Review: Big Blues Music Festival

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21 to 21 September 2019


The normally sleepy little seaside hamlet of Kleinmond came alive for the third annual Big Blues Music Festival this last weekend. Impressively for this small event – fast becoming a fixture on the local music festival circuit – at least 20 well-known bands and artists performed of which about half are best known as rock musicians.

Friday night’s sonic highlights included the impressive Argentinian blues singer and guitarist Jose Luis Pardo as well as South Africa’s very own and wild Hendrix-like Dan Patlansky, who wowed the crowd with an intense feedback-filled performance.

On Saturday, guitar maestro Albert Frost pulled out some old-school blues cool from Willie Dixon, before joining up for a superb set with the brilliant Blues Broers for some washboard-and-tea-chest blues, with a spot of pirate glee thrown in for fun.

The kings of Western Cape blues, the Boulevard Blues Band, packed eight songs into a very upbeat 45-minute set and delivered to their very large following, while the up-and-coming melodic Stefan Dixon showed much promise with his foot-thumping, feel-good blues-inspired rock. The high-energy, very youthful members of the Ballistic Blues certainly set the festival on fire with their speaker-blasting offerings.

Valiant Swart, unassuming but supremely talented, brought his unique brand of Afrikaans poetic rock to the event, to much applause, while harmonica-toting, slide guitar icon, Robin Auld, attracted a fair crowd with his catchy, rolling Afro-folk-rock.

The festival, a 90km drive from Cape Town, was organised by the Kleinmond Information Centre as a means of promoting the area and drawing locals as well as city slickers to the scenic Kogelberg’s many attractions. It is held a stone’s throw from the sparkling blue ocean, with the 1050m2 marquee nestling at the top of the harbour slipway alongside the ongoing Harbour Road development, which is undergoing a hip commercial and residential transformation.

Apart from the fast food vendors alongside the massive music tent, festivalgoers could opt for a more formal meal at one of the many nearby restaurants and coffee shops. Europa (soon to renamed La Rêve) offered delicious tender steak while the seafood restaurant across the cobblestones, The Shellfish Bar, was hailed for its grilled yellowtail.

The festival also made parents and young children feel very welcome, with a separate Kids Club for children aged 2-12 years, run by the local ‘1000 Voetjies’ Pre-school and offering various activities for youngsters. The festival has a social responsibility side to it too, with a percentage of the profits going to 11 schools in the Hangklip and Kleinmond area.

Hats off to Louise Fick and her dedicated team for bringing to this beautiful area some class acts – and plenty of business for locals – over two very enjoyable days. It was a well-run event, with a detailed website, and all the necessary facilities, including Tuk-Tuks and combis for transport to local guesthouses or the campsite. With dynamism like this, Kleinmond is revealing itself as a little place with a lot of punch.

Sarah Taylor

The Big Blues Music Festival 2013 took place in Kleinmond, 1 & 2 March 2013.

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