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Lancaster Band Weblog


the lancaster daybook

Off to Knysna to record again.

November 17th, 2013

The Lancs revived their long term connection with bassman, Howie Butcher, in his locally and internationally acclaimed Peace of Eden studio, to record a live set of their 30 year old song book and some new gems.

The purpose of the sessions was to capture the energetic live vibe of the more guitar dominated quartet that has emerged  after the loss of SaxyG (RIP).  The plan is to release a 40 year anniversary pack that will include these recordings and some live material on DVD. It might also mark a new single release!

Dylan fitted right in and took the ‘Switch Bitch’ seat when not behind the glass. His well tuned ear had a huge impact on the band getting things done efficiently. The performance was ” by necessity highly productive (at the expense of attention to detail)”, as Howie puts it,  and the band managed to achieve 16 lively energetic tracks over 3 days. The benchmark was to ask oneself if the performance would have matched a great one performed live on stage.

Peace of Eden studios must be one of the most idyllic settings in the world. The band accommodations and experience in this beautiful tranquil place was sublime!

The Band working through an arraignment, L-R . Harry (Conehead the Barbarian) Lancaster, Dylan (Switch Bitch) Hichens, Garth (Vader) Hichens and Robin (Elivis Imposter) Lancaster.

Old School joins New School at Mercury Live!!!

November 17th, 2013

Gig Review: Kimberleigh Aleksandra, LMG

“This next song is about partying all night,” Captain Stu frontman, James Klopper, began. “You guys like the sunrise? It’s beautiful through a cloud of liquor.”

The roar of the crowd was enough to signify that this gig – despite the sound issues and some less than stellar performances – was a success.

The night’s live recording started with a bang. The bang of a busted bass amp, that is. Lancaster Band’s opening song ‘The Boys’ was rudely interrupted. Despite this shakey beginning, the multi-generational quartet rocked on. They restarted the song, saying that it was perfect for bringing some excitement. And they were right. They are just the type of upbeat people you need for warming up an audience. Signs of a raucous party atmosphere began to emerge. Towards the end of set, lead vocalist & guitarist Robin Lancaster gave some band history before introducing apartheid era song, ‘Modern Science’. It reached No 1 on Capitol Radio’s charts in 1981 and was a massive hit outside of South Africa at the time, thanks to the band’s controversial political standing.

Grassy Spark took to the stage after Lancaster Band. It’s quite interesting seeing these two juxtaposed. In one evening you receive a wistful dose of days gone by, while keeping things fresh with the band-du-jour. Grassy Spark’s performance was electrifying and arousing, with impressive guitar solos by co-lead vocalists, Yanick Bathfield and Josh Riley. A certain synergy was clearly evident, making for a tight, smooth show. Their interaction with the crowd was phenomenal, too, and by the end of the set everyone – literally everyone save the injured – was on their feet. Not bad for a band who, according to their biography, want to “inject new life into the once mighty SA ska scene”.

Captain Stu are of old stock, too. Founded in the early naughties when most of the band members were still in high school and college, they are younger than the Lancaster dynasty, but hold the same local legacy. They might not be apartheid heroes, but they have been played on almost every radio station, performed at almost every festival in South Africa and have even taken their music to Australia. But despite their seemingly successful story, one can only wonder if this is it for the ska veterans. Their recent Daisies performance was found wanting. An air of awkwardness prevailed, with a pitiful hungover crowd witnessing the show. Perhaps this wasn’t entirely their fault. They were up against the might of The Hives and Skunk Anansie the night before and the arguably early 10am slot did nothing to help. So naturally, although I was excited about the evening, I did have some reservations. Only time would tell if they had made the wrong choice in re-joining the ska scene in early 2012 or if they were just a little bit rusty.

Finally it was time for the stars to step on stage. Ever the awkward band of the hour, Captain Stu’s  first song began with drummer Ryk Otto accidentally dropping his sticks. Hilarity ensued – a perfect icebreaker. After a couple of fun tracks, the band performed the laid-back ‘Only One Life To Live’ to an energetic, dancing crowd. Halfway through the set and it looked like they had this gig in the bag. It was a home run. A cinch. And with a couple of oldies thrown into the mix, the fans went wild.

It is, however, blatantly evident that Captain Stu has steered away from their original, local flavour to embrace a more streamlined, mainstream ska sound. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing. Change is inevitable and any band needs to adapt easily in order to keep up with the rapid progression of the music industry. Their authentic African touch is clearly missed in newer songs, though, and just hearing some of the oldies brought a feeling of nostalgic euphoria to the audience. Overall, this was a riveting gig from start to finish, despite the technical hiccups and I can’t wait to hear the live recording.

Awesome to play live with Captain Stu again!

November 17th, 2013

Father and son, playing up a Ska hurricane!!!

November 17th, 2013

Garth and Dylan Hichens, Mercury Live.

Comment by Stephen Burke Lancaster Band. Just saying the name brings the taste of tequila to my mouth. But in a good way.

