……BY BILLY SUTER……
NEW strategies, new plans and a new way of doing things have been the inspiration behind this year’s Durban International Blues Festival, scheduled to run from Friday to Sunday, December 4 to 6, at the Rhumbelow Theatre in Cunningham Road, off Bartle Road, in Umbilo.
It has been a case of “never say die”, says longtime festival publicist Tanya van Agthoven Marais, alluding to the festival having often, over the years, faced hurdles relating to sponsorship challenges and changing venues.
The event, sponsored by the Department of Arts and Culture, was introduced in 2005 at Wilson’s Wharf in Durban Bay, under the directorship of the late Themi Venturas,
It will be held for the first time at the Rhumbelow Theatre, the manager of which, Roland Stansell, has taken great care to ensure Covid-19 safety and sanitisation protocols are in place.
Durban International Blues Festival programme director, Will Wallace, has stretched the 2020 festival budget to include local bands Rorke Kemp, Sea Level (featuring Lance Goldberg), Bobby and the Dynamites, and Smoke Train.
The very popular The Reals, fronted by singer-guitarist Barry Thomson, will be the backing band for the big festival closing event, The Blues Summit, on the afternoon of Sunday, December 6, at which great blues artists from abroad will be special guests. Footage of them performing will be shown on raised video screens.
The blues festival launches at 7.15pm on Friday, December 4, with Singing the Blues, featuring the talents of Sea Level (featuring Lance Goldman) and The Rorke Kemp Band.
At 7.15pm on Saturday, December 5, the spotlight will be on The Blues, Coming of Age: 16 Years. It will feature Bobby and The Dynamites and Smoke Train.
The Blues Summit, at 1.45pm on Sunday, December 6, closes the festival with appearances by The Reals and special guests from overseas.
“Since our international blues friends couldn’t come to Durban in person due to Covid-19 restrictions, they have willingly agreed to participate in a video production to be screened at the show,” says Van Agthoven Marais.
“The line- up for The Blues Summit is formidable, with some of our past performers supporting us wholeheartedly: Liz Mandeville (US), Toronzo Cannon (US), Fiona Boyes (Australia), Pat Savage (Canada), Charlie Love (US), Donna Herula (US), Yamil Jacobo (Argentina) and Khalif Wailin’ Walters (US).”
Visitors to the theatre are encouraged to take along picnic baskets (snacks and light meals can also be bought at the venue), but all drinks have to bought at the theatre bar.
All seating, as per Covid-10 protocols, will be at separate tables and the venue will, obviously, seat co-habiting couples and/or family and friends close or together.
A Merchandise Table will be featured, so take along some extra cash. Concorde Printers will have a few Blues T-shirts available and artists will have CDs on sale.”
Tickets for the festival cost between R140 and R160, depending on the show, and must be pre-booked as, due to Covid-10 protocols, no walk-ins will be permitted. Book at Computicket or call Roland Stansell at 082 499 8636.