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All things music will move to Swaziland on May 30 when the MTN Bushfire festival takes place.
The festival will include the fantastic Uhuru, Oliver Mtukudzi and a host of musicians from all over the continent. There will be quite a few relatively unknown South African DJs as well as a killer line-up from our country, including Derek Gripper and Dan Patlansky, who will play tracks from his latest album, Dear Silence Thieves.
Bongo Maffin have reunited and are in studio, Speedy included. They are a highly anticipated act.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo, sans Joseph Shabalala, will also perform, as will Muzart and Spoek Mathambo.
Another 11 acts from around the world are set to perform.
Akale Wube is a Parisian band apparently “devoted totally to the grooves of 1960s and 1970s Ethiopian music”.
They formed in 2009 and since then have passionately and meticulously explored the musical goldmine of Addis Ababa. The five-piece have released two albums.
Another band on the Ethiopian trail is Imperial Tiger Orchestra. The group say they were inspired by that golden age of Ethiopian music on their first visit to the country in 2009. Their first album, which they released in 2010 was titled Addis Abeba and explored the traditional Ethiopian brass band sound which fed off American soul.
After three years of touring Europe the group have acquired a solid reputation as “a mighty groove machine”. Their musical inspiration comes from touring South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. They are based in and around Geneva, Switzerland, and have worked with Ethiopian dancers and producers.
Their music is described as 1980s synth meets traditional kebero percussion and daring rhythms. Intriguing, indeed.
Makoomba is apparently one of Africa’s most exciting young bands. They were rather glamourously formed in 2007 in Victoria Falls and combine traditional and modern instruments. They have toured more than 40 countries in Africa, Europe and Asia. This includes events like Womad UK, the Roskilde Festival in Denmark and Gnaoua Festival in Morocco. They also performed at South Africa’s Moshito Music Conference.
Their first album, Kweseka-Drifting Ahead, embraces their Tonga traditional music with diverse Pan-African music cultures.
Bushfire has also booked a few Swazi bands. Qibho and Sands is a trio of young, vibrant and dynamic musicians – Qibho Intalektual, Sands and Bandile. Qibho is a spoken-word artist who describes his style as a blend of witty, thought- provoking poetry. He interchanges conscious hip hop in English and Swati.
Sands is a singer/songwriter and acoustic guitarist. His voice is described as “airy and engaging”. He is the group’s lead vocalist and is also backed up by Bandile who also features on acoustic guitar.
They performed last year at Bushfire and were a success.
Bushfire have also imported a ska/swing/punk band from Slovenia. Red Five Point Star released their third album, Worst-Case Scenario, in 2011 on the Megalith Records label in the US. They have a unique sound combining ska, traditional rock ’n’ roll and hard-core punk with a full big band sound. They formed in 1998 as a punk rock trio and then evolved into a nine-piece that is quite the opposite of punk. They have played in South Africa before.
Bushfire will also incorporate comedy because, in the 21st century, comedians are the new rock stars.
Zambezi News is the break-through comedy series that is a parody of a typical Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation news programme. It satirises the relentless propaganda and ineptitude of that country’s state TV. The show features three presenters who are in a constant battle for the camera’s attention. Their performance will take place at The Barn, a creative space where artists and performers can express themselves.
Aside from music and comedy there will also be a contemporary art exhibition titled Swaziland NOW! It will see a group of local and inter-national visual artists explore the issues of contemporary Swaziland. Also on at the Barn will be Tonik who are regulars at Bushfire and their silent gig is a big hit with festival goers.
As Swaziland is pretty far from everywhere, Bushfire is offering a series of travel options.
There is Skyworld Travel with tours which provide buses with reclining seats, drinks and a light meal plus air conditioning.
Rush Adventures offer packages from Joburg to Swaziland return. The price of the trip will include accommodation, breakfast and dinner and a Bushfire ticket. The only things you will need are a sleeping bag, pillow and cash for partying. Oh, and your passport.
MTN Bushfire takes place from May 30 to June 1. More than 20 000 people, mostly from South Africa, are expected to attend. It offers live music, theatre, poetry, film, circus, dance and visual arts. There is also a craft market, family-friendly performances and a KidZone.