Sound Advice: KZN Gigs (Aug 8-14)

Doug Weich and band in the Elvis Presley tribute show, Viva Las Vegas, in Durban this weekend.

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BILLY SUTER with his weekly gig guide. Gigs in and around Durban include a performance by Zola Soul, The Minnesota Orchestra and Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi.
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THE Centre for Jazz and Popular Music on the Durban campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal presents Zola Soul from 6pm on Wednesday, August 8.

Zola Soul is an Afro-soul artist.

Zola Soul is an Afro-soul artist who released his debut album, Thando Lokwenene, in 2014, when it was nominated for a SATMA award in the newcomer category.

He will be teamed for the Durban gig with Zola Futshane (vocals), Sanele Phakathi (piano), Qhubekani Mthethwa (bass) and Sbu Zondi (drums).

The venue is on the second level of the Shepstone Building on campus. Doors open at 5.30pm and tickets cost R80 (R50 for  pensioners, R25 for students). Contact Thuli at (031) 260 3385 for more details.

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ZIMBABWEAN music legend  Oliver “Tuku” Mtukudzi, a human rights activist and Unicef Goodwill Ambassador, is to perform a once-off Up, Close and Personal Concert at The Werehouse, 82 Hunter Street, near the Durban ICC, at 8.30pm on Friday, August 10.

Tickets cost R250 each at Computicket outlets for the event which, celebrating Women’s Day the day before, will have Tuku introducing tracks from his new  album, his 67th, titled Hany`Ga (meaning ‘concern’).

Tuku has a doctorate from two universities and is a recipient of some of the most prestigious human rights awards, including The International Council for African Womanism Award (ICAW), recognising his role in the upliftment of African women through his artistic work.

He is also the head and owner of an arts academy called Pakare Paye Arts Centre, that offers music and a diversity of art forms, platforming and building talent.

Accompanying him will be musicians from the academy, including Samantha Mtukudzi and Fiona Gwena on vocals, Keith Musena on drums, Charles Njekesa on bass and vocals, Prosper Mashipe on keyboards and Rodney Roda on guitar and vocals.Tickets for the August 1`0 performance cost R250 each at Computicket outlets.

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NOTE that The Reals, with guest guitarist and singer Shaun Dragt, are currently presenting, at Tina’s Hotel, 14 Beryldene Road, Kloof., their excellent British Invasion show, featuring music by The Beatles, The Who, Oasis, Coldplay, Led Zeppelin The Hollies and others. Final performances are at 8pm nightly from Wednesday to Saturday, and at 2pm on Sunday. Tickets cost R150 (R130 for pensioners). Call Roland at 082 499 8636  to book.

Meanwhile, Neill Solomon and Dan Chiorboli are the special guests ofThe Reals in the group’s shows next week at the Rhumbelow Theatre at Tina’s Hotel.

Performances are scheduled for 8pm nightly from Wednesday to Saturday, August 15 to 18, and at 2pm on Sunday, August 19.

Neill Solomon (left) and Dan Chiorboli perform with The Reals next week.

More than 20 years have flown by since Solomon andChiorboli played in their hometown, Durban, and there is a growing sense of anticipation around the homecoming dates.

The two have had great success in the musical world, from Neill’s early solo career through to his Neill Solomon & The Uptown Rhythm Dogs, The Passengers and The Uptown Rhythm Collective, amongst many other projects the two have been involved with in between.

Their new The Liberation Project has just released Songs That Made Us Free – South Africa / Italy / Cuba (co-produced with Phil Manzanera of Roxy Music and Pink Floyd fame). This epic triple-CD musical adventure, based on the freedom and liberation theme of the three countries, features 36 songs recorded in 20 different studios around the world, with 142 musicians and groups from 18 different countries.

Following on from their sold-out concert at the Joburg Theatre commemorating Nelson Mandela’s legacy as a finale to Africa Month, and performances at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival and Soweto International Jazz Festival, the duo is excited about the Durban gigs, at which they will perform (together with The Reals), a full spectrum of songs from their early days through to the current album.

Tickets cost R150 (R130 for pensioners). Call Roland at 082 499 8636  to book.

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After having impressed in Durban recently with her acclaimed one-woman show, My Travelling Bag, Gcina Mhlophe takes to the stage at the Pietermaritzburg branch of the Rbumbelow Theatre, at the Allan Wilson Shellhole, at 2pm on Sunday, August 12

This fine show sees Gcina relating tales of her 33 years of international travel as a master storyteller. She dicusses, in a hugely entertaining way, amazing theatres, long hours at international airports, delayed flights, the many cultures she has come across, and frustrating times filled with fear and homesickness.

Tickets cost R150 (R130 for pensioners). Call Roland at 082 499 8636 to book.

