Fidler in the Hood: Glory, Glory, Hallelujah: Miracles do happen

Vicky de Villiers, who, along with pianist Calli Thomson, gave a superb show at the Margate Retirement Village recently. You should see and hear Vicky perform on her ‘cajon’!

WHAT a week! But, first – the good news. Last week I wrote about the terrible state of roads around Garden Avenue and Arran Road, St Michael’s, and Colin and Vi Eltis were at the end of their tether with their own brand of the ‘River of Babylon’.

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I seem to have touched a nerve somewhere with long-suffering citizens, not only in St Mike’s, but from Shelly Beach to Margate. I had several calls asking if I could publicise their plight with leaking pipes, etc, especially in the Orange Rocks vicinity, which has become a dangerous ‘no go’ area with collapsed roads and ‘water, water everywhere’.

We’ll leave the street light situation for another night, or, as Sir Edward Gray historically remarked: “One by one, the lights of Europe (read ‘Hibiscus Coast’) are going out”. Bit dramatic, but you get my drift?

Thank you, Uncle Ray!

I called by the Eltis household to see Vi and Colin to ‘have a cuppa with the obligatory Penguin chocolate biscuit. They thanked me for the publicity, but added ‘Nowt will be done, I bet’.

Saying our farewells, we walked to my car and folks, what did we see? There was a municipality repair gang actually working on the burst pipes. Would you believe it?

We looked at each other with some incredulity. After over half a year of burst water pipes, the situation had been brought under control. We recorded this historical occasion for posterity’s sake, agreeing that ‘the pen, indeed, is mightier than the sword’! So let’s celebrate – only 389 more burst pipes to go. Well done, Uncle Ray!

Saxadelic virtuosos

Earlier Vicky de Villiers of St Mike’s had called by our place for a friendly cuppa. We met Vicky at last week’s ‘Christmas in July’ show at Margate Retirement Village.

Being in the music business, I complimented Vicky and fellow saxadelic buddy Calli Thomson for the wonderful evening’s entertainment. Amazingly, Vicky knew me “I see you at the barkrun at St Mike’s beach every week.” Fame at last. Vicky gave a capsulated history of her music career.

The young Victoria Goddard and her family emigrated to RSA in 1981. Born within the sounds of Hammersmith Palais, if not Bow Bells, Vicky finished her education at Pinetown Girls’ High, then attended the University of Natal to complete a degree in food technology.

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However, her love of music directed her to study under American jazz greats Darius Brubeck and Milton Johnson, taking up the tenor saxophone and clarinet, earning a Bachelor of Music degree. .With Vicky listening to my collection of Stan Getz, bossa nova and Benny Goodman, it was ‘dead easy’ for her to tell me about her career.

And what a successful career! Including a stint as musical director at the Barnyard Theatre in the Johannesburg/PWV area and teaching at the prestigious Kingsmead College in Rosebank.

Having played with various SA groups, including the highly-regarded Inter-Ritmo band and trumpeter Cathy Peacock’s Platform Jazz, which has regularly performed on the South Coast, Vicky is the consummate professional.

Kitten on the keys

In the late 90s, Vicky teamed up with Calli Thomson, a real ‘kitten-on-the keys’ and vocalist. They formed a great music partnership, with Callie on the piano/keyboard and Vicky on both alto and tenor saxophones.

They make a good team and know what an audience wants, certainly in today’s music scene where ‘melody and lyrics don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing’! Besides playing saxophone, Vicky also plays the ‘cajon’. No, it’s not something rude!

It’s a Peruvian instrument, which, to me at first looked like an old skiffle group soapbox! But, no, it’s a complete rhythm section, played with expert aplomb by Vicky.

Basically she sets the beat by ‘booting the bass with her heeled shoes and setting the rhythm with a pair of drummer’s ‘brushes’.

Make sense? You’ve got to see Vicky playing it to believe it. Talk about ‘Fascinating Rhythm’. George Gershwin would have been very proud!

Love Walked In

In 2010, Vicky moved down to the South Coast, having had enough of the ‘big city rat race’. George Gershwin once more took a hand, when ‘Love Walked In’ and Vicky married local businessman Martin de Villiers.

Their home ‘chez nous’ soon became ‘chez three’ when lovely daughter Gemma entered the scene. Now a full-time music teacher, with some 40 pupils studying at Vicky’s ‘Music 4 All’ studio in St Michael’s and performing with Calli on the music merry-go-round, Vicky says her life is ‘great, as good as it gets’.

Can’t disagree there, Vicky, even though it was you who brought up ‘the state of the roads around Orange Rocks’. As the old song goes ‘I was walking along, minding my business, when out of that orange-coloured sky…’ See you, Rob.


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