All hail this flaming hot new song entitled Demon Grave by Botswana’s hardcore lords Overthrust! The static of fury steadily rises from the dead, possessing a wrath of wicked intonation tangled in the web of this mosh pit anthem! Demon Grave digs up a heavier seed of brutal sanctuary for the undertaking of Overthrust fans. The volume of my energy is on extreme overload as I rock out to this massive banger!
All Music W&P by Overthrust
Lyrics written by Vulture Thrust
Recorded, Mixed and Mastered by Jethro Harris at Milestone Studio, Cape Town, South Africa.
Artwork courtesy of Luke Stroebel Designs
Rhythm guitar – Dawg Thrust
Lead Guitar – Spencer Thrust
Bass/ Lead Vocals – Vulture Thrust
Drums – Beast Thrust
Go here to purchase one of the hardest songs to thrash on my ear drums in 2020 so far:
ZamRock Came To Philadelphia In The Form Of W.I.T.C.H.
On October 19, 2019 I stood front and center at the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia (performance venue) awaiting W.I.T.C.H.; pioneers of Zambia’s ZamRock scene of the 1970’s. As the lights were cast down, we were bedazzled by the arrival of the band spaced out in their own zones. The new brew of musicians mixed extremely well with longtime band member Patrick Mwondela. The iconic keyboardist was stationed like a chemist in his lab creating the most invigorating soundcraft. They wore hats like symbolic wide-brimmed crowns and vintage attire straight out off of a ZamRock album cover.
Photo By: Chris Nelson from W.I.T.C.H. concert in Philadelphia October 19, 2019 (First Unitarian Church)
The right frequency of mood conjured living legend Emanyeo “Jagari” Chanda to the stage (last living member of the original band). His magnetic life force had the audience entranced! His vibrant, youthful spirit danced over and under every musical note. When Jagari chanted “Introduction ” (from the album released in 1974) it felt like the room expanded into a stadium and as if the spirits of the original band flew in. My favorite performance was when the band took us on an astro-ride with “Black Tears” (off of the album Lazy Bones!!). After years of researching ZamRock (a musical genre manifested in Zambia fusing Rock with their traditional music) I felt privileged having the opportunity to witness the ultimate Culture Rock sensation W.I.T.C.H.
My Roxsploitation bandmates Ronin Ali (drums), Chris Nelson (keyboards) and I grooved our rhythmic souls; holding on to each song tightly. Just as I started whipping my hair, Jagari emerged in front of me handing me his cow bell. Call and response gave me a treasured moment; rockin’ out with my Zambian Rock heroes. They played hit after hit! Yes, HITS! If the audience knows the songs word for word, then we the people certify them as hits! It was hardcore. It was funky. It was psychedelic and it was the embodiment of Zambia’s rich musical heritage. W.I.T.C.H totally lived up to the meaning of their stage name: “We Intend To Cause Havoc”.
Samantha “GhettosongBird” Hollins with her Roxsploitation Bandmates Ronin Ali & Chris Nelson with W.I.T.C.H. after concert in Philadelphia.
Meeting W.I.T.C.H after the show was the profound energy that connected me with Patrick Mwondela. Check out my interview with the keyboard maestro.
Introducing Patrick MWondela:
Samantha Hollins: What role do you play, past and present, with W.I.T.C.H.?
Patrick Mwondela: I’m the keyboard player that joined in the second W.I.T.C.H. band lineup in 1979. I was head-hunted with my guitarist friend Emmanuel Makulu.
Samantha Hollins: Primarily, how did you start playing with Zambia’s Rock royalty?
Patrick Mwondela: I was in a youth band called Guys & Dolls and we “stole” a show at a concert with other bands including W.I.T.C.H.. W.I.T.C.H. band was looking for new great talent. Hence the invitation to later join the band.
Samantha Hollins: Were you a fan prior to solidifying your role in the band?
Patrick Mwondela: No I was not particularly a fan. I was a keen observer and saw myself as a rival musician. We were very competitive and had our own band pursuing a different musical path.
Samantha Hollins: What was your initial feeling when you got word that you would be touring with the new line-up of W.I.T.C.H.?
Patrick Mwondela: I was so thrilled I couldn’t believe it was going to happen. I had the initial idea to have a concert in 2014 in memory of deceased Zambian musicians that were part of ZamRock. Footage was taken from the concert which later resulted in production of a music documentary of the W.I.T.C.H. band through Jagari Chanda.
