Rhett Miller at City Winery
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Jeremy Loops at Brooklyn Bowl

by Steven Pisano

Jeremy Loops, City WineryLast Friday, Jeremy Loops played Brooklyn Bowl on the final night of a U.S. tour aimed at introducing this South African folk singer from Cape Town to American ears. Over the last few years, Loops has garnered a solid reputation in his homeland as a first-rate live act, earning him invitations to several worldwide festivals.

Loops isn't Jeremy's real surname, but a stage name he adopted based on his use of a loop pedal board to create layers of sound as a one-man band. Loops creates a beat with his mouth, plays it back through the loop pedal, then layers on top a chorus, harmonica and guitar - all of which plays under his own distinctive singing. This DIY approach was developed over the course of a number of years working on yachts in the Mediterranean after graduating university, alone in his cabin, creating his own musical world on the high seas.

These days, Loops plays regularly with two other musicians from South Africa, rapper Motheo Moleko and saxophonist Jamie Faull, so he technically doesn’t need to use the loop board to make it sound as if he has a full band. But, he still uses it to build a rich layered sound, recording samples from his bandmates and adding them into the mix. At this show, they were also joined by Mr Sakitumi on electric bass. (I couldn’t tell if that was his real name or a play on the old “Laugh-In” line, “Sock it to me.”)

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The upbeat urban edge provided by Moleko and the jumping jazz of Faull instilled the songs with a jolt of energy that transformed simple folk songs into music that impeled the audience to wave their arms in the air and dance. Much of the crowd at Brooklyn Bowl knew his songs well enough to sing along, most from his debut release Trading Change, issued in early 2014.

Loops clearly enjoys playing live, collaborating with the audience as if they were all his personal friends. And, unlike slicker acts, there is no trace of scripted repartee to win the crowd over. He plays happy, upbeat music, and that makes people feel happy and upbeat. Simple.

Called back to the stage by the enthusiastic full house for an encore, Loops said he’d play one song, then hung around to play several more. It seemed as if he wanted to stay on stage and keep playing songs all night long. But, with an 8:00 a.m. flight back to Cape Town the next morning, he finally decided to call it a night.

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All photos by Steven Pisano. See more photos here.

 

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