04 February 2013 by Chris Marais

Vusi Mahlasela plays the Karoo

As Karoo magic goes, it doesn’t get much better than listening to Vusi Mahlasela in the dusty streets of Nieu-Bethesda.

The little Karoo village of Nieu-Bethesda sees an awful lot of weekend music action. Big-name players like Koos Kombuis, Valiant Swart and Steve Newman blow into Nieu-Bethesda with amazing regularity.

And we usually travel hundreds of kilometres across the Great Karoo from Cradock and back to see them.

The Ultimate Stoep Session – Vusi Mahlasela playing to the crowd in Nieu-Bethesda

But when the people from The Karoo Lamb Restaurant recently announced they were having the world-famous Vusi Mahlasela playing on their stoep  (verandah) for mahala (free), we first had to phone up to find out what the hoax was.

No, he was really booked to play. Bring your camp chairs, they said. Come and sit in the dusty street in front of The Karoo Lamb and enjoy Vusi.

Bring your camp chairs, they said. Come and sit in the dusty street in front of The Karoo Lamb and enjoy Vusi.

But hang on, I said. This can’t be right. He’s booked for a 14-gig tour of the United States round about now. No, they said. He’s playing here first and then leaving for the US shortly after. I’m there, I said. Like a shot, baby.

So we went to Nieu-Bethesda, checked into a room and, round about five that Saturday evening, on came 'The Voice' and boy, didn’t he just sing like an angel?

What a treat for everyone in Nieu-Bethesda – including the kids

It was a perfect evening. Kids rode by on horses. Curio sellers came to look. Farmers arrived and settled in, beer in hand. People from all parts of the community sat together, united by the promise of the great man’s music.

Suddenly, there was Vusi, white shirt and Spanish guitar. And that voice. He sang the Struggle anthems of his youth. He sang his songs of today.

Vusi, who has played all over the world, said to us: 'It’s always exciting to be in a new place, like Nieu-Bethesda. Like a friend of mine says: "This is heaven. But we’re not in paradise yet!".'

But right now as you’re playing to us, Vusi, we could well be on the road to that place...

The magic of Vusi Mahlasela works as well in Nieu-Bethesda as it does in New York City

Category: Arts & Entertainment

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