Mexico, South Africa, Vietnam, Cambodia, Jamaica, Mali and Guinea among others.

Haslop also chillingly spoke of the many musicians who were killed, or just disappeared, for protesting against unjust regimes.

Haslop has an easy and laidback style of delivery. He chats with, rather than lectures, his audience. At the start of his presentation he promised more music than talk and he certainly delivered on that score.

Haslop’s presentations are informative, interesting and entertaining. If you get the opportunity, it is well worth attending one of his talks - but book early as he has a huge and loyal following. – Keith Millar

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