What happens when you’re a local performing artist who can’t get a gig, or can’t bring yourself to perform in traditional live music venues to possibly insensitive audiences? You could always relegate your music to the confines of your shower, or you could go ahead and create your own gigs on your own terms, which is exactly what creative events company and local music platform Jam That Session did.
Founded back in 2012, Jam That Session is essentially a platform for local artists looking to showcase their music, poetry, or general performance in a safe, like- minded environment. Founded by Cape Town based musicians Andy Mkosi and OBie Mavuso, the creative agency has only grown over the years, featuring some of South Africa’s greatest, hidden musical gems and even a few big hitters in the form of musicians, poets and speakers such as Nakhane Toure, Nova Masango, and Loyiso Mkize.
Why in Cape Town, where there are a host of open mic and live music venues, is there a need for a space like the one Jam That Session provides? As Obie explains, many musicians don’t know where to start and in the country’s local soundscape, most agencies, venues, or labels won’t even look at an artist who hasn’t already ironed out the basics at a few live shows before.
“I know how real the struggle is for a young artist in South Africa,” says Obie. “Sometimes even a little push from a company like JTS is necessary for growth and sometimes that’s the only push you will get, because some companies just won’t want anything to do with you as an artist.”
And collaboration across genres and socio- political divides, as Obie adds, often has the power to make or break you as an emerging artist in today’s musical market. “In terms of gender, class, and race, I think the scene is still very divided, but there is hope,” Obie explains. “Take Nonku Phiri for example, she is often collaborating with electronic musicians like PHfat and really bridging the gap for some of us. There is hope man, I think South Africans are now realising their potential.”
Over the years, JTS has grown to become more of a creative brand, producing video content, and photographic coverage of their events, helping its artists gain online exposure too. Speaking on their upcoming event taking place at The NEST Space in Cape Town, Andy says that they aim to take their audience back to the earlier days of JTS, namely honest art being showcased to a passionate audience.
“Over the last year we were really experimenting with the brand, trying our hand at various things, with this event we want to bring back the old feel of Jam That Session where one knew they would find quality entertainment worth paying for,” says Andy. “It’s so important to us that we grow the arts. I have seen artists perform at JTS who are now doing great things career wise for themselves and I can confidently say it all started on our stage for them. We were part of their growth.”
With a line up comprising up and comers Zoe Modiga, Palesa Kgasane, Odeyack, and Vuyo Renene for their upcoming show, you can look forward to an evening of vocal led performance in a relaxed and intimate space that’s all about celebrating South Africa’s burgeoning live performance acts.
The next Jam That Session event will take place on the 27 February at The Nest Space at 129 Longmarket Street in Cape Town.
All photos by Niamh Walsh- Vorster.