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Current page: Concert Diary 2007

Current page: Concert Diary 2007

Concert Diary 2007

White Mountain Folk Festival, South Africa - 22nd September 2007

Chris Simpson writes - Once again we head on out of Jo'burg on a long run in two vehicles heading for the Drakensburg again. Arlyn is in one vehicle, a very nippy white van with Linda and guitars etc and we are in a car behind with Ryan, his guitar player.

Arlyn has his anti-capitalist values at full flush as we bounce down a dirt road across the low veldt to avoid paying the toll up on the highway.Bones rattled and shook and we all but banjoed a mongoose fleeing through the dust clouds.

On down to Escort, the mountains looming up though the dry air. Sarnies at a road stop, and me inconspicuous in a bush hat and the talk with Ryan gets around to Chet Atkins. We take bets as to how long it will take us to get to the venue.

Matt wins and we are there for 9.45

We get a great welcome and given are our passes by Grant and then Pedro the organiser welcomes us. He is a warm, gentle guy and assures us that the press on MC has been incredible - which was true. A lot of people are coming for us and it is the power of 'Lord of the Ages' that is doing it.

We have a few drinks and some food and then a bit of a jam with Arlyn and Ryan at our house. Then bed. It was cozy enough, although on the day of the concert if you turned on the cold tap you got diluted mud. It is a typical Festival site but superbly run and the usual stalls and beer and food tents.

I grab a swim in the lake and then we spend most of the afternoon giving an interview for Music Maker.The time creeps forward and I wander down to catch and film Arlyn's gig, and then to my gobsmacked disbelief, Steve Hambleton and Sue from England and my beloved old friend from way back, Kenny Symmonds and his lady, Inge. They have lived here for some fifteen years together.

As if I hadn't had enough shocks this year.

Matt looking cool

I spend some time with them and then head on down for showtime. I am amazed. I checked out a couple of artists in the afternoon and figured an audience of maybe 50 people.

I grab my guitar and follow Matt and Linda across the site, - constantly sprayed with water to keep the dust down, to be let in backstage by the Zulu gatekeeper.

A rock band thunders to ecstatic applause from stage front. Quite what it is to have anything to do with a 'Folk' Festival' has me baffled, but life is strange and no stranger than in our business.

A lovely lady called Sue attends to our every need (well, most of them). I measure the applause for the band and figure rest 'ye not on your laurels, Chrissieboy, this is a hard one to follow'.

The Southern Gypsy Queens. They finally encore themselves into the dust. We go on up onto the stage and line check. I look out at the audience. Where in heaven's name have this lot come from? Maybe 2,000 or more? Great sound crew. They have acoustic amps. Marvellous. We check and off. Announcement. Magna Carta.

This is what they've come for...

Linda hits them off guard with 'Old Man.' We pile on in with 'Gypsy'. I love the roar of approval after this standard. Relief? We use every MC trick on this song, which I never get tired of after all these years, and I know that the crowd hears the MC sound in this; an identity; like it has never changed. They find us in this and the warm wash of applause...

One thing you should all know. Lights. This fine concert is no exception. We see NOTHING except the first row, so to a certain extent we are blindfold. BUT you can't harness applause.

Our audience

Great on-stage sound and you hope that the public is hearing it the same. Apparently they did.

On through 'Hebden Sunday Morning', etc etc.

We come on down to 'Fields of Eden.' Andrew Jackson's classic voice still lends a timbre to my words and does my head in. Arlyn queues in the sound man-spot on.

On we go through 'Time for the Leaving,' and turning and twisting as far as you can move two acoustic guitars, a mandolin and fiddle and three part vocals. 'Watch this Space' and Linda's stunning pipes; rockin' through 'Ordinary Man'; and finally 'Paradise Row.' We thank a lot of people to be thanked and that is it.

We've sold them another memory......and still the hosts of 'Lord of the Ages' come in to haunt me. We have sold out every CD/DVD we brought and a huge list of people wanting albums. Lovely people in this magic land.

Somehow I feel down. No, it is not Linda and I (she's been great and the true professional you have come to expect) it is that nameless, 'something' we share with you all and cannot explain. This land had filled our souls to bursting point. Long ago I read by candlelight ' Prester John' by John Buchan. I transported my home limestone hills in the Yorkshire Dales, in my mind's eye, to Rorke's Drift and beyond.... Neither my homeland or the sheer beauty of Africa let me down. I just hope to keep on going on... and I thnk we took them with us on the MC journey at White Mountain.

We left on Sunday with Zulu drummers playing impossible rhythms.

We now have incredible memories of unbelievable kindness. This is Africa. May we ever be granted the grace to return.

Left Arrow Capetown, South Africa Private Concert, South Africa Right Arrow