Monday, January 26, 2009

Our very own Cafe Society

(Julia Jade Aston & Costa Anadiotis)

(Julia Jade Aston)
Café Society was a South African group from the 1980’s best known for their two cover songs 'Somebody to love' and 'Woodpeckers from space'.

==Early years==
Café Society consisted of various artists singing cover version and original songs under the watchful eye of multi-instrumentalist and producer Costa Anadiotis. Costa Anadiotis was also the synthesizer player in the disco-rock South African group Buffalo with Peter Vee during the late 1970’s as well as the group Fantasy.

==‘Somebody to love’==
In 1984 the first song to be produced was the Jefferson Airplane cover ‘Somebody to love’ using the vocals of Julia Jade Aston. Aston was also a member of Working Girls, Face To Face and Wizard with Rob Russell Davies. The song was received well internationally because of its Hi-NRG driven baseline popular at the time.

==‘Relight my fire’==
Next up was the Dan Hartman song ‘Relight my fire’ utilizing the vocals of Lolly Peterson and Anneline Malebo. Malebo was the singer in the Patrick van Blerk outfit Joy. They had an international hit with ‘Paradise Road’ in 1980. Sadly Anneline Malebo died of Aids related complications in 2002. The song received mediocre response and featured on some compilation albums including South-African ‘High-Energy Double Dance Vol.3’.

==‘Woodpeckers from space’ and the Album==
Then in 1985 when the Video Kids refused to release their song ‘Woodpeckers from space’, due to the political situation in South Africa during that time, Costa Anadiotis decided to release his own unique version of the song under the banner of Café Society. 'Woodpeckers from space' was a Number 1 hit in South Africa in July of 1985 and stayed on the Top 20 for 19 weeks of which 8 were at the Number 1 position. The album ‘Relight my fire’ was release in 1985 but couldn't help this mainly studio outfit to reach a higher level and soon everybody went their separate ways.

==Facts of interest==
# The original artists of ‘Woodpeckers from space’ Video Kids consisted of one Peter Slaghuis who would later become ‘Hithouse’ one of the pioneers of House music in Europe. He released the songs ‘Jack to the sound of the underground’ and ‘Move your feet to the rhythm of the beat’. He tragically died in a vehicle accident in 1991.
# Lolly Peterson who sang ‘Relight my fire’ with Anneline Malebo also covered R.Bias’s Italo Disco song ‘Dial my number’ for the 1986 compilation album ‘High-Energy Double Dance Vol.5’ in 1986. The song went to Number 3 on the charts in neighbouring Zimbabwe.
# Anneline Malebo was seen in a documentary on South-African TV regarding her days in Joy and her final days before her death of Aids related illnesses. It came apparent that she lived her last years in extremely poor circumstances leading up to her death.
# Julia Jade Aston was also in the group Chapta Too during 1985 with Jarrod Jade Aston who would become the leader of the popular South-African group Cinema. They share a surname but are not related.
# Julia Jade Aston is currently living in the South-African Western Cape with husband Jeremy Busby.
# The Co-writer of ‘I’m on the loose’ George Vardas is a respected producer and musician in South Africa being involved with the likes of TK, Ed Jordan and Robin Auld. It is also known that he was the ‘Refugee’ in the South African group ‘Nick G and the Refugee’ who had the song ‘Da Dip’.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

People Like Us were really people like us

Late 2008 I had an interview with Cindy Dickenson who was the voice of South-African outfit 'People Like Us' who had a hit song 'Deliverance' in 1987. I didn't want to add the whole interview here so here are the 'highlights' of what was established during the interview:
Cindy was born in the UK and received professional training from the age of ten as a soprano at The Manchester School Of Music under Professor Campbell from BBC Radio.
She worked with various bands all over the UK and also got involved with song writing.
She came to visit her sister in South Africa and enjoyed it so much that she decided to stay. Whilst there she got an agent, which got her signed at RPM Records. She soon released a rock orientated single ‘Love Stealer’ which had on the B-side one of her own compositions called ‘You make me fee like a women’. With that song she won a Sarie Award (South African equivalent to the Grammies).
The group Syndicate, with band member Peps Cotummaccio, approached her to join them and they were soon touring Cape Town for six months and also travelled to Italy, England, Greece, Portugal and Mexico for performances. They released the single ‘Don’t Go Into Town’.
She also travelled on the passenger cruise ship the QE2 as the singer for the Harry Bence Orchestra for six months, which travelled from the UK to America.
Paul Crossley and Terry Owen then became involved with her on ‘People Like Us’ and recorded several songs for which she received very little money and nothing was signed officially. Later after the initial success of ‘People Like Us’ this would become one of the topics that would tore the relationships of the band to an irreconcilable situation.
After the birth of her son Cindy took a break from the industry and later became involved with other projects including ‘Strutt’ with Denise Ostler and Helena Muir. ‘Strutt recently also included a male singer David who came from Cindy’s singing school ‘Reach For The Stars Voice Training Academy’, of which she is the director.
Cindy Dickenson is currently living in Durban, South Africa where her husband is the radio DJ Dave Guselli on East Coast Radio.

