The Howlin' Shibanski
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The Howlin' Shibanski

Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa

Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa
Blues Rockabilly




"No clone Shibanski!!!"

NO clone Shibanski! Y'all are doin it. thanks youz for bein original and full o' soul brothas - Washboard Jackson, Mississippi bluesman and ReverbNation fan

"Authentic Rough-Hewn Blues"

"The Howlin’ Shibanski – somewhat unexpectedly, given that they’re from Muckleneuk, in Pretoria – specialise in authentic, rough-hewn blues, and L’Etranger’s earnest wail, over a spare backing of drums, bass and guitar, sounds as convincing as any former slave from the Deep South." - Bruce Dennil, The Citizen (Jul 05, 2011)


NO CLONING HERE!!! If you want real blues, get it straight from South Africa! Get it from The Howlin’ Shibanski!!! - BluesBabies.Net


Still working on that hot first release.



Full Bio

For every member of The Howlin' Shibanski, one could say that the blues travelled silently through the night and nested in each of them once it found them. It found Midiane The Stranger in a study in Pretoria in July 2010. He opened his mouth and the fire, darkness and bile he was carrying came out, strewn through the prism of the blues. When his then colleague and now ex-bassist Pieter Botha told him "let's start a blues band", it was an idea, just one of those non-committal ones you throw around on a slow Friday afternoon. But after his meeting with the blues, Midiane's voice - already growing feet, claws, and teeth - turned into a question… "What if I'm a bluesman? What if this is really a blues band?"

A couple of rough 'garage band’ recordings later, Botha, The Stranger, and Rynier Prins - the very first guitarist - came together during a smoke break to discuss names for the band. The intensity of the last session had set Midiane digging deep into his modest blues collection and he had worn his ears out, listening to the Howlin' Wolf. So "howlin' " had to be in there, Midiane decreed. The three waded through the other part of the name, through the cliché, the corny, and the absurd. The bassist's wife Rokela piped: "How about Shibanski?" No one asked how or why this particular word because they all focused on the cosmos playing Lego blocks with the fate of the Howlin' Shibanski; they all heard a click.

For the rest of 2010, Midiane was finding his voice and exploring the dark, swampy thoughts, those stories of heartbreak, rejection, and anger that would later culminate in songs like Mr Blues is My Friend or the stream-of-consciousness drunken story The Cowley Road Rant. Many songs were delivered, fashioned, born, and brought to life at jam sessions. Prins would play a simple line or melody that sets off Midiane's imagination and soon, something simple yet profound was born. During this burgeoning partnership, Botha left and Johann Greeff joined as drummer before the end of the year. When demos started going out on the Internet, through social media, and being pushed into the inboxes of editors & journalists, the verdict was unanimous: "it's rough, hard-hitting, unpolished, but something's there.", even echoed by the band's first print review by Bruce Dennil, CitiVibe editor, when he covered the band's early demo.

January 2011 was the first gig of the band and the next month brought the languid, metronomic bassist Fritz Vrede. The Howlin' Shibanski began playing at weekly blues nights, organised by them, at PanDora Art House, a now defunct art gallery nestled into a Muckleneuk hill. The band, shocked, humoured, and oozed dirty raunchy blues from the stage, often balanced out by Midiane's verbal antics and rapport with the crowd. Those basic jams of 2010 were becoming songs, words straight from the gut, hot images of sex, rejection, hate, rebellion, and bitter drunkenness. When The Howlin' Shibanski opened for The Black Cat Bones at Tings 'n' Times in Pretoria, it was really the start of their career.

If you ask around about those one or two songs that define The Shibanski, you'll hear things like "oh, the cock song!" or "dude, he sings about a pearl necklace!" As crude as they may sound, these songs draw in the more eager and inquisitive listener to another realm of song writing. If you judge this book by the cover, you may miss out layers and worlds of meaning. Songs that may sound like they were written for shock value are songs written to exorcise demons, to tell painful stories, to tell others that the blues can go deep without being stuffy.

Meanwhile, Midiane's voice was growing into a howl, the gigs at PanDora a forgotten whisper, and subsequent gigs at Cafe Barcelona meant The Shibanski's footprint was leaving the comfy confines of jams and opening acts. At a STRAB audition gig, Adrian Ziller of The Acoustic Groove Machine quipped when the band started out with a personal tribute to the Egyptian revolution: "This guy's an artist; he doesn't give a fuck about what the market wants!"

Soon after, the nucleus of The Stranger and Prins was coming to an end and March 2011 saw the departure of Rynier Prins. His departure didn't mean the end of his numerous lines and riffs that have been preserved in the repertoire. Auditions were held and Illimar Neitz came up squarely on top. Neitz is credited with adding bones and flesh to a young band's sound, making The Howlin' Shibanski now the little band that will be. The very first jam session with Neitz and The Stranger saw soaring, fiery vocals grafted into searing, shearing blues guitar. The feedback retained a uniformity of "that was mind-blowing!", "music from the heart", and “the guitarist is on another level!"

July 2011 saw the departure of the drummer Johann and brought in Illimar's friend and long-time collaborator Jako Loots, a percussive drummer with a knack for being playful yet steady. For the next 14 months, this line