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Lee Thomson is a Cape Town based trumpet player who is well known for his cross-genre ventures and performances in bands like Hog Hoggidy Hog, Mix n Blend, We Set Sail, and Kesivan and The Lights, amongst others. He also sessions for Goodluck, Toya Delazy, Grassy Spark and many more.

Lee holds a degree in Jazz Performance from the University of Cape Town, and was a member of the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Band. He regularly tours the world with his various projects, having played to audiences across Europe, India, Mexico, Reunion Island and South Africa.

We caught up with Lee to ask him a few questions in the lead up to his performance at the October edition of the First Thursdays Sessions.


Image by Laura Mccullagh

Let’s start at the beginning. Where did your love for music begin and what lead you to pursue the trumpet? I was always drawn to music as far back as I can remember, obsessed with choirs and the drums. My love for the trumpet started when I was lucky enough to see Hugh Masakela for the first time at Kippies in Joburg with my dad and my stepmom. That coupled with an opening trumpet slot when I was 14. My first teacher was Trumpet legend Ian Smith. He really inspired me to practice and take the instrument seriously.

You have a degree in Jazz Performance from UCT, but you’re also well known for performing in bands that fall outside of the jazz genre? How did the one lead to the other? For me music is music. If it moves me I aim to explore it. Jazz is definitely home base and has given me the tools to dive into all sorts of genres. I really do enjoy the variety both musically and culturally. From Jazz to Punk to Electronic music. I find being able to contribute across genres extremely satisfying.


Image by Gregory Franz

What is your experience of being a musician in South Africa right now? I love being a musician in South Africa. I get to play with world-class musicians on a weekly basis. I also get to play a lot of varied gigs which keeps things interesting. The jazz scene is thriving in Cape Town and there’s a real sense of community happening. You can see great jazz at least five times a week. I’m a full-time musician and don’t do anything else to make a living.

You recently came back from Europe where you performed at a bunch of shows and festivals? How would you compare playing abroad to playing locally? Going to Europe is as much about gigging as it is checking out new music and meeting new people. I look at it as an inspiration top-up. It’s different in the sense that there’s just more of everything. More festivals, more venues, more artists and more audience. Being there affords me the opportunity to check out my musical heroes and to collab with my peers. It also reaffirms that we have a world-class scene here in South Africa.


Image by Laura Mccullagh

What advice would you give to young jazz-influenced musicians looking to break into the local and international jazz scene? Travel a lot, stay humble, practice and always be open to new things!

Who’s doing interesting stuff on the local scene that you’d recommend checking out? I’m really enjoying the Unity Band and really love what Mandisi Dynatyis is doing. If you haven’t checked them out please do! Really exciting stuff!


Image by Laura Mccullagh

Top 5 desert island albums (of any genre)?
Miles Davis – Kind of Blue
Felix Laband – Deaf Safari
Pat Metheny – One Quiet Night
Dave Douglas – Poses
Bonobo – The North Borders

Where can people follow your musical movements and find more of your music?
https://www.instagram.com/leelips
https://www.facebook.com/leethomsonband


Lee Thomson will be taking the stage together with Jason Reolon on keys and Jonno Sweetman on drums at the fifth edition of the First Thursdays Sessions on Thursday 3 October 2019. The performance starts at 9pm, followed by a vinyl set by DJ Mighty from 10pm. Upstairs at the Gin Bar, 64a Wale Street. The Spring season of the First Thursdays Sessions is presented by Maker’s Mark Bourbon Whisky and produced by Thursdays Projects.
 Event staging provided by LEVO Staging & Audio.

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You’ll find the considered, seemingly simple forms that define Ben Eagle’s work span prints, ceramics and collaborations with some of South Africa’s top names and brands. We sat down with Ben to chat about his journey, his practice and of course, some of his favourite records. Catch a mini-exhibition of Ben’s works along with a DJ set by the multi-talented one himself at the April 2019 edition of the First Thursdays Cape Town Official Warm-Up at the Gin Bar (64a Wale Street).

Ben Eagle Print

Hi Ben! Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Let’s start at the beginning. How did you find your way as an artist and a designer?

I guess it all started with Graffiti, as a teenager I used to sneak out the house in the middle of the night to go paint walls. As I got older I found myself interested in creating more than just letters, I wanted to create art that would be easily relatable for everyone even if art isn’t something you’re into.

Balance is never easy. How do you manage the thresholds between professional, personal and the private in your work and in your life?

I’ve always kept my career as a designer quite separate from my art career, I find it helps not to mix the two because that way they balance each other out and I don’t just rely on one as my creative outlet.

You were born in Johannesburg and you started your career up there, before relocating to Cape Town. How do you find the space between the two cities, specifically with regards to your work as an artist and a designer?

Both cities are amazing because they’re literally complete opposites, I will always have a special appreciation for Johannesburg, particularly the inner city because it’s so raw and unforgiving. Cape Town, on the other hand, has shown me a completely different way of living which has been inspiring in new ways. It helps to have such a strong creative industry with so many different platforms for artists and designers.

Ceramics, prints, fashion-collaborations – your work really gets around! Can you tell us about your approach to working across so many different media?

I don’t necessarily have different approaches when working on different projects. I try make stuff that I would want to own or have in my wardrobe.

What advice would you give to a young artist that you wish someone had given you when you were starting out?

