Live in Levis

Title portarit-shotThere’s something about blue jeans and music that just go hand in hand, it’s a little bit country a little rock’n’roll and pretty much everything in-between. So for this my last “live In Levis” documentary I chose an old new friend of mine who’s a musician, I call Lexi and old new friend because all though I’ve only know her for 2 years she feels like old friend, she’s just that kind of person I guess.

I met Lexi at Hard Pressed cafe a new vinyl shop that sells coffee in down town Cape Town , or a coffee shop that sells vinyl I’m never sure, either way It feels like the right kind of place to chat about the craft of songwriting.

Lexi’s been playing guitar and writing for the last 13 years, she had no choice really she comes from the most musical family I’ve ever met, her dad is a big time producer and all her brothers and sister play in some kind of band (check out her brothers just jamming it up in studio – incredible!). So when Lexi asked her dad how to play her favourite song at the time, Indie Arie’s “ready For Love” he didn’t send her for guitar lessons, he simply taught her the chords and sent her to her room. She spent that summer in her room practising and writing new songs with the only 4 chords she knew and that was it, not a guitar lesson in sight, she just learnt to play by ear.

She considers herself a songwriter, not a performer – I beg to differ – because she believes the beauty is in the song and so she writes about the kind of stuff that makes the best songs…life! She says she uses it as a way of working through things, good and bad, when she gets it down in a song it all makes sense to her, and she kinda hopes it makes sense to other people and maybe even help them when they go through those things. I thought that was kinda cool, sure does explain why so many songs resonate with you when you’re going through your own stuff right?

The true craft of writing Lexi believes is in the chords, she’s influenced by country music because it’s all about storytelling but she doesn’t really consider herself a country musician. I asked her to define her music or what genre she fits into, she couldn’t, i pressed her for an answer, she told me to stop. I did. Different chords, mean different things she says, they can even make you feel different things, the craft is knowing how to tell a story and make you feel the emotions at the same time through the music.

Lexi had been planning for a gig she was playing at her dream venue, the attic of an old hotel in Woodstock called “The Attic” (how do they come up with these things?) , she likes playing small intimate venues because she says it gives her a chance to connect with the audience and let them feel the stories.

I asked her where she saw it all going and what she wanted to do with her music, after all, like most musicians this is not Lexi’s full time job but merely a passion that doesn’t pay the bills. So i guess paying the bills would be nice she said, but she really wants to collaborate with a whole bunch of different artists and explore different areas of songwriting, in the end she hopes to end up with 10 songs that define her, 10 songs she can put out there and say “This is me” not for anyone else really, just for herself she says. Much to my surprise Lexi has no desire for rock stardom. Interesting I thought, one wonders why when you hear her play.

So, where can you find Lexis music? Well, you can go straight on over to her souncloud account and listen to her songs or jump on to to find out about what she’s doing and where she’s playing.

Okay. Stay fancy.

titleportrait To call Nick bartender feels like an insult, I mean the man isn’t exactly sliding beers down the bar, though despite being one of South Africa’s most awarded barmen, Nick insists he’s just a bartender “I’m here to serve my customers” he says to me.

Now, Nick hasn’t always been a bartender, he’s actually a qualified quantity surveyor (I still don’t know what that is) but the calling of the cocktail shaker was too large for him, and so he put passion first and followed his dream. Good thing he did, as it’s taken him all over the world conducting workshops and seminars as well as competing in both Bacardi Global legacy cocktail competition (where he made the final 8 in 2013) and Diageo World Class Global Bartender (placing 17th amongst the worlds 50 top barmen). The man is a legend with a beard to match.

My first experience with Nick was walking into The House of Machines ready to order my usual “pint of lager” when someone suggested I let Nick make me a drink. So after a quick little chat about what I usually drink and what flavours I enjoy he set out to make me an old fashioned. That single drink changed my drinking habits for life. Watching Nick fuss over everything from smoking the glass on a block of maple wood to trimming the edges of his perfectly cut orange peel blew my mind.