Review by June E Smooth

80’s Cape Town heritage survivors Lancaster Band had been riding on a high having enticed Ella Mental out from the shadows of time to join them for what was panning out to be the retro gig of the year. Sadly Ella Mental’s Heather Mac, lead singer, suffered a setback that was to scupper the party. Tim Parr had rallied the band and they were working hard to resurrect their 80’s live set when the unfortunate situation arose. Robin Lancaster’s appeal on the Facebook Group Cape Town Punk and New Wave Bands of the  70’s and 80’s was responded to by the members of Switchtalk, a bunch of New Wavers  who also played the Cape Town venues Lancaster Band frequented during that era. So it was back to business and the show went ahead at Mercury Live.

From the opening bars of Switchtalk’s set, the lively and big enough for a party crowd knew they were in for an authentic show. As the set developed and the levels of sweat rose, dance moves from the day began to emerge. It was a crackling emotional vibe. Happy survivors looking around at each other with knowing grins, while greens in the crowd easily got the vibe and were doing  funny moves with gusto. Switchtalk had pulled out all the stops at short notice and they cooked! What a thrilling start to the gig. Switchtalk had … er … switched on the burners!

The Lancs commenced their set with spot lit Robin Lancaster’s solo vocal introduction to Modern Science. The venue hushed momentarily before the full band cracked into the groove they are best known for. Authentic, tight and passionate. The rhythm section, Harry Lancaster on drums and bassman Dylan Hichens playing in the pocket all night, with angular guitar brush strokes by Garth Hichens, complimenting the crosshatch rhythm and lead vocals of Robin. The set racing through gems from the 80’s release Comic Strip Heroes, had The Boys and The Girls flash past in a bolt of sweat, liquor and adrenaline.

Closing the set with a tribute to the recently passed, and much loved reed man, Gary Munroe, AKA SaxyG, the band joined by Vince Conell, on Sax and Clarinet, sent the happy crowd home with the words ‘Take him away!’ doing somersaults in their heads. Bands from this era had no qualms infusing politics into their repertoire. The final  ‘ Tears In My Eyes’ throws a powerful political punch at poor governments in general, but a large measure of this seemed to be aimed at our very own number 1.

Long live Lancaster Band, long live our music heritage!

Lancs joined by 80’s survivors Switchtalk for a party of note.

November 17th, 2013


Calling all the Cape Town crew who frequented clubs like Scratch,The Mix, 1886, Ritas, Indaba etc. in Cape Town in the 80s - this party, with 2 live bands from the era, and wall to wall sounds from the vault, is going to resurrect those heady dangerous days when nothing mattered but the dance floor, until, drenched in sweat, it was time to hit the Cadiz Nosh bar for munchies!! This is not a party to miss - it might never happen again …

To help set the tone here is a review by John K Langemann, who was at the G Spot whith Lancaster Band and Baxtop:

Wow! The G-Spot in Wynberg really found the Spot Last Night With Two Cooking Bands from Yesteryear, who not only at least matched the performances of their heyday, but who would have Blown away Most Modern Day Contenders.

Lancaster Band could easily outpunk today’s punks with attitude and drive. Very reminiscent of the days when ‘kortbroek’ Brian Davidson vocaled for them. They played hard, tight and in the pocket. The lyrics were as if we were back in the struggle era. Even George Bush got no mas.

The Cape Town 80s band Switchtalk are joining us for the party. Their commitment at late notice to make this an authentic era party is appreciated. And furthermore to make sure of that authenticity, Kevin Winder will provide wall to wall 80s era beats going till late.


June 4th, 2013



Yes it is actually happening … Lancaster Band, one of South Africa’s longest surviving heritage bands will be hosting one of South Africa’s greatest bands of all time … Ella Mental - featuring Tim Parr and Heather Mac, in an 80’s reunion party of massive proportions. Thanks to Kevin Winder @ Mercury for the huge support. Kevin will be providing wall to wall sounds, the likes of which one would have danced all night to at clubs such as Scratch and 1886, if you were lucky enough to have been in Cape Town in the 80s. In this spirit the Lanc’s will present their energetic song book spanning 40 years and Ella Mental will  bring that dynamic, dramatic live act that took the country by storm in the 80s, back on stage. This is a not to be missed event!!


May 2nd, 2013


The Lancs reprise its 1979 Battle of the Bands - BEAT 79 - with SA’s greatest blues rock band and winners of the competition, Baxtop, tomorrow night 3rd May.

Go to and like The G-Spot Facebook page to gain membership and access.

