Cape Town is a musical city. Some people joke that there are twenty guitar players per square kilometre and saxophonists behind every bush. Music is our holy communion.
But for a musical city, it’s hard to find the music. You would think that you could go any night to various venues in the city and find great music. It’s not like that. Accessing the music of the city is difficult. And the real action is not always accessible to visitors to the city.
And so two companies, Andulela Experience and Coffee Beans Routes, created a music tour that takes the visitor right into the fabric of the city’s music, offering intimate evenings in the home of a variety of Cape Town musicians.
It means that over this weekend, the jazz lover could have an unusual opportunity: to attend the fabulously large-scale Cape Town International Jazz Festival and see one of Cape Town’s most innovative players with his band on the Saturday night; and on the Monday to be able to visit that same musician in his home for an intimate session of music, storytelling and dinner.
Hilton, who performs with his Paradigm Shift trio late on Saturday night on the Moses Molelekwa stage, was the second musician to join the Jazz Safari, after Mac McKenzie, the Goema Captain of Cape Town, best known for his work with punk band Genuines, and most recently for his innovations with his all-star band the Goema Captains of Cape Town.
Hilton lives in Fairways and cooks a chicken curry that he calls Taliban 911 because it’s hot. On his walls are prints of his latest series of paintings. He has songs by the same names, as if the paintings are the visual versions of the songs. He exhibited these paintings, and his music, at the Birds Eye Jazz Club in Basel, Switzerland, late last year.
Sometimes, to open a session, Hilton will play the Khoisan bow. “People always sit up and listen when I play that bow. You see, not many people touch on the history of our culture,” he explains. “I feel like through the tour I can contribute to the preservation of it, historically and spiritually.”
It happens so often, it’s boring. Musicians who have contributed so vitally to the development of our culture, die, usually in poverty and there is little of their legacy preserved for future generations to benefit from. Last year, we lost Robert Sithole, the pennywhistle player. In 2005, we nearly lost Robbie Jansen.
Happily, Jansen is back from the dead and happily married once more. And this year he joined Hilton and McKenzie as an anchor host on the tour. It’s an incredible privilege to be in his home, eating a meal prepared by his wife Marcelle and hearing him tell stories, and play his horn. It is a vitalising experience.
One of the objectives of the tour is to preserve legacy. We have achieved it on the level of creating a space where our great storytellers can have audiences from all over the world. The next phase is to use the platform to actually document legacy. It’s one thing to have the space to tell the stories, another to grab them out of the ether onto some or other format so that they can last forever.
This form of tourism is a significant economic contributor. Each tour creates revenue for seven people and it creates a sales outlet for musicians’ musical products. Jansen is working on his autobiography and the tour provides hungry ears that will help shape the book. Hopefully, one day, in some small part because of the Cape Town Jazz Safari, that book will be read by people all over the world.
For more on the the Cape Town Jazz Safari, visit www.andulela.com