Rockabilly Ravens

The Band

Hailing from an era where rock ‘n roll was King and pinup girls were Queen, the Rockabilly Ravens bring you a real taste of Rockabilly music. Formed in the Alabama State Penitentiary and inspired by the original Hound Dog and his Jailhouse Rock, the band was originally a front to entertain the guards while inmates worked on tunnelling out of jail. The Ravens are a collection of the baddest rock ‘n rollers who know how to entertain. After gaining notoriety, they decided to change their names and take the show on the road. Playing every honky-tonk bar in the South, the Ravens developed a reputation as the essential Rockabilly band. With leather jackets, tattoos and their very own Raven–haired pinup girl, the band can get any party started with high energy, up- tempo Rockabilly music. A selection of classic hits and modern anthems bring the Ravens soaring into the 21 st century. Rock ‘n roll is alive and well, and in good hands!

The Rockabilly Ravens are a high-quality, star-studded ensemble featuring Samantha Peo (multiple Naledi Award winner and judge on Strictly Come Dancing), singer Musa Sakupwanya (featured in shows by Nataniel), Martin Rocka (guitarist with Wonderboom and former musical director of Idols), American preliminary Grammy Award nominee John Fresk as the Musical Director, and a horn and rhythm section with formidable experience. The Rockabilly Ravens balance timeless rockabilly classics with arrangements of contemporary hits done in the rockabilly style. They're a refreshing, fun and energetic class act, guaranteed to appeal to a broad and diverse demographic. More importantly, this music with its infectious rhythm and toe-tapping appeal will inject the fun factor into your event. So spoil your guests with the Rockabilly Ravens – a guaranteed winner!

Who Are They?

Samantha "Lady Sam" Peo

As a multiple Naledi Award winner for starring roles in Chicago and Cabaret, Samantha is no stranger to the stage. With her roots in musical theatre, she has played leading roles in many musicals including Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, A Chorus Line, The Wizard of Oz, Crazy For You, Westside Story, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Chicago, for which she received the Fleur Du Cap award for Best Actress in a Musical, and Thoroughly Modern Millie. She has recently been seen on TV as Isabella in Erfsondes 2, as Laura in Ashes to Ashes, and on seasons six, seven and eight of Strictly Come Dancing, as a judge. She has also recently been the subject of celebrity profiles on Mela, Man Cave and Jou Ma Se Chef.

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Musa "The Velvet Voice" Sakupwanya

Musa is a talented academic as well as a singer. He has shared the stage with Nataniel in "Men Who Fly" (2008), Magdalene Minaar in "Eine Kleine JazzMuzik" (2015-present). He has also worked numerous times with Charl Du Plessis and the Charl Du Plessi Trio, with whom he has recorded an album called "The Gershwin Songbook". He even had the privilege of being asked to sing the South African National Anthem (even though he’s Zimbabwean) at various Emperor’s Palace international sporting events; and has had the honour of singing "Happy Birthday" for the late, beloved Nelson Mandela at a special event for him. Currently, he is a lecturer at the University of Pretoria’s Drama department where he teaches singing. And just for good measure, look out for Musa: he has a black belt in Tae- Kwon-Do!

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Martin "Rocka" Schofield

Martin, the Raven’s resident rockabilly expert, has an impressive array of credits, including serving as musical director for South African Idols, the SAMA Awards and the Loerie Awards. As a founding member and guitarist of Wonderboom. Martin has been nominated for the SAMA Awards a total of twelve times: with Wonderboom, Flash Republic and with Martin Rocka and the Sick Shop. Also, like many of the Ravens, Martin is an educator. He has been a "music teacher to the stars": Craig Massiv (Flash Republic), Paul Hodgson (Parlotones), Garth Barnes (Crash Car Burn) and Marco Gomez (Prime Circle). He’s also a busy session player, producer and writer, including producing and recording tracks for Muthaland/Ghetto Ruff for the Brenda Fassie tribute in 2014 and producing hip-hop tracks for Zulu Boy and Bongo Riot. Martin’s favourite saying: "You make music with people; the notes come later."

