Back in the groove

2010-11-27 00:00

IT’S been over 10 years since Mango Groove made a noise in Pietermaritzburg, reminisces the band’s front lady, Claire Johnston. “Two distant but very fond memories: a very rowdy varsity show in the early nineties and a show at the beautiful City Hall over 10 years ago,” she says. “It has been too long and we are really looking forward to getting back to Maritzburg!”

And it would appear that the feeling is mutual, with excitement growing for what should be a great concert in the Botanical Gardens today. The venue is special, not only because of the surrounds that will encumber the music, but also as Johnston has a great fondness for the outdoors. As part of the line up of events this weekend, there will be a birding outing for a small group of competition winners, who will go with Johnston and her husband and Mango Groove manager, John Leyden.

“John and I love our birds and the bush generally: it brings us a huge amount of joy and we find it’s a great way to ‘get out of yourself’. We are certainly not experts, though, and prefer to keep pretty quiet on the LBJs and similar,” she quips.

Her love of the outdoors has also brought about a few crazy moments this year. “John and I went for a walk at our local river last winter: I slipped on a rock, fell into the freezing river, roared down the rapid and ended up hysterical with laughter in a big pool. To compound the insanity, I slipped again on the return journey, this time gashing my leg open. The first slip was funny, the second one brought on the tears.”

Mango Groove has been going for 25 years, and began while Johnston — then 17 years old — was still at school. Since then the band has notched up hit after hit single.

“Move Up and Love Is were our first real singles, and I remember being incredibly excited when I first heard them on the radio,” says Johnston. “Special Star is of course a major song for us, and it was one that (after Dance Some More) really catapulted that first album.”

According to Johnston, the band’s new album Bang The Drum has been well received by the South African audience. “We are ecstatic with the response and are delighted that, in addition to people who supported our earlier albums, we are garnering a whole new generation of people who identify with our music.”

And on that note, Johnston is looking forward to this afternoon for what should be one big party. “Great weather is predicted, so come and enjoy the beautiful surroundings with lots of music. Rain or shine, though, we will play on through! Most importantly, bring your singing voices!”


For more information on the concert, contact 083 456 8435.

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