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Short and sweet. You can’t help but love Die Tuindwergies. What they have in common with the direct translation of the word, is that most of the members are not much taller than the usual ceramic dwarfs found in gardens.
A band of two sets of brothers, this musical outfit consists of lead singer and acoustic guitarist Pieter de Jager (Die Kort Dwerg); bassist Dawie de Jager (Die Berg Dwerg); drummer Jean Swiegers (Die Dwerg) and lead guitarist Emile Swiegers (Die Lang Dwerg).
Starting out in 2009 with their debut EP Tuis Gekweek, their hit single Kopskudkinders topped the radio charts on Tuks and Jacaranda fm, establishing itself as a popular alternative band in SA.
Currently on a national tour, the band is trekking through various cities spreading what they call their “fun traditional Afrikaans dwerg” music with the release of their second album, Terwyl die Donker Wolke Dans.
Entertaining an intimate crowd with an acoustic set in Cape Town proved rather interesting. Lead singer Pieter, along with Emile, strummed their tunes in a raw and unpretentious set.
These okes are real: no rock star mumbo jumbo with their relaxed demeanour. And it seems their 16- hour trek from Pretoria that day was not a factor when Pieter belted out pitch-perfect notes. While Jean and Dawie were not part of the set they instead cheered them on.
From their opening song Golwe their soaring harmonies and diverse sound stand out. The combination of country, folk and rock influences are evident in their rhythm. The songs weave into each other seamlessly and the depth of their music and lyrics is captivating.
But the mellow vibe soon changed to an upbeat tempo as Pieter insisted everyone in the audience have Jägermeister shots shortly after cleaning the leftover bottles from stage. They ended off the set with a rather catchy tune: As jy val sal ek jou optel, as ek val sal jy almal vertel.
The band swears by its diverse musical style and maintaining a South African homegrown flavour when we chat after their gig.
“We’re Afrikaans guys from Pretoria bringing you fun dwerg music. We all come from different musical backgrounds and listen to a variety of music styles, but when we come together, we find some-thing in-between that works for all of us.
“We are mostly self-taught, although some of us have studied classical music and jazz. We have that kwela funk vibe to us, too,” shares Dawie.
The title of their album explores nature in all its forms.
“It’s about natural disasters, where there is crime and people hating each other and not conforming to the nastiness of society. Nature will always tell you when you are wrong,” says Emile.
Die Tuindwergies’ quirky name may have started out as a joke about their height, but it is what makes them stand out.
“Nature is in us. We are treasure hunters, we find the treasures in life,” quips Pieter.
• Catch Die Tuindwergies on July 25 at Aandklas in Stellenbosch, on July 28 at Assembly in Cape Town, on August 1 at Memphis Rock in Potchefstroom, on August 2 at Arcade Empire in Pretoria.