Robin Auld talks to THE SHOW about Auldfield, his collab with Wendy Oldfield, as well as their shared work ethic, nostalgia, and why the present is just as (if not more) rewarding.
06 October, 7:30pm
The Thomas Easton, 61 Durban Road, Mowbray
In 2007 Robin Auld walked into a soundcheck at the BMW Pavilion with his guitar case. A small group of younger musicians had been playing a run of Andy Lund’s production of Bob Dylan: Life, Love and Music there, to which Auld had been invited as a guest performer for the night.
It would have been perfectly acceptable for the then-veteran SA pop icon to demand the treatment, the pride of place and the run of the show. Instead, the Zambia-born surfer dude quietly plugged in his guitar, tuned up and asked: “Where do you want me to stand?”
Z-Astaire did many gigs with Sweatband in the 80’s
A few years later – in 2012 – Wendy Oldfield agreed to a taped interview and performance for Rolling Stone’s The Story. Similarly, the Garden Route resident turned up in Cape Town, sat to one side while the technicians set up the taping (it could take a while), and when the time came for her to be ready, there she was… as undemanding and patient as anyone might imagine.
Is this quietly calm but professional attitude borne out of some mysterious Pop Shop of South African music stardom? Auld and Oldfield’s respective bands, after all, shared many a stage back in those electric days of number one hits and soaring album sales.
“We have known each other for around 35 years,” Auld explains to THE SHOW. “We met when I was playing a residency with Rob Hack at Fanny’s in Claremont. Z-Astaire did many gigs with Sweatband in the 80’s and we all knew each other well – myself and John Mair were good friends.”
And now, Oldfield and Auld are formally presenting a proper collab project, cleverly named Auldfield. But it’s not an entirely new idea, and it wasn’t even when they appeared on Balcony TV: “Wendy and I did various one-off collabs over the years, sang on each other’s albums and did shows, but this is the first time we’ve played together as an ‘item’.”
Keep on truckin’
Both artists are still writing new material and releasing, rather than resting on past glories. Auld is aware that many old fans may not have continued on the journey with them. But that’s ok.
“SA mainstream radio has very little interest in contemporary roots music so we both have a bunch of albums that the public is not very aware of. The nostalgic view that the public tends to take is something we address in our shows.
“We play the old hits that people want to hear, and also a good spread of songs from the last 15 years. Sometimes people are happy to come with us into the present, and sometimes they just want to stay with the nostalgia and that’s cool with us.
SA mainstream radio has very little interest in contemporary roots music so we both have a bunch of albums that the public is not very aware of
“We enjoy playing together and always have a blast, the Auldfield idea seems to be something that people respond well to, so we just gonna keep on truckin’!”
Maybe it’s the unruffled, dyed-in-the-wool and down-to-earth artistry in both these icons of SA music that has made them as professionally and personally successful as they are. And that, in turn, has allowed them to remain two of the finest performers in any given South African town on any given night.