Lucky Fonz III
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Lucky Fonz III

Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands | INDIE

Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands | INDIE
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This band has not uploaded any videos



"In search of the miraculous"

truly miraculous. I saw one of the finest singer-songwriters walking the planet deliver a performance so spellbindingly beautiful that it made me angry that there were only 14 other people in the room. Two were colleagues from the Mail & Guardian, four were the support band and another was Lucky Fonz III's manager.

Lucky Fonz III is a touring singer-songwriter from Amsterdam who is currently bringing his delightful blend of folk-country to audiences around Johannesburg, Pretoria and Bloemfontein, culminating in a performance at the Oppikoppi festival on August 9. Think Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash with elements of the younger generation of Americana artists such as Will Oldham, Devendra Banhart, Bright Eyes and M Ward.

On Wednesday he played a low-key gig at Back 2 Basix in Westdene, Johannesburg, and I was lucky enough to be in attendance.

This is Lucky's second tour to South Africa; his last tour was in April this year, when he came out to play Oppikoppi's Not Quite Easter festival and a handful of other shows. It seems the guy was such a hit that he's back for a further two weeks of shows.

Ever since the last tour I have had his second album, Life Is Short, on repeat, revelling in beautiful songs such as Draw Me a River, The Island, In Search of the Miraculous and Drops of Water. So, naturally I have signed up for as many gigs on this tour as is humanly possible, which is difficult -- he is pretty much playing seven nights a week (see tour dates below).

Because he is touring with local pop-rock outfit Gently Scar'd, Lucky Fonz took the stage first, politely offering the full band the later slot, even though their songs pale in insignificance when held up against his.

One of the early highlights was Poor Carolina, a song from his self-titled first album, inspired by a story he saw on the television about a Dutch soldier going off to fight in Afghanistan and leaving his love behind. It is hauntingly beautiful and incredibly sad. However, things soon picked up with Once I Was a Lady from his second album and Hallelujah from his first.

The highlight of the show was In Search of the Miraculous, a Leonard Cohen-esque song he wrote about his favourite Dutch artist after going to an exhibition of his.

"This is my second-best song," he said to an audience hanging on to every word. "Just so you pay attention. It starts with a question and, normally, if you know the answer you win a CD, but not tonight because my CDs are in mid-flight. I think they are somewhere over Mali at the moment."

With that he burst into an achingly beautiful version of the song. Next was Drops of Water. "Everybody's seen The Lion King, right?" he asked. "I figured I could write a song just as good as The Circle of Life, so here it is." And, yes, it is so much more beautiful than the Lion King hit.

Another highlight was The Island. "This song really needs a smoke machine, " he said.

"This intro is pretty mysterious, but it's nothing without smoke. You look like creative people so please can you imagine smoke on stage," he added before chuckling to himself. "If you don't like this song, you can buy my first album because it's not on it."

The audience roared with laughter -- well, as much as 15 people can roar. I saw one of the waiters bent over from laughing so much.

Lucky Fonz is something special. He's awkwardly funny, but his songs are so sincere and stunningly beautiful, he can take your breath away. Do yourself a favour and go to one of the shows listed below. One day, when he is famous, you'll go: "I saw Lucky Fonz III in a smokey bar back in the day, with an audience of 15 people." I know I will - Lloyd Gedye


Lucky Fonz III - Lucky Fonz III (2007)
Lucky Fonz III - Life Is Short (2008)



Amsterdam-based Dutch singer-songwriter Lucky Fonz III (born Otto Wichers, 1981) is deeply rooted in American song traditions; from Cash and Dylan to Bright Eyes and Will Oldham. After short stints as a pianist, DJ and busker he started performing traditional folkmusic whilst living in Edinburgh, Scotland. Back in the Netherlands, he became a solo-performing singer-songwriter making his mark on the thriving Amsterdam underground folk circuit. In a relatively short period of time, he managed to become a popular live act. His songs have earned him a devoted following among both the indie fans as well as the roots crowd.