Cape Town - There’s nothing better than whipping out a chequered blanket, slicing into a block of cheese and swirling wine while soaking in acoustic tunes and the summer sun.
Music just sounds different outdoors, exposed to the elements and echoed by hills and slopes.
Despite the Cape’s notoriously unpredictable weather, the outdoor music trend is stronger than ever, with a packed line-up for the rest of the summer.
The new year will see relaxed outdoor concerts on weekends in locations ranging from Elgin and Paarl to city bowl parks like De Waal Park and Green Point Park.
Some will cost you a pretty penny while others are mahala. All have worthy line-ups, securing top acts for your picnic treat.
DE WAAL PARK
Back in 2011, the Friends of De Waal Park started a concert series that would shake things up in outdoor Sunday entertainment – free concerts.
Concerts in the Park events got off to a big start that year with the likes of Karen Zoid playing, a programme funded simply by sponsorship and with the intention of providing free music entertainment in the public park which boasts a colonial-era bandstand where the performances take place.
The season featured the Mayor’s Christmas Gala Concert last Sunday with Cape Town favourites The Rockets and flamenco guitarist Saudiq Khan.
The biggest coup for the new year is afro-pop sensation Freshlyground (date yet to be announced).
The park will host pop rocker Mark Haze on January 19, re-united rockers Falling Mirror on February 2, ska band The Rudimentals and rockers the Rescu on February 16, and the UCT Big Band on March 2.
De Waal Park is on Molteno Road in Oranjezicht, with entrances there and in Upper Orange and Camp streets. The concerts start at 4pm and do pack your own food and drinks. See www.concertsinthepark.co.za.
Outdoor music is old hat at Kirstenbosch, where the Old Mutual Summer Concerts are into their 22nd season.
And this season offers a great deal of diversity, rather like drawing items from a hat. With the old favourites like Mango Groove (last week), The Parlotones (January 5) and Freshlyground (February 16), new music is being showcased. Earlier this month, for example, South African iTunes-topper Matthew Mole and new soul rocker Nakhane Toure had the stage.
Sunday afternoon Zimbabwean legend Oliver Mtukudzi plays. He speaks to Good Weekend contributor Evan Milton on page 6.
Freshlyground will no doubt pack out the garden but other crowd-pullers will include Johnny Clegg (January 19), Mi Casa (March 2) and soul songstress Lira (March 30).
For those who prefer a fine music Sunday, there’s the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra (February 23) and trumpeter Hugh Masekela (March 9).
Other noteworthy artists on the line-up include Fokofpolisiekar (February 2), South African rockers Civil Twilight (February 9), and the Cape Town Folk n Acoustic Music Festival (March 16) which showcases South African folk music talent.
The Kirstenbosch run closes with pedal looper Jeremy Loops on April 6, when you can expect an earlier sunset. The end of the series is sadly a few weeks short of Easter weekend on April 20. The concerts usually start at 5.30pm. See www.webtickets.co.za for tickets.
The family-run Paul Cluver Wine Estate in Elgin has rebranded its forest amphitheatre as Hope@PaulCluver, as part of its partnership with the Thebmbalitsha Foundation. Enjoy the music, knowing the concerts benefit projects like the Village of Hope children’s residence and the ThembaCare hospice in Grabouw.
The open-air 600-seater amphitheatre is surrounded by eucalyptus trees.
Patrons can bring picnics but no alcohol is allowed. Paul Cluver wines and artisanal beers are on sale.
The programme began last month and continues on January 4 with The Parlotones.
A fun item is the Festival in the Forest Children’s Arts Festival (January 11). The day will feature drama, music and dance workshops and a performance of Road Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox. It’s a bit pricey at R350 for the whole thing but the play is only R150 and starts at 5pm.
Nataniel has the stage on January 18 and Dutch mime artist and musician Herman van Veen performs on January 31 and February 1. The programme ends on February 22 with Handful of Keys, a two-man piano show. See Computicket for tickets. Details are at www.thembalitsha.org.za.
LIQUI FRUIT AMPHITHEATRE, PAARL
Need some jazz but can’t wait for the Cape Town International Jazz Festival? Event organisers espAfrika are launching their Summer Jazz Series at the Liqui Fruit Amphitheatre in Paarl.
In the build-up to the annual festival at the CTICC, espAfrika will showcase selected jazz favourites at the venue next to the Taal Monument.
Jimmy Dludlu plays on January 26, Jimmy Nevis on February 16, Judith Sephuma on March 1 and a surprise artist from the CTIJF line-up on March 30, following the festival on March 28 and 29. Tickets start at R100 at Computicket.
TAAL Monument, PAARL
Paarl folks won’t have to wait long for picnic fun. The Tuinteater Picnic Concert Series at the Taal Monument will have a Boeremusiek concert on January 25 and Elvis Blue on February 8.
Visitors to these concerts are welcome to bring their own wine and picnic baskets or they can order one from Volksmond Coffee Shop. Tickets are at www.paarlpost.co.za
BACKSBERG WINE ESTATE
This wine estate has a more blues and rock approach to Sunday picnic concerts.
Beef burgers or Karoo lamb wraps and chilled Backsberg wines are available. The programme begins on February 16 with Koos Kombuis, followed by the Blues Broers on February 23. The series runs until March 16 when Mr Cat and the Jackal play. Tickets are at www.plankton.mobi and the shows start at 4pm. See www.facebook.com/backsbergconcerts for more.
GREEN POINT PARK
This Friday sees a gay-friendly event billed as The Pink Picnic in the Park with the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra performing at the auditorium from 6pm. Tickets are at www.pinksummer.co.za.
Waterfront Summer Sunset Concerts are free and have a good line-up. Saturday’s event is sure to be crowded with singer/songwriter Chad Saaiman appearing at 6pm. Hassan’adas will do Afro-jazz on January 2 at 6pm. See www.waterfront.co.za for a full schedule.