The Early Years
It all started way back in 1994 when bassist, Pete Shout, and a close friend, lead guitarist Pete Krog, were messing about as a two piece. The duo were having a lot of fun but weren’t exactly heading anywhere in particular! In order to break this festive inertia it was suggested that they expand their number to form a rock group. Seizing upon the idea, their first call was to acquaintance Eddie Heusdens who was sitting idly by with his drum kit, his last band having disintegrated a few months before. Eddie quickly enlisted. A few weeks later, and almost by coincidence, Charles Piggott, who had kept his musical abilities under pretty tight wraps, revealed that he had an electric guitar – and that he could play it, too! Charles could also sing. And so Bedrock was formed and went public in March 1995 after many months of serious practice.
After nine appearances the first blow was struck in May 1996 when Pete Krog, who is an out-and-out blues fan, declared that he was leaving the band to pursue his full-time career as a commercial airline pilot. Pete departed in a good spirit and the hunt began for his replacement – a pretty difficult task in a small village like Oranjemund.
Shortly prior to this, some of the band’s members had been laying down original material at the home studio of a certain John Rogers. John knew a few tricks on the old axe and it wasn’t long before he stepped into the void created by Pete’s departure. John’s “career” with the band was to be extremely short-lived for, after just one public appearance, he announced that he, too, was on his way out of town. Back to square one and, in the absence of a successor to John, the band persevered as a three piece.
After a number of gigs, Ken Malherbe, a classically trained local guitarist, entered the fray on rhythm. Back to four.
September 1997 saw Jennifer, at that time Ken’s better half, attend her first practice adding her beautifully smooth voice to the band’s vocal talents, complementing those of Charles who, hitherto, had carried the burden of lead vocalist.
The Break-Through Years
It was in October of that year, after attending his first Bedrock function as an onlooker, that Kenny Ramage declared that he, too, was willing and able to join the Bedrock family. Kenny’s arrival brought with it a musician of considerable experience and talent, assets that the entire band benefitted from. Musically, there is no doubt that the band took a major step forward on the back of Kenny’s knowledge, experience, musicality and ability.
Not only is Kenny a skilled musician, but he’s a pretty good CAD draughtsman & it wasn’t long before his skills were harnessed to develop and launch the band’s first website. Few bands or artists in southern Africa at the time, professional or not, had websites and BEDROCK were clearly ahead of most in this progressive step.
1999 witnessed a rash of departures of band members – Charles Piggott to Germany and the Malherbes to Pretoria. These losses were particularly severe as Charles and Jenny were the band’s vocalists , none of the remaining members having any pretensions in this regard! After running an advertisement or two a number of folk interested in joining the band were auditioned. Out of that exercise came the selection of Mike Millad as the newest member – at that time!
Later that month, just as the band had thought they’d seen the last of Charlie Piggott, who pitched up again for a one-off gig? None other than the said Charlie Piggott! Charles had decided to pay his first holiday to Bedrock’s desert oasis and wasted no time in lining up with the band again for a quick performance. The Oranjemund Hockey Club’s never been the same since!
On the 16 June, 2000, the band launched their first album, entitled “La Cantina”, the name of a popular drinking venue in Oranjemund. It was here that the band had established an almost permanent presence and the venue had become known as the town’s premier rocking joint, especially on Saturday afternoons when the band would let rip. It was here that the band honed its skills and built up a following. The album was a selection of some of the band’s best covers but, technically, was not a masterpiece. It was the band’s first effort at recording and producing. As with this, and all their subsequent recordings, the band released the album under their own, “tongue-in-cheek”, Criminal Records label.
More importantly, the recording of this album saw the establishment of the band’s own recording studio – Dining Room Studios – and record label, Criminal Records!!
