A Wonderboom in the Mist Belt Midlands

By Therese Owen

Wonderboom is one of the best live bands this country has ever produced. Their irreverent, psycho energised shows have garnered them myriad fans over the last 20 years. Their precision musicianship is unmatched in the rock genre. They ignite the sex and the rock n roll with a power rarely witnessed on international stages. They are true legends of the South African music industry.

Having followed and interviewed Wonderboom as a music journalist for a major newspaper company over many years, it was very exciting to discover that frontman, Cito, and his wife Linda had chosen to spend their first real holiday in eight years in the Midlands. Their cottage for four nights was the newly established Misty Mountain Meander.

“We chose the Midlands because for us it is not about luxurious hotels,” he smiled, having just returned from hiking through the mistbelt forest on the Minerva Nature Reserve. “We wanted to stay somewhere beautiful and go hiking. We were at Splashy Fen recently and love this part of the world. We also loved the idea of being off the grid and so this cottage was perfect for us. We just disconnected from the world.

A cottage in the Misty Mountain Meander. Pictures: Terese Owen/Facebook

“My wife is a big nature head and knows her fauna and flora. Going through the forest here was amazing, checking out the microhabitats and the rare trees. The forest is so rich in life. It was the perfect start to our holiday.”

Cito says both his and Linda’s career have kept them from taking a real break from their hectic lives in Johannesburg. On returning from the Transkei’s Mtentu Lodge where they would spend a week, Cito would be throwing himself back into his busy schedule.

This included preparing for the musical The Rock of Ages where he plays the lead, Stacey Jack. “In the film version Stacey Jack, who is a really dodgy, washed out rocker, was played by Tom Cruise. In the stage version the character is even worse,” laughed Cito. The show is set in the glam rock era of the 80s. It opened at the Monte Casino Teatro in Johannesburg late in September.

Now read: Songwriter trippin on Midlands vibes

Cito the frontman, on stage. Picture: Facebook/Cito/Wayde Flowerday Photography

As for Wonderboom, Cito says the machine never stops. The band is constantly writing, workshopping and recording songs as well as performing live. They recently released a traumatically beautiful video for their latest single Hell, which is enjoying success on YouTube. The track was initially written for his solo project, Blvd Hvnny which is pronounced Blood Honey. “I realised the song suited Wonderboom and, even though it’s not one of those wild songs people expect us to go crazy to during our live performances, it really works.”

Cito and Wonderboom worked on the video with close friend and director, Steven East. It stars renowned theatre actress Angela Killian as a Greta Garboesque tragic actress from the silent movie era. The video is a black and white, one shot portrait frame and is haunting at best. The video invites the viewer to take time to experience the music and the emotions of the actress resulting in a superb visual and aural experience. It goes against the grain of the completely “yayyeee” videos that are currently gorging the net.

Dark alternative

There, are plenty of songs where Hell came from, but Cito is keeping them for Blvd Hvnny. “The project was initially just called Cito but when I surfed the net there were a million Citos out there, most of whom were doing hip hop.

“My music is very dark alternative, touching on electro. On these tracks I am Cito being melancholic and finding beauty in heartbreak.”

Before he departed, I asked why the name Blvd Hvnny? That famous naughty glint appeared in his eyes as he explained: “There is an electric box outside our house which the bees kept appropriating. We called a beekeeper and when he left with the bees he gave us two litres of honey from the beehive.

“When I showed my wife she retorted – ‘I don’t want that blood honey.’ That’s because a few bees had to die when the hive was removed.”