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DURBAN INTERNATIONAL BLUES FESTIVAL (article first published : 2006-06-21)

Durban will host the second Durban International Blues Festival from the June 30 to July 9 with an interesting “mix” of artists aimed at giving blues in South Africa the recognition it deserves. Added to the line up is internationally acclaimed guest artist, Vasti Jackson.

This year the event will collaborate with the Durban Beach Festival and Wilson’s Wharf where it was held for the first time last year as well as with Mojo’s, one of Durban’s recognized blues venues.

“Chicago is the blues capital of the world and, as we said last year, we plan to make Durban the blues capital of South Africa”, says Will Wallace, co-founder of the event. “This concept will stand proudly alongside some of the county’s already famous and internationally recognised musical events such as KZN’s Awesome Africa which promotes world and African music, Cape Town’s North Sea Jazz Festival and Splashy Fen and Oppi Koppi, both well known for their folk and rock music.”

What are the Blues? This type of music has been defined as the first music of the African people as Americans (Leroi Jones in Blues People). It evolved from various forms of music performed by the slaves - group singing, drumming, field hollers, and spirituals.

It is from this base that Blues developed with several distinct styles, which were disseminated through the USA in the late 1800s, and early 1900’s by itinerant musicians who blended the traditional forms with “white” song forms at first.

Blues is currently enjoying a revival internationally with many of the older statesmen such as BB King headlining major festivals and many young people making a name for themselves in the genre (Johnny Lang, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and South Africa’s own Dan Patlansky, to name a few.)

Blues Festivals recognize the many forms of the Blues (Honky Tonk. Guitar Blues and even some forms of jazz etc,) and has widened the net to include Maskandi and other traditional styles which, while not strictly Blues in the accepted sense, create the backdrop to the development of the Blues and project much of the same feeling and social comment that the genre represents.

Topping the bill and to whet the “musical appetite“ as main attraction is international artists Vasi Jackson who will share the stage with top South African names like Phuzi Khemisi and Shiyane Ncobo who will perform on July 5.

This year’s event will take place at three main venues and it is hoped that as it grows annually, the City of Durban will eventually become the place to be for Blues in all its forms.

More information from Tanya van Agthoven on 082 747 9738. The Durban International Blues Festival is supported by eThekwini Municipality and the Directorate of Arts, Culture and Education.




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