Through the musical maze

2012-07-06 12:51

Here I am, at the mouth of 7th Street in Melville.

Today, the popular road is disguised as a multiheaded musical dragon. All my senses are rudely awakened by the thumping drums of the live performance taking place nearby.

Aromas from the East and some from locations I cannot identify, assault my senses – but I’m not complaining.

I battle to get my slender frame past a group of people who have formed a long, shapeless queue that will eventually lead to the ATM, where I need to draw cash because speed points are not available in stores.

Once I load my wallet, I set off meandering through the stalls where vendors and hawkers compete for space.

This free-for-all music fest is a platform where amateur musicians, professionals and music lovers get together to celebrate their common passion.

Not to be outdone, restaurant owners have taken their goods on to the pavements.

Marauding crowds of revellers in colourful tank tops, tight jeans, 70s wigs and other ridiculous hairstyles shuffle all the way.

It’s a festive and merry atmosphere as these fun seekers jump from one restaurant to the next.

To avoid being kidnapped by confusion, I introduce myself to the vibrant Mozambican restaurant Xai Xai.

Naturally, prawns are the order of the day.

It seems to be a popular choice to grab a bite from, making it difficult to find a table.

As I wait, my wandering eye scans the room for a bonita I can rumba with, but all of them are either taken or play for the other team.

I escape the heavily populated vibe for a quick snack – a spicy beef shawarma with an unorthodox mixture of fried vegetables that taste meaty.

I hear screams of jubilation from down the road.

One of the main attractions, Brother, a jazz-funk seven-piece band, is performing at Lucky Bean Café and it causes a mini stampede. Sadly, I can’t get in due to the oversubscribed space.

With the streets lined with people and restaurants claiming their place too, I am stuck in a frenzy.

But luckily I’m blessed with two huge ears on either side of my fairly petite head.

They are able to rescue me by detecting the sounds of new jazz (a.k.a lo-fi) coming from The Loft.

I quickly make my way towards the hypnotising sounds of the tenor saxophone bellowing from within.

As I attempt to catch a glimpse of the artists on stage, my view is obscured by the garden umbrellas, which are not user-friendly for people my height.

This collision of cultures awakens me to the realisation of the power of music in people.

I slither down the cluttered road and into the mature sounds of classical jazz at the Sophiatown restaurant, and am greeted by a more sophisticated and cultivated audience.

Just then, legends Mahotella Queens grace the stage.

I watch in awe as my emotions are toyed with by the masters at play.

My final stop is the home of the open-mic session held in a disused old restaurant across the street where instrumentalists, vocalists and poets fuse their talents to exhibit their versatility.

After seven hours whizzing through the musical maze of Fete le da Musique, I am convinced that music can be a springboard for talent, respect and culture.

» Fete de la Musique is held in 450 cities across the globe. This year and next year are dedicated to South Africa.

There are two legs left on our shores after the Durban and Joburg editions. Up next is Cape Town followed by Pretoria, both in November


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