When I set out to document Cape Towns craftsmen (and woman) I always had Nick top of my mind, I don’t think I have ever met a more passionate individual in my life and it comes across in every drink he makes for you, from his stirring technique to his flamboyant pouring he will walk you through every step of the 20minute process…what comes out of the other side is heaven to your mouth. Take a look at the little photo documentary below to get an idea.

final-drink Nick spreads the word of bartending on his tumblr The Alchemist Says and you can find him at The house of Machines most weekends or in any bar around the world really, best to keep track of him on his twitter and instagram 

Nick wears a levis Trucker jacket and old Levis Sawtooth Western shirt.

Okay. Stay fancy.

headerfarren As the second installation in my Live In Levis series I’ve chosen Farren Greening from Barnet Fair Barbers.

See, I cut my own hair for about 7 years. Yep. True story. Look, I didn’t really know what I was doing when I started, but I did know I was pretty sick of paying someone else to mess up my hair, so I kinda thought if anyone was gonna mess it up it was gonna be me. After about 6 years and 8 months, I had got it right (kinda) and then I met Farren.

Farren was cutting hair in high school for his friends, why, well because he was the only one brave enough to do so, it’s also when he remembers getting his first pair of Levi’s, he called them fluffy Levis, but I have no idea what he’s talking about. Like most of us, Farren’s destiny was taken over by something more practical, and so he found himself in the hospitality industry, that was until about 5 years ago when he decided to become a barber.

Farren kinda married into the ‘hair industry’ (weird, sounds like a secret society or mafia family) with his then wife being one of South Africa’s top hair stylists. He had spotted the resurgence of barbers and mens grooming in the UK and decided to bring it back to South Africa, they now have two branches, one on Bree St in Cape Town CBD and one in the Woodstock Exchange, in Woodstock…obviously. The shops are a mess of working antiques, girly mags and products emblazoned with skulls, they also have “What happens at the barbershop, stays at the barbershop” chalked up across the wall, look it aint Vegas but it’s pretty damn cool!

I walked in with a mess of hair (see below), told Farren I wanted something a little more bad ass, and he delivered (see bellower)


AFTER Farren wears a blue Levis Trucker Jacket and Levis 550 Jeans in black.

Okay. Stay Fancy


header---tattoo-close-upManuela-GreyMan Alive, am I excited about this blogging adventure I’m taking on with the folks at Levi’s.

As part of their Live In Levi’s campaign I’ve decided to document some of my favourite people in Cape Town by throwing on a pair of Levi’s and going on an adventure. My plan is to document all the craftsmen of a new generation, people who are experts at what they do without being conventional.

The first is the mother of tattoos in Cape Town, Manuela Gray. This lady is the ultimate tattoo rockstar on every level, and the sweetest person you’ll ever meet. I’ve now had 2 pieces done by Manuela and despite the fact that she is next to impossible to book, when you finally sit down with her the experience is amazing.

Being the only one of her friends who could draw when they were kids, she fell into tattoos by doing them from a very early age. The rest, as they say, is history. Now Manuela travels the world tattooing her rockstar friends, well that’s when she’s not home in Cape Town working 15-hour days at her shop Wildfire Tattoos, organising the Cape Town Tattoo convention, holding art exhibitions and being the worlds most awesome mom! And, when I say tattooing her rockstar friends I’m not kidding – she just came back from destroying Los Angeles while touring with Queen! Insane!

I’d been meaning to get a tattoo with Manuela for ages now, she did a great piece for me when I first got to Cape Town, a little something to remind me to “hold fast” while I ride out the proverbial storm of moving cities. This piece was a little more personal but, in brief, it represented a long journey in love and reminds me that I’m still fighting the good fight!

I walked in one day with a ton of references – all completely different – but somehow, 3 months later, when I arrived for the appointment, Manuela had nailed the design perfectly. We spent ages making sure the placement was perfect, and then I sat for 3 hours in enjoyable pain. The result: my favourite piece to date! Here’s a little photographic story:

final-tattooManuela wears a Levi’s trucker jacket and Levi’s jeans so old she cant remember.

Okay. Stay Fancy.