Bacchus, a Standerton man, was born Stephen Nel, and was born with the gift of sight. However, when he was just 21 and working as an insurance salesman, his Volkswagen Beetle collided with a truck. The accident would leave Stephen blind. Out of this tragedy grew something quite amazing, an ability to play, sing and compose music.
He was spotted by Piet Botha who helped him record his debut album, ‘In Die Arms Van Die Nag’. The songs are full of images and feelings with generally a sort of sweet and sad feel to them. They have a kind of late Sunday afternoon feel to them where you are relaxed from the weekend but the spectre of Monday’s work is just making its presence felt.
‘Trek Oop Jou Gordyne’ (open your curtains) is, for me, the stand out track on the album. It is one of the more upbeat ones which tells you to ‘trek oop jou gordyne/dat die Here’s lig op jou kan inskyn’ (open your curtains so that God’s light can shine on you’). It is an invitation to look around and count your blessings. The lyrics go on to talk about valuing family and cheekily quotes Johannes Kerkorrel’s ‘Sit Die Af’ but instead of sitting dit af to get away from the apartheid propaganda of the day, Bacchus says ‘sit dit af’ to spend time in the kitchen with the family.
The song bounces along on some neat bongo slapping with Bacchus’ guitar seeming to come in halfway between Duane Eddy and Sipho Gumede, drawing both on western rock and African sounds. And cutting a path through the music is Bacchus’ voice which is both sharp and mellow. So, open your curtains and play Bacchus Nel out loud so that not only you, but the world outside can hear this special talent.
Where to find it:
In Die Arms Van Die Nag – Bacchus Nel (2005)