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SPLASHY FEN (article first published : 2002-04-4)

Promising an eclectic feast of top South African bands, the country's longest-running music festival Splashy Fen taking place in Underberg, KZN, from April 25 to 28 has exciting surprises for festival-goers. This is the 13th Splashy Fen which is renowned for being South Africa's gentler music festival and largest camping event. The landscape alters overnight from green pastures to a vibey array of people and brightly coloured tents set against the superb backdrop of the southern Drakensberg.

Breaking news is that the legendary Ishmael, previously of the renowned hip-hop outfit Prophets of Da City and former lead singer in Kwaito group Skeem, is the headline act this year. His unique reinvention of R & B using South African hip hop, kwaito twists with hints of traditional style has made him the current hero of the music industry and the nation's dance floors.

In keeping with Splashy's aim of always looking to provide an unforgettable platform for the sounds of tomorrow, this year's festival is bulging with some exciting new bands and new talent.

On Friday night, the Marquee will feature the acoustic rock act Blindgait, Binary, Plush, Even Flow with their unique rock sound and energetic stage performance, Ketamine, Jimmy 12 Inch and Perez with its particular take on classic Indie Brit rock.

Saturday night hosts Ian Henderson with his folk-based modern grooves, Slugs of War, (starskii), Thirty Three and Cape Town band Golliwog with their sophisticated grooves and manic energy before headlining act Ishmael. Ambient music icons THC set the tone for the party with DJ Ready D four-time SA DJ champion and member of Prophets of Da City, leading the crowds into a dawn of dance.

The Bamboo Mountain Stage features a broad spectrum of World Music, articulate songwriters and distinctive African flavours as well as a healthy dollop of reggae, moving into a punchy blues programme every evening. In the early part of the day this stage will also act as a "free stage" providing opportunities for established and up-and-coming musos to jam in front of a captive audience. The first event on Thursday evening features blues bands Rebus, Sippies Blues Band and Chicago-style Wills Blues Band with an electric blend of old-style traditional blues, new blues and originals.

The Friday programme showcases the Music First! Ensemble a collaborative project bringing together talented musicians from all parts of South Africa with a visiting Danish keyboardist as part of the Shuttle 2002 programme. Also featured will be the vibrant K-CAP Alive who have three overseas tours to their credit; then exciting Johannesburg duo Roots 2000; and OHM (Brendan Jury's outfit) just back from performances in the Netherlands. Night-time blues will be provided by Richard Haslop respected music journalist who sings the blues and plays slide guitar and mandolin, Dan Patlansky, Valiant Swart's gifted backing band Frosted Orange and Willem Fourie.

On Saturday, Sagiya set things moving with their upbeat Afro-jazz-jive. Creating a big reggae splash in the heat of the afternoon there will be the hot cool sounds of internationally experienced Cape reggae band Azania.

The Bamboo Mountain Stage offers a package of South Africa's most distinguished singer/songwriters Roger Lucey and Syd Kitchen, and visiting sensuous singer/songwriter and guitarist Nicolette Aubourg who has made a trip from Los Angeles in the US specially for Splashy Fen. Lucey, now playing electric guitar and accompanied by Brendan Jury on violin and Dan Chiorboli on percussion, will be headed for performances in Italy soon. The enigmatic Syd Kitchen whose latest album has received rave reviews, will be accompanied by a special guest band. Adding further eloquence will be two funky poets from the Poetry Africa festival, Jill Battson from Canada and Jayne Fenton Keane from Australia.

Saturday afternoon also brings streetwise sounds into the mountains with a back-to-back set by bruinfunk heroes TRO and the new-breed kwaito-cool of Skeem; followed by the ever-so-tight, ever-so-hip Cape Town band StarkRavingSane. The Saturday night package includes Richard Walne & The Burlesque Supergroup featuring Richard on vocals with the legendary Nux Schwartz on bass, Steve Du Plessis on drums (both Scooters Union), Dave Birch (Squeal) on guitar, Etienne Moorcroft (Swiftlove) and Andy Arbuckle (Alright on the Night) on horns & Riaan Jacobz (Gomez & the Gonzales) backing. The line-up highlights some of the hottest blues acts around in Larry Amos, Delta Blue and George Worthmore, a figure in the New York City music scene for the past 20 years who will be accompanied by The Divebombers.

For the more serious alternative music-lovers there is the blunt stage where 26 of the most progressive live rock and punk bands will be showcased along with top alternative and hip hop DJs. Headlining the blunt stage is ska punk rock band Fuzigish. Others include Fruit Fly Navigators, Marlowe, The AK Massive, Sideshow, Beth Reporting, Mecurochrome, Parklane, Pestroy, Rhutz, The Finkelstiens, The Phoebes, crossing.point, Wickhead and others. On Friday and Saturday nights top Burn nightclub DJ's : DJ Wicked Mike, Dr Eightball, DJ Jamie and hip hop DJ Beastly will keep the party going until dawn.

Tickets R228pp from Computicket and available at other outlets such as Game and Rhythmic Beat. The gate price is R250. More information from the Splashy Fen website at http://www.splashyfen.co.za




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