Samantha Hollins: How did playing your first show with W.I.T.C.H. impact you?
Patrick Mwondela: It brought back a lot of memories. At one point I was touched to hear sounds from the other musicians that I heard all those years ago! It was and is always amazing each time we perform.
Samantha Hollins: You seem to zone out into your own world that connects you with your bandmates internally. Where does the music take you once the stage lights and music fills the concert venue?
Patrick Mwondela: I suppose it’s like an actor: you play the character you are on stage. We were musicians that played from the heart. Hence the emotions fans feel when we perform. We tend to bring something that touches hearts. On numerous occasions fans have expressed feeling a ‘warmth’ in the atmosphere.
Samantha Hollins: What influences do you take into your performances?
Patrick Mwondela: I’ve developed my own styles and I don’t recall the origins. I’ve learnt to express my musical ideas through my instrument. In the forming years the influences were from Motown music, Deep Purple, Santana, Earth Wind & Fire, to name a few.
Samantha Hollins: Can you tell me what is the response ratio of new and old fans at shows?
Patrick Mwondela: That’s hard to work out….we certainly know that most of fans have discovered the band in the last ten years! The music is appealing to the younger generation as well; people who were not even born when all the original band existed.
Samantha Hollins: What is your musical life like when you are not touring?
Patrick Mwondela: I have another profession. I’m a Data Protection Consultant and I work part-time with NHS (National Health Service). I advice NHS organisations on matters relating to Data Protection and GDPR compliance.
Samantha Hollins: When was the first time you fell in love with Rock-n-Roll?
Patrick Mwondela: I think I just embraced Rock-n-Roll from an early age when I was learning to craft my instrument. I started on guitar and clarinet then self-taught on keyboards. I suppose a greater appreciation came with joining the W.I.T.C.H. band.
Samantha Hollins: Can you describe the chemistry between the band and Emanuel “Jagari” Chanda during your 2019 tour?
Patrick Mwondela: I would say we just picked up from where we left it in 1979-1980. It felt like “business as usual”. The only difference is that we bring a different attitude and approach to our performance. Both of us had God encounters that have profoundly changed our lives.
Samantha Hollins: If I went to Zambia today would I find a thriving Rock scene?
Patrick Mwondela: Yes. I believe and have heard that there are some bands trying to rekindle the Rock scene in Zambia. We believe we’ve settled the music history records. Future Zambian musicians have a legacy they can look back on for inspiration.
Samantha Hollins: Much gratitude Patrick Mwondela for this epic interview. Sound travels so rapidly that the W.I.T.C.H. influence is now charming the world with their potent vibe; seeping into the history of Rock culture.
To be continued as we continue to explore the dose of ZamRock’s past!
To learn more about the documentary “We Intend To Cause Havoc” (Directed by Gio Arlotta. Written & Produced by Gio Arlotta & Tim Spreng), W.I.T.C.H. discography, future shows and more go here:
Steven Johnson, Grandson Of Legendary Blues Artist Robert Johnson, Sets The Crossroads Straight!
When I reached out Robert Johnson’s grandson Steven Johnson and he agreed to do this interview I went back to where I first met his presence in my room, through my 48” television screen. Rewatching ReMastered: Devil at the Crossroads (released April 26th 2019) about Robert Johnson on Netflix was extremely fascinating. I immediately took detailed notes. Google wasn’t enough for my research palette. I wanted to jot down words from the mouths of Robert Johnson’s kinfolk.
While many were surmising what they believed happened, the most powerful part was watching his grandsons put all of the myth and truths on the table to be sorted out.
Samantha Hollins: As I listened to you speak so fluently about your Grandfather I would like to know who was your griot that passed down these profound stories to you?
Steven Johnson: Stories about my grandfather, Robert Johnson, was passed on by my grandmother, Robert Lockwood, Jr., Honey boy Edwards ( both performed with my grandfather), Ike Zimmerman ‘s daughter ( Ike mentored my grandfather) and blues historian Bruce Comfort.
Samantha Hollins: What was your reaction when you learned that ReMastered: Devil at the Crossroads wanted to do this project and interview you?
Steven Johnson: When Netflix contacted me about doing the documentary, Remastered, Devil at the Crossroads, I was honored and humbled to speak truth on the life and legacy of my grandfather.
