STRAB 2023 Part 3 Getting Down and Dirty

Jumping straight ahead to Saturday! (You don’t want to hear about Friday – large lunch at The Drunken Clam involving our crew, The John’s, Valiant Swart, Levinia, and a visit from the Akkedis Band; many games – golf, pickup sticks, scrabble, 30 seconds; band viewing at the festival grounds; strawberry lips, crackers, mushrooms, tins of sardines and oysters; laughing until we cried… normal, boring things.) So! Saturday! Black Heidi was on at 13:15 on the deck. It was their first time at STRAB, and man, did they make an impression! Let me stop being an attention hog, and give someone else a turn to speak. In the words of Dorothy (vocalist and ukulele player): “The STRAB set was absolutely magical. It being my first time there, my expectations were exceeded by a long shot. The songs hit so much harder with the ocean backdrop. We started the set with Dance! And ended it with Dance! as a full circle way of doing things, and when it was time to Dance! the second time, we had to top deck jumping!” Well done Dorothy, Ivan, JC and Justin! Next on our dance card was The John’s on the main stage at 19:00. We had gotten to know Doc John, John Mac and Graeme – travelling and chilling will do that. Much to our delight (and relief!) these guys are awesome! But we had yet to hear their music and were very much looking forward to it. And let me tell you, their kindness is surpassed only by their musicality! Even with a stand-in bassist (Vince couldn’t get his passport in time) these cats rocked hard. They threw in a few Blues classics along with their originals (all written by John Mac). The John’s opened with Skunk – a Texas shuffle, right up Doc John’s alley. So in Love (a ska song) got the crowd bouncing, and when Doc dedicated Chevy V8, a road song, to Piet Botha, the audience was soon belting it out with the band. André Kriel from the Black Cat Bones joined The John’s and his band mate Casey Rothman (who was doing a phenomenal job on the bass) on the stage for Johnny B Goode. Graeme was a machine on drums, sweat running in rivulets down his neck. Do yourself a favour and check these guys out ASAP! No rest for the wicked, as the saying goes – next up on the main stage at 20:15 was the Valiant Swart band. With Pierre Nolte on vocals and rhythm guitar, Illimar Neitz on lead guitar, Barry Steenkamp on bass, Rian Britz on keys and Jason Hinch on drums, we knew we were in for a treat. The band opened with Mystic Boer – everyone’s favourite and a sure fire way to get the audience going. Hits like Stellenganga and Eyeshadow kept the audience on their feet, whilst songs like Gange van Babylon and Sonsak in Durbanville mellowed them out. We were even treated to three songs from Valiant’s new album: Sak Sarel, Lied van die Langpad and Rock & Roll Engel (be sure to catch the Gauteng album launch at the Atterbury Theatre on the 4th of July!). And that my friends, was that. All 5 bands that we had travelled with had put on amazing shows. Thanks so much to Takhaar, Levinia, Black Heidi, The John’s and the Valiant Swart band for putting your faith in us, spending your time with us and for sharing your talent with us. Thanks to STRAB for organising and putting on a great festival. Thank you so much to our crew, patrons and friends for the hard work and memories. We love you! All that was left for us was a chilled Sunday (another large lunch next to the ocean, a prawn braai, an impromptu bonfire sing-along with world class musicians, you know… more boring things you don’t want to hear about!) and an uneventful – thank the heavens! – road trip via Kosi Bay back to the chilly South, and tearful see ya laters to the Cape Town delegation. So long STRAB, and thanks for all the fish!

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