Seen on July 4, 2016 @ National Arts Festival, Grahamstown
It is a chilly day in Grahamstown and I make my way to the Steve Biko Building at Rhodes that hosts this year a new festival venue The Fringe where bands do extra shows in a converted student pub. It adds to the atmosphere. I try to park my bycicle outside and I am greeted by a man with a high hat explaining that his band is giving a show at 14h. That is exactly what I am here for, I respond. It is hard not to recognize the cool outfit from the flyer and posters that have promoted Ottoman Slap’s Spice Roots.
How can you not be curious when you read that Spice Roots explores themes of
restlessness and rootlessness, borrowing from Andalusian, Romanian, Kletzmer and Arabic folk songs as well as creating their own take on traditional music?
I am in for a ride on the bandwagon. Now fast then slow, lamenting and celebrating, Ottoman Slap takes always plays with a twist. That “Bertha” sticker on the double bass says it all. Songs about the import and export of mushrooms, or a man who wants to dance with a woman and the woman does not want that, brisk Balkan in the face and Bubamare (from Black Cat/White Cat – a Bulgarian film the band adores) over Green Shoes to Traditional Hellenic Hiphop (with a New York jazz vibe) and their Space Song it is evident that the 3 gentlemen and 2 ladies (all multi-instrumentalists) embrace the music and moods of their folk.
Spicy and sweet.