Durban music picks: April 6 2012

“Sliding country blues grooves and world-aware rhythms, simultaneously raw, soulful and subtle” is how the sound of Andrew James and The Steady Tiger is described.

The folk duo is fronted by James, half of the erstwhile experimental acoustic act Cabins in the Forest. The band is at the end of a tour of the East Coast, from Cape Town to Durban, which culminates with three KwaZulu-Natal dates. After a YouTube video became a hit, the band went on to record with producer Aron Turest-Swartz (Freshlyground) and began to be featured alongside Steve Newman, Farryl Purkiss and Guy Buttery in festivals such as the Cape Town Folk Festival and Rocking the Daisies. When listening to the recordings or seeing them live, it is hard to understand how a guitarist and a drummer — not even half a rock band really — create such deeply layered and sonically diverse music, which they do well that Rolling Stone has compared their sound to that of early Ry Cooder.

Centre for Jazz and Popular Music, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Tuesday April 10 at 6pm, entrance R30; the George Hotel, Eshowe, Wednesday April 11 at 7.30pm, entrance free; St Clements, Musgrave Road, Durban, Friday April 13 at 8pm, entrance R50. Tel: 084 554 1361. For details, visit: andrewjames.co.za.

■ A Gospel Extravaganza will delight Durban this Easter. A roster of the country’s gospel greats will gather at the Playhouse, with its excellent acoustics and state-of-the-art sound, to put on a real show­stopper. Directed by Somizi Mhlongo, the concert features a line-up of solo artists, including Sfiso Ncwane, Sgwili no Babo and Durban-born diva Deborah Fraser, and top gospel groups Avante, Abanqobi, Ithemba and Phindile Mkhize.

The Playhouse Drama Theatre, April 7 at 7pm. Tickets are between R85 and R110 from Computicket. Tel: 031 369 9540.

■ Handel’s choral masterpiece, The Messiah, will be staged on Easter Sunday by the Playhouse Company. Directed by Themi Venturas and with the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Naum Rosine, this big-stage production will add visual grandeur to this much-loved piece, which includes the Hallelujah Chorus. The work features a stellar line-up of soloists, including soprano Zanne Stapelberg, mezzo-soprano Violina Anguelov, tenor Mhlaba Buthelezi and baritone Aubrey Lodewyk, who will be backed by the Playhouse Company Chorale and Durban Symphonic Choir.

The Playhouse Opera, April 8 at 3pm. Tickets between R85 and R110 from Computicket. Tel: 031 369 9540.

■ Durban’s Friends of Music presents an illustrious trio this week. Liesl Stoltz (flute), Christopher Duigan (piano) and Beverley Chiat (soprano) perform a programme of works by Handel, Mouquet, Schumann, Grové, Verdi, Messiaen, Ravel, Roussel, Saint-Saens, Goldfaden, Yellen and Pollack, Debussy and Delibes. Stoltz has won many prizes in national and international competitions, Duigan is one of only five South African pianists to make the Steinway Artists Roster, and Chiat has been widely recognised in South Africa and beyond. William Chin (violin) will provide the curtain-raiser and will perform Paganini’s Sonato No 6, Dvozák’s Humoresque and Monti’s Czardas.

Durban Jewish Centre, 44 Old Fort Road, April 10 at 7.45pm. ­Tickets are R70 from Computicket.

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