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Saturday, October 3, 2015


An unforgettable music experience. (Review by Dawn Haynes)

It is hard to imagine a more perfect setting for an acoustic music festival than this! Lying in the shadow of the towering White Mountain, the camp site and the Festival area overlook a tranquil dam with the rolling foothills of the Drakensberg nearby and the majestic peaks in the distance. Cows and sheep graze peacefully, fishermen cast for bass in the dam, the numerous bird species abound and the frog chorus at night soothes everyone to sleep. And there are the inevitable Hadedas - just to complete the picture.

2015 is the 10th year of this Music Festival and approximately 1500 people attended this year. The audience is varied: families with young children, elderly music lovers, youth, middle-aged musos, artists and those who just love good music. This is a festival for everyone.

The organisation was superb. The large tent was well-equipped with benches and tables towards the back while individuals marked their own spots closer to the stage by bringing chairs, blankets, mattresses and pillows. Kingston Sound provided the technical equipment and this was superbly managed by their well-trained, reliable staff. The programme ran smoothly with no long delays and no waiting around for artists to arrive – they were all ready and waiting.

There were many interesting food stalls catering for all tastes and providing good, reasonably priced meals. The craft beer flowed and was greatly appreciated as the daytime temperatures soared into the 30’s. Standeaven Brewery’s Pale Ale was definitely my favourite! Craft stalls were equally popular and the 99 Perfect crafters from Mooi River made their first appearance at the Festival bringing beautifully hand-crafted leather and cotton goods at very reasonable prices.

The White Mountain Lodge provides basic, comfortable rooms and was fully booked well in advance while the caravan park and open camp site were both popular for the more rustic campers.

And the music ...

The programme started at 10h00 daily featuring local Imbabazane artists who were all well-rehearsed, skilful and energetic. This was followed by the Musicians Gear Zone Acoustic Competition allowing newer musicians the opportunity for exposure and experience. This was won by Rick who received a superb guitar plus accessories from Gear Zone.

From 14h00 until 23h00 daily, the stage hosted individuals and groups from all over the country: Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban as well as one from Australia.

It is almost impossible to single out individuals as each had something special and unique. Opening the festival was the talented duo, Match, and they set the mood for a varied, excellent programme. Jamie Mac Dowell & Tom Thum (from Australia) gave an outstanding performance and the audience were totally in awe of the incredible range of sound effects made by Tom. Unbelievable vocal and acoustic flow!.

Kathryn Swain from Capetown (accompanied by David van Niekerk) was a definite audience favourite which is not surprising as her vocal range was well-suited to her original lyrics – easy listening-to music. Shoman is well-known to festival goers and was once again well-received and loudly applauded for her ballad style and her strong messages of individualism.

Rubber Duc from Johannesburg had everyone up and dancing as their well-known songs really got the audience moving. And, yes, there is a delightful yellow rubber duck on stage! The energetic duo, Tuin (NOT pronounced Two – in as I heard someone say!) from Pretoria, made their first appearance at White Mountain and had a balanced repertoire of original and cover songs. These two young musicians will be back next year, I’m sure. The ever-popular and well-known Margaret’s Daughter showed their outstanding guitar skills and was one of the performances which had an encore.

Perhaps I’m biased as a Durbanite, but my favourites were Rowan Stuart and Majozi. Both these artists have outstanding musical skill and a wonderful rapport with the audience. In a venue like this, at a festival such as White Mountain, the ability to really connect with the audience makes all the difference.

The final artist was the well-known and ever-popular Matthew Mole. The audience were in full swing and up and dancing as they sang along showing their appreciation for his musical talent as the 10th White Mountain Festival drew to a close.

Tom’sTavern in the Lodge hosted the “after hours” music. When the night air became just a bit chilly, many dedicated music lovers retired indoors to the Tavern where live music continued until 02h00.

Others in the programme were Gugz and the Bam Bam, Matt Vend and the Tender Ten, Al Bairre, Early Hours, Howie Combrink, Whiskey Thief, Connecting Stars, Holly and the Woods, Bad Peter, Cazz, Dani.

We were blessed with the hottest weather the Festival has experienced in its 10 years and perhaps this was part of the amazing spirit of friendship, relaxation and appreciation of the music that was ever-present. The children enjoyed swimming in the pool and the dam to cool off while many people took a short stroll into the hills to truly appreciate the scenery and the peace of the Berg. We even had an on-stage engagement! Rachel and Rick met three years ago at the festival and he bravely proposed on stage to a loud cheer from the enthusiastic audience – congrats to you both!

Full marks must go to the White Mountain organisers and working teams for keeping the grounds litter-free at all times.  Even the open campsite was neat and clean with litter carefully sealed in black bags at all times. The “no glass” rule helped to keep everyone in the tent comfortable and safe . Security was excellent with guards quietly walking around and keeping a check on all. Cleanliness of showers and loos was amazing, considering the number of people there.

I will definitely be back (this was my second visit) and I can only applaud the artists, musicians, technical staff, organisers and mostly the wonderful audience for an unforgettable music experience. - Dawn Haynes (Festival Wire/Livewire)

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