You’d be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful venue than the Amphitheatre at Paul Cluver, just off the N2 outside Elgin. Appletiser, one of the sponsors of the event, presented us all with cold Appletisers as we drove in the gates – perfect refreshment after the hour-long trip from Cape Town in the summer sun.
The amphitheatre is set amongst towering eucalyptus trees, their gorgeous, bark-peeling trunks stretching up into the clear blue sky, their elongated leaves casting dappled shade over the tiered seating. There’s plenty of space to spread picnic blankets, and wooden tables around the top tier, behind which a number of stalls serve an array of delights.
For those of us too lazy to pack a picnic, there were snacks, wood-fired pizzas (we had a jalapeno, feta and mushroom one… yum) and even a sushi stand. And in the kids section – this was a very kid-friendly concert – there was a candy floss stand. Fresh, perfectly pink candy floss on purple sticks. Who could ask for more?
Drinks on offer included fantastic wines, Triggerfish craft beer and Paul Cluver’s new cider, Cluver & Jack, the result of a collaboration with the wonderful Bruce Jack. It’s like a wine spritzer, but with apples. Served icy-cold and beautifully bottled and labelled, it’s a surefire summer winner.
The event, the Hope Music Festival, is an annual concert which forms part of the Hope @ Paul Cluver Summer Festival. The concerts are usually in the late afternoon/early evening, but this special one is one of three afternoon concerts. The other two are the Hidden Years Music Festival on 7 March 2015 and the Kid’s Theatre Festival on 28 March 2015.
The line-up for this year’s festival was fantastic, starting with young newcomer Emma van Heyningen, who impressed with some original pieces and a sweet cover of Echosmith’s ‘Cool Kids’. Following her, the Nomadic Orchestra bounced on stage. Anyone who can not smile while these young, energetic brass-players bound around needs help. They are, frankly, fabulous.
Mr Cat & The Jackal were next – a guitar-strumming folk band with a great Balkanesque sound. Mixed with fabulous story-telling lyrics, they were the perfect fit for the tree-filled amphitheatre. As the sun got lower in the sky we got slightly more rock ‘n roll with established favourites, aKing.
And then the swooning started as first Michael Lowman, with his extraordinary voice, and then Jesse Clegg played. Wow, what a line-up: the perfect acoustic mix for such a beautiful venue. This is laid-back music-watching at its best. And what a good reminder of how much incredible talent South Africa has!
The first concert of the Hope@Paul Cluver Summer Festival was on 29 November 2014.
For a full programme, go to the Paul Cluver site.
All the concerts are in aid of Thembalitsha, an incredible organisation which runs seven projects in the Western Cape from schools to breastfeeding clinics to hospice facilities. Not only do you get a wonderful afternoon’s entertainment, but the money goes somewhere good too.