About

The short version

The Pebble Shakers is a Cape Town-based group of jazz musicians specialising in swing-era tunes – both well-known classics loved by swing enthusiasts the world over, and South African swing tunes that have been buried in the archives, and revived to play for live audience for the first time in decades.


The long version

The Pebble Shakers is a Cape Town-based group of jazz musicians specialising in swing-era tunes that will get your feet tapping and booty shaking like its 1937. A perfect fit for functions wanting an upbeat vibe that will get people dancing.

To celebrate the history of jazz in South Africa, the band also plays a selection of swinging South African tunes that haven't been played live in over 70 years, through the Echoes of Sophiatown music revival project.

The band has recently developed a special repertoire of rare South African swing tunes from the 1940s and 50s to celebrate the history of jazz in South Africa. These are songs that were local hits in the era but which the apartheid government tried hard to suppress and censor – several of the songs were coded protests to the regime. It has taken 3 years to track down surviving recordings, usually in bad condition. Cape Town Swing ran a crowdfunding campaign in 2018 to fund the transcription of 40 of these songs, 12 of which were recorded in February 2019. The recording, called Echoes of Sophiatown, is available to purchase online as a CD, vinyl recording or digital download. Most of these songs have not been played live in over 70 years. It’s quite an experience to hear this music, a small piece of light from a dark time. 


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Band Members

The Pebble Shakers is made of up a talented group of Cape Town-based musicians. The band is managed by Brendan Argent, and Craig Smith is the band's sound engineer.

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Thandeka Dladla

Vocals

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Angelo Danster

Trumpet

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John Bartmann

Guitar

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Carla Stokes

Tenor Sax / Clarinet

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Moses van Rensburg

Drums

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Sarah Blake

Double Bass / Vocals

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Matt Willis

Trombone / Vocals

Band Members

The Pebble Shakers is made of up a talented group of Cape Town-based musicians. The band is managed by Brendan Argent, and Craig Smith is the band's sound engineer.

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Thandeka Dladla

Vocals

Thandeka Dladla is a versatile vocalist who is equally at home in both the jazz and Afro-soul spheres. She has shared the stage with some of SA’s top musicians such as Amanda Tiffin, Nomfundo Xaluva, Shaun Johannes, Jason Reolon and was a part of the UCT Vocal Ensemble which performed with Gloria Bosman in 2015. She has also participated in several youth jazz festivals including the Artscape Youth Jazz Festival and the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Festival in Grahamstown.

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Angelo Danster

Trumpet

Starting trumpet at the age of 13, Angelo Danster has played with big names over the few years such as Judy Boucher, Lira, Judith Sephuma, AJ Brown, Emo Adams, Garth Taylor, Michael Pipoquinha and Dan Shout to name a very few. Playing at events such as Jazz on the Rocks, Grahamstown National Arts festival, Brass Pops at Artscape, Big Band Festival, Cape Town International Jazz Festival, Greenmarket Square and many more. Passing his Grade 8 music exam in 2016 with a distinction and 1 year of studying jazz at SACM, Angelo has a bright future as an Upcoming Young Lion on the trumpet.

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John Bartmann

Guitar

Passion, versatility, positivity and enthusiasm are some of the attributes that can be expected of all-round performer John Bartmann, who has worked as a guitarist, violinist, producer, chorister and band member over the past 15 years. Bartmann began producing music in 2006 and to date, has licensed compositions to Wagram Records (France) with his band PRAVDA, as well as DNA Musik (Germany), various theatre productions funded by the UK Arts Council and the South African Broadcasting Commission.

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Carla Stokes

Tenor Sax / Clarinet

Having studied Jazz Performance at UCT, Carla Stokes is a full-time musician and teacher, specialising in saxophone and clarinet. She has performed with various bands in and around Cape Town, including the UCT Big Band, the Lady Day Big Band, the UCT Alumni Big Band, her own trio, and with various local musicians in other bands. She has performed at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Festival in Makanda (formerly Grahamstown), and at the Cape Town Big Band Jazz Festival. Carla continues to play in The Mike Campbell Big Band outside of UCT, performing at events in and around Cape Town.

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Moses van Rensburg

Drums

Being a preacher's son, Moses van Rensburg spent many years playing the drums in church from the age of 16, and also played in many gospel bands. Later, he started experimenting with jazz drumming and played for a few jazz bands around Cape Town. He's done a few studio recording sessions with various bands, and is currently the drummer with the Pebble Shakers, since its inception in 2017.

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Sarah Blake

Double Bass / Vocals

Double Bassist and vocalist Sarah Blake comes from a family of musicians, and has been playing music since the age of 3. Since completing her studies in jazz composition at UCT, she has established a name for herself with the popular Cape Town-based band Manouche. She has travelled extensively through music, in the USA, Europe, Seychelles, Mozambique, and soon Botswana. Her  bass and voice combination leaves audiences buzzing with good energy and joy.

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Matt Willis

Trombone / Vocals

Trombonist Matt Willis has played on local and international stages as both as resident band member and session musician. His jazz background has brought him into ensembles alongside Brian Thusi and the SA National Youth Jazz Band, Jannie van Tonder's Biggish Band. Along with time spent performing around Alaska and New Orleans with cruise liner show bands, he has also kept active locally with ska and punk bands Captain Stu, The Rudimentals, Hog Hoggidy Hog and Grassy Spark.

Listen

The band's repertoire includes both swing classics that are popular with swing dancers around the world, and South African swing songs originating from 1930s-50s Sophiatown and other jazz hotspots.

Swing classics (live recordings)

Sunny Side of the Street

Dinah

Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives To Me

St James Infirmary

South African swing (from the Echoes of Sophiatown CD)

Third Avenue Special

My Parents

Chobolo

See You Later

Watch

With swing dancers as their primary audience, the Pebble Shakers are a regular feature at Cape Town Swing events, including monthly parties and annual events such as Mother City Hop and Swing Camp.

Introduction to the Echoes of Sophiatown project (March 2019)

The Pebble Shakers live at Mother City Hop

Playing XXX at The Mash Tun

Dancers at Mother City Hop, with the Pebble Shakers playing I Wanna Be Like You

Thandeka Dladla singing Pata Pata

Swing Camp 2019

“Loved, loved, loved them! Bought the CD and still listening to it!”
“Brilliant, and with a unique, local flavour.”
“[Dancing] to the old SA swing tunes played by the Pebble Shakers was a truly exhilarating experience.”

Connect

Get in touch to request a downloadable EPK with high-res photos, music samples and full band biographies, or to find out about the band's availability: