DURBAN is becoming the winter mini-holiday destination and it is not just our warm weather that draws the crowds, it’s our sizzling entertainment, too.

Besides the biggies such as the Mr Price Pro and Vodacom Durban July that persuade visitors to the city to make a weekend or week-long break of it, other events have also been gaining momentum recently.

Take, for example, the Umhlanga Winter Carnival, which also takes place this weekend. Hosted by Umhlanga Tourism, the four-day event (today to Sunday) has plenty of sporting and family events daily from 10am until 2pm, and a host of live music sets that will keep the crowds entertained.

On Friday from 6pm, jazz lovers can hear Beat-Route perform in the partially closed Chartwell Drive. They are Durban’s funky swing jazz combo who’ve gained quite a following in their eight years on the scene.

Tonight chatted to Daniel Sheldon to learn more about them.

“The name is a bit of a confusing story, depending on which member you ask. Gerald says he saw it on a coffee table at our regular gig and as a joke said it would make a good name. I seem to remember Tony suggesting it. People like it when they get past the whole ‘beetroot’ thing,” he joked.

Sheldon said they’ve been together for as long as the group has been playing at the Market Restaurant on Gladys Mazibuko Road (Marriott): “Eating their fantastic fish cakes and drinking their award-winning coffee, eight years’ worth of Friday lunches,” he chuckled.

Of his mates, he said: “The band feature Gerald Sloan on guitar, a local legend and the undeniable master of the jazz guitar in KZN; Logan Byrne on upright bass, he is ex-Landscape Prayers, Scooters Union and Perez; Tony Muirhead is our sticks man, or mostly brushes; and myself on trumpet and percussion.

“We are a traditional acoustic swing jazz quartet, although on this gig (the fest), Melvin Peters (a local jazz giant) will join us to make it a quintet. Our repertoire is largely mainstream jazz standards which we interpret in swing, Latin or groove styles, depending on our mood. We do play a few original compositions of Gerald’s and will also include a couple of popular tunes people will recognise, but in the swing jazz idiom,” he said.

Another treat for music fans on Saturday night is that Efrain Toro (Puerto Rico), a renowned rhythm player, will be sitting in for drummer Muirhead. Sheldon said Toro is in Durban doing research and teaching at the University of KZN.

• For more info on Beat-Route at the fest, or other events, see

• See Beat-Route at East Coast Radio House & Garden Show on Sunday, noon to 3pm, Tala Bridal Fair on August 4; first Sunday of a month at Wonder Market in Chris Saunders Park, Helenic Center Market, last Saturday of a month, Market Restaurant, every Friday, 12.30pm to 2.30pm.