||Everybody's been to
the Blues Room right? The music is cool, the menu is good and the spot has just got enough
lounge-lizard talk to make it work. So whose cracking the whip? A mean New Yorker called
George Worthmore with a considerable collection of tattoos on his arms and a hands-on sex,
drugs and rock and roll talent to match. I conducted my interview with George from the
passenger seat of a Mustang Cobra travelling at around 200km per hour. Luckily his club
has picked up as much momentum as his car because the guy's got a lot of horsepower
himself. When he's not on stage, he's putting together shows or doing the live thing on
the Monday Unplugged Sessions with Highveld Radio. George has been in the country for two
years. His band, the Divebombers, toured South Africa in 1995 and he's been here ever
since. When I ask what keeps him here he drawls a reply in a New York accent that would
make Fran Dresner sound plummy. "It was a decision based on stock market policy - buy
when the prices are depressed." Well, that's one way of looking at it and it's great
having this guy onboard. His experience and talent in the music industry can only
galvanise some serious sound action.
George has played with the likes of Ben E King, Bo Diddley and The Platters and has an
understanding of what is termed "roots" music - only the Americans could make
soul sound like a turnip - which will go a long way to shaping future sounds. On local
blues he's got this to say: "It's too English. South Africans are growing a style
from second-generation music instead of drawing from the source. Everything's too Eric
Clapton here. They should go back to the origins of American blues. "Another thing I
noticed is that young musicians are trying too hard. The blues are like Shakespeare -
everything is all there in the text, so you don't have to do a thing, just play it and all
the intent and dynamics will happen.
"If you want to know who your best talent is," he offers, pre-empting my
question, "it's Larry Amos from Baxstop. The guy's a genius. I bring out about three
American bands a year as a sounding board for the industry, not because they're more
talented. South Africa has real talent.
"So I decided I'm going to stay. Yeah. And if you wanna know why, I'll tell you
straight I dig South African women. American women are too PC. Actually everything in the
States, particularly in New York, is extremely PC and very conservative. It's got so bad
it's even affecting the live music clubs in New York. A lot of them are just closing down.
I got political correctness rammed down my throat so far I just wanted out."
His take on South Africa?
"Well," comes the response, "it ain't the only place in the world where the
electorate is smarter than the government. But what's with the interest rate, currency
control and crime thing? Sort that lot out and we're in business." Well, George
Worthmore is definitely in business and so is the Blues Room. This month sees US import
Michael Canfield doing his thing at the club. Watch this spot for groovy music and great
vibes. And if you want to meet George look around for a guy who looks as if he's stepped
straight off the set of Raging Bull.
The Blues Room, Village Walk, Maude Street, Sandown. Tel 784 5527.