One Night With The Parlotones | The Ellerman Sessions

Musicians are just like us. They too are travellers. Adventurers. Their sunshine and starry nights are also often seen in new towns, with new people, while drinking in the unfamiliar. Like us, it’s not uncommon for them to fall asleep in one time zone and wake up in another. Sometimes, there’s no sleep at all.

For us both, there are always new minds to encounter around tables, in the clear light of breakfast and the dizzy daze of dinner. There are always strangers who feel a lot like home, and strangers who get stranger.

Every trip, every gig, is different from the next. Each one finds a way to open your mind a little more. Sometimes, with the right combination of thrill and soul, one day, one night, can feel like a lifetime. It can fill the heart with all the spirit it needs to go on. On every trip, every gig, there are moments you can’t shake, moments that linger in nerve and sinew.

Adventure and soul are what travel and music have in common. Even for the audience, caught in the voodoo of the electric guitar and the wild beats of sticks on a drum. There is a journey in the listening as much as the playing. Sometimes the lyrics and their message take hold of us, pick us up like hitchhikers on the side of the long open road, and carry us from one place to the next. From the quiet red earth desert to the thick dripping rainforest. From memory to memory.

For musicians, as with travellers, there is a sense of purpose. No time to waste. Only more life to chase and sink into. Of course there are different kinds of musicians just as there are different kinds of travellers, but in our hearts we’re made of the same stuff.

That’s how it felt watching the first of the Ellerman Sessions at Ellerman House in Cape Town. That’s what came to mind as The Parlotones, South Africa’s most successful rock band, spun for us, the travellers gathered in the Wine Gallery, the stories behind their songs.

In between sets, Kahn Morbee, Neil Pauw, Glenn Hodgson, Paul Hodgson and Rob Davidson bared their hearts, told their truths, and took us on a voyage.

Sitting with the band in their villa at the hotel, watching the sun dripping over the ocean through distant clouds, we spoke of the most unusual places they’ve played, the favourites, the never-go-back-to’s. We spoke the language of travel… of the airplane tickets, shot glasses and hotel slippers we’ve collected from each far-flung home. Of the adventures that become songs, the songs that become adventures.

But most significantly, we spoke, musician and traveller alike, with the same soul.

Discover the other artists lined up for Ellerman House’s Ellerman Sessions here, and take a look at some images from the first night below.

Of All the Gin Joints in All the Towns in all the World

There’s a lot to do in Cape Town. You’re going to be distracted. It’s okay, it’s part of the fun of being in a new city. You’re going to get over-excited and you’ll have to fight the urge to see and do it all. But what you really don’t want to miss are those few things that others in Cape Town can’t do. Those things that involve secret sessions on balconies, a private seat to an exclusive art collection, and the city’s finest sunsets. And tiered gin trays.

You’re going to want to start here… at Ellerman House. And in our opinion, begin with gin, in a slinky little bar carved into the boulders of this mountain and sea-side escape.

Here is a look at what to expect at your gin o’clock at Ellerman House’s BAR ROC.

Discover more about Ellerman House in their blog.

The Best South Africanisms for the Out-of-Towner

Even though we both spoke English, my South Africanisms were flowing out unconsciously and muddying the language pool. It was one of the first times I realised just how much our unique communal language, with its mix of words and phrases from Afrikaans, Zulu, Xhosa and other African languages, made up my everyday, my every thought.

South Africa is a multilingual country with eleven official languages and its linguistic diversity has resulted in locals borrowing words and phrases from each language creating a unique lexicon of South African slang.

The team at AtholPlace Hotel & Villa in South Africa’s incredibly diverse and vibrant city, Johannesburg, know this feeling well. So to prevent further lost-in-translation conversation stoppers, they have compiled a list of some local lingo and their favourite “South Africanisms”.

Starting with food..

Braai is a widely-used word for a barbecue, where meat is cooked over a fire or coals. On safari you often enjoy an outdoor meal under the Boma, a word originally from Tanzania meaning enclosure. Sitting around before dinner you might enjoy some biltong, a favourite South African snack made from dried and salted beef, ostrich or game (similar to beef jerky).

When dinner is served you could enjoy boerewors – an Afrikaans term for a traditional South African sausage often served at a braai. If you really enjoy your evening you might wake up the next morning with babelaas – local slang for a hangover. But after a few hours in the bos (bush) spotting the big five you will feel lekker (great) again.

Some other helpful words for the bush include: donga – which means ditch and comes from Zulu.

gogga – is a bug and is from Khoisan, meaning creeping things.

shongololo – millipede comes from Zulu and Xhosa, ukushonga, and means to roll up.

When at AtholPlace Hotel & Villa in Johannesburg (jozi), your hosts might pack you some padkos (food for a car trip – originally from Afrikaans). En route, you could hear one of our favourite South Africanisms, the word robot, which in the rest of world refers to traffic lights or traffic signals. Heading towards the city, township slang is everywhere.

Some of our favourites are:

Mzanzi – a popular slang word for South Africa.

Eish: a Xhosa word used to express disbelief, regret or exasperation.

Sharp: often doubled up for effect (sharp sharp!) and means ‘goodbye’ or that everything is alright.

Aikona:  a strong refusal/disagreement, meaning “No! – from Zulu

Mampara: a fool

Tokoloshe: a character from African folklore referring to a mischievous hairy dwarf. Now used as a pejorative term for a small man.

Moegoe: a fool, idiot or simpleton

On arrival at AtholPlace Hotel & Villa, you can settle into your room, change your takkies (trainers) for slops (flip-flops) and pop down to the bar which is totally different to a shebeen (an unlicensed bar or tavern). When offered an ice cold drink your answer could be yebo the Zulu word for “yes and is commonly used.

When it comes to fauna and flora, in the Khoisan languages there is buchu – a name applied to a range of medicinal plants traditionally used to make muti – a slang word for medicine (from Zulu umuthi).

A person familiar with the diverse fauna and flora of South Africa would be called a fundi which has its origins in Nguni’s umfundisi, meaning teacher or preacher and now used in mainstream South African English.

When embarking on a nature walk, you might choose to take a kierie – a wooden walking stick. The Khoikhoi indigenous people who were nomadic hunter-gatherers in the Cape and Namibia originally used the word kirri.

And most importantly, the abundant spirit of the nation… Get familiar with the word ubuntu – compassion, kindness and humanity.