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John "Hotrod" Fresk

Classically trained, but with pop and jazz skills, American pianist, composer and producer John Fresk's career spans 25 years of international performance. Among many accolades received throughout his career, John placed in the preliminary rounds in 2007 as a Grammy nominee for his work on an album entitled "Heavenly Brother." He has performed for corporate clients such as Nike, Intel, Boeing, HP, Bidvest, SAB and more, and is a recognized Yamaha Artist in South Africa. He has also performed with Grammy-winning jazz icons Bobby McFerrin and Chick Corea, and with international artists such as Top 40 singer Meri Wilson, actress Judy Norton, Jimmy Dean and others. In South Africa, John has played with Lira, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Anna Davel, Timothy Moloi and works with the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra, the Johannesburg Big Band and accompanies many other artists.

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Viwe "Thumper" Mkizwana

Viwe Mkizwana began playing the Classical Double Bass at the prestigious East London School for the Arts at the age of seventeen. In 2008, Mkizwana’s love of music led him to the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), where he began his studies in Jazz and earned a Grade 8 Certificate in Double Bass. During his time at TUT he was a member of the TUT Big Band and Footprints Trio Jazz Band. He later went on to manage and perform with Just Friends jazz band and formed the successful Mkizwana Ensemble in 2014. Through the course of his musical career, Mkizwana has played with the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra, KwaZulu Natal Philharmonic Orchestra and served as the Principal Bassist in the Johannesburg Symphony Orchestra from 2006-2009.

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Jonathan "Johnny Lawless" Bell

Jonathan was born in 1988 in Bloemfontein, and started performing with bands at the tender age of thirteen. He grew up playing in his family’s band, the church band and in various rock bands. He studied under George Voros, the drummer and percussionist with eVoid. He was a member of the band Allegra who won the South African leg of the global competition, Battle Of The Bands, and went on to represent South Africa in London in 2007. For many years he was an educator as well, teaching drums and still holding down a busy performance schedule. Jonathan has been the drummer with the rock band Wonderboom from 2013 to the present and with Martin Rocka and the Sick Shop from 2013 to the present. And, handily enough for the Ravens, Jonathan is a practicing attorney.

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Sydney "Sweet Poison" Mavundla

A veteran of the South Africa music scene, Sydney studied with Darius Brubeck at Natal University, securing a B Mus. Degree in jazz studies. Adept in both the jazz and classical fields, Sydney has performed with KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic, the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra and the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra. In the jazz arena, Sydney is currently working with the Andile Yenana Quartet, the Johannesburg Big Band, the Graham Scott Big Band, Themba Mkhize, Mango Groove, and Victor Ntoni’s Mzansi Ensemble where he serves as the assistant musical director. Sydney also leads his own quartet. He has played with international artists Pharoah Sanders, Rufus Ried, Yusuf Lateef and Howard Johnson among others. He’s also played with SIbongile Khumalo, Vusi Khumalo and Jimmy Dludlu. He was also part of the teaching staff at the annual Grahamstown Festival and has toured Africa extensively.

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Janus "Sticky Fingers" Van Der Merwe

Janus is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer and musical director. In 2008 and 2011 he was selected to be a member of the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Band, with performances at the Standard Bank Grahamstown Jazz Festival as well as the Joy of Jazz. He has shared the stage with some of South Africa’s, as well as the world's, top musicians, such as Carlo Mombelli, Marcus Wyatt, Jonathan Crossley, Mcoy Mrubata, Siya Makhuzeni, Ondrej Stvracek, Lukas Kytnar, The Violent Femmes, Gregory Porter, Vanessa Amerosi and Dave Stewart. He also regularly works for the television production Idols South Africa and served as the musical director of The Orbit Big Band that held a residency for years at the acclaimed Orbit jazz club in Johannesburg. Janus teaches saxophone, flute and clarinet, as well as conducts the KD JAM Jazz Band at King David School.