9:00 - LANCASTER BAND, the original ensemble formed in 1974,one of the bands that spearheaded ska in South Africa. Dylan Hichens (bass), Harry Lancaster (drums), Garth Hichens (guitar) & Robin Lancaster (guitar & vocals)

10:15 - BAXTOP, Surfacing in Johannesburg during 1978, these guys are the true pioneers of South Africa blues-rock.
Larry Amos (guitar & vocals), Tim Parr (guitar & vocals), Bruce Williams (drums & vocals)

11:30 - ALL STAR JAM

Lancaster Band at Little Freedom Farm Party reunion festival 2013

March 7th, 2013
Yes it is happening. Here is the detail from the originator of these events dating back to 1978, Bruce van der Spuy - another Little Freedom Farm Party: Friday 29th March-Saturday 31st March

Ok, so some 30 years later we’ve decided to have another Little Freedom Farm Party - The Reunion! So bring your tent and all the necessary camping survival gear (we are not going to list them, you should know by now) and join us this Easter weekend at the Last Resort - 15Km from Hermanus on the Stanford Road (5Kms further than last time). The site is amazing…we have a river, two large dams, great camping sites, fresh water, showers & toilets, a stage with a Bedouin covered front of stage area amongst large trees, there’s a chill teepee, there’s a party lounge, food stalls and of course there is MUSIC – good homegrown stuff (we’re thinking of inviting Rodriguez to the next one, just to add a bit of spice) for now we are joined by Lancaster Band, Larry Amos (Baxtop), Slow Jack, Boulevard Blues Band, Gypsey Blues, Akkedis, Adam’s Family, Reini Adelbert, Stoneage, Da Da Fm and more. Our full program will be out shortly.

So here’s the buzz ( How to attend the Little Freedom Farm Party) :

• Finish ‘work’ on Thursday (28th March) go home chill and pack your car, you will have missed the Easter rush.

• Friday morning (after a good breakfast) leave for Hermanus – If coming from Cape Town or Somerset West, do the Coastal Route via Kleinmond – it will put you in a good mood for the party. You can even have a light lunch in Hermanus, stock up on cigarettes or whatever before you head out to the Last Resort.

• Gates open at 12 noon Friday 29th March – arrive, pitch a tent, make yourself comfortable, go for a walk, go for a swim, chill in a lounge – we’ll have suitable background music. Friday night is chilled – it is Good Friday for goodness sake.

• Slow Jack starts the party at Sunset, followed by Adam’s Family and then it’s The Boulevard Blues Band with Akkedis to end the evening.

• Saturday morning…have a swim in the dam, have breakfast – your own or ours…chill out for the morning. Lunchtime we have Gypsey Blues and then it’s down to the river, bring your guitars and djembis, we’ll have a jam.

• Sunset played in by Reini Adelbert and then the party starts with Larry Amos (Baxtop Blues), Lancaster Band, Stoneage (with Peter Leibrandt ex Black Frost) and then Da Da Fm.

• Sunday after a late breakfast we have a Lunchtime Jam (and toast) and then it’s time to head home.

Do’s and Don’ts

This is the greenest Festival ever - the area is pristine and that’s how we want to keep it. Whatever you bring you must take home with you that includes your wife/girlfriend, children ( we are children friendly), friends and your rubbish - please bring a black bag along and take everything you brought home with you. Unfortunately NO pets are allowed. Also you may bring your own liquor-we will have a party lounge-but ALL liquor must be decanted into plastic bottles and ALL beers must be in cans (ALL of which you must of course take home with you). You can swim in the dams (bring lilos or anything that floats) you can go on a river cruise, wine tasting, nearby quad biking, fynbos hiking, visit the local town of Stanford or even go for a flip in an airplane…and more!

VERY IMPORTANT! NO fires will be allowed anywhere on the premises, other than designated areas. The Last Resort provides a communal fire to chill around and designated braai areas. NO personal fires allowed at all.
Thank you.

Tickets (Participation)

This is a party-and in order to participate you need to contribute. Cost per person as follows:

Friday 29th March-Sunday 31st March (Full Festival ticket) R300
Saturday 29th March-Sunday 31st March R200
Sunday 31st March (day trippers) R50

You really can’t stay anywhere cheaper than this in Hermanus for Easter weekend and no one else has the MUSIC! Also, we’re running an “Early Bird” special of R250 for a full weekend pass, if tickets are bought before Wednesday 20th March. Tickets are limited, don’t delay!

Tickets are available at:

Of course, you attend the Festival entirely at your own risk. The owners and or organizers of the venue are not responsible for loss or injury to person or property of anyone entering, remaining on or exiting the venue, for any reason what so ever.

Great, we look forward to seeing you there for a totally unforgettable weekend!

Kindest regards,

Bruce van der Spuy and The Little Freedom Farm Party people


September 24th, 2012

Our dearest Saxy G passed away on the 23rd September 2012, after a long brave fight and we mourn the loss of our special front-man. The Lancaster Band community will never forget this larger than life person who was widely loved and respected by everyone who knew him. Hamba Kahle Gary.



February 5th, 2012

It’s 30 years since Lancaster Band released ‘Comic Strip Heroes’ and we’re happy to be taking to the stage to play some of the old favorites as well as some new material too!

We’ll be sharing the stage with the likes of aKing, Machineri, Van Coke Cartel and others…

So come down to the Herzlia Primary School fields for a day of great music and fun.

TIME: 2pm - 7pm
ENTRANCE: R60 at the door