The latter part of 2000, as well as the early months of 2001, saw the band tackle their most ambitious project to date – a full album of original compositions under the name of RECOVERY. Kenny Ramage penned 10 of the tracks on the album, with Pete Shout (2)and Mike Millard (1) making minor contributions. The album also featured a track, “Cold T”, composed by former member, Pete Krog. The album was accompanied by a 12-page booklet which included photographs of the band and their supporters, as well as the lyrics to the 12 songs on the album. It was a vastly improved effort, technically, over “La Cantina” with some clever, and humorous, touches here and there. Those were the days of major disputes between some of the World’s biggest bands and their recording companies, over the issue of mp3 music and unauthorised downloading (Napster and all that). In alluding to this state of affairs, the album’s opening sounds are those of none other than a personal computer dialling up to a network, a sound typically heard in homes throughout the world. Quite a smart idea which, as it transpired, was unfortunately lost on many people who thought they had acquired a defective recording!! For this reason the intended “cleverness” of this move wasn’t exactly an unmitigated success! The quality of the songs, however, were, and the Kenny Ramage penned opening track, “Rock and Roll Man” received accolades far and wide. These included the music press and the track was made available on the South African mp3 site where it charted in the Top 20 on two separate occasions. It also was featured on the Bruce Millar radio show of that time and became a popular favourite with many people for its nostalgic content. This was all made possible by Steven “Sugar” Segerman, of SA Rock Digest and Mabu Vinyl fame. Steve really liked the “Rock ‘n Roll Man” and aired it on his weekly rock slot on the Bruce Miller show. This was the first time BEDROCK had been aired on national, commercial, radio. Steven was to go on and achieve major recognition for his role in locating Sixto Rodriguez and the subsequent ‘Searching For Sugarman’ movie (2012).
Apart from “Rock ‘n Roll Man”, the album included a number of others songs which became popular at their “live” gigs, including the Pete Shout penned “(Na Na Na Na Na) Take A Look” and the Kenny Ramage compositions, “Babbelas Blues”, “Saturday Night”, “The Loser” and “Freedom”, the latter song being the first original composed by Kenny for the band. Mike Millard also chipped in with a couple of solid contributions, including “Vision”.
The launch of the album had an interesting twist when a German television crew, who were filming a documentary on the town and its mining operations, arrived at the band’s event. This resulted in clips of the CD launch appearing in the final documentary subsequently flighted by German TV! This was not to be the first, or last, encounter for the band with German television productions – do read on…
By now Bedrock had developed into a highly entertaining, tight and well rehearsed, live music act which thrived on energy, humour, approachability and appreciation of their friends and supporters. Their gigs were either free or carried a small entrance fee, they had merchandise available for sale which included ‘T’ shirts, caps, bumper stickers and, of course, CD’s. Persons who purchased band T-shirts were rewarded with free, or reduced, entrance at future gigs. The band thrived on audience participation and every gig saw the awarding of a “Party Animal Of The Day Award”, normally a bottle of good quality alcohol! As it turned out, competition for this awards became extremely fierce with gig-goers of all ages, shapes, sizes, genders and age regularly competing for the accolade. Every year the band produced an annual, full colour, calendar which was distributed through shops, and at gigs, free.
August 2002 saw the band collect an important accolade when they were the highest placed Namibian band (second) at a South African Breweries sponsored “Battle Of The Bands” competition at Keetmanshoop. This was a significant achievement as Mike Millad was not available for this gig so the band, in their usual style, took it on as a trio. It was also at this gig that the band had their first interview with Namibian Television which proved to be an unorthodox and hilarious event which the had no prior warning of. Having been celebrating their success for a few hours, they were definitely in somewhat of a “fluid state” which added to the fun and unpredictability of the occasion. The footage, somewhat edited by then, was subsequently screened on the ‘Tutaleni’ magazine programme.
Fired up by the success of their second album, the band immediately started writing and planning their next release which was duly given the title of SO, WHERE’S THE PARTY? Once again the prolific pen of Kenny Ramage contributed 9 of the album’s tracks and he also co-wrote “Yeah, Yeah”, with the band’s drummer, Eddie Heusdens. Pete Shout chipped in with 3 songs and, Mike Millard, 2. Pete, Mike and Eddie co-wrote another one of the songs, “Cliche”. This album was deliberately planned to be a solid, loud, driving, rock album with BIG guitars and plenty of tracks to boogie to. Striving to take another step up in the quality of their product, the band engaged the services of professional sound engineer, Neil Thain. With Neil’s assistance the album came to fruition and was recorded as “big” as was intended. Two of the album’s tracks were released as mp3 tracks – a Kenny Ramage composition called “Crowd Invasion” and a Pete Shout one entitled “What Crap Is That?”. “Crowd Invasion” duly marched into the mp3 Top 20 charts, following on the earlier success of “Rock ‘n Roll Man”.
