By Vanessa

Oh, my greatness! What can I say about this band? I’ve been listening to their music on Sound Cloud non-stop. There is so much energy and as I’m typing this, I’m still tapping my foot. They rock!

Yes, Nelsparta. You are going to be graced by the presence of this very energetic, extremely talented band hailing from Pretoria.

Bright Lights Big City is made up of Johan Lombard (harp and slide), Jako Loots (drums), Illimar Neitz (lead guitar), Christiaan Van Rooyen (bass) and Donovan Borne (vox and guitar). Their bio on Facebook reads: “Rusted out contemporary blues for the Workingman” and “grab a beer, pound that boot heel and growl along to some real Howling Blues”. So, I could not resist to send them our infamous Twenty Questions, and this is what they had to say:

STM: Bright Lights, Big City – interesting name… Please tell us how you came about it?

BLBC: As the name suggests, our music alludes to all aspects of the city. From the grimy gritty alleyways to the neon magic of the sleepless city night-life.  Intense, hard rocking and energetic.

STM: “We’re starting a band, baby. We’re starting a band!” Where and how did it all begin?

BLBC: Bright Lights Big City (BLBC) actually formed out of another blues project, “Howling Shabanski”. After the vocalist for that project left, we got Donovan Borne to cover the remaining gigs and invited him to join the project. Boom! Just like that BLBC was formed, writing new material and steering the sound, together, from Blues to a more Blues infused Roots Rock project.

STM: How did you guys meet?

BLBC: We’re a group of guys who’ve been in the Pretoria scene for a while now, crossing paths with our various projects over the years. So we’ve always known each via the music scene in that way.

Donovan Bourne - Bright Lights Big City
Donovan Bourne – Bright Lights Big City
(photo by Henry Engelbrecht)

STM: Who does the songwriting and what do you mostly sing about?

BLBC: We normally write the music as an ensemble and then Donovan will write the lyrics. Sometimes one of us will come up with an idea and we workshop it together. Topics vary from religious and philosophical ideas to classic blues type stories to songs simply designed to rock your brains out.

STM: Album plans?

BLBC: Yup. We are currently working on our debut album entitled “Jack the Detective“. Hopefully out around the middle of this year.

STM: In a perfect world, you’d probably choose to rock full time – do you have daytime jobs?

BLBC: Yes. That is the dream, but unfortunately, for now, all of us keep ourselves busy and fed with day-time J. O. B. S.

STM: Inspirations? What inspires you to create music? Muses?

BLBC: Music and the fun we have making our particular style of music is probably our biggest Muse. It’s a Moerse jol and we revel in it.

STM: Please describe your style of music.

BLBC: Contemporary Blues infused Roots Rock.

Bright Lights Big City - photo by Henry Engelbrecht
Christiaan van Rooyen en Donovan Bourne
(photo by Henry Engelbrecht)

STM: What are your musical aspirations?

BLBC: Simply to be able to continue doing what we’re doing and have a kick ass time doing it. We love to make music people can let go to and enjoy the party with us.

STM: Band practice! Very essential! How often does it happen and where?

BLBC: At least once a week at Illimar, our lead guitarist’s studio.

STM: Any other hidden talents?

BLBC: We have a guy who can lick his own back.

STM: Favourite bands?

BLBC: Hahaha. Too many to mention. We’re an eclectic mix of gentlemen with an even more varied taste in music.

STM: Where will Bright Lights, Big City be in 2 years’ time?

BLBC: Hopefully everywhere.

STM: How long is your set?

BLBC: An average set is between 45mins and an hour long.

STM: Is there a specific crowd you’re aiming at attracting to your gigs?

BLBC: Not at all. We like that our music can appeal to all age groups. It’s cool to see.

STM: Any collaborations in the future with other artists?

BLBC: You never know. Nothing planned, but we’re always open to it.

STM: Explain the dynamics of getting a band to work and succeed together.

BLBC: Mutual respect,  get the sound tight, get on the same page, gig your ass off and don’t forget to have fun.

STM: Your ultimate dream gig?

BLBC: We would love to play overseas.Preferably Nashville.

STM: Any formal training?

BLBC: Some of us do, some of us not so much.

STM: If you could do anything else but music, what would that be?

Mmmmm. I know one of the dudes had aspirations of being a professional figure skater.

Bright Lights Big City tour
Bright Lights Big City
Elk Hair Gold Lowveld Tour

Great bunch of guys! You can catch them live this weekend in Nelspruit.

For details, please visit their Facebook page, on Twitter and on Sound Cloud.

Big thank you to Henry E Photography for the use of two of his photos. Check out his amazing work on his Facebook Page.

Marley is the founder and owner of Small Town Music. Born and bred in Nelspruit aka Nelsparta. Marley loves music (rock being a firm favourite), tattoos, festivals, animals and South Africa. Self-taught photographer and writer.