Sound Advice (Sept 26 – Oct 2)

John Ellis, formerly of Tree63, performs in Hilton.

BILLY SUTER with his weekly gig guide. Among music highlights in and around Durban this week are gigs by John Ellis and Madala Kunene, and a tribute to global hits, and a cabaret by Godfrey Johnson.

SINGER and guitarist John Ellis, former Tree63 frontman, is the headline act at 9pm tonight (Wednesday, September 26) at the Music in the Hills (MiTH) event at The Knoll Historic Guest Farm, Knoll Drive, Hilton.

Doors open at 6 pm and the music flows from 7pm. Admission is R30 at the door.

John Ellis relocated back to his hometown, Durban, from America after many years of international success to pursue a solo career. In 2010 he released his debut solo album, the politically charged Come Out Fighting, which garnered him another SAMA nomination.

In 2011, in addition to his production work for other South African artists, he recorded his follow-up, an acoustic album entitled Rural, accompanied by Johnny Clegg drummer and percussionist Barry van Zyl.

John is an accomplished guitarist, having featured on numerous American and British recordings, as well as on albums by South African artists such as Ernie Smith, Farryl Purkiss and Ard Matthews. John also lectures English literature, politics, communication, English as a second language and academic literacy.

R&B singer, songwriter, actor and presenter Sphiwe Hadebe is the 8pm act at the MiTH event this week.

Born in 1992 in Ladysmith, he writes his own lyrics and composes his own music, and for other artists. He also covers other artists such as Sam Smith, Chris Brown, Trey Songs, Usher, Whitney Houston, and local artists such as Ntando, and Soul Brothers.

In 2012, Sphiwe made it through to the third round of SA’s Got Talent and got to be on TV for the first time.

Opening the MiTH entertainment, at 7pm, will be The Reid Family Band which jamming for many years. It is headed by Vincent, who has had an interest in music from a young age and is mainly self taught. He plays keyboards, guitar and, recently, tin whistle.

Sixteen-year-old Rhiannon, with the help of Kech Sanchez, has honed her skills on guitar, and is also on lead vocals. Aidan, who is 11 years old, also sings. Tess organises the bookings and joins in on vocals and percussion. T

he Reid Family Band enjoys many different genres of music but are particularly influenced by Irish music , folk and pop.

MiTH is a semi-open mic music club. Take along your own booze. Food and soft drinks are available for sale.

Musicians keen to play at MiTH should contact Charles Webster (082 331 7271) or Doug Borain (072 340 7034).


SINGER and songwriter Madala Kunene will be backed by Njabulo Shabalala on percussion, and opening for him will be guitarist Nick Pitman with drummer Riley Ghiandari, at a concert scheduled for 6pm on Friday, September 28.

The venue is the Luthuli Museum in Groutville . Tickets cost R30 at the door and more information is available by phoning 083 3372 518.

The concert is presented in association with Concerts SA and Luthuli Museum.

Madala Kunene. Picture by Deon Maritz.

“The last time I performed in Groutville was in 1968 with a band called iZanusi. People should expect what they are not used to, the Madalaline Music.” says Kunene about the performance.

Kunene was born in 1951 in Mkhumbane (Cato Manor), a vibrant mixed community just outside of inner Durban. The son of a carpenter, he was raised by his grandmother, a staunch academic who wanted him to be something of a bookworm.

 At the age of eight, in 1959, Kunene and some members of his extended family were trucked off by the apartheid government to live in the then relatively new township of KwaMashu.

As a meditation on his history, Kunene recently released his latest album, 1959. The first album he’s recorded in South Africa in over 20 years. It explores dense and often melancholic subject matter, especially Kunene’s own history as a victim of forced removal.

Nick Pitman is Durban guitarist currently enrolled for a BMus degree at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. What began as a passion is now his profession. Nick has been playing guitar for more than 10 years, during which time he has explored the rock, blues and jazz genres and he has earned himself a reputation among local artists, fans and the wider South African musical community.

 He was selected for the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Band 2016 and 2017, toured the country with artists such as Sibusiso Mashileone, Vanessa Moodley and Blvck Crystals, and played at the Oslo Jazz Festival in Norway

Riley Joseph Giandhari (Riley G) was born in Durban. He started playing drums at the age of three and was passionate about taking it further. At the age of 15 he started playing the drums at church and with a few gospel bands. Although he has considered degrees in other fields of study, Riley has always been drawn back to music and therefore enrolled to study Jazz at UKZN in 2013.


THE Rockwood Theatre at Sibaya Casino is presenting the colourful A Rocking World Tour November 4.

Showcasing a vibrant parade of chart-topping hits from across the globe, A Rocking World Tour opens with a visit to Australasia, where the talented cast pay homage to the great bands and singers that rocked Down Under – from rockers AC/DC and Midnight Oil to the irresistible Kylie Minogue.  From there, they spin the globe and get caught up in an Asian adventure, with a colourful fusion of high-energy Bhangra and Bollywood hits.

Jemma Shankland in A Rocking World Tour

The next stop is the world’s party capital, Europe, where the singers and musicians pay tribute to Sweden’s Roxette and Abba, Norway’s A-Ha, France’s Gipsy Kings and Daft Punk, Italy’s Eiffel 65 and Germany’s Boney M, before jetting off to Britain to celebrate Queen.

