Guitars for Africa to save Rainbow

Seb Goldswain is among guitarists uniting for a July 29 concert to raise funds to save Pinetown’s historic Rainbow venue.

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BILLY SUTER

A FINE line-up of 20 top KwaZulu-Natal guitarists – including Madala Kunene, Seb Goldswain, Bheki Koza, Guy Buttery, Pops Mohamed and Nibs van der Spuy – has been assembled for Guitars for Africa, a concert to be streamed online to raise funds to save the historical Rainbow Restaurant and Jazz Club in Pinetown.

Durban’s Centre for Jazz and Popular Music on the University of KwaZulu-Natal campus, together with iSupport Creative Business, are presenting the event which will take place, as part of the regular Unlocked Music Sessions, at 6pm on Wednesday, July 29. Tickets (R80) are available at Webtickets (www.webtickets.co.za). Audiences will receive a link and can watch at any convenient time

“Many have already raised their hands in the air and given up the fight, but with The Rainbow so close to its 39th birthday and all that has been done, said and performed within our walls in those years, we feel this is a fight we are up for. So do many of our supporters,” says a spokesman.

Nibs van der Spuy (left) and Guy Buttery.

“An international crowdfunding campaign will have passed R80 000 in donations received by the time this concert happens, so we really do want you to know that you are not backing a lost cause.”

“Ever since guitar virtuoso Philip “Dr Malombo” Tabane opened the Rainbow’s music programme in May 1983, this venerable bastion of music and politics has built a reputation for showcasing some of the greatest ‘axemen’ to be produced in southern Africa – some of whom, like transcendental maskanda maestro Madala Kunene, and the irrepressible Bheki Khoza, will be performing at the fundraiser concert,” says a spokesman.

“Following in the footsteps of giants like Sandile Shange, Louis Mhlanga, Doc Mthalane and, more latterly, Reza Khota, the Guitars for Africa concert will bring together a mixture of wizened older heads and an exciting younger generation to raise money for the Rainbow at a time when, because of the global pandemic, many similar cultural institutions are closing down.”

Kunene and Khoza head a veritable who’s who of KwaZulu-Natal guitar greats that include the Centre for Jazz’s Sazi Dlamini and Mageshan Naidoo, idiosyncratic guitar wizard Guy Buttery, the dynamic Nick Pitman, Cebo Ngema and Nibs van der Spuy, who is currently based in Portugal.

Multi-instrumentalist Pops Mohamed and vocalists Tu Nokwe and Lu Dlamini, are also part of the line-up which includes Mozambique’s Milton Chissano, Deon Krishnan from the UK, Belgium’s Mbijana Sibisi and Solomon Willy from Nigeria.

Also on the bill are Nick Pitman, Ethan Naidoo, Dane Francis, Michelle Stent, Mageshen Naidoo, Marius Botha, Dimitri Barry, Bethuel Tshoane and Max Mikula.

As the global pandemic continues to tighten its grip and leave destroyed lives and livelihoods in its wake, the Rainbow’s crowd-funding campaign (https://www.backabuddy.co.za/rainbow-restaurant) to ensure the survival of this part of South African history is still short of its target.

Versatile Durban guitarist Nick Pitman.

The Rainbow’s place in the history of South African jazz and the struggle against apartheid is extraordinary. A non-racial focal point and haven for activists, trade-unionists, students, journalists and other anti-apartheid types during the repressive 1980s, the Rainbow remains a vibrant, multi-cultural, live music hotspot that still offers a vision of a “New South Africa” that sometimes feels like a dream deferred.

The Rainbow’s relationship with the Centre for Jazz goes back to the 1980s when students from the university, like pianist Melvin Peters and trumpet player Feya Faku, cut their teeth at the venue, or formed part of the pick-up backing band for some of South African music’s grandest names. The Ronnie Madonsela scholarship fund which is administered by the Centre for Jazz, was initiated by Ben Pretorius, the co-founder of the Rainbow and Centre’s founder, Darius Brubeck.

In the wake of a very successful Piano Passions fundraiser for the Denis Hurley Centre, and the close ties that the Centre for Jazz and Popular Music and iSupport have enjoyed with the Rainbow over the years, a subsequent fund-raising concert seemed an essential follow up.


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