Jeffreys Bay in the 1980’s was a jol. It seemed that everyone knew everyone else. It was still a time that when you drove down Da Gama Road, somebody would wave at you from an oncoming car.
Wavecrest was so undeveloped that it was easy to get lost in the myriad of roads and at night you could drive around and check all the buck that still freely roamed the hills and kloofs of the suburb.
The Savoy Hotel and Trawlers, the take away shop just over the road used to do a roaring trade on Friday nights in J’Bay. That was the night the locals used to congregate at the Savoy and Sam Mieny would provide the entertainment.
Sam’s live performances were something to behold. A powerful voice accompanied by broken guitar strings and demands for beer to keep the vocal chords well greased, always got the party going.
Jethro Tull, Cat Stevens, Bob Marley and lots of Sam’s original music were the fare for Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights at the Savoy. His music encapsulated an era that was about to come to an end in the town.
“The age of innocence” was about to end in Jeffreys Bay. The developers were moving in and the town would never be the same again.
Gone would be the days of sleeping in your house with the doors unlocked. Gone to would be the days when you could leave your things on Main Beach and go for a swim and they would be there when you returned.
The fastest growing town in South Africa was a dubious honour that was bestowed upon Jeffreys Bay. Suddenly the Savoy Hotel got an upgrade and the old men’s bar became the venue for Sam’s shows.
Fellow musician Anton Calitz who was in J”Bay for a recording session with The Crayon Room, recalls meeting Sam,” Sam played a largely cover gig with his own pieces thrown in between. He was always at odds with the management. They eventually fired Sam and I wrote a song about it.
“Sam’s Song” is part of my own experience as a pub musician where one has to have a skin as tough as nails, to smile at all the broken glass and harsh treatment”.
The spirit of commercialism seduced Jeffreys Bay from the 1990’s. Little did anybody realise at the Savoy Hotel on a Friday night when Sam was belting out “Surfing Jeffreys Bay” that he would soon be replaced by a DJ and the old Jeffreys Bay would be no more.
Watch Anton Calitz play “Sam’s Song” live