A dedication to Hans Bronkhorst – Marley

“Hallo, my girla” was the greeting I got 90% of the time from Hans Bronkhorst. Our very own bluesman, the guy with the blue light and the blue eyes. I fell in love with his version of John Lee Hooker’s song “Boom Boom”. And just a few short months ago we help raise funds to save his Fender Stratocaster.

However today I’m sitting in disbelief. When you hear news of a good friend’s passing you simply don’t want to believe it. Hans however, I never thought at this stage of our lives to write this tribute to him. I met him in 2010 when he performed at Pappas Kitchen in Nelspruit on a Sunday evening. I just started out trying my skills in writing about the local music scene. He told me he was from Bloemfontein, he wore a hat and he liked Hansa. Much like his name. It took a couple of gigs before we really hit it off. But boy, when we clicked we did so hard! Sitting here it’s hard to remember every single gig I attended of Hans but I simply can’t tell you how many they were. The ones that stood out for me was at Rock of the Bushveld and Save The Strat.

Photo by Antoinette Meyer (Facebook) - Hans Bronkhorst
Hans with some close friends

The last time I saw Hans he did sound for Road to STRAB’s open mic that I helped organise. We felt Hans was the best guy for the job to be the MC as well. I sat next to Hans in front of the stage at his little sound desk just listening to the music. We had a drink or two and we had such a warm chat. I always loved his hugs. I knew if I saw Hans he will brighten my evening. At a time a few years ago I went through a very dark period, Hans was one of the friends who helped me get through it. He came and visit me at my work. He had a few beers and we would talk about music. He just had a way to work his big self into your heart.

Hans was always proud of his daughter. She was the sunshine in his heart and smile. When he spoke of her his eyes would light up like stars. Despite his daily struggles as a full-time musician in the Lowveld he always had time for her. She even attended some of his gigs at The Pub in recent months. But his love for her was real.

For lots of people, Hans meant the world too. He meant something different to each of us but to each of us, he had a unique friendship with. One had movie nights with him. Others jamming together at random. Some to have a steak and beer with. Some were just a crazy night. Just like music is never the same so was Hans’s friendship.

Hans "Blue Torch" Bronkhorst - photo by Small Town Music Blo
Hans “Blue Torch” Bronkhorst
(Photo by Small Town Music Blog)

But Hans….Hansie. My heart is broken. It was so sudden, so quick. I feel like the last person to have heard of your passing and here I am. Knowing you would say “I didn’t plan this my girla, in the week of your birthday”. I know you didn’t. We managed to save your Stratocaster. You saved us in love and music. Miss you forever my friend.

“Boom, boom, boom, boom.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
I love to see you strut
When you’re walking to me.
When you’re talking”
 – John Lee Hooker

Goodbye to the Lowveld Legend – Vanessa

Hansie Slim…

Thank you for always playing Roger Waters’ “Mother” whenever I walked into a venue where you played. Thank you for allowing me that once or twice to even sing along with you. Thank you for always popping in to say hello on your way home.  Thank you for the great music you gave us. Thank you for your friendship.  Today, I want one of those hugs from you.

Vanessa and Hans - Photo credit Vanessa Massyn (Facebook)
Vanessa and Hans

I am so happy that I saw you twice last week. I am so happy that I cooked for you and watched “The Wall” with you. I’m so happy we laughed and laughed until we cried. Thank you for giving me your new song.

I was so thrilled when you told me you’re working on playing Pink Floyd’s “Lost for Words” and I couldn’t wait to hear you sing it. Sadly, this is never going to happen.

I was spending my time in the doldrums
I was caught in a cauldron of hate
I felt persecuted and paralyzed
I thought that everything else would just wait
While you are wasting your time on your enemies
Engulfed in a fever of spite
Beyond your tunnel vision reality fades
Like shadows into the night
To martyr yourself to caution
Is not going to help at all
Because there’ll be no safety in numbers
When the right one walks out of the door
Can you see your days blighted by darkness?
Is it true you beat your fists on the floor?
Stuck in a world of isolation
While the ivy grows over the door
So I open my door to my enemies
And I ask could we wipe the slate clean
But they tell me to please go fuck myself
You know you just can’t win

Hans Bronkhorst - Photo credit Vanessa Massyn (Instagram)
“Be thankful for the weirdos. They might just change your mind…”

You were a wonderful father and friend. Your music and legend will live in our hearts forever. Your passing will be mourned for a very long time, my friend. Grief is the price we pay for love.

Fly free. We love you.

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.