The beautiful, green and usually quiet town of Franschhoek was abuzz yesterday with jazz lovers flooding to attend the Picnic and Braai Jazz Festival. The weather was sublime for this riverside event.
The drive to Franschhoek was pleasant… until we approached the main road where the event was being held. Cars queued for kilometres next to the highway – aagh! There were paid parking facilities available, but they were mostly tiny. Eventually we got there, only to find a long queue for the picnic area. Lesson number one: arrive early.
The venue was absolutely breathtaking and the aroma of ‘braai-vleis’ filled the air… the smell of summer in SA. The space around the stage was bursting at the seams, so we gave up on the idea of seeing the artists perform and managed to find a little shady spot under a willow. It was a good choice – not only were we next to a crystal clear mountain stream, but when the main acts – Loyiso Bala, Black Kurrent and Claire Phillips – kicked off the show at 1pm, the voices of the artists travelled through the trees, all the way to our little spot. Impressive sound equipment!
Quite a few members of the audience had a little too much tipple, though it’s hard to know how this can be managed by the organisers. Others were plain thoughtless, particularly with regards to littering. I even saw one kid throwing stones at bottles leaving shards of broken glass scattered in the river. This was a huge shame since there were plenty of fun activities available for children including a jumping castle and a tree-swing. But one or two people employed on litter patrol would be a good investment.
There’s no doubt that this event has enormous potential but certainly the number of tickets should be reduced. Nonetheless this was a thoroughly enjoyable day filled with sunshine, good wine and soulful music. Oh, and don’t forget your sunblock… the Boland sun can really be unforgiving – as the tops of my knees keep reminding me!