Category: Folk

Matthew Mole performing at St Aidan's to a full house. Photo: Kayla Lidstone

He’s the first South African artist to top the worldwide iTunes charts, yet this is his first year at the National Arts Festival. At only 22 years young, Matthew Mole is a rapidly rising riffmeister with equal measures of talent and humility. 

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lucy kruger

What happens when you combine a singer and songwriter — with a degree in drama and a love for music — with a group of musicians and then set off on tour around South Africa? You end up with something similar to Lucy Kruger. Throw in a 2013 Standard Bank Ovation Award, and you get Lucy Kruger & the Lost Boys in The Circle Game, an audio-visual experience on this year’s Music Arena stage.

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Philip Malan plays at the Rhodes Chapel, at the National Arts Festival, Grahamstown, Monday 7 July 2014. Malan is a fingerstyle guitarist who uses the whole of the guitar to create melodies, harmonies and bass lines. (Photo: CuePix/Alexa Sedgwick)

Philip Malan performed his final show at the Festival yesterday, serenading a small audience in the Rhodes Chapel. Although the finger-style guitar genre and the use of loop stations is gaining popularity in South Africa, Malan’s style is unlike that of others. He carefully brings together simple melodies and intricate guitar work in a performance which is easy-going and intimate. Although closing his eyes made connecting with his audience a little difficult at times, it is clear that Malan is genuinely interested in providing a meaningful musical experience. He is a blend of Fleet Foxes and Rodrigo y Gabriela and a pleasure to listen to.

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Julian Redpath performs at a late afternoon show at St. Aidan's. Redpath won an Ovation Award last year. (CuePix/Nick Mulgrew)

“I introduced myself last night, and everyone thought I was someone else.”

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Vusi Mahlasela’s dynamic vocals and melodious guitar work became iconic symbols of the struggle   against apartheid when he was still in his 20s. Now, approaching his 50th birthday, this self-described  troubadour is playing as hard as ever.

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Most reviews start with a relevant anecdote or glossy blurb which leads into the rest of the article. This one, however, will get straight to the point: Guy Buttery is a guitar genius.

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Twangy, Arab-like sounds weave through the night on one of Morocco’s busiest squares. Smoke from hundreds of food stalls fills the air, men prepare their food, and groups of performers belly-dance while snake charmers pack up for the night. Suddenly I realise I’m actually in the Rhodes Chapel, listening to the three In the Clouds musicians, Steve Newman, Ashish Joshi, Marc Duby and Greg Georgiades, playing their collection of instruments.

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Singer/songwriter and 2010 Silver Standard Bank Ovation award winner Meri Kenaz returned to the National Arts Festival this year with her unique blend of soul folk music. She shares her song writing process and performance philosophy in a podcast by Lauren Granger.

Performing as the Westhuizen Duo, pianists Pierre and Sophié van der Westhuizen form an impressive musical partnership. Their music-making represents the perfect blend of two musical personalities, with Pierre introducing the programme with an engaging and folksy American-style informality.

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The National Arts Festival has provided a springboard for many a band and musicians in the past. With big dreams and small budgets behind many of these musos, the Mee Brothers are no different. The Mee Brothers, a band from Cape Town, decided to take on the challenge of Festival this year. Although they faced some hiccups – they emerged smiling.

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