BY BILLY SUTER
WHAT does a group of colourful Durban musicians have in common with rapper, actor and graffiti artist Iain ‘Ewok’ Robinson, New Orleans and Egypt?
The answer is a fun new showband entertainment, A Night Down in New Orleans at Egyptian Ella’s, that will have a theme extending to food and will be presented at various venues in and around Durban from this week.
The novel event will feature live, upbeat jazz, a hip emcee in ‘Ewok’ and a memorable dining experience. It will have three versions in and around Durban until the end of August, the first event being this Friday and Saturday, July 28 and 29, at The Prep Room restaurant at Glenwood Prep School.
The event will then be presented on August 5 and 6 at The Rhumbelow Theatre at Tina’s Hotel, Beryldene Road, Kloof – phone 082 499 8636 or (031) 764 7843 to book – before being staged in the Islander Room at the Durban Yacht Club on August 26 and 2 – phone (031) 301 4787 to book.
Each venue will create its own, special themed menu of New Orleans-inspired cuisine, each adding their own interpretation and nuances.
The Prep Room will start the tour with a cooking demo as part of the evening’s entertainment. The creative team is working closely with Black Coffee event technical support to ensure top-notch staging, sound and lighting at each venue.
The band that is the main attraction is the newly formed The Jazz Minkeys described as a fun-filled, post-modern jazz orchestra, recreating the vibrant exuberance and stylistic nuances of early, popular jazz ensembles such as Kenny Ball, Louis Armstrong and Louis Prima.
The group plays a wide variety of commercially appealing jazz and popular music, ranging from early jazz classics to more modern-day hits and some original tunes.
Band leader Daniel Sheldon, who has been a familiar face on the local jazz scene for 15 years, features on trumpet and flugelhorn. Sharing the role of band leader is Tom Hare on sax, flute and trumpet.
Brandon Hore is on bass, Riley Giandhari is on drums, and music lecturer Neil Gonsalves joins the team on piano. Popular Demi Fernandez plays jazz and flamenco guitar. On vocals are Zoe Masuku and 2016 Idols Top 8 finalist Nosihle Zulu. Masuku also handles guitar for the group.
A Night Down in New Orleans at Egyptian Ellas is a tale of “Ella”, an almost-exotic dancing-girl living the high life in the world of the speakeasy and sporting houses of New Orleans. However, when life gets too good she begins to put on weight, losing her regular appeal.
“Join us as we follow her musically in a journey of self-discovery. It takes her across the ocean to the banks of the River Nile, and then on to the place where she rightly belongs.”
Discussing the Prep Room evenings this week, Sheldon told me: “Proprietor, chef and visionary-savant-madman Judd Campbell is pulling out all the stops, joining us in creating a smorgasbord of entertainment and frivolity for the two- night run.
“Tickets cost R300 and include the eight-piece, powerhouse band joined by hip-hop ‘revolutionaire’ and lunatic Iain ‘Ewok’ Robinson as our narrator and co-host. To book phone 083 794 5875.
“There will be lights, décor, music and mirth… and an inspired, cultural-fusion menu prepared in front of guests. It will unravel as our story does, moving from New Orleans across the Atlantic Ocean to Egypt and back.
“Judd told me this event has reawakened his vision for the gastronomical sciences. He said it’s his second marriage to the culinary art, and he has sent me videos to prove it.
“Booze is on a BYO basis and DJ Ryan Renaud will be our Post Modern Throwback DJ, spinning 1920s tunes with a big gramophone horn. So there is no excuse Glenwood. You do not only want to hear about this event on your doorstep. See you there from 6.30pm.”
Durban songbird Chloe Clark will step in for ‘Ewok’ for the Point Yacht Club event.
Discussing the yacht club performances, Sheldon says: “ On the 26th we present an evening affair which is part of the Clubs Commodores dinner, a formal and internal event – so admission is only for members or friends.
“The 27th is a matinee show and will be open to the general public. For this Chloe Clark joins us as the narrator.”