Sponsors can blow for all that jazz

Edward Tsumele

Edward Tsumele

There was a registration desk at the entrance. Hordes of people were trying to get in, some invited, others gate crashers, and a few VIPs whose faces were enough for them to be allowed in.

The previous night the place had a similar picture. A full notice board was placed at the entrance when Hugh Masekela played. Tonight Judith Sephuma and Gloria Bosman are in the house.

This was the scene at Kippies in Newtown, Johannesburg, two years ago when it relaunched. The name has always been associated with jazz in Gauteng for so many years.

Come February 2008. I am told by some sources that the place has in fact closed down.

I contact Sipho Mabuse, the man known as Hotstix during his Harari days. He manages the venue. He told me then that the place had not closed its doors. It was taking a break and would open end of February.

February comes and goes. March comes and goes and so does April. We are now in the middle of May, almost halfway through the year. The doors of Kippies are still closed.

Right now nobody seems to know if Kippies will open its doors again.

In a country that is known for having a leading jazz audience and a number of talented jazz musicians in big numbers, this is shameful.

We know Kippies moved from its prime spot opposite the Market Theatre a couple of years ago to some dingy, dark alley where lighting is bad. To park your car you need all the guts in the world. However, this does not justify letting the place die.

However, the plight of Kippies represents the dearth of live jazz venues in the country, particularly quality places for music like jazz.

Now those who still scour the country hard enough to listen to live jazz music, will point at places like Barrington in Killarney, Johannesburg. It hosts a live jazz gig, good sessions for that matter. once every six weeks.

Barrinton rocks. But is it enough to have one venue for live bands in a jazz crazy place like Johannesburg. I know that others will point at the Jazz Maniacs Restaurant at the Holiday Inn in Kliptown, Bassline in Newtown, Shivava also in Newtown. Yes there is Ekurhuleni Comes Alive jazz concept at Birchwood Hotel.

The point