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The Cottonfields: effectively making Bluegrass Rap ‘n’ Roll sound cool

April 24, 2013



I may have taken to The Cottonfields because they’re one of the very few bands I know of to come out PE. (Seriously, who actually lives in Port Elizabeth? Oh well, at least they’re not from Cape Town.) But, geographical prejudices aside, this five-piece’s style of music, described as “bluegrass rap and roll” is something that deserves your attention.

Obviously my favourite thing about their music is the bluegrass side of it. When they hit the groove, the band sounds like Ryan Bingham playing the blues, on a bayou in Louisiana. But then, up from the outside, comes some artistic white boy rap which brings up memories of New Academics, and brings you right back home to Mzansi.

“Hold On”, one of the tracks off what I think is their debut EP (there’s a very minimal amount of info floating around on these guys), shows off this juxtaposition perfectly:

Because of their bluegrass influence, I like to imagine that the band is named after the Lead Belly song of the same name (also by CCR and the Beach Boys), but again – minimal info, no proof of that. But wherever it comes from, I don’t think there’s a band in South Africa today who’s playing such well-crafted country-style music. I love all kinds of Americana, but I know it’s an acquired taste, and I see this brand of it being acquired by a lot of people if these dudes stick around.

Other songs off the EP also stand out, like “Don’t Bite The Hand”, that switches it up and let’s the rap vocals take the lead while bringing a thrumming steel guitar backbeat around the outside. And “Binary Bones” that is the sexiest blues-inspired track I’m sure PE has ever produced.

Tales From A Winter Beard is a thus far remarkably under-rated record – I imagine this band must be a great freaking party to see live and I really encourage you to get in touch with them, listen to their music and boost their following so that the rest of the country and beyond can hear the tunes too!


Monica Davies

Monica Davies

Four years ago, Monica needed a new hobby, so she started this blog. Right now, she can't believe people are still reading it. If you are, she loves you for it.

She believes John Lennon's Imagine is a blueprint for a perfect world and that a house should never not have wine in it. She is currently failing at going vegan.

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  • Jean Du Toit

    Wow this is cool, Jean(rapper/harmony guy) from the Cottonfields just stumbled on this article. Thanks for the props.

    • monxdavies

      Glad you found it, and glad you like it! :)

  • johann

    the lead singer ain’t got a voice for good bluegrass…not at all appealing – sorry.

    • monxdavies

      I actually think his is a great Americana voice. Perhaps not a traditional bluegrass one but this isn’t traditional bluegrass music. :)

  • pateroo

    Nice…thanks for this shout. Really like what they’re doing.