SA Artist on High Energy Double Dance

I recently found out that the artist Ashleigh Sendin who sang ‘(Ha Ha) Here I come’ on the South-African compilation album High Energy Double Dance - Vol 2 (1984) and ‘Who needs it’ (Eurobeat 3 - 1987) is a South-African. She has been living in the UK for the past twenty years having had a rewarding career on stage and are currently the headmaster of an Acting school. I contacted her and asked her about her life in South-Africa and UK.

DJ Radcliff: How did you end up recording ‘(Ha Ha) Here I Come’ with the legendary Patric van Blerk and Fransua Roos?
Ashleigh: I met them through a record company called Principal Records for whom I had recorded another single called Rebecca (sort of Kate Bush style ballad).

DJ Radcliff: Was ‘Here I come' released in other markets other than South-Africa?
Ashleigh: To the best of my knowledge none of the tracks were released outside South Africa.

DJ Radcliff: Did you record any other tracks with them during this period?
Ashleigh: I recorded another track which was used on a dance compilation called ‘Who needs it’. They used my name although I recorded it as a session. That was in 1987 just before I left for the UK.

DJ Radcliff: High Energy was really big during this period, even in South-Africa; did you ever get to meet any other High Energy artists?
Ashleigh: When I released ‘Here I come’ I was part of a High Energy dance music concert tour. A group of Dance music recording artists from the US and UK came over for the tour. Evelyn Thomas, Miquel Brown, Marsha Raven, Earlene Bentley and Barbara Pennington.
I worked with Earlene on my first job in the West End, ‘Blues in the Night’ at the Piccadilly Theatre, and then worked with Sinitta a recording artist whose mother is Miquel Brown in ‘HAIR’ at the Old Vic. Small World!

DJ Radcliff: You were also credited in a 1979 movie of South-African director Percival Rubens called Midnight Caller (aka The Demon and The Unholy) How old were you when you appeared in this slasher flick and did you feature in any other films?
Ashleigh: I was 15 in that particular film and was also in a couple of other equally dire South African films one was the ‘Lions Share’ and the other was ‘Follow that Rainbow’.

DJ Radcliff: Would you mind giving us some more information on your life in South-Africa, like what schools you attended, and what local productions you were involved with?
Ashleigh: I grew up in Bryanston and Fourways –when fourways was just veldt. I went to Bryanston Primary and then Bryanston High School. I started professionally at age 13 playing ‘Annie’ for Joan Brickhill and Louis Burke. I did ‘Wizard of OZ’,’ Robin Hood’, ‘Hans Christian Anderson’ and ‘Judy’ for Napac. ‘Godspel’l and ‘My name is Alice’ for Des and Dawn Lindbergh and ‘The Hollow’ and ’The Real Thing’ for Pieter Toerien, among others. For the SABC I did ‘The Settlers’,’ The Danny Bickett Show’,’ Inspector Carr investigates’ and various commercials etc. I was working solidly from the age of 13 so chose not to go the university route.

DJ Radcliff: You have been in the UK for almost 20 years now, do you still have ties with South-Africa and when was the last time you visited our shores?
Ashleigh: My family are all still in SA. I was over only a month ago as my Mum passed away.

DJ Radcliff: Please tell us how you ended up in The West End, what did you do when you first went to the UK?
Ashleigh: I was very lucky in respect of timing when I got to the UK. The West End was experiencing a boom and I was able to get an agent and get work within 6 months of arriving in the UK. My first job was understudying the girl and the woman in ‘Blues in the Night’. I played the Juve lead in ‘Anything Goes’ with Elaine Paige. On ‘Saturday Night’ I achieved a lifelong ambition which was to meet Stephen Sondheim.

DJ Radcliff: As mentioned before you were involved in many musicals on the West End, give us a brief list of you proudest achievements?
Ashleigh: Some I have already mentioned but will give a brief list. ‘Blues in the Night’ at the Piccadilly theatre, ‘Anything Goes’ at the Prince Edward theatre, ‘Lady in the Dark’ at The National, ‘Hair’ at the Old Vic. ‘Promises, Promises’ and Sondheim’s ’Saturday Night’, The obligatory pantomimes if living in the UK, ‘Cinderella’ and ‘Aladdin’. Several seasons of ‘Lost’ musicals at the Barbican-Concert Productions of musicals from the 30’s to the 50’s mainly. I performed in seven of those over five seasons. Several concept albums for projected musicals which I still do occasionally and session work i.e. backing vocals for demos also for ITV’S Spitting Image. I performed with the cast of ‘Anything Goes’ for The Queen Mothers 90th Birthday at the London Palladium as well as several Charity performances for Crusade and the Princess Diana Fund also at the Palladium.

DJ Radcliff: You are currently the principal of a company called ‘Stagecoach’ What exactly is ‘Stagecoach’ and what other projects are you currently working on?
Ashleigh: Stagecoach is a large organization with Theatre schools all over the UK and the World. I bought the franchise for Penzance so own the business for that territory. Basically I am the principal and I employ 4 teachers and an assistant. It’s pretty much what I do full time. I got tired of doing 8 shows a week I had been working in Musicals for 25 years!

DJ Radcliff: Thank you for chatting to us; it was really interesting to find out what Asleigh Sendin has been up to the past 24 years since High Energy Double Dance Vol 2 came out. Keep well!