White Folks Mountain Festivalby Mr Paloi / 01.10.2009
I consider myself a seasoned festival goer and can smugly drop names like Glastonbury and Reading even though the memories are hazy. Where once I could party 48 hours and feel nothing more than a stiff neck, I now consider camping chairs an essential packing item and get stiff all over from uneven ground. So the idea of a folk festival in the Drakensberg sounded incredibly appealing – laid back hippy/hill-billy music set in one of South Africa’s most beautiful natural assets.
The festival was fairly small in terms of crowd, dribblings of people exploring the grand surroundings that included the White Mountain lodge, a dam and g’dam beautiful hills – an ideal setting for any music festival. The program was somewhat alarming; the need to point out 24 hour medical care over and above anything else taking place seemed a little unnecessary. Worse still was being confronted by a morning itinerary that included a colouring in competition, a treasure hunt and the cricket! I was disappointed to have left my crayons in Jozi.
Tequila and kisses from my girlfriend and someone yells, “not in front of the kids!” We decide to park far away from the other campers and go to suss out the music. A barrage of murdered cover songs to an audience as excited as George Bush at a peace conference. Friday morning was about the most shocking thing I’ve ever seen at any festival anywhere in the world: joggers, cyclists, hikers, people with fishing gear all setting off while I stood coughing over my first cigarette and trying to taste the stain on my shirt. No trip has ever come close to being this surreal. When they said folk festival I hadn’t realised it was more a festival for my folks. There were kids everywhere: right across the valley, setting out on the day’s adventures. I looked around for the rainbow and lambs frolicking then realised it was all very real. A music festival aimed at family campers. And I’d forgotten my crayons.
The last thing I heard before setting off on an unplanned trip to the East Coast was someone with a Tequila bottle asking where all the drunk people were? The unplanned trip to the East Coast makes it difficult to comment on the rest of Friday, but I’m sure the kids had fun. Anyhoo I’ll fill ya in with a bit of Saturday, the likes of Rambling Bones, the beautiful Laurie Levine and an upbeat musical journey from Farryl Purkisss went a long way to meeting my expectations of a Folk Festival. A soaking of Tequila and a bit of mountain cabbage helped too as did the ample stalls flogging hippy essentials such as poi and crystals.
Some day, when I’ve 15 dirty hippy children and can remember where I left my crayons, I hope to return to White Mountain Folk Festival. Until then I hope that they work on the line-up so that those of us without kids have a better reason to go. With South Africa’s abundance of talent and depth of folk music on offer this should not be too difficult.