Uncle Jimmy leads

Fancy a black-tie event where you can wear your swankiest gown and dance the night away? Read on.

15 March 2019 | Art and Entertainment

Locals who love to dance will have the opportunity to shake their hips on 23 March at a swanky do at the Safari Hotel's conference centre.

The renowned seven-member band, the Swingers Dance Band, and legendary sax player Jimmy Newman will perform to raise funds for the All Blacks support group.

All lovers of sport and dancing, whether you are an English bulldog, a cyclist, a French cock or an athlete, are welcome. According to Rynault van Wyk, one of the organisers of the event, the team is super excited.

Chatting to tjil, Van Wyk said, “It is a black-tie event and it is a golden opportunity to dress up and hang out and chill to the sounds of the soothing sax.”

During the gala, a wine and goods auction will also be held and all proceeds are to be given to old-age homes and children's homes.

“The primary goal of the All Blacks support group in Namibia is to do charity work, in particular in vulnerable communities,” Van Wyk said.

The Swingers Dance Band, led by Allistaire van Wyk, needs no introduction to those who love to dance and those who love good music.

Allistaire was master of the sax by the time he was a tender 11 years old. His inspiration was 'boeremusiek' legend Ollie Viljoen's programme on the Afrikaans channel kykNET.

The bug bit him, as the saying goes, Rynault, who is his dad, told tjil.

“He used his holiday pocket money to buy a book, Saxophone for Beginners in Swakopmund. I thought at the time it was a total waste of money and thought not only was it too expensive but, it would simply gather dust.”

Little did he know that within three years, Allistaire would, at the age of 14, record his first album.

The late guitar legend Ghonny Klazen played a very big role in Allistaire's music career.

“He was done four albums of which two were solo and the others, with his Swingers Dance Band. The group has been together for 14 years and continues to make music, non-stop,” Rynault says.

The band members are James Maroelekane, Siegfried Haoseb, Pieter Strauss, Ghandi Cindy, Eddie Kavoah, Gerson Doëseb, John May and of course, Allistaire.

Their music can best be described a ballroom with a pinch of Europe.

It contains elements of pop, Latin, fusion jazz and classical. Their piece de resistance is there traditional langarm mucis in goombah style.

During the evening, well-known Afrikaans songs will also be performed.

Those who love to dance will enjoy well-known rhythms including the quickstep, squire, tango, bolero, waltz, salsa, samba, rumba and the swing waltz.

For those who may not be that quick on their toes, lots of langarm numbers, for both two- and three-step will also be played and of course, our goombah beats, derived from Afro-jazz. This genre has its roots in Alexandria and Sophiatown.

“If you want to swing your hips, this is the event for you.”

Music from the Nineties, including Barry White, Kool and the Gang, B.E King, Leo Sayer, Lionel Richie, Percy Sledge and the Doobie Brothers has been mastered by the band. Ballads from Engelbert Humperdinck, Tom Jones, Lew Rawls, Frank Sinatra, Arthur Connecy and Dobie Gray will also feature.

Uncle Jimmy

Jimmy Newman, the one and only sax guru from the Namakwaland, needs no introduction, Rynault says.

“He is certainly a man with the greatest contribution to langarm, ballroom and dance.

Uncle Jimmy has been involved with several bands inluding Johnny Appolis and the Nerina Brass, Thee Philadelphians, Bobby Hendricks Sound, The Worcestercerians, Dallas Dance Band and Royal Sound.

Jimmy, or James Manuel Newman, was born at Nababeep in the Northern Cape and has been married to Ruth Williams for more than 50 years.

They have four children.

When Jimmy was 18, he replaced his older brother Gustav in the family's band, with another brother George on the accordion. As a teen in the Sixties, he cut his teeth in bands such as the Nababeep Swingers and the Catere Melody Makers.

He trained as a boilermaker and plumber at the Okiep Mining Company but music was something he always made.

He moved north, to Namibia, in 1968.

In Windhoek, he worked as a plumber and then, he was cut by a glass shard.

“Until today, you will see if he has to play in a certain style, the function of his pinky finger will be replaced by an elastic band or something else,” Rynault explained.

Ian Gibben, manager of the then Grand Hotel saw Uncle Jimmy play in his Khomasdal band and asked him to perform regularly.

And that was the start of the legendary Jimmy's Grand Six band. The band members included Elick Strauss, Theo Hess, Dimi and Sussietjie Hein as lead singer.

In 1972, Jimmy's Grand Six made history and recorded their first albumg, The Dancing Sounds of Jimmy's Grand Six. A further 17 records with more than 140 pieces, were released.

Uncle Jimmy also recorded with groups like the Invaders, the Prumes, Restless Children, Lionel Pietersen, Richard-Jon Smith, Bonnie Joyc and Jonathan Butler.

The Namakwa Canners, Nickey Rhodes, Doccy, Abé Fortuin, and Rodney Mitchell have also performed with Uncle Jimmy.

“At Christmas, Uncle Jimmy would always surprise us with a 12-piece vinyl to which we could dance all night,” Rynault says.

Guests can expect fireworks when two sax masters meet each other, backed by the veteran Swingers Dance Band. Enquiries for the gala evening on 23 March can be made at 081 141 0625, 081 128 0599 of 081 127 6225.


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