A small seed that turned into a forest…
Rock the Trails started when Andrew Kay had a vision, he saw something that was overlooked, he saw the raw talent of the Lowveld musicians…
Yes it was a cold day, yes it was windy and yes the music was good. It is not everyday that the opportunity arises to attend a festival in a special spiritual location. Kaapsehoop is a small town located between Nelspruit, Mpumalanga and Ngodwana, Mpumalanga and it’s history stretches as far back as the Anglo-Boer war, it’s like a picture out of a Stephen King novel with wild horses roaming the area freely. It is easy to see why Mr. Kay decided on this location for the first annual Rock The Trails festival.
The day started off with Hollowbody which consist of Thomas Taljaard and Dirk Jordaan. Thomas’ music career started right here in the Lowveld a couple of years back, but before he started to focus on being a full time musician he was a well respected journalist. He also had a slot the the annual Strab festival earlier this year, and we honored to see some of that magic at Rock The Trails. Their swampy sliding blues sound was just the right vibe to kick off the festival as the sun was starting to set in the background. It gave the fans a feel of a overlooked side of the blues here in the Lowveld, and it was such a blast. They are very eager to return for a gig in Nelspruit and might just even happen later this year.
Sticking to the mellow vibe, next was Trio Gossip Girl. A band all the way from Casterbridge Music Academy in White River. They have been doing their rounds now for a well respected time and are always a popular act at festivals here in the Lowveld. As a trio they are very creative, they do not stick to a specific genre, they did a version of Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd that gave you shivers down your spine. The trio also catered for the Afrikaans attendees with a reggae version of Lisa se Klavier, the last time Koos Kombuis experimented with the reggae genre was way back in the late 1980’s with Babilon Blues. It was such a blast to experience a timeless Afrikaans love song in the genre of reggae.
Voodoo Kudu then started changing the direction of the festival, they gave us the feeling of the 1970’s with their selection of songs. They fit well together as a band, Mike has very unique vocals and it suit the band’s style like a custom made glove. They are usually to be seen at The Pub, Nelspruit as well as Dros, Nelspruit and they are also very popular at festivals. They recently had the crowd at the uplands fest on their feet and Rock The Trails was no different. The Gibson Les Paul of Brett Coates is exactly what you need for the sound of the 1970’s and it was proven throughout their set, not to choose a favorite but Hey Joe indeed took us all to the 70’s, it created a free, peace and loving atmosphere as the wind blew through our bodies.
Next we saw the one and only Goat ‘n Hare. As usual they drew the crowd closer to the stage, their vibe was rocking and the drum beats were dropping. It is extremely difficult to not enjoy a Goat ‘n Hare gig, always well rehearsed, always professional and always worth every second. Each member has pure dedication to the music, they play with passion, feeling and emotion and for this reason they each made a name for themselves not only in the Lowveld but their name stretches way beyond the borders of Mpumalanga. For those in attendance unknowingly at the time witnessed the last official Goat n Hare gig. It is a group that will be missed, but with most of them involved in other project we will always be able to see a bit of Goat ‘n Hare.
The man with the vision was next, it was Andre Kay with The Dead Rock Stars. Andrew haven’t played in the Lowveld for a while, the Lowveld missed him and are excited to see him back on center stage. He has been doing his rounds around the country since he was a young man, throughout his career he also bumped into James Philips a couple of times. He is a true legend of South-African music and it so much fun to see him behind his axe rocking the free world again. He dug up some of his old classic, #1 Tambazane from Kanyamazane will always be a classic, it has a unique Afro-Beat to it with a hint of reggae.
After Andrew Kay the stage was set for Jonathan Peyper who is currently busy working on his second album produced by Dan Patlansky. With his unique blues style, a voice that will turn some heads and guitar riffs that definitely show you what the modern blues is all about. He had the crowd headbanging, applauding and jumping around, at that point everyone did let go of the cold in the air and allowed the Jonathan’s Blues to warm them up from the inside. At one point the experience felt like something that you can only get at OppiKoppi, but for us it was right here in the Lowveld. It was truly an experience to see Jonathan at the first Rock The Trails festival.
To end off the night we had Soul Taxi, and wow… what can we say, it’s Soul Taxi. Soul Taxi consist of the top musician in the Lowveld, none of them are strangers when it comes to performing at the annual InniBos festival. They are not scared of diversity when selecting songs, they knew exactly what the crowd wanted and they gave it to them but turned up to 11.
If you missed Rock The Trails this year, be sure not to miss it in 2020. It will be bigger, louder and even more magical.