03 August 2011 by Chris Marais

The Loxton Blues

Not many people have ever visited the town of Loxton in the Northern Cape. So when I tell you it’s a cherished place, you could be forgiven that raised eyebrow.

At first glance, say at lunchtime on a midwinter Sunday, Loxton looks like the retirement home for the Lost Patrol. Not somewhere you’d imagine hearing the laughter of the young.

But Loxton is blessed, in many ways. Take the local kids, for instance. When they need something extra in their lives, something not covered in a government budget, farmers’ wives and other well-wishers band together and sort them out. Something tasty in the lunch box, or a trip to the sea. The kids come first in Loxton.

I found that out some time ago when a very special lady with a booming voice turned the Loxton church hall into an after-midnight blues club simply with her presence, her songs and her able piano player. All for the Loxton kids.

That’s the way we do things out here in the Karoo, the dry heartland of South Africa. There’s not always money for the hi-tech performance gear that gets taken for granted in a city. But people like Antoinette Pienaar know about ambience and passion.

Antoinette knows the terrain and the people well - she grew up on nearby Carnarvon, and now lives in Beaufort West, a few hours’ away drive in her trusty red pickup truck.

Swooping about like a sunburnt angel in altar-dress white, Antoinette transformed the Saturday morning church hall into something altogether more exotic. With a few throaty notes, she became a torch singer in a New Orleans basement club.

She sang songs in praise of windpumps, love, yearning and the open skies of the Karoo. It was a special kind of magic - the same kind of magic that lets a child dream away…

Category: Culture & History

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