STRAB 2023 Part 2 Getting in the Groove

Morning 1. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed! Lots to do! Merchandise and branding were at the top of the list, so off to the festival grounds we went. We checked in at the gate and received our wristbands (musicians got silver, so I was very disappointed to get blue – they know I’m their boss – I wanted gold!) and proceeded to the entertainment area. We divided to conquer – I was on merchandise duty (endless counting and list checking) and the rest on branding: putting up bunting and banners. The day was already heating up, so Leigh-Anne kindly figured out the cashless wristband system, and kept us cool with some well deserved R’nR’s.  We finished our tasks, slapped some Blues Society stickers on the two kick drums, and we were ready for action! Some of our crew had secured a table in the shade at the top bar just in time for the 11:30 official opening act of STRAB 2023. Jolene and Steve East were as adorable and entertaining as always – The Honeymooners never disappoint! They handed out cardboard cut-outs of Steve’s face on sticks, and great hilarity ensued. Our Steves sipped on drinks, head-banged and took many a red-tongued selfie. At one point the power cut out and, undeterred, Steve entertained the audience with acoustic versions of hits like “Blister in the Sun” and “Achy Breaky Heart”. Next up was Desafinado, a local musician and a crowd favourite, who delighted the audience with his soulful and foot-tapping tunes. Then – at last! – the moment had arrived! The first of our travel companions, Takhaar, took to the stage. Lucy and Stewart looked the part, and boy, did they deliver! With their stripped back, raw style and beautiful harmonies, they had the audience hanging from their lips. Lucy danced and mesmerised, while Stewart laid down a rock solid foundation. Our very own guitar legend, Illimar Neitz, joined them for two tracks, “Born to Die” and an original “Plastic Cup Blues”, much to the delight of the audience (and maybe a little too much to the author’s, who may or may not have cheered like a banshee for her husband). Other notable tracks included a stellar rendition of Anton Goosen’s “Harlekyn” and the original track” Blues Back to You”. Unfortunately we had to be on our way after Takhaar took their bow, for a well deserved lunch, shower and nap before the evening’s festivities… We had to maintain our cool for Levinia’s 23:00 slot! Smelling like daisies, with renewed energy and vigour, we returned to the festival grounds. The musicians set up shop backstage, whilst the rest of us wandered around, spreading some SA Blues cheer. We thoroughly enjoyed the performances of the two preceding acts in their flamboyant outfits – Apollo Motel in their prison stripes, and Murray in bright red beanies. Such fun! And then Levinia took to the stage. From the moment they opened with “Gravedigger”, the audience knew they were in for a wild ride! Illimar Neitz (lead guitar) and Vince Rÿnders (rhythm guitar) shredded and styled, and kept the crowd on their feet. Laura Pretorius, looking all sultry and badass, laid down the bass groove, while Justin Snyman held it all together on drums. JC Myburgh belted out their tunes with expertise and attitude! Call me biased, but I believe the audience loved “Drifter” as much I do – what a song! Levinia closed down the main stage with great energy and flair. Another successful day done and dusted!

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