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Friday, November 15, 2013


(Albert Frost)

Two hours of the most exhilarating music one could wish to hear. (Review by Keith Millar)

Near the top of Fields Hill, in Kloof, there is a stately Spanish styled Manor House, recently renamed Villa Brae Guest Lodge. It is in the expansive and treed gardens of this pleasant bed and breakfast lodge that hosts Rod and Karen Nichols have created their unique Open Strings venue – and where they feature performances on a regular basis by the cream of South Africa’s acoustic music artists.

Last Friday it was the turn of one of South Africa’s most respected rock and blues guitarists, Albert Frost.

The performance takes place under a canvas canopy in the garden. It is lit by dozens of candles while the lights of Pinetown twinkle away in the distance. Friday was a warm and still night in Kloof and this added to the enchanting, welcoming and convivial ambiance of the venue

The support act on the evening was the prodigiously talented young singer/ guitarist from Westville, Aurey Livingstone. He is a matric pupil who had to write his final science exam before coming to the gig. Livingstone is an excellent guitarist but it is his voice which was most impressive. With a smoky, breathy, quality it is a thing of beauty. This young man’s talent belies his age and he could have a very bright future in the entertainment industry ahead of him.

After the impressive opening act dinner, prepared by Karen Nichols, was served. It was a generous portion of a mild Tai chicken curry. It was aromatic and delicious and was excellently complimented by a few glasses of a very nice Cabernet (at a very good price in the venue’s pub).

Then it was time for the majestic Albert Frost. What an experience! Two hours of the most exhilarating music one could wish to hear. Frost uses a Loop Station to build a rich and layered backing, and is accompanied by the brilliantly subtle and complimentary drumming by Kanan Tatt.

Included in the programme was a selection of rock and blues numbers as well as hits from his own albums and masterpieces from the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Sixto Rodriguez, Robert Johnson and Willie Dixon. He also performed several numbers from the well-known Blues Broers with whom he has had a long association.

Frost kept the audience transfixed and proved why he is regarded as one of the most versatile guitarists in the country. He is effortless in his performance, which is a measure of his enormous talent and skill. It was a magic event and food for the soul

There is something very special happening with Open Strings and Rod and Karen Nichols should be congratulated for this innovative and exciting initiative to promote live music.

Open Strings will host two more shows in the near future: Josie Field and Laurie Levine (November 30) and Robin Auld and Anton Cawthorne-Blazeby supported by Rod Nichol’s own group, the Zwarte Piet Band (December 7). The supporting act for November 30 is still to be confirmed.

For more information, and bookings contact Rod or Karen on 082 653 3948 or Email at – Keith Millar