It’s just been a little over a year since one of South African homemade names and legends, Piet Botha, closed his eyes forever. However, his band Jack Hammer still continue on the road that was scraped out over the years. On Saturday 18 July 2020 Jack Hammer and Piet’s beautiful daughters will be releasing a brand new album called “13 Towns”. A special birthday as well as it would have been Piet’s 65th birthday.
“I cannot remember– Highway 13 (Jack Hammer)
places that I’ve been
I got lost forever
out on Highway 13
but I’m not complaining
by now that road belongs to me”
Throughout his 45 years as a musician, Piet Botha (the Hammer) always felt most at home on the road. Along with his long-standing Jack Hammer bandmates – Johnathan Martin (the Kid), Tertius du Plessis (Bean), and Paul van de Waal (Duke) – he toured across the country to play for a range of audiences, performing anywhere from major music festivals to small town theatres.
Between 2017 and 2019, Duke started recording many of these gigs, which led to the idea of releasing a double album recorded ‘live on the road’ to share some of the magic. The nature of the gigs ranged from mellow acoustic sessions to raucous full electric performances. Along with the
regular line-up, the band was often joined by Jake Gunn (Jacques Groenewald) from Cape Town, as well as Gerry Robinson – all part of the Jack Hammer family.
During this period, Piet developed “trigger finger” and couldn’t play guitar, resulting in valuable recordings of Piet’s unique style of piano playing. According to Duke: “In all the years that we played together, it was rare for Piet to play the piano at gigs before this happened. The sounds of piano and
acoustic guitar, with bass and drums, playing songs originally recorded on electric guitar, give these recordings a special feel.”
It was Piet’s wish to name the album “13 Towns”, reflecting both his love of the road and the number 13, which appears in many of his songs. On 18 July, what would have been Piet’s 65th birthday, the Jack Hammer band and his daughters are pleased to share the first 13 songs of this album online, with the release of the physical double album planned for later this year.
Recorded and mixed by Paul van de Waal, and mastered by Lanie van der Walt (Wolmer Records), the album features both Afrikaans and English songs, carefully selected by the band. As Duke explains: “We wanted to include some songs on the album that were never recorded but were often
played at gigs – like ‘Me and Paul’ by Willie Nelson – as well as some classic Jack Hammer songs that were last recorded many years ago, like ‘The Fisherman’. 13 Towns is like a gig, a gig played over a few years at many venues, but brought together like a live show.”
Go via your favourite online music fix and get “13 Towns” on Saturday 18 July 2020. And where ever you are listening to it, raise your glass/coffee mug/cigarette to Piet and enjoy the pleasure that is Piet’s voice, the gentle touch of the band and the love for music, Jack Hammer music.