In 2015 The Good Luck Bar opened it’s doors and has become one of the most popular live music venues in downtown Johannesburg. Known for reinventing the South African music scene with its wide variety of music genres on offer, every weekend sees top local bands on stage and music lovers can expect to find everything from folk, blues or indie to rap, electro and rock.

The journey over the last 2 years has been a roller coaster of experiences, the good and the bad, but luckily all of them filled with live music. We could not have started, and kept if full, if it wasn’t for support of free-thinking, music-loving folk!” – Nicol van den Berg, The Good Luck Bar.

“The line-up truly shows off just how diverse the people are that have chosen The GLB as their live music home and was chosen predominantly by them. I look forward to seeing all of you nice and early for the happy hour sessions with Half ‘n Half between 16:00 and 18:00 so that we can all be nice and festive before the first band hits the stage. At The GLB, we watch all the bands.” – Gareth Wilson, The Good Luck Bar.
With that said. I had a chat with Mango Groove before their performance this weekend.
 

 

Hi, there. Thanks for your time. Mango Groove came into existence at a very interesting time. Apartheid was practically in its final stages, considering the varied ethnic groups within the band, was it difficult to perform live especially since most bands tend to start in the club scene?

We certainly had our fair share of interesting experiences on the road in those days 🙂 With gigs, we were always careful with venue choice, but you’re right: as with all South Africans in those days, so many everyday decisions were politically and racially fraught and loaded. It’s always good to remember where we’ve come from….

Looking back at the band’s career and your success, do you think that starting the band at that precise time played a large role in paving your way to success? Especially when you consider that Mango Groove, in the transition from Apartheid to Democracy, became a major symbol of Mandela’s Rainbow Nation.

Well thank you for the kind words 🙂 I think timing is always a part of any artist’s trajectory, so this was very much part of our own journey. Nothing self-conscious, and a purely organic process, but we were simply young South Africans playing music and writing songs that reflected our own beliefs and experiences at the time, and our own (very South African) musical and historical influences. That we were even a tiny part of a much greater transitional journey that all South Africans were on is something we treasure deeply.

Mango Groove is seen as a symbol for the rainbow nation. How do you feel about that association?

The Rainbow Nation idea has taken a bit of a battering of late, and it has sadly become a slightly unfashionable notion, but its power as an ideal for this country remains: non-racialism, non-sexism, anti-xenophobia and anti-homophobia values, social justice and a better life for all South Africans. If we are associated with all this, then it is an association we are very proud of 🙂

Mango Groove is very selective about the shows they perform, why is this?

I think selectivity is a key part of how any artist manages their career in SA, as it is not a big market, and one can easily run the risk of over saturation and overstaying your welcome. With Mango specifically, the size and logistics of the line-up is also a factor, and we find that we generally fare best in open-air venues and festivals that reach a wide range of people. Our live show is everything to us, so we also want each show to be as memorable and special as possible. Less is More!

Is there any one album you consider your best?

Hmm….the first two albums were very important for us, but I must say the new “Faces to the Sun” album is one we are particularly proud of….a double album, intensely personal for us, 4 years in the making (!), and something very fresh and fun for us, while also being a “back to our roots” project.

Mango Groove has been around for over 30 years. What would you say is the band’s biggest achievement or highlight?

Gosh, we have been so fortunate through the years, so we are spoilt for choice…Lots of wonderful international touring experiences, to be sure, but above all it had to be the Nelson Mandela inauguration concert at the Union Buildings, broadcast to the world….What a day that was for all of us!

Which South African music acts are making you excited about South African music and ones that you reckon we should keep a lookout for?

So many great artists out there now, so it would be unfair of is to choose! We do have a very personal link to Mi Casa, as Mo T is the son of one of our founding members, and they are putting out great stuff. Again, though, so much talent out there…

What has been the single greatest contribution to the success of Mango Groove?

Gosh, I think for us, Mango has always been “more than music” and it has always been about doing what we love. As long as we continue to get that love back from those who listen to us, we will keep on going: we feel so touched and humbled by the support we continue to get from all generations of South Africans, so that gives us the strength and courage to stick with it.

What kind of show should fans expect from Mango Groove and how will you be able to capture the heart of the younger generation?

The Mango live show is always slightly unpredictable, slightly chaotic, very participatory, very loud, and a real thrash! Throw in the memories and the familiarity, and we hope this touches all South Africans, regardless of age 🙂

What else do you hope to achieve as a band?

More releases and touring aside? Gosh, it goes where it goes, and we celebrate all of it… The Movie? The Musical? The Soft Toy? The Video Game? :):) Seriously, though, if it continues to move us and bring us (and hopefully others) joy, we will continue to explore all the possibilities in front of us 🙂

Be sure to check out Mango Groove at The Good Luck Bar, it’s going to be one massive jol!