At 63, pub circuit veteran Brian Finch is still on the
road – and ruefully loving every moment.
JIM FREEMAN (TGW SUNDAY) WEEKEND ARGUS – OCTOBER 24, 2010/
IT’S JUST before 2am on Saturday. The Melkbossstrand gig is over but
there’s still one big table of brandy-boisterous farmers and their
partners hanging on ‘hoping for a last song from their hero. Cajoling
him with Jagermeisters and whiskies.
Brian Finch is exhausted – and more than a little emotional-but he’ll
die before he disappoints them.
He’s played for about five hours but he succumbs to their pleas and requests.
Only once does he look bemused-when a woman tells him how much his
songs mean to them on the farm.
Clearly, they remember the numbers that for him are half-forgotten.
Finch, at 63, has not stopped playing and touring for the past 40
years and has now hit his second wind. And he’s milking it because, as
he tells us the next afternoon while stetting up for the night’s
festivities at Cape Town’s Harley Davidson Club, he doesn’t know when
it’s going to end.
Finch is nursing a hangover from hell because the farmers, most of
whom he knows from back when he teamed with Ken E Henson, took him
home with them.
“This job is killing me” he groans.
Forty years on the road is a lot of Jagermeister,whiskey and beer.
Brian shudders, then grins. “And lots of other stuff”
Finch and Henson were one of South Africa’s most-loved duos,
remembered for their pub gigs.
Most of the numbers were composed by Finch but their covers revealed a
myriad musical influences- from Charlie Daniels to Warren Zevon. They
wer often described as a South
African Loggins and Messina.
“But my main influence was always Bob Dylan. I was blown away from the
It’s an admission that causes a chuckle. He’s well-known for a number
where he adamantly refuses to play any Dylan unless a Young woman at a
gig tells him she’ll only get her kit off if he sings something from
the King of Sinus.
“How many roads must a man go down”, croons Finch in the last line of
the song “before he can call himself a man”
Somewhere in that dig at himself is an element of of deeper truth:
Finch is desperately keen to please. He’s an entertainer to his core
and the business of his business is pleasing audiences.
In the past he was mainly the composer and voice that complemented
Henson’s guitar playing. Henson’s been dead three years, but even
before that Finch started developing as a solo performer or front man
of self-convened bands. His voice has a timbre and roughness lacking
in the previous years and it wins him new fans wherever he plays.
He sold over R1 000 worth of CDs at the Melkbos gig, he says.
Finch has just penned his first Afrikaans number, Outa Lappies, about
an itinerant tradesman’s in his home town of Prince Albert in the
Karoo. He needs about another three
songs for a new album but admits that writing them is getting harder.
Singing them, though, is still breeze. No matter how much he complains
about his health and consumption of booze and cigarettes, he is
remarkably spry and relates how he designed and built his Prince
Albert home with “the help of a couple of locals, who mixed the
cement”. He’s a qualified draughtsman, after all.
Finch has also recently played in Britain, the Netherlands and
Germany, a tour he attributes to the power of Face book.
Two hours later and the hangover is forgotten. He’s rocking to a crowd
of bikers and loving it, despite never having ridden a motorcycle
himself. “Can somebody get me a Jagermeister?”.
There’s life in the old dog yet.