His childhood in Harrismith inspired the celebrated pianist Rocco de Villiers to put on his vellis and make the beloved country music he grew up with his own for a brand new production, Country music: Rocco style.
He came to visit the Rhewal studio and told how, as a child, he went to listen to his father’s country music band almost every weekend.
“Everything started when my father bought his banjo in 1969. Look, then we were invited to all that is a wedding, weekend in and weekend out. Later in the evening, my father then called me over to play Jim Muller’s selections with the orchestra and that’s how a love for it was cultivated in me.”
Shortly before the pandemic, Rocco himself recorded country music and began to reflect on the beloved music he grew up with.
“The more you play it, the closer it gets to you. Then you realize that country music is in the DNA of Afrikaans guys like me who come from the Free State countryside, like a cookie sister and a milk tart.”
For Country music: Rocco style he plays violin with Lizelle le Roux and Hansie Roodt jr. on guitar new life in pieces such as “Umfaan”, “Outa in die langpad”, “Hartseerwals”, “Die ou waenhuis” and of course selections by Jim Muller and music by legends such as Nico Carstens and Hansie Roodt sr.
All this, but in true Rocco style. Big flower on the chest and all.
“I love disco and dance music and country music is essentially dance music. We play everything from polkas to waltzes. Of course I’m going to wear my vellies too,” he says with a wink.
This beloved artist does admit that his production’s arrangements were challenging at times.
“One does not want to mess with the music’s essence. It doesn’t help that you play ‘Outa in de langpad’, but you can’t actually hear if it’s the song or not. Yet we want to make it relevant to 21st century audiences.
“Of course I also talk a lot of nonsense in between.”
According to Rocco, this production should also cheer up audiences and remind them not to write off good things from the past.
“I recently watched a very informative documentary by prof. Watched Hermann Giliomee, which made me aware of the complexity of our country’s history, but I am at a stage in my life where I don’t want to think only about the problems of the past. I want to give the people something from their past that they can celebrate, and that is country music.”
Buy tickets for the following Country music: Rocco styleshows here:
- April 8 at the ABSA KKNK. Tickets are on sale at Webtickets
- 11-15 April at the Oppiwater Arts Festival. Tickets are on sale at Itickets
- 26-28 May at the Centurion Theater in Pretoria. Tickets are on sale at Quicket
- 14-18 June at Monte Casino in Johannesburg. Tickets are on sale at Webtickets
- 26 July at the AfriForum Theatre. Tickets are on sale at AfriForum Theatre
Listen to the studio interview with Rocco at the top of this post.
Watch here as he gives a taste of his new production on Rhewal’s piano:
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