Strumming up support for SA's legendary Rainbow jazz club

By Duncan Guy Time of article published Jul 11, 2020

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Durban - Guitarists, young and old, from near and far, will come together online to perform for the survival of Pinetown’s legendary Rainbow Restaurant and Jazz Club later this month.

The Guitars For Africa concert, at 6pm on July 29, will feature 20 guitarists.

It is presented by the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Jazz and Popular Music (UKZN) and iSupport Creative Business.

“(Transcendental maskanda maestro Madala) Kunene and Bheki Khoza head a veritable who’s who of KwaZulu-Natal guitarship which includes the Centre for Jazz’s Sazi Dlamini and Mageshan Naidoo, idiosyncratic guitar wizard Guy Buttery, the dynamic Nick Pitman, Cebo Ngema and Nibs van der Spuy, who is currently based in Portugal,” read an iSupport Creative Business press release.

“Multi-instrumentalist Pops Mohamed, vocalists Tu Nokwe and Lu Dlamini also form part of the line-up which includes Mozambique’s Milton Chissano, Deon Krishnan from the UK, Belgium’s Mbijana Sibisi and Solomon Willy from Nigeria.”

Other guitarists who will perform include Seb Goldswain, Ethan Naidoo, Dane Francis, Michelle Stent, Marius Botha, Deon Krishnan from Britain, and Max Mikula.

iSupport Creative Business said the Rainbow’s place in the history of South African jazz and the Struggle against apartheid was extraordinary.

The venue, like many others, is battling to survive the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“A non-racial focal point and haven for activists, trade unionists, students, journalists and other anti-apartheid types during the repressive 1980s, the Rainbow remains a vibrant multicultural live music hot spot that still offers a vision of a ‘New South Africa’ that sometimes feels like a dream deferred.”

Vocalist Tu Nokwe said the Rainbow had a loyal following of people who are “with it and understand music”. She recalled performing a reggae version of Happy Birthday at the venue for her friend, Helena Bailey, when storytelling legend Gcina Mhlope came on to the stage and took the mic from her. “And she wasn’t storytelling. She was singing.”

Nokwe said that she knew about the place even as a child, but never went there.“My father went there and it’s where he met with prominent people, such as lawyers and politicians.”

The Rainbow’s relationship with the Centre for Jazz goes back to the 1980s when students from the university, like pianist Melvin Peters and trumpet player Feya Faku, cut their teeth at the venue, or formed part of the pick-up backing band for some of South African music’s grandest names, iSupport Creative Business added.

The Rainbow’s crowd-funding campaign (https://www.backabuddy.co.za/rainbow-restaurant) to ensure the survival of this part of South African history is still short of its target.

Webtickets cost R80 and are available at Webtickets. Audiences will receive a link and can watch at any convenient time For more information contact Marlyn Ntsele: 079 707 773 or [email protected]

The Independent on Saturday

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