After a flight-planning hiccup of elephantine proportions — South African Airways set my return flight to the U.S. of A for January 12 instead of 9 and demanded the dollar equivalent of $5,000 to change it — I found myself stranded in my paternal homeland for an additional three days.
Lucky for me, Freshlyground, the pride and joy of Cape Town, was playing in Kirstenbosch on Sunday. Unlucky for me, it sold out before the extended Bernhardt clan could snag some tickets.
Fortune smiled on the Bernhardt children this day, however. On this day, a kindly security guard flashed us a broad and mischievous smile and said, “Oh, go on,” standing aside so we could catch a peek at the show GRATIS.
This particular entrance happened to let out not ten feet from the stage, where an unmistakably South African celebration of hope, youth, and music had begun in full force.
The music is, for lack of a better word, FRESH. Smooth, funky, exuberant, universal, political, AFRICAN. It’s a wonder they haven’t caught on as an international pop sensation already. If you’re familiar with Paul Simon’s masterful 1986 album, “Graceland” or the world famous South African a cappella group “Ladysmith Black Mombazo,” you know some of the history that Freshlyground is working with.
At least in my mind, however, Freshlyground alone has the potential to develop a fan base comprising an international youth community yearning for something juicy and new to sink its teeth into. Serious without being overbearing, fun without losing their focus, ‘Ground’ is poised for greatness.
Keep an eye on these guys; better yet, listen to some of their tunes:
It’s not all hype: Africa is rising. You can either get on the bus, or as Freshlyground brazenly called Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe in front of a crowd of over 2,000 people, you can be a “chicken for change.”