There are few musicians around, who can boast an active music career spanning well over four decades while playing in more bands than one can dream off - and drummer Hartmut Wenk is one of them.
With his roots in the 60s, and a taste in music that leans towards hard rock from the good old days, he is the guy that will dig out an old Uriah Heap, Jimi Hendrix or Deep Purple album if you drop in for a visit. Hartmut first started beating the drums back in 1972 and remembers his first gig in Swakopmund, with a 70s band called, First World War Veterans, which earned him N$20 bucks. He says he was self-taught and through playing the vinyl records, which was the thing back then, his dad who was also a part time drummer, gave him a few tips.
Years later, and even at 50-something, Hartmut still wears his hair long, is a ‘super cool dad’ after raising a handful of kids as a single father, and must rank as one of Nambia’s most under rated musicians and top performing drummers. Hartmut’s big break came whilst drumming for Desert Velvet, which was the third band he had tried his hand at, and was a huge success. The band burst onto the scene playing what he termed as “outback funk” - a mix of rock and grunge. Arguably, it was also the best bit of live music ‘medicine’ in the 90s, which was held together by four other eccentric band members that lasted for three years.
“It was the rock ‘n roll lifestyle that was so exciting, and we played in pubs, clubs, the Warehouse theatre and wherever there was venue, even went on to win the NTN Music Makers Competition,” recalls Hartmut. Since then, he has played in many well-known bands such as Gazoline, Submission and Swollen Revolver, and performed at all the big festivals such as Namrock and Sound for Sight. These days, he still divides his time between two bands, Bourbon & Traffic, a jazz and blues fusion band, and Steam, which is hard rock outfit and is ready to jump on stage whenever the opportunity arises.
Whilst living the life of a full time musician, and juggling family with business, Hartmut’s life is not much different from then, except that his kids have all grown up. Both his boys have followed his example. Johnny is a fly guitarist and Josh is a drummer, both working in the family music shop. The Wenk family are a tight team, and can found at every rock festival and music gig, both on stage and behind the scenes. They also run the Music Warehouse and Café, which is situated in the old breweries courtyard, selling all types of music instruments but as a family affair also double up as a music school offering drums and guitar lessons to aspiring young musicians.
They have also started organising a live music afternoon in the courtyard once a month, inviting musicians to come and play, whilst providing a much needed platform to the public. So far, they have hosted four such events, with well-known musicians such as Vaugn Ahrens, Honey & Gravel, Savannah, Miss H, and Tony Lingo to mention some joining in.
Saying that the live music scene has taken a dip in recent years with fewer concerts, nothing has dimmed Hartmut’s light and he will take any excuse to get onto his drum kit. “Drumming keeps me fit and make me feel alive, and I will continue where the road takes me, but will never stop playing.”