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NAF FRINGE MUSIC (article first published : 2005-07-4)

Reggae, rock 'n roll, jazz, opera, classical and traditional – music of all descriptions is on offer at the 2005 National Arts Festival Fringe in Grahamstown which runs until July 9.

South Africa’s son of the six-string acoustic guitar and multiple SAMA award-winner, Tony Cox, will display his legendary skills in Grahamstown. The iconic guitar player has bunches of new tunes composed for his recently acquired baritone guitar; a guitar that delivers a tone able to render any listener to a mass of goose-bumps! As an added dimension, his fans can participate in the live recording of a new CD and DVD of his Fringe show The Loneliness of the Long Distance Acoustic Guitarist on July 9.

After taking a break from the Festival circuit, the chameleon of rock ‘n roll, Duck Chowles, returns with an inimitable tribute to such legends of rock as Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones and Neil Young. Melvyn Mathews’ tribute is to that guru of reggae, Bob Marley; and the Centrestage All-star Band pay their dues to the ever-present Beatles. More recent muzos, Robbie Williams and Michael Bublé are celebrated by Rory McLaren in Robbin’ the Bublé; The Kick-ass Guitar Show (with Donavan Hattingh and Eppie Angilieri) and That Rollicking Rock 'n Roll Show round off a hectic programme at Centrestage’s Boardwalk Bowling Club.

For Out of the Blu, Zimbabwe’s multitalented Dudu Manhenga heads up the jazz band, Color Blu. Following on from festival performances further north, alongside the likes of Oliver Mtukudzi, Stever Dyer, Bruce Cassidy, Judith Sephuma and Dorothy Masuka, this dynamic band is set to take Grahamstown by storm.

South African jazz band Four Fourty made their Fringe debut in 2004 and are raring to lead the pack in 2005 with jazz from Daveyton to Manenburg. Joining them are Port Elizabeth’s Eric & Friends – led by Eric Mbovane and the Soweto-based quartet Vincent Nkosi Jazz. More jazz can be heard at The Trading Store – a jazz café that has come of age since its inception during Festival 2004.

Ancestry Still In Motion Ina Urban Times is the title of the Ancient Monarchy Music Project’s offering, described as 70 minutes of the freshest Afro-Indigenous vocal-instrumental harmonies and roots-reggae, underscored by the oral tradition of proverbs, storytelling and contemporary spoken word from Mzantsi. This three-act presentation will feature NIA sharing Afro-Indigenous tunes, spoken word artist Natalia Molebatsi, and reggae bands Two Roots and Flamehouse, and will reflect the energies and traditions of music and performance poetry that form such an integral part of contemporary urban living today.

In Fascinatin’ Rhythm Sue Cock conducts the St Mary’s Singers in a rousing concert of show songs from the 50s, 60s and 70s, and the girls from St Andrew’s School bring their marimbas to town for a lively performance of Eastern and Western music with a distinctly African feel – Umculo Wethu – “this is our music”. Swii Arts Amendment pay tribute to the determination and perseverance of the legendary Xhosa tenor, Stompie Mavi, who faces the challenge of paralysis with impunity in Beyond Limitations. Choral music and dance provide the platform for this traditional Xhosa opera.

In Mozart Sings Mandie de Villliers and Jacques le Roux celebrate the immortal music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; and Lana English and Victor Silijeur turn to the likes of Puccini, Lloyd Webber and Roger and Hammerstein to bring the joy of music to scintillating life in Belles and Beaux. James Harris, an exciting newcomer to the SA music scene, mixes light classical with jazz and original compositions – on guitar and piano – in a concert “that dares to be different”, Absolute Music.

Corne and Twakkie from The Most Amazing Show present a veritable feast of music and comedy in their late-night line-ups, which include the likes of T*M*A*S and the Style of Love, Tumi and the Volume, Fly Paper Jet, Chris Chameleon, Fokofpolisiekar, and Lark. Bevan Cullinan and Corne and Twakkie will provide some irreverent no-holds-barred comedy to get you in the mood and DJs Flokati, Humanizer, Askari and Vlakplaas will keep you on the go till the early hours.

In Somandla Uyingcwela (Lord You’re Holy) the Bless Them All Gospel Group sing gospel with an a cappella twist that’s certain to grab audiences with upwards of 40 voices in harmony. The Spiritfest programme at the Cathedral includes the Art of the Handbell concerts, performances from the Pro Carmine and Cathedral Boys’ Choirs, organ recitals by Christopher Cockburn and Grant Brasler, and an exciting opportunity for Festinos to witness the ringing of the Cathedral’s bells from either the bell tower or (for those with a fear of heights!) on a live video link.

There’s something for everyone on the 2005 National Arts Festival Fringe. Check the programme on the Festival’s website www.nafest.co.za or collect a free copy of the Booking Kit at selected Standard Bank branches or Computicket outlets.

The Festival is proudly presented by the Eastern Cape Government, Standard Bank, The National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, SABC and The National Arts Council.




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