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Justin "Poco Loco" Sasman

Justin, after completing a complete a BMus Honours in Jazz Performance began teaching at various Cape Town schools. In between teaching and playing as many gigs as possible. he somehow managed to find time to perform as a trombonist with the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, and worked with youths from various backgrounds in the CPO’s Outreach and Development program. After accepting an appointment at St John’s College he was one of the recipients of the ABRSM’s Centenary Travel Grant, and studied in RNCM in Manchester as well as in Scotland. He has performed at festivals throughout the country and is a regular collaborator at the National Youth Jazz Festival. Justin is now a lecturer at the NWU School of Music in Potchefstroom. On a dare, Justin has recently started taking gigs as an accordionist, and can’t wait to see what life is going to throw his way next!

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Technical Rider


There is one female voice, Samantha Peo, and one male voice, Musa Sakupwanya. Both need wireless mics, such as a Shure BETA 58. No Behringer, Samson or other off-brand low-end mikes. Other Shure, Electrovoice, Sennheiser, Audio-Technica could be fine.The mics should be mounted on straight stands.


The bass is an upright. You can use a bass amp or run into a D.I. and into the P.A.


The guitarist requires a small valve amp/combo. Fender, Peavey, Marshall, Orange or at least a Roland 80 Cube.


Drums should be the basic five-piece kit and cymbal stands, with appropriate mics.


If an acoustic piano is available, it needs a bench, needs to be in tune and in good repair. John is a Yamaha artist so this brand is preferable. If John provides an electronic keyboard, the sound John uses will be exclusively an acoustic piano sound: no synthesizer or electronic-type sounds. John will need two D.I.s for a stereo signal.


Nine monitors are ideal, with separate monitor mixes. Effects need to be in the monitor mix if needed. HK, Mackies or Yamaha, or DB Technologies are fine or other comparable typical wedges. Ideally no Behringer, Fender, Peavey or budget monitors. The three horn players can use two monitors, but not less than two.


The band requires stage space of minimally 4 metres in depth and 6 metres in width. The front line will consist of keys on stage left, Samantha on vocal in the middle with tenor sax next to her, drums in the usual spot and bass behind keys.


If lighting is provided, please contact John to discuss what is needed for the particular venue.


Generally, a comprehensive sound check needs to be completed two hours prior to performance, so the PA should be set up and ready to check no later than two hours and a half prior to the performance.

Stage Plot

Fee Structure

The Rockabilly Ravens are a nine-piece rockabilly band. It is preferable to keep this original configuration, as this has the most show impact and most closely resembles the promotional materials. However, the Rockabilly Ravens are scalable to accommodate cost considerations.

Full 9 piece band R66,550.00 excl. VAT for 2x 45min sets.
8 piece band: R61,600.00 excl. VAT.
7 piece band: R56 650.00 excl. VAT.
6 piece band (consists of both lead singers, guitar, bass, piano and drums): R51 700.00 excl. VAT.

*These costs assume that the sound system is provided by the client. If the event requires sound for AV, speeches or announcements, the Rockabilly Ravens would be happy to contact our preferred sound companies for a quote.

If music is required for dancing beyond the Rockabilly Ravens two-set performance, we will be happy to obtain quotes from our preferred DJs who can carry through the rockabilly dance theme for the duration of the event.

For performances in the Johannesburg area and the immediate travel perimeter of up to 50km outside of the Johannesburg metropolitan area, additional travel expenses are not expected. However, for events that are beyond this, but within driving distance, the AA cost of R2.50 per km x 2 (return) would be assessed per vehicle, with the expectation that five vehicles would be needed.

Functions at a distance from Johannesburg, for example in the Cape, would need to take into consideration air travel and possible ground travel at the destination. Please contact us for specifics.

In addition, accommodations are required for functions at sufficient distance to require that the Rockabilly Ravens stay overnight. Under those circumstances, double rooms for the band are fine, with the exception of Samantha, who for obvious reasons needs a private room.

Book Them For Your Event

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