Blues and rock fest

KAREN WATKINS

Rock with a blues element. Anyone who was around in the 1960s or 1970s will know all about it and will recall an era of leather-clad musicians who produced some of the finest music ever.

Since boyhood Richard Pryor has spent his life playing, writing, performing and teaching this music genre. See some of the labour of this at the Blues Meets Rock Festival this Saturday, April 9, at Hillcrest Quarry in Durbanville.

Sitting in a local restaurant in Tokai, Richard confesses fears of not knowing until a few days before if the event will be full. But if last year is anything to go by it will be a huge success and the weather, according to weather forecasts for that area, will be 22 degrees in the evening with a light breeze.

But back to the blues. Sipping his cappuccino, he says people have a misconception about blues. “They think it’s depressing, but it’s not, it’s the most fun people could ever have. Rooted in a time when people were living in poverty, when slaves were singing in fields, tilling the land, their soul-sweeping songs were about misery, poverty and loss but singing took them away from their situation. When you listen to their music you realise it will be okay, these people have been through it and survived. With some music the pace is fast and you want to boogie to it, with others you want another drink so you live in the mo- ment.”

As a pupil at Pinelands High and with a mum who was a concert pianist, Richard remembers the day he got into music. He was about 10 and reading Scope magazine when, turning to the back, he read a music review of the band Black Sabbath. “They were wearing masks. Cool.” Inspired to hear their music, he caught a train into town and bought their album from Ragtime records in the Golden Acre. That was his first sojourn into heavy metal, followed with Led Zeppelin, Judas Priest, Deep Purple, Jimi Hendrix and Van Halen.

At school he took guitar lessons before going on to study jazz at the University of Cape Town. After performing at weddings and corporate events with numerous bands, he started teaching and gradually gravitated towards the blues.

Inspired by Dr John Mostert – “Doctor of the Blues” – he formed Boulevard Blues in 1998, performing music in the style of BB King. Smiling he elaborates, “It takes many hours of drinking tequila, late nights and living rough to become a doctor of the blues,” he says.

Born in 1968, Richard wears many hats, including teaching blues rock guitar from his Kirstenhof home. He writes his own music and has four albums to his name originally doing everything himself – playing drums, singing, playing guitar and bass – a lonely affair.

In 2010 he went on tour to Holland and Belgium with Boulevard Blues but found it hard work and it took a toll on family life.

Richard now performs with Rob Stemmett on bass, Kevin Gibson on drums, Jesse Jordan singing and himself on guitar as the rock band Pebbleman.

Since 2011, once a month they perform gigs and invite a band to play three or four songs. Then once a year he takes it up a notch and organises a show at venues including Durbanville and Simon’s Town golf clubs, Stonehurst, Scarborough and Die Boer.

For the past nine years he has organised the Table Mountain Summit, originally at Tafelberg Tavern and now the Big Blues Meets Rock Festival at Hillcrest Quarry, which he started plotting and planning from October, finding the right balance between rock and blues, starting with Natasha Meister, the Gerald Clark Trio, Blues Broers then later Mark Haze and Pebbleman. Hillcrest owner Mike Crawford loves blues and is invited on-stage to perform on blues harmonica.

Featuring nine bands in a huge marquee on a big stage with 30 000 watts of sonic power, the highlight is headliner Dan Patlansky who will officially launch his new album Introvertigo.

This local blues rock artist has been voted one of the top ten best rock guitarists in the world and recently completed a two-month European tour with Joe Satriani.

Another great addition to this year’s line-up is Crimson House. Richard describes them as grassroots, soul lifting, foot-stomping, heart moving audio candy, built on a brotherhood that will outlive the timelessness of music they create.

Richard says the event, which takes place on Saturday April 9, is very family friendly and children under 12 enter free. Tickets are R220.

There are also prizes up for grabs for those booking on- line.

Festival goers will be able to buy a lucky draw ticket at the event for R30. If tickets are bought prior to the festival via Computicket, this includes a free lucky draw entry worth R30. Information: 021 976 4959, www.bluesmeetrock.co.za