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Donvé Lee

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Scars that Shine “a bittersweet testimony to a singular singersongwriter”

Tymon Smith recently reviewed Donvé Lee’s biography of Syd Kitchen, Syd Kitchen – Scars That Shine, for the Sunday Times’ Lifestyle Supplement.

An extract from Smith’s review reads:

When he died five years ago few would have been familiar with the music of Syd Kitchen. For those who did know him he remained the embodiment of the guitar hero folk muso who spent 40 years doing things his way, mostly without any real financial reward and impervious to the warnings from his friends of what his chain smoking, hard zolling, hard drinking ways would do to him.

Donvé Lee first met Kitchen in a cloud of marijuana smoke at a gig in Cape Town in 2001 – bonding over a mutual love of The Incredible String Band. Later he asked her if she’d write his biography one day and now she has, telling the story through his own words of the many different sides of a man who was “a saint, a scholar and a skollie”.

Lee presents her subject as a man with a giant ego, who had little interest in taking the road well travelled and never cared too much for what anyone else thought of him – his life firmly directed by the only thing he had any talent for, playing the guitar and writing songs.

From his working-class childhood in Durban through to his first stabs at writing songs and his performances with his brother Pete as The Kitchen Brothers, Lee traces Kitchen’s journey through the late 1960s folk scene to his brief tenure as the owner of a guitar shop before the release of Syd Kitchen and the Utensils’ album Waiting for the Heave in 1987 and his subsequent recordings – often self-funded and self-distributed. Along the way he leaves behind many broken hearts, a child and whatever trappings of domestic suburban life he may have briefly established in his 20s.

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Syd Kitchen - Scars That Shine

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