By Chelsea Haith
Rockabilly country and blues riffs collide with 21st century rock-rap vocal styling in The Cottonfields, a four-piece band hailing from the Windy city. The band has been toiling at the grindstone for three years on and off, mixing their diverse influences and bringing their alternative sound to audiences in the Eastern Cape.
The core of the band consists of Megan Du Toit on backing vocals, washboard and ukulele, her brother Jean on percussion and vocals, Hugo Kleinhans on bass, and the Tom Waits-impersonating ‘Joff’ (whose real name is Steven Carter) on vocals and guitar. Kleinhans is a new addition to the band, as there had been some tension with the former bassist. The group plans to gig more in coming months now that the band is settled in its current form. In 2013 the band released an EP, Tales from a Winter Beard. They are currently in the process of mastering the 14 tracks planned for their next as yet unnamed album, which they plan to release later this year. Playing at the May Day Loose Change event in Grahamstown on 1 May, the band shared the stage with Cape Town act The Shabeen and national indie sensation Desmond and the Tutus. The band feels stifled by their location in Port Elizabeth and looks forward to playing bigger venues in Cape Town and Johannesburg, with a potential move to Cape Town not far from their minds.
“We’d like more opportunities to play in different venues,” said Megan. The band has just returned from their Cape Town tour, which ran in the dying days of April and during which they played at the House of Machines and Pakalolo, where they opened for the bluesy Ann Jangle. Their style has no definite origin, but rather came about as an amalgamation of the band members’ different influences, which include Tom Waits, Rage Against the Machine and Regina Spektor. “We just flung it all together. I don’t think there was ever a point when we were like ‘Hey, let’s make music that sounds like this’,” said Jean.