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BLUES FESTIVAL (article first published : 2005-05-9)

Durban will host the first ever Weekend Witness International Blues Festival at Wilson’s Wharf later this month with an astounding line up of some of South African’s best in blues – and an internationally acclaimed guest artist.

“Chicago is the blues capital of the world and we plan to make Durban the blues capital of South Africa,” says Themi Venturas who is chairman of the Wilson’s Wharf Tenants Committee. Along with the Blues Train – the Durban based blues club- he believes that 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.

“Blues“ embraces all music forms and as such, it appeals to a cross section of audiences. It is intended to express a feeling of ”blue” whilst it makes one feel better about it – electric blues, blue jazz, big band blues, (including Zulu walking blues!), acoustic blues, rhythm and blues, philharmonic blues and so on.

The Durban International Blues Festival will feature all of the above with performances from top local blues artists such as Richard Haslop, Tryst, Wills Blues Band, The Durban City Orchestra, Bobby and the Dynamites, Rebus, The Bandits to name a few. To give the program an added high, Dan Patlansky returns to Durban to perform in this festival and cherry on the top is internationally acclaimed blues band, The Pat Savage Band.

This year’s event will be concentrated around Wilson’s Wharf with its variety of venues such as flea market, boats and restaurants - and out to sea on the “Wave Dancer” harbour cruiser. However, the idea is to grow this event annually over the years and spread the event through the City of Durban, copying the fashion and success of the Chicago Blues Festival.

Charlie Crofts, Zacks and the Catalina Theatre will house the main festival with stages being built on the Zacks strip; and smaller buskers’ stages being erected in the craft market and food court. The festival intends to attract a myriad of Blues performers from all musical genres: jazz, big band, acoustic, 12 bar, symphonic and of course classic rhythm and blues.

The whole of Wilson’s Wharf will be embracing a “Blues” theme – with menu, cocktails and décor all reflecting this evocative colour and moody musical genre.

The Weekend Witness Durban International Blues Festival takes place from May 24 to 30 and is supported by eThekweni Municipality and the Department of Arts and Culture. More information from Catalina Theatre on 031 305 6889.




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