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AL CAPONE AT AARDKLOP (article first published : 2002-09-16)

The Aardklop National Arts Festival taking place at the end of September has allocated a special space for cool sounds and vibes this year. It's called the Al Capone Club and will be a venue where special artists not only appear individually but can meet regularly for enjoyable jam sessions.

The incredible Aquarian Quartet plays around with their line-up for a bit of variety. Guitar virtuoso Tony Cox joins forces with percussion player Barry van Zyl for Grace and Thunder - a gripping musical journey that takes you from Winter Song and Wind in the Pines to Bush and Anthole, calling on KwaZulu and Muizenberg on the way.

Not to be outdone, the other three members of the quartet, Greg Georgiades, Syd Kitchen and Steve Newman, come up with What the Folk Was That?. A vast range of musical and stylistic fields is explored: jazz, blues, Africa, Afrikaans, Arabic, flamenco, country, sounds from the Orient (to mention only a few). These three (and the other member of the quartet) can rightly be regarded as the leading exponents of the acoustic guitar in South Africa. And as diverse are the styles they tackle, just as unusual and impressive are their instruments. Apart from the steel- and nylon-string guitars, there are the Arabic lute from North Africa, bazouki, acoustic bass guitar, contralto guitar, hosepipe flute, tenor recorder, voice and percussion.

Sarah Theron has always been able to blow people away with her voice, and her latest show Geen kommentaar will be no exception. Last year, she appeared in Café Boerlesque at Aardklop. In the meantime, she was the club owner Baby in Egoli and her latest CD, Egoli Volume I: Sarah Theron, was released in August. And now she will be singing again, as only she can, with Melissa van der Spuy (piano and vocals) and Shannon Mowday (saxophone and clarinet) with an evening of jazz in different styles and from different eras.

After an absence of two years, Abraham and Lizanne Helberg are back with a full-scale production called Marimba! Live and Well. With percussionist Clement Bhengu and instruments like a baritone guitar (the only one of its kind) and a giant xylophone they will be conjuring up sounds unique to Marimba! Good news for fans is that these two Lowvelders are also busy with a new CD.

Laurinda Hofmeyr and her orchestra - Barry van Zyl (percussion), Schalk Joubert (bass guitar), Mike Rennie (violin) and a background singer - create a sound palette that provides the ideal vehicle for the poetry of Antjie Krog, Breyten Breytenbach, Jeanne Goosen, Everwyn Wessels and DJ Opperman.

Herman van den Berg had critics raving with his new CD, Proe die aarde. Van den Berg is responsible for vocals, guitar and clarinet and is supported by Matthys Maree (keyboard and accordion) and Juan "Floors" Oosthuisen (guitar). He shares some of his new ground, but also includes some of his previous hits.

The Al Capone Club will be reminiscent of the Prohibition in America: smoke-filled rooms, cool sounds and obscure characters in the typical gear of the era. Enjoyable late-night jam sessions will be held, and be on the lookout for all kinds of interesting events being planned during the week.

Aardklop runs from September 24 to 28 in Potchefstroom. Book at Computicket. More information on accommodation on 018 294-7508 or visit www.aardklop.co.za for general information. For daily bus trips from Pretoria and Johannesburg to Potchefstroom phone 011 792-0609.




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