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PERFORMANCE VENUE SURVEY PROJECT (article first published : 2005-03-19)

In January 2005, a tender was awarded by the KZN Department of Economic Development and Finance (DEDF) to Johannesburg based BEES Consulting Group (BCG). Over the past few years BCG has been working closely with DEDF on the development of indigenous musicians and the music industry in KZN in general. Having identified and trained literally hundreds of local musicians through the previous projects, it was felt that the next step should be to encourage the establishment or opening up of new performance platforms for these musicians.

Malcolm Nhleko of Malo-D Recording Studio and Neil Comfort of Bandwagon Afrika have been sub-contracted by BCG to carry out the survey and implement pilot performances at the identified performance platforms. The goal is to establish business models for each venue for long term and sustainable performance opportunities for indigenous musicians at these venues.

What is a fait accompli is that the talent does exist. Literally thousands of isicathamiya and maskanda groups labour on, throughout the province, dreaming of the fame and success of groups like Ladysmith Black Mambazo or Phuzekhemisi. Put a Maskandi Hits CD on at the Rainbow Jazz Club in Pinetown and watch the regulars get down and boogey. Put an isicathamiya or maskanda group in front of international tourists and watch their joy at experiencing something new, something that they have never seen or heard before, something that they have traveled all the way to KZN to experience - even if, at this stage, this sort of experience is not carried in all the tourism and tour operator brochures! Already the Ugu District Municipality have thrown their weight behind the project.

By 2010 we must ensure that wherever a visitor to KZN goes, he or she will experience our music, he or she will buy our music and take it home. Even with Ladysmith Black Mambazo's second Grammy success, I believe that the indigenous music of KZN still has the potential to do for our region what Riverdance did for traditional Irish music and dance.

On March 17, the first of the concerts to be staged took place at Inthuthuko Junction in Cato Manor where a group of American students were entertained by isicathamiya group, the 10-member Kholwa Brothers isicathamiya group, as part of their visit to the Cato Manor Museum located in the Centre.

Other performances will take place on:

March 24 from 19h30: Shumi Le'zinsizwa - solo maskandi at The Jam, South Coast musicians club , Rocky Ridge Restaurant, Fascadale Road, Ramsgate.

March 25 from 13h00: Thambo Lengcuba - solo maskandi at Rainbow Restaurant & Jazz Club, Pinetown as an opener for the KZN Vintage Jazz Legends/Paolo Fresu (Italy) concert.

March 27 from 10h00: Showcase at Splashy Fen Music Festival. Groups to be featured are Kholwa Brothers and Thambo Lengcuba with his full seven piece group, a performance made possible through the support of the groupís home base, UGU District Municipality. Also appearing will be another artist from the UGU District Municipality, solo maskanda musician Shumi Le'zinsizwa and osoMaqhinga, a seven-member maskanda group from the Empangeni area.

March 27: the Dundee Choral Society at Talana Museum, Dundee to entertain three bus loads of international tourists.

April 2 from 14h00: Impunyelo Nezimpompolo maskanda group at Backstage Tavern in Gamalakhe, South Coast.

April 3 from 14h00: Impunyelo Nezimpompolo at Rocky Ridge Restaurant.

A showcase is being planned for the Wiggins/Umkhumbane Hall in Cato Manor later in April. In addition the project has been invited to supply artists for each day of the Royal Show in Pietermaritzburg; to book the line-up for the uShaka Marine World Heritage week in September and to host a stage at this years Awesome Africa Music Festival. Further details will follow on these events. Contact Neil Comfort on 083 463 8044 or e-mail: bandwagon@artslink.co.za




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