“Hammer”: the sharpest tool in the shed

HAmmerPic: Karen Crouch – Andrew “Hammer” Peterson making his music

By Ithuteng Mashabela

Hammer is the friendly-looking, ever-jovial uncle who you’ve probably seen a hundred times selling CDs on High Street. Sadly though, very few of us will ever get to know him as more than just another Grahamstown informal trader. But there is more to his fatigued eyes and wide grin than meets the Rhodent’s eye. Andrew “Hammer” Peterson was born in Grahamstown in 1947 and lives in Sun City, the ‘coloured’ township. His career as a musician began in 2000 when he met his partner in the arts, Francois “The Ha!man” Le Roux. “We just bumped into each other in the streets and well, the rest is history,” explains Hammer, who considers Le Roux more of a friend than a colleague. Le Roux plays the cello and markets the duo’s CDs overseas where he currently resides. The two are primarily dependant on tourists for an audience and make their greatest profits during the National Arts Festival.

With his trusted guitar as his most valued asset, Hammer hits the nail on the head with every chord he plays. Age and experience have taught him well. His wrinkles tell a thousand stories of adventures and troubles, travels to distant lands, a life of both joy and pain. Hammer takes pride in his work and does what he can to live a good life. “I take care of myself,” he states. “I smoke, but I don’t drink at all.”

Though Hammer, now 61, may appear frail and fragile, he was quite the ambitious sportsman in his prime. He recalls, with the enthusiasm of a young jock, how he played soccer, rugby and boxing at the height of his athleticism. “I like rugby,” he reveals, “I played right wing, number 14 for a team called Winter Rose. It was great, but I had to stop because of my age”. Hammer still watches the occasional match when he gets the chance.

It may be refreshing to be able to think back to once-upon-a-time, but surviving the present remains Hammer’s main concern. He admits unabashedly that his isn’t the best job at times. Dozens of us pass him blindly, without a second thought, everyday, but the aging guitarist takes no offence. “Some people are okay, some aren’t,” he begins, taking a moment to remember his favourite encounters. “But a lot of them are friendly. Everyone just wants to take a photo of me!” Hammer is proud of the friends he has made through his music, and it seems that already he is a celebrity in his own right.

Hammer and the HA!man’s CDs are available in front of 137 High Street at R100 each.

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