The worldwide movement continues with the sultry sounds of Latino pop – Mexico’s Carlos Santana, and the cheerful Jamaican jams of Bob Marley. From there, the team bellydance their way through to South America, the only place where hips don’t lie, to the sounds of pop princess Shakira.

Among other acts whose music features in the show are Michael Jackson, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Freshlyground, Brenda Fassie, Mandoza and PJ Powers.

The cast includes singers Aimee Rain, Christina Jenkins, Jemma Shankland, Jean Citto Kieran Rennie).

The band consists of Barry Thomson of The Reals on lead guitar (to be replaced next week by former Tree63 guitarist John Ellis), Lloyd de Gier on bass, Dillan Kanny on drums and Shemuel Mahebeer on keyboards.

The theatre opens at 6.30pm – meals are on sale at the venue – with the show commencing at 8pm Thursdays to Saturdays. Tickets cost only R99 each on Thursdays, and R130 each for other performances, but half price for pensioners at the 2pm Sunday matinee performances, when under-12s get in free.

My full review of the show by clicking here;


POPULAR Afrikaans singer and The Voice South Africa judge and mentor, Bobby van Jaarsveld, is to perform a single concert at 8pm on Friday, September 28, at The Rockwood Theatre at Sibaya Casino, near Umhlanga. A ticket will cost you R150 and booming is by calling the theatre at 031 161 0000.

Van Jaarsveld, who arrived on the music scene in 2006 with his first gold-selling album, Duisend Ure, will perform Afrikaans and English songs,


A REMINDER that top Cape singer and pianist Godfrey Johnson, who has staged shows to much acclaim for years and who in 2015 composed the music for the Pieter-Dirk Uys musical, Die Van Aardes van Grootoor, is staging the quirky Unhinged in Kloof this weekend.

Catch it at The Rhumbelow Theatre at Tina’s Hotel, Beryldene Road, Kloof, at 8pm on Friday and Saturday, September 28 and 29, and 2pm on Sunday, September 30.

This is a new cabaret filled with musical madness inspired by Mozart, Bach, Bowie, Beethoven, Brahms and Madonna. It is packed with hilarious characters, such as the very concerned citizen, Nugent Stein; the flawless and neurotic, Divina Munschka; and the urban warrior, Juniper Jade.

Be prepared for the “middle-aged person’s guide to the orchestra” and a crazy duet performed by one. Godfrey will also give the audience a chance to choose some of their favourite songs from his extensive repertoire.

Tickets for the show cost R150 each (R130 for pensioners and students with valid student cards). A Family Pack discount during the first week of shows is also available – R300 total for two adults and two children.


IF YOU missed it at the recent Hilton Arts Festival at Hilton College, consider catching the fun Get Knotted, a cheerful new cabaret by award-winning Durban performers Bryan Hiles, Darren King and Rowan Bartlett.

Bryan Hiles, Darren King and Rowan Bartlett in Get Knotted.

Get Knotted, centred on Las Vegas acts and trivia, is being staged at the Rhumbelow Theatre, 42 Cunningham Road, Umbilo, Durban, at 8pm this Friday and Saturday (September 28 and 29) and at 2pm on Sunday (September 30)

The show follows the versatile trio’s earlier, lighthearted Las Vegas tribute shows, Tie a Knot In It and Tie Another Knot In It.

Expect lots of mirth and music from acts as diverse as Sia and Streisand, Presley and Parton, The Rat Pack and Robbie Williams. My full review of the show is available by clicking here:

King, Bartlett and Hiles have performed together for more than a decade in Think Theatre’sOthello and Hamlet; and also performed in KickstArt’s The Wizard of Oz together.

Tickets for the show cost R150 each (R130 for pensioners and students with valid student cards). A Family Pack discount during the first week of shows is also available – R300 total for two adults and two children.

One may take along one’s own meals or snacks to the venue, but no beverages as a pub is on the premises. Light meals and snacks may also be bought at the venue. Booking is at Computicket or by calling Roland Stansell at 082 499 8636.


LOOKING ahead to Tuesday, October 2, note that The Centre for Jazz and Popular Music on the Durban campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal will present Jokes & Jazz VIII at 6pm.

 Jokes & Jazz is a mash-up of comedy and jazz, open to the public as well as for corporate entertainment. The series has featured local and international jazz musicians and comedians since its inception in 2017 and its regular audience is just as diverse.

Pietermaritzburg trio Accoustiq Assassins will headline the jazz segment. The band caters for a cosmopolitan audience with their unique, alternative sound best described as contemporary soul/indie R&B with songs in Zulu and English. The group features Siphesihle ‘Tonick’ Bhengu, Siphiwe ‘Junior’ Mazibuko and Gugu ‘Gu’ Mdladla.

Comics Choice Award Nominated funnyman Kwanda Radebe headlines the comedy. He has established himself as a headline across South Africa. His act stands out for the ability to tell jokes in multiple languages

The show will also feature new and upcoming comedians Aruna Badal, Uyanda Maboea, Thulani Zulu and Thandeka Dlaminii. They will warm up the show with a poetry interlude. Resident MC and international comedian Troy Tesla will host.

Admission is: R80 (R50 for pensioners and R25 for students.) Call  072 338 6107 for bookings or more information.


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