By Marley

Open mics in Nelsparta is not so new, in fact, it started about 4 years ago. Moving along open mics in the past have provided a platform for any band and muso with a guitar to perform. In front of a live audience. To see whenever they can make it or break it. Open mics have provided a starting block to some known artists now. This was the idea behind the Road to STRAB Open Mic – to find cool talent for the main event.

The Road to STRAB is a concert tour started a few years ago to “market” STRAB (Subterrain Rhythm and Blues movement) that happens annually in May at Ponta Malongane in Mozambique. Any music fan worth his and her salt has attended at least a STRAB. The road to STRAB is also not a new thing to Nelsparta but this year they did it with a difference. The task was to hold an open mic to find an opening act for the main Road to STRAB event on 20 May 2017 in Nelspruit.

This was not a competition, this was not a battle of the bands. This was a normal open mic but with a slight difference. On Friday 21 April just under a 100 people showed up at The Pub in Nelspruit for the Road to STRAB Open Mic. From friends and family to music supporters sitting around the picnic-style tables with an adult beverage in hand. First up with a fast-growing popular duo, Deude, which had the crowd hanging onto their lips. Morcus Chiloane and Gugu Mamba delivered a smooth operator set that held different songs including their own originals like “Hold My Hand”, “Are You Going Leave Anywhere?”, “That’s Just Me” and a beautiful cover of the Killers “Need Somebody”.

Deude duo - photo by Small Town Music
(photo by Small Town Music)

They were followed by a newly formed duo, Melanie Davids and Steve Grobler under the name Catharsis. Catharsis meaning “the process of releasing, and thereby providing relief from, strong or repressed emotions”. They did covers from Valiant SwartDie Donker Kom Jou Haal” to Karen Zoid’s “As Die Musiek Begin Speel”. A crowd favourite was their delivery of Tracy Champman’s “Give Me A Reason”.

Catharsis band Nelspruit - photo by Small Town Music Blog
(photo by Small Town Music Blog)

Lydenburg’s usual trio but was only two for the open mic was Moonshine. Moonshine has slowly but surely wedged their way into the Lowvelders music followers hearts. With Louis Fourie’s deep voice and Vickey de Jager on Ukelele, it was missing brother Francois Fourie. They did a beautiful set ranging from country blues covers to bluegrass. Also another favourite with some of the crowd. Next was another fresh young band from Lydenburg, K2NKarel and Nicolene are still young (matric and 27 years old respectfully) and they only been playing together for a few months now. Their cover of Francois van Coke and Karen Zoid’s “Toe Vind Ek Jou” was a crowd-pleaser. Karel also performed two originals “Okay” and “Song” which showcased this youngster potential as a full-time musician. But he did mention he wants to finish matric first before making any life-changing decisions. They were to a crowd favourite.

Face Jackson has been playing together for “two years on and off” according to vocalist and guitarist, Joss de Villiers. I don’t think we were prepared for the awesomeness that founded itself on stage. With a strong friendship circle from their side supporting them it was good to see some slide guitar on stage. Being a fully acoustic open mic, it gave bands the rare opportunity to play without any sort of percussion. Face Jackson, however, delivered a beautiful set and even had the crowd asking for an encore.

Face Jackson - photo by Small Town Music Blog
Face Jackson
(photo by Small Town Music Blog)

So after the secret team that RTS had put together at the end of the day couldn’t decide on just one opening act. And at the end of the day, 3 opening acts have been chosen to play on Saturday 20 May 2017.

They are *drum roll please*



Face Jackson

They will open for the brilliant Mozambique-born but full-hearted South African, Pedro Barbosa. Ending off with DJ Baas on the decks playing some rock n roll for you to drink tequila too and maybe throw a bra or three on stage. The Road to STRAB will charge you R60 at the door and the doors will open at 16:00. Of course, this is all happening at The Pub and you can expect excellent food on the menu, friendly waiters and ice-cold beer.

Thank you to the bands that performed at the open mic, you guys and girls all did wonderfully in your own unique way. Thank you to The Pub team for your excellent service and venue. To all the supporters of the open mic and to every single share on social media.

See you on Saturday 20 May 2017

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.