The album was released at Oranjemund’s “La Cantina” pub on the night of 31 January, 2003. The CD included a 16-page full colour booklet of photographs, as well as the lyrics to the 16 songs on the release. The album cover (taken by Paul Wood) features the well known Namib desert archaeologist, Dr Dieter Noli, crawling across a desert pan with his handful of stolen diamond booty! Dieter, who was learning how to play the banjo at the time, later made a cameo ‘appearance’ on the track, “Tramp’s Song”, on the band’s later CD release, “Simplicity”, playing his instrument. Ironically, this was to be Mike Millard’s final gig with the band as he, too, had decided to take his leave of the community and move to greener climes in the Fairest Cape.
In March, 2003, the band were approached by a German television production team who asked whether they could film a live gig or, at worst, a rehearsal. As the crew were in town mid-week, their visit did not correspond with, either, any live gigs or full rehearsals. A compromise was reached, however, when, at short notice, the Bedrock trio assembled in the dining room of Pete Shout’s house and played for the purposes of being filmed! Never let it be said that Bedrock would ever hesitate to “make a plan”.
The search for a new band member resulted in a well known local musician, Dave MacMillan, coming into the ranks. On this occasion Dave wasn’t with the band for long, before departing the ranks and reducing the line-up to a trio once again! Nevertheless, the band was determined to soldier on. The first milestone they achieved was at their very first gig after Dave’s departure when the band celebrated their 100th gig! This was no mean achievement in a small town such as Oranjemund with the constant shifting of people and was fair testimony to their tenacity.
It was around about this time that the band were invited to participate in the Windhoek Rock Festival to be staged, for the first time, as part of the Windhoek Arts Festival week. The trio immediately accepted the invite and went into weeks of serious practice having decided to perform eight songs, seven of which would be Bedrock originals. On the night of Saturday, 1st November, 2003, the band had one of their finest hours – and played one of their best performances – on the Festival’s stage. They came very much as an unknown quantity to many of those present but quickly won the crowd over with their rocking sounds. It only took eight songs to transform themselves from something to an “unknown quantity” to something of a “revelation” on the local music scene.
It was at the beginning of 2004 that Kenny Ramage informed the band that he would be leaving the band, Company and community for a move to Cape Town. And so it was that Kenny’s contribution to the band came to an end, closing yet another chapter of the band’s history.
The Rebuilding Years
And, so, the quest for yet another new band member commenced and culminated in Rozanne Fichardt joining the band in June, 2004. Rozanne was a novice in terms of rock music, her previous music “history” being one of church activities. Nevertheless, her personality and enthusiasm offset these potential shortcomings and her outstanding keyboard skills were soon contributing to a whole new feel within the band. The band was still at three piece at that time when drummer, Eddie, suggested that his spouse, Solange, also join the line-up on percussion and vocals. This idea was accepted and so the band, for the first time in its history, had equal representation of the sexes – two young and youthful ladies and two old men!!
On the 26 November, 2004, the band made its debut with the revised line-up at – you guessed it! – “La Cantina”. Whilst their new, keyboard-based sound came as something of a surprise, many people found it a breath of fresh air and there was much enthusiasm. The band no longer possessed a strong guitarist such as Kenny, Mike or Pete Krog so looked to the “ivories” to compensate. Pete alternated between bass and electric acoustic and Solange added her weight to percussion and backing vocals. Just when things were looking up again, everything went down once more! The reason for this was that Rozanne had decided that she had other priorities to pursue and she, too, left amicably early in 2005. Having said that, in her short tenure with the band Rozanne had been a part of another Bedrock “first” when they played a Corporate function at the Oranjemund Little Theatre!
Just when Eddie, Pete and Solange were wondering what they had to do to find musicians who would stick around for a while former member, Dave MacMillan, contacted the band to offer his services. This led to his return to the fold with the promise of a long hoped for period of stability for the band.