Make whatever makes you happy and don’t be afraid to put it out there.

Top 5 ‘desert island’ albums?

This is a tough one!

1: Toro Y Moi – Anything in Return
2: Archy Marshall – A New Place 2 Drown
3: Erykah Badu – Baduizm
4: Action Bronson – DR Lecter
5: Gucci Mane – Droptopwop

Where can people find your work and follow you?

They can check out beneaglestudio.com or my Instagram @Ben_Eagle_Studio

Catch a mini-show of Ben’s work, as well as a DJ set by the artist at The First Thursdays Official Warm Up between 6 – 9 PM, upstairs at the Gin Bar, 64a Wale Street. The party goes on until late. The First Thursdays Official Warm Up is produced by Thursdays Projects in partnership with Roku Gin.

RSVP HERE

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Jaco Haasbroek is an illustrator and designer based in Cape Town.
If you’ve ever seen The Good News headlines on lampposts around town you’ve seen some of his work. He’s our selected artist for this month’s Official Warm Up, taking place at the Gin Bar on First Thursdays.
We asked him a few questions.


You are a man that wears many hats – DJ, Illustrator, ‘Newsman’, amongst others – How would you describe yourself professionally?

JH: I guess professionally I’m an illustrator & art director. The majority of my ideas manifest themselves through illustration, so this has become the main source of income for me. I enjoy making things and the creative process. Most of my work is concept driven and I have a great love for simplicity. Side projects develop organically from the random ideas I have and can take on a variety of forms, but these tend to be love projects and don’t necessarily pay the bills.

Jaco Haasbroek The Good News First Thursdays Warm Up The Gin Bar First Thursdays Cape Town

From the series ‘The Good News’

What was your path to getting to where you are now? Did you always imagine doing the kind of work that you do?

JH: I’ve always wanted to be an artist. My idea of what that means and entails has changed, but the overarching goal or theme has remained. I took art as a subject at school, studied Fine Art at Stellenbosch University where I discovered a love of design and a more independent way of making art. Upon completing my degree I worked in advertising for two and a half years. This helped me view the creative process from a more concept driven side. It consisted of a lot of problem solving through creative thinking and I really enjoyed this approach. I went freelance for a couple of year after that and worked as a designer in two different jobs. I took on these jobs when financial stresses became a bit overbearing. Most recently I worked at Made by Radio as an illustrator and art director and this proved to be an invaluable experience that pushed me to improve my own craft and broaden my skill set. After almost two years at the studio I am now working freelance again.

Jaco Haasbroek The Good News First Thursdays Warm Up The Gin Bar First Thursdays Cape Town

Jaco Haasbroek

Humour plays a big role in your work. Where does that sense of humour come from?

JH: I honestly don’t know. I think it’s the sixth sense that we are all born with.

Can you tell us a little bit more about “The Good News”. What is the story behind that story?

JH: The Good News is an ongoing series of fictional, light-hearted and generally positive newspaper headlines that I put up in and around the city. The concept came about when I was driving home and spotted a ‘STOLEN’ pet poster. It’s quite sad when someone loses a pet and the idea popped into my head that by simply adding ‘OUR HEARTS’ at the bottom of the poster it would completely change its meaning and give it a positive spin. This idea then evolved into the fake news posters, which rely on the use of wordplay to celebrate the little everyday victories. I’m allowing the project to develop organically but would also like to expand the concept to include more than just the headlines. Possibly a publication of sorts.

Jaco Haasbroek The Good News First Thursdays Warm Up The Gin Bar First Thursdays Cape Town

Jaco Haasbroek

Any advice for people starting out in the creative industries?

JH: Trust your gut. When it feels right, go with it. Try not to compare yourself with others. The internet is a great resource, focus on the ways it helps you to showcase your work. Put yourself out there. Know that it takes hard work and patience to get to where you want to be. If you put in the work, and you keep at it, the rewards will come. Sometimes you need to take on work you might not want to, but short term sacrifices will help you reach those long term goals.

Top 5 ‘desert island’ albums?

JH: The Strokes – Is This It
Radiohead – Okay Computer
Arcade Fire – Funeral
Justice – †
The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground

Where can people follow you and your projects?

https://www.instagram.com/haasbroek/
https://www.instagram.com/thegoodnewsza/
https://www.instagram.com/winehundredbucks/

Catch Jaco Haasbroek at the Official First Thursdays Warm Up. He’ll be doing a DJ set from 5.30pm to 7.30pm, with an exhibition of some of his work up as well. The Official First Thursdays Warm Up is produced by Thursdays Projects in partnership with Maker’s Mark Handmade Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky.

First Thursdays Offical Warm Ups Wale Street with Makers Mark Whisky

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The First Thursdays self-guided programmes are designed to give you a bit more structure to your First Thursdays experience. We’ve picked out a few exhibitions and attractions in Cape Town and provided some information on each point.

Download the Self Guided Programme for Cape Town here and the Self Guided Programme for Johannesburg here.

Enjoy your evening!

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Studio 3 – 3 Wandel Street

The First Thursdays self-guided programmes are designed to give you a bit more structure to your First Thursdays experience. We’ve picked out a few exhibitions and attractions in Cape Town  and provided some information on each point.

Download the Self Guided Programme for Cape Town here.

Enjoy your evening!

Explore this month’s highlights

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View the full programme

Cape Town Johannesburg