A historic quarry and a refreshing dam provide the backdrop for arguably the most authentic and enjoyable gathering of blues musicians in South Africa. The Table Mouintain Blues Summit is held annually on Hillcrest, a farm on the outskirts of Durbanville in Cape Town’s northern suburbs.
Though the venue and length of the festival changes from time to time, the Table Mountain Blues Summit has become an unmissable event in Cape Town’s midsummer for anyone even mildly fond of blues and rock music. Even for those who don’t specifically feel the need to seek out our growling, blues-churning brethren, the relief offered by a dip-friendly dam in the often scorching heat of a Cape Town summer should be more than enticing!
In an earlier interview on LitNet (* hyperlink: http://www.litnet.co.za/richard-pryor-talks-table-mountain-blues-summit), Richard Pryor – one of the organisers and a blues guru himself – indicated that though he’d like an international act or two to join the line-up at some stage, the focus is very much on the quality of blues acts in South Africa. “We build the summit around the so-called family of bands that have been a mainstay of the fest,” he said.
Though the setting might be considered by some to be too idyllic for a true blues experience (considering the misery it’s often rooted in and upliftment it pleads for), South Africa holds plenty of challenges for each and every citizen…and while the hard work is being done elsewhere to tackle these issues, a day or two of commiserating with excellent musicians and excellent people makes for a not only unique, but exhilarating, experience.
Musically speaking, the blues may not seem a natural fit for beautiful, bouncy Cape Town, but local blues expert Mike Combrinck explains why this myth should be laid to rest once and for all.
In days gone by you might have struggled to find a blues gig in Cape Town – but we’re happy to report that over the last few years, the blues has been flourishing. A major contributor to this is the introduction of the annual Table Mountain Blues Summit in 2006. Rated as one of the best blues festivals in Africa, this is a gathering of the finest blues musicians the country has to offer.
While there is no Cape Town music venue dedicated exclusively to blues, there are a number of regular blues events around the city, and certain venues occasionally feature musicians known for their skill in this genre.
Twice a month the centrally-located Mercury Live hosts an event fondly known as Bluestown. This well-attended event happens on the second and the last Thursday of every month. It features a different house band each time, with a rotating array of popular guests, usually on guitar and/or vocals.
In Cape Town’s northern suburbs, Die Boer hosts Blue Tuesday every week, also a collaborative affair with many guests.
There is always a blues event happening somewhere. Other music venues to keep an eye on are Bertie’s Moorings, The Hillcrest Quarry, The Cape Farmhouse, Café Roux and Alma Café.
A popular monthly gig that calls itself “Blues Meets Rock” is hosted, alternately, by either Boulevard Blues (blues) or Pebbleman (blues/rock). It is usually a rocking great affair during which they share the stage.
If you’re a fan of the blues and would like to know what is happening around Cape Town, then tune your internet radio to Zone Radio at 6pm on a Monday evening for a three-hour blues treat featuring local and overseas artists. One thing is for sure, Cape Town blues are here to stay.