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THE Clermont Community Choir will open the concert of the acclaimed American Minnesota Orchestra, for the Durban leg of the orchestra’s five-city tour of South Africa at the Durban City Hall at 5pm on Sunday. August 12.

Conducted by Minnesota Orchestra music mirector Osmo Vänskä, the tour marks the first visit to South Africa by a professional US orchestra.

A highlight of the tour will be a piece specially commissioned as a tribute to Nelson Mandela by Classical Movements. World-acclaimed composer Bongani Ndodana-Breen was commissioned to write a new work featuring soprano Goitsemang Lehobye. which premiered in Minneapolis a few days ago and was a great success.

Members of the Clermont Community Choir and the KZN Philharmonic orchestra on stage at the Durban City Hall to commemorate the choir’s 25 anniversary. Picture by Val Adamson.

The orchestra is about to travel to South Africa to perform in Cape Town, Durban, Pretoria and Johannesburg, as well as at the historic Regina Mundi Roman Catholic Church in Soweto.

To open the concert in Durban, the Clermont Community Choir will be performing a specially curated programme of local indigenous works as a counter-point to the pieces to be performed by the Minnesota Orchestra, and to continue the theme of celebrating Madiba during the centenary year commemorations.

The programme to be performed by the Minnesota Orchestra  includes Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, Bernstein’s Candide Overture and Sibelius’s En Saga.

Classical Movements President Neeta Helms said: “After working in South Africa since 1994, Classical Movements is very grateful that one of the top orchestras in the United States will make this historic tour to South Africa.

“It is an enormous undertaking and a statement of the importance of Africa and the growth of orchestral music in this most choral of countries. This dynamic and visionary orchestra is exactly the right musical ambassador to pave the way for others to follow.”

The Minnesota Orchestra will participate in a variety of additional education projects with young musicians as part of their tour. While in Durban, the orchestra will be working closely with the KZN Youth Wind Band whose members come from all of the province – from Empangeni to Pietermaritzburg.

Just over half of the KZN Youth Wind Ban n members come from disadvantaged communities and have their transport, tuition and touring fees covered through bursaries from the Durban Music School and Department of Arts and Culture. Some musicians in the wind band also come from a number of schools around Durban.

On the morning of Sunday, August 12, the entire wind band will play for Osmo Vänskä, the celebrated conductor of The Minnesota Orchestra, as well as several Minnesota musicians. They will play a selection of pieces from their repertoire.

After that the wind band will split up by sections, with a representative from The Minnesota Orchestra taking a section. The Minnesota musicians will share their years of professional experience with tips and master classes. Later that day, the entire wind band will attend the Durban concert as guests of The Minnesota Orchestra.

There are still tickets available for The Minnesota Orchestra concert. Prices range from R100 to R600 and booking is at Computicket.

The orchestra will also perform at the Cape Town City Hall (8pm on August 10), the Aula Theatre, University of Pretoria, Pretoria (7.30pm on August 16), the Regina Mundi Roman Catholic Church, Soweto (7pm on August 17) and the Johannesburg City Hall (3pm on August 18).

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CHALKING up his seventh annual Elvis Presley tribute show at Durban’s newly renovated Rhumbelow Theatre in Cunningham Road, Umbilo, Doug Weich again keeps the customers satisfied with an outpouring of classic golden oldies associated with the lip-curling hip-swiveller.

This year he presents Viva Las Vegas, focusing on Presley’s Vegas years, when the superstar had grown in girth and stature, wore embarrassing rhinestoned jumpsuits and capes and sported massive sideburns.

Weich is backed by a fine five-piece band featuring talented Evan Cullum on musical direction and piano, Wade Wight on keyboards, ever-smiling David Knott on lead guitar, Glen Turrell on bass and Alec Mackay on drums.

Weich has also brought back the attractive backing vocalists he used in last year’s show, Claire Rowlett and Sandi da Cunha. Each also takes solo spotlights during Weich’s many costume changes, when they pay tribute to other acts that played Vegas at around the same time Presley was there.

Access my full review of the show, which had its first Durban performances last weekend, by clicking https://wp.me/p8dL0W-3vT

Viva Las Vegas has final performances at the Umbilo venue at 8pm on Friday and  Saturday (August 10 and 11) and 2pm on Sunday (August 12). Tickets cost R150 each (R130 for pensioners) and booking is at Computicket or by phoning Roland at 082 499 8636.

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THE Rockwood Theatre at Sibaya Casino is presenting a new show, Jukebox Hits, until September 2. It is probably the best show there to date, full of great songs and a fine lineup of vocalists including Liesl Coppin, Janine Cupido, Kyle Matthews and Percy Smith. Check it out from Thursdays to Sundays. Expect music by Ed Sheeran, Michael Jackson, Etta James, Def Leppard, Donna Summer, Diana Ross, Beyonce, Elvis Presley, Michael Buble and more.

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