In our little normally secluded corner of the Eastern Cape, when Fest rolls into town, everything changes. Obviously! But it's more than the obvious influx of shows and people. It's almost as if the town's DNA,and that of its people, is irrevocably altered - a kind of creative cosmic shift, where the largesse of what is all around us somehow infuses itself into our bloodstream through our pores. For a while, like plants, we grow by osmosis. For some in Gtown, Fest is the annual cash express - a chance to finally make real money in a province where not much is usually made. For others, Fest is an opportunity to finally have huge activity come to you, as opposed to you having to go out foraging for it in nearby cities. For local performers of every ilk, Fest is a phenomenal opportunity to showcase ... and to watch and learn! For me, Fest is the latter. SunshiP is cooking! Our fest gigs are getting better and better; and out of towners are digging our groove! The exposure is invaluable! But the groove I see in other musicians performing at fest, is what for me is the intangible gem! Man, people are good! I mean really good! I mean fanf^&%ngfantastically awesome! The music I see; and the drummers I watch over fest, are what catapults me onwards and upwards every year in my musical evolution! And it's not just musicians blowing my mind at the moment! The performance art on this year is breathtaking - and the three three big shows in this genre are Brett Bailey's "Exhibit A", the legendary Steven Cohen's "Cradle of Humankind" and the local multi-disciplinary collaboration, "Discharge". The first two I've seen, and was mesmerised. "Discharge" I'll watch tonight; and then I'll blog about them all together tomorrow.
There is still much I want to see, and a truckload I know I won't. That aspect of Fest - the not seeing so much that was right here - used to gut me. But having done nearly a dozen fests - four of them as a Gtown resident - I've finally made peace with the fact that for the next month, everyone I see in town will be telling me about brilliance they'd witnessed - much of which I didn't see. Many of the shows I won't have even heard of. C'est la vie. It would take 6 months to do all of fest. We have 11 days. And I still haven't done any art exhibitions. When, when, when? Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow.
The one thing I'm going to tell you, which I beg you to take most seriously indeed, is this: The Grahamstown National Arts Festival is the most spectacular creative event this country hosts.
YOU HAVE TO EXPERIENCE THIS! At least once. Although, everyone who does Fest, returns! Put it in your diary now! June 27th to July 7th 2013! Do it! Your DNA deserves it! I promise you on all I hold dear, and on all the marvels I've encountered at Fest 2012 till now - you will never be the same again! Trust me, you'll be better for it!
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