By Marley

Blue Moon “13 in 2013” didn’t get off on a good start with a cold front pulling in bringing rain and thunderous clouds. I was of course in high spirits, 13 years sprung up on me like a head full of grey hair – we are getting wiser. For a change, I was a fan and not staff, which to me was a new role to play for the first time in 5 years. I loved every minute of it.

I set off with some good friend to the Blue Moon for a full weekend of camping, rocking and laughing. I won a bottle of tequila some months back and decided that the 13th birthday party of such a cool venue would be the perfect place to appreciate it. After we set up camp, we walked down to the gate to finalise some business, getting our colour bags for the party.

Then we were off to the bar where we greeted all the familiar faces. For once I could drink a beer and not feel guilty about work later. After the beer it was time to inspect what the Blue Moon kitchen was cooking up and more hanging out with friends – both new and old ones.

Apple Finger band from CMDA - Photo by Royal Lens Photography
Apple Finger
Photo by Royal Lens Photography

The Casterbridge Music Development Academy (CMDA) provided some quality bands, upcoming of course, showcasing the Lowveld talent we do have. The first band was CMDA’s Apple Finger, and the girls were dressed like pin-up sailor girls. Think Christina Aguilera’s “Candy man” video. It’s a fresh new approach. I was absorbed in watching their bassist (Zan Mehta) – a petite Indian girl with a bass taller than she was. They played mostly covers and they were well received by their fans and the crowd. After them, the rockers from Pretoria took to the stage – The Sky. It was the second time I’d seen them live and they are certainly the most underrated band on our scene. I love their music, it’s so original and what sets them apart is not only their talent but their long, busy, wild 70’s rocker hairstyles. I highly recommend them to any rock fan.

The Sky band Photo by Royal Lens Photography
The Sky
Photo by Royal Lens Photography

Time for another drink and as I headed to the bar my senses were ambushed with colour, somehow the blue colour “Smurf coke” and “Crushed Sunflower powder” (the street names) was unleashed, and I was in the middle of it. Before I knew it the whole bar looked like the inside of a rainbow that made love to a smartie box. I even got chased almost halfway up the mountain by a bunch of colour warriors previously known as my friends. After the colour war, The December Streets were up and I was taken back to the vivid memories of the 6de Avontoer. Tristan Coetzee was sporting a brand new hairstyle, he looked a bit blue though after he got thrown with powder just before hitting the stage. Despite that their music filled the mountain air and the small crowd sang out loud with the power of a crowd 300 strong. Their well-known hits like ‘Fire through the window’ and ‘My Name’ sang almost louder than the band. They also played a few new songs which I’m sure we will hear again in a future album.

The December Streets Photo by Royal Lens Photography
The December Streets
photo by Royal Lens Photography

After their show I felt tequila summoning me, all the while catching glimpses of the stage and the different colours that filled the air. They looked amazing from the bar deck, and I was attacked again by my one freakishly tall friend. ISO quickly made their way onto the stage and once again it was a fantastic show. No confetti this time but a receptive crowd of colourful faces that were singing aloud to “No Fire”, “Oxygen” and “Heaven”. A brief chat with Richard Brokensha (frontman of ISO) revealed that there was never any news about their stolen trailer, and like everyone else, they had to replace what they lost. A musical instrument is like an arm or leg to a musician, and this year alone there have been about 2 bands and one rock individual that were robbed blind. But the theft didn’t stop ISO and it certainly didn’t stop the fans from having the time of their life. Yet another colour war broke out somehow after their show and it migrated to the bar, which quickly emptied. Unlike my face, which was full of colour, my memory faded, but I do remember being sneakily attacked a few times.

Alex Parker (ISO)
photo by Royal Lens Photography
Alex Parker (ISO)
photo by Royal Lens Photography

I bought a bottle of good Tassies for the walk down to the bonfire at the chalets but it was not lit. Rudi (Royal Lens Photography) and I quickly lit it and went back up to fetch the remaining bands. The mist and soft rain didn’t stop us from talking till the wee hours of the morning. I just made it to my tent when the rain started to pour down at 03:30 am.

Colourful faces at 13in2013 party - Photo by Royal Lens Photography
Colourful faces at 13in2013
photo by Royal Lens Photography

After a fantastic sleep, I was up at 09:00 am and just in time for a bit of breakfast and coffee made by my dear friend Beany. We watched the clouds roll down the mountain and into the valley below and I was reminded again why I love this place so much. I went to Anthony, who was still in bed, to have a long chat about UTC 2014, the previous night and of course what’s going in our lives. I have so much respect for him that I’m humbled every time I see him.

13in2013 might not have been the raving success we all hoped for. I know there are a lot of Blue Mooners that would have loved to have been there. Some as far as America and Australia said they would have been there if they could have. Blue Moon was the start of Small Town Music blog and it’s far away from ending. The spirit of Blue Moon is not dead, it’s still in the mountains, in between the cracks of the pine bar counter. The vinyl’s against the walls, the smell of warm speakers and fresh mountain air. The spirit really is still there, in our hearts and in our memories.

The future of Blue Moon is not as clear, but I can tell you that in November they will be bringing you one more party. The blues/rock folk will love this lineup and I suggest you keep a close eye on our Facebook Page for more news. Again, thank you to each and every reader, whether you enjoy my posts or not, I see it in the shares on the networks – so honoured.

Marley is the founder and owner of Small Town Music. Born and bred in Nelspruit aka Nelsparta. Marley loves music (rock being a firm favourite), tattoos, festivals, animals and South Africa. Self-taught photographer and writer.