By Marley

*Just a note before this post starts. I wrote it the minute I heard of Kobus’s passing. It took his birthday on 30 April 2024 to gather the balls and peace to post this tribute. Never too late for kind words – Marley

I met the Black Cat Bones in what I call my “pirate years”—a time between my late 20s and early 30s on the Blue Moon Mountain—around 2008–2009. I’m not sure how Anthony Bumstead met them or saw them, but he booked them to play at Blue Moon. Anthony always had a knack for bands, and The Black Cat Bones were introduced to the Lowveld. Immediately, they were family, and every single time after that, with some lineup changes in the band, you could be sure. If the Black Cat Bones played, you were about to be rocked.

After their show, of course, the bartenders became friends with the band. We had a crazy kuier at the chattels, and the rest is rock ‘n roll history. The times we shared with sand between our toes at STRAB. Titanic’s at Up the Creek. Big smoke at Misty Waters, hundreds of times at Blue Moon. My niece’s first ever Jagermeister was with the Black Cat Bones on the Kaapsehoop mountain.

Kobus de Kock Jnr Misty Waters 2019
Kobus de Kock Jnr – The Black Cat Bones at Misty Waters 2019 (photo Small Town Music)

I have many stories of Kobus, the band Boetie, that we all got to know. His long beard and long hair, him running around on stage with porcupine quills and a Swazi wrap. One story is how he, without his knowledge, introduced me to one of my closest friends, Louise Pieterse. It was at Up the Creek, and a mutual friend came to me, asking if I knew of anyone who had red lipstick. I asked her why they were looking for that because none of our festival family really wears make-up. She explained that it was for Kobus. On that stage, he smeared himself with lipstick or paint for their performances. I told her that I actually had some, and they must come to fetch it. I was still working at Up the Creek at the time. The friend with her, who turned out to be Louise, followed me to the tent and got the lipstick. It was returned to me later that evening, and I still have that lipstick. Every time I look at it, I remember the moment and how it was the start of a beautiful friendship.

By now, my eyes are sore and red from crying. My heart doesn’t want to believe it, and neither does my soul. And the more I speak to people, the more they share the same feeling. Doc Barry gave me some good advice when I spoke to him over the phone about the news: “We just have to let it sink in.” And this is true. The more and more I think about it, the more and more it’s sinking in.

Kobus de Kock Jnr and Gareth Bunge of The Black Cat Bones performing at Woofstock 2024, Mustangs, Nelspruit. Photo supplied by Woofstock South Africa

It just comes down to this: we must love each other, and we must live. I loved Andre’s answer during Kobus’s memorial that he had lived. And it’s true. As humans, we can never truly understand each other and how they are feeling, but we can relate. We can carry our own burdens and yet be there for another person. Love who you can. Cut out those who don’t do the same. Respect your mind and love your soul. At the end, that is what you have.

Kobus de Kock Jnr of Black Cat Bones and Marley of Small Town Music
Rot and Marley

In my own words, Rot, Kobus, and Maat…… You and I had such a wonderful conversation at your last Nelsparta gig. I told you how proud I was of you, how far you have come, and how you are doing your best as a dad, a friend, and a bandmate. Your eyes lit up when you spoke about the twins. I once gave you a drawing of two lion cubs when they were just about to be born. We spoke about your sober journey and how some artists have supported you and given you advice. You gave so much that night, and that was your third gig for the day alone. I head-banged with you. I raised my hands up to the heavens and cried, wishing Anthony was there to still see it all. Experience it all. You are a true person and a dear friend. I cannot tell you enough how much love I have in my heart for the Black Cats. I’m truly going to miss you, like I already do. Andre, Casey, and Gareth—you will always have a home in Nelsprata. You guys call, and we are there.

Lief jou maat, mis jou x

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.