In October, 2005, the band played one of their more memorable gigs when they joined by SA Country Music’s Hall-of-Famer, singer/songwriter, John Edmond. With no rehearsal before hand, the band easily fell in behind John to belt out a number of old time rock ‘n roll favourites which harked back to John’s “Bushcat” days. Nobody who was at ‘Op My Stoep Lodge’ could ever forget that day!
A few months later, Dave introduced a young male singer to the band – Heiko Doedens. Heiko’s arrival was great news for the band as none of them considered themselves to be lead vocalists in the true sense of the word. Heiko had a great voice, with a tinge of Paul Rogers to it, was far younger than the rest of the band’s members, and had the posture and appearance for a front man. And so it was that he became a member of the band.
In 2006 the band became the first music act to perform in the cavernous Oranjemund Power Station and followed that by playing in the inaugural Music Festival at the town’s Hockey Club. This was the first of a number of open air events which brought most, if not all, of the town’s folk together for an all-day (and late into the night) music fest.
In mid-2007 the band once again experienced the departure of Dave MacMillan. It was decided, after a band meeting, that the remaining members would push on and re-organise themselves until a replacement could be found. It was decided to press on with developing songs for another album, the recording of which commenced in January, 2008. To make things a little bit more interesting, the phenomenal jazz saxophonist, Dan Shout (who had played with the band on occasions as a scholar from the age of 14), contributed some great sax to 3 of the songs on the album: ‘You Don’t Know’, ‘Moon ‘n Dunes’ and ‘Miggie In My Whiskey’. In addition to that, well known Archaeologist and intrepid desert explorer, Dieter Noli, was roped in to showcase his banjo playing skills on ‘Tramp’s Song’. The album was subsequently given the title, SIMPLICITY, as suggested by Eddie Heusdens.
It was not all good news, however, as Heiko announced, during the final mixdown of the album, that he would shortly be taking his leave of the town and relocating to Windhoek. And this was to happen ahead of the CD’s official launch date! Matters seemed to have been partially addressed when Adri Henning, well known in the town for his piano and saxophone abilities, let on that she’d like to join the band. She didn’t have to say that more than once before she was formerly roped in. One snag was the fact that Adri would be required to play bass, an instrument she wasn’t familiar with. And so it was that Pete took Adri under his wing to teach her the rudiments of playing bass ahead of the album’s launch. With her prior knowledge of music and good ear, Adri was a quick learner and made solid progress in a short time. Despite numerous logistical challenges, ‘Simplicity’ was launched to much fanfare at Oranjemund’s Little Theatre on 10 May, 2008. Heiko Doedens returned from Windhoek for the occasion, Adri Henning made a successful debut on bass and Dan Shout graced the occasion with his presence having travelled from Cape Town to do so.
Unlike the band’s previous releases where Kenny Ramage had written most of the songs, Pete’s songwriting talents were required to reveal themselves in Kenny’s absence. Happily, the results were very positive and ‘Simplicity’ was well received from the outset with various tracks finding early favour with audiences and radio stations. The stand-out pop song, “My Girlfriend”, became a radio favourite over night, despite its length (4:49) and soon became the band’s most played song on commercial radio. Other popular songs off the album included “You Don’t Know”, “She’s A Lady” and “Flower Girl” (both amongst the band’s most popular downloads), “Moon ‘n Dunes” and “Miggie In My Whiskey”. As with their previous release, the CD’s cover features a local theme, that of one of the ghost houses in the isolated Bogenfels ghost town in the Speergebiet. The photograph was taken by the band’s Pete Shout.
As had become the tradition with BEDROCK, things were not to stay stable for long. Within days of the launch, Adri advised that she and her husband would be leaving town and heading off down the coast! By know these comings-and-goings had become such a part of the band’s culture that there was hardly any discussion about the remaining members continuing – they just did!
With the band’s reputation continuing to build solidly beyond the confines of their home town, they were drawing the attention of local radio stations. This led to a 30 minute interview with the band on Windhoek’s Radio Kudu which also saw the play listing of 6 Bedrock songs. The band also continued adopting ever improving music technologies, making all their music available as digital downloads via all leading, international, music vendors. These included CD Baby, Amazon, Napster, Spotify, Ruckus and Rhapsody. The band had also started posting videos onto YouTube.