Samantha Hollins: Can you tell me more about your dad and his rare visits with his legendary blues father?
Steven Johnson: Actually, my grandfather came to visit my dad twice. Both times he was stopped on the porch by my great grandfather because, being a Southern Baptist preacher, he didn’t want the so-called “Devil’s Music“ being a part of my dad’s life. Each time however, he gave my great grandfather money to give to my dad.
Samantha Hollins: If you don’t mind? How did your dad feel about not having his dad around because of the “Devil’s Music” stigma and how was your relationship with your dad because of it?
Steven Johnson: Dad was raised as a child by his grandparents. Therefore, he had no problem with their decisions. After, my dad was only 6 years old when his dad passed. My relationship with my dad was solidified by his relationship with his grandparents and, later on in his early adulthood; by his mom.
Mississippi Legislators Declare 2011 The Year Of Robert Johnson (including Steven Johnson and his dad Claude Johnson in attendance)
Samantha Hollins: How many grandchildren does Robert Johnson have? How many great-grandchildren?
Steven Johnson: Robert Johnson has 5 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren living today.
Samantha Hollins: Are any of the descendants of Robert Johnson artists or entertainers?
Steven Johnson: I am an artist basically focusing on my grandfather’s music as well as my own and music from the 70’s and 80’s.
Samantha Hollins: You were singing your grandfather’s song with the embodiment of his energy. I would like to know what your favorite Robert Johnson song is?
Steven Johnson: My favorite Robert Johnson song is “Sweet Home Chicago”.
Samantha Hollins: Why is “Sweet Home Chicago” your favorite Robert Johnson song?
Steven Johnson: “Sweet Home Chicago” is my favorite RJ song because it seems to be the Universal National Anthem of the Blues. People from all corners of the world in the music industry know this song.
Samantha Hollins: What is it like to have your wife as your road manager?
Steven Johnson with road manager/wife Misheilaat A 1928 Blues Throwback Bash
Steven Johnson: It’s a blessing because she makes sure I have everything I need. She also watches out for my best interest.
Steven Johnson and road manager/wife Misheila at the 2019 Crossroad Festival in Dallas
Samantha Hollins: What is in the Mississippi air that breathed life into such a down home sound?
Steven Johnson: The Mississippi Soul felt Rhythm and Blues comes for deep within the soul . It is music like none other which paints pictures of life, both good and bad.
Samantha Hollins: From all that you know about your grandfather please tell the Culture Rock audience your take on the whole crossroads myth?
Steven Johnson: Being a preacher for over 30 years, I understand the crossroads myth to be just that: “a myth”. First of all, all souls, and I do mean ALL SOULS, belong to God. Yet he gives each soul choices. Our choices determine our destiny. You can’t sell anything you don’t own.
Samantha Hollins: Can you enlighten us about The Robert Johnson Blues Foundation and the role you play to preserve his legacy?
Steven Johnson:The Robert Johnson Blues Foundation is a 501C3 nonprofit organization established by the Robert Johnson Estate to preserve the life and legacy of my grandfather through the arts, art education, scholarships, youth music competition, mentoring and other community services. I currently service as president of the foundation.
Samantha Hollins: Listening to the stories passed down to you, do you think Robert Johnson would have still been a Blues man if he lived to be an elder?
Steven Johnson: I truly believe deep within that, had my grandfather lived to be an elder, he would have been continuously rooted in the Blues. Hopefully, he would have found his spiritual enlightenment and gospel would have been a part of who he was as well. (hint: like his grandson).
Samantha Hollins: Thank you so much for your time. This will not be the last time I feature your iconic grandfather Robert Johnson upon my Culture Rock Griot. It is extremely necessary to pay homage to the blueprint he laid down for Rock-n-Roll. I hereby induct the Legendary Blues innovator Robert Johnson in my first Culture Rock Hall Of Fame!
With this extraordinary privilege to learn more about Robert Johnson and the legend of the Crossroads, I see it more so as a metaphor. When life meets us face to face there is a sacrificial price to pay in order to understand and usher into, ones true power. What we are willing to give through consistency, hard work and determination is the reward we will receive through our ultimate gifts. Robert Johnson played hard purging his blues into a brilliant catalogue that is even more celebrated today.
Thank you ancestor Robert Johnson May 8th 1911-August 16th 1938
To learn more about how Steven Johnson is preserving his grandfather Robert Johnson’s legacy go here: