BILLY SUTER revisits an interview with singer-guitarist BARRY THOMSON of Durban’s The Reals band, who stars alongside keyboardist Dawn Selby, drummer Mali Sewell and guest bassist Trevor Donjeany in Rodriguez: Cold Fact, a revival of the show saluting Rodriguez, whose hits include I Wonder, Sugarman and Climb Up on My Music. It is scheduled for Durban’s Rhumbelow Theatre in Umbilo at 5.30pm on Saturday, January 16, and 2pm on Sunday, January 17. Final performances are scheduled for 5.30pm on Friday, January 22, and 4pm on Saturday, January 23. Admission is R160 a head. Book at Computicket or by calling Roland Stansell at 082 499 8636. NOTE: Covid-19 protocols will be in place (wear a mask!) and only on lockdown levels 1 and 2 will alcohol be on sale at the venue.
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE GUITARISTS OF ALL TIME?
Jimmy Page, Mark Knopfler, Dave Gilmour, Randy Rhoads, Eric Johnson, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Gary Moore, Eric Clapton… the list goes on. I tend to go through different musical phases but for now Mark Knopfler is speaking to me most.
WHAT ARE SOME MUSIC ACTS YOU DO NOT ENJOY?
U2 – they’re so pious. Also, The Parlotones – limp.
WHEN AND WHY DID YOU FIRST PLAY A GUITAR?
I picked up my mom’s old nylon-string when I was 10. I started playing organ when I was 7, and then decided to try the guitar, after I realised there was a guitar group at school. I took to it immediately. I have owned about 25 guitars in the past.
WHAT FIVE WORDS DO YOU THINK BEST DESCRIBE YOU?
Passionate. Humble. Humorous. Vulnerable. Loving.
SOME THINGS MOST PEOPLE DO NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU?
I dislike briquettes. I talk to the trees. I don’t have a thick skin.
YOUR MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT ON STAGE?
My nerves made me half pee in my pants in Std 6, at a school variety show. It was just before I went on stage with my very first band.
IDEAL HOLIDAY PICK – AND YOUR BEST HOLIDAY TO DATE?
My perfect holiday would involve virtually no-one. Just peace and quiet with nobody around but the sound of palm tree and waves… somewhere in the Seychelles archipelago. The most memorable holiday was six weeks in the USA in 1977. It was every kid’s dream to go to Disneyland!
FIVE THINGS YOU WOULD LIST UNDER ‘VASTLY OVERRATED’?
DJs. Oysters. Designer clothing. Executive status. Religion.
YOUR VIEWS ON CALLS FOR THE REINTRODUCTION OF THE DEATH PENALTY IN SOUTH AFRICA?
I support the death penalty.
DO YOU HAVE ANY FEARS OR PHOBIAS?
Lizards. I’m sh*t scared of them. The scaly ones. Yoh… I won’t ever harm them, but they really freak me out. I was bitten on the finger when I was six, by a blue-headed lizard. It wouldn’t let go. I can still feel the claws attached to my forearm.
IF YOU WERE INVISIBLE FOR A DAY WHERE WOULD YOU GO?
The Playboy mansion.
TWO OF YOUR MOST TREASURED MATERIAL POSSESSIONS?
My Gibson guitar and my gran’s piano.
TWO HIGHLIGHTS OF YOUR CAREER?
Breaking new ground with the Durban stage production, The Guitar That Rocked The World, at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre in 2000. People still talk about that show. The other highlight was a performance at an ealry Durban’s Starlight Pops concert, playing a Dire Straits medley arranged by Dawn Selby… and played majestically by the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra. There were thousands of people there that night!
YOUR FAVOURITE FICTION AND REAL-LIFE HEROES?
Fiction: Batman. Real life: My friend, Bear.
FAVOURITE COLOUR, MEAL, BAND AND ALBUM?
Deep-blue, spare ribs. Led Zeppelin and Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours.
IF YOU COULD HAVE FIVE DIFFERENT THINGS FROM FIVE DIFFERENT PEOPLE, WHO AND WHAT WOULD THESE BE?
Keith Richard’s liver. Dave Gilmore’s guitar. Stephen Fry’s IQ. Donald Trump’s petty cash. Formula One driver Nico Rosberg’s co-ords.
WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU EVER RECEIVED – AND WHO GAVE IT?
Take it in your stride. My gran’s advice.
8 thoughts on “Barry, music, trees and lizards…”
Barry Thompson is awesomely talented and beautifully humble. I first heard him playing Gary Moore’s “Still got the blues for you” at the Heritage Theatre many years back and became an instant fan. Lovely interview, thanks!
Great guy. Thanks
Barry is so vastly talented yet remains humble .His passion for his music is so evident in all his performances.He always gives 100%. What a guitarist.what a singer. What a nice chap.may he go from strenght to strenght.We have so many top notch local performers, such as Barry. Come on SA…support local, top notch talent.
What a top notch muso! A brilliantt guitarist and singer. He always gives 100% . He is so passionate about his craft and puts many other famous musos to shame; yet he remains humble, humerous and friendly with an excellent sense of humour and audience interaction.SA please support this local icon.
Absolute awesome shows
Love Barry to bits. He, Dawn and the Reals are my favourite KZN band. Such a humble down to earth guy. What a performer!
Excellent write up Billy.
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