In December the band played at the first Oranjemund Cultural Festival, keeping the rock ‘n roll flag flying on the musically diverse landscape. A special jam session occurred on the Friday evening prior to the Cultural Festival when the band were joined on stage at The Don by two legends of the Namibian music scene, Jackson Kaujeua and Killa B. This brought a whole new dimension to proceedings and created another unique Bedrock memory for all who were there. Jackson Kaujeua’s subsequent passing from illness was a sad moment for the band, as it was for the Namibian people as a whole.
The Years Of Constant Change
Whilst all this was going on, the town’s only other rock band, SNOBLIND, has broken up making some of their members redundant. This was great fortune as, in March 2009, Bedrock convinced their bass player, Polla Pretorius, that BEDROCK was where he needed to be! With Polla’s arrival, the band started to enjoy some long sought after continuity and momentum.
For the next while the band enjoyed a bit of stability and recorded another album, DESERT ROCK, which they launched on 25 May, 2011. With Pete Shout having written all the songs on the album, the stand-out tracks proved to be “Band Song”, “On Her Own”, “Who You Are”, “Dust Town” and “Feelin’s Gone”. Irrespective of who was writing the songs, the band had always taken pride in their lyrics and the subtle sense of humour which is laced through all their recordings. Desert Rock, however, also started to see another slight shift in emphasis as the songwriting started to allude to local, Namibian, themes. This is particularly apparent in “Band Song”, which traces the band’s history, but more particularly in “Dust Town” which was inspired by the fate of so many of the Sperrgebiet’s abandoned towns and villages of yester-year. It is an appeal for other Namibian desert towns, such as Oranjemund, not to be allowed to join the collection of ghost towns. In keeping with their preference for local content, the cover features the picturesque Africa Rock in the south-eastern Sperrgebiet.
In December, 2012, the band opened for the annual Diamond Festival, fast becoming one of the most prestigious events on the Namibian social calendar. With an impressive line-up of some of the best that the Namibian music scene has to offer, Bedrock’s live act once again won them many new friends.
Things, however, would not remain in a “steady state” for long as Polla Pretorius decided to take his leave during the course of 2013 when he, too, chose to leave town in search of fresh career challenges. Although this was something of a setback, it wasn’t long before the band found an unlikely recruit in Gert Muller. Gert had been playing guitar in the privacy of his home for some years and, despite previous approaches, had resisted the temptation to step into the public domain. This time, however, the temptation was irresistible and Gert was soon filling in on the bass and became, for the record (excuse the pun!), the 16th member of Bedrock. Gert brought a fresh impetus, enthusiasm and energy with him and the band experienced a period of revival. This culminated in the band recording and releasing another album in 2014, SAND CIRCLE.
Once again, Pete Shout’s songwriting abilities are featured on ‘Sand Circle’ and he continued to built on themes local to Namibia. The album’s name is a reference to the ancient Rotor Kamm meteorite crater in the south-eastern extremity of the Namib desert. Another track which is “local” in flavour is “Everybody (Wants To Be In The Band Tonight)”, as is the rocking opening track, “She Said She Was (From Namibia)”. The cover photograph was taken by the band’s drummer, Eddie Heusdens, on a particularly hot and bumpy flight over the Sperrgebiet!
During the course of 2014, and having marked the 20th Anniversary of their formation, one of the two surviving founding members, Pete Shout, confirmed that he would be leaving town at the end of 2014. It was agreed that the BEDROCK name would “leave” with Pete and that he would continue to manage and sustain the band’s interests.
2015/2016 – A New Era
The Bedrock Project continues to build on the band’s name and history. Our first bit of progress for 2016 has been the re-release of our 2008 album, SIMPLICITY. Now that this has been achieved, we’re pressing on with writing material for a new album which will be preceded with our first single release – watch this space!
There are a number of other BEDROCK projects in conceptual phase so, to all our existing friends and supporters, please hang in there as there is still much more to come from the BEDROCK stable! To our new friends, thanks for joining the circle and we look forward to seeing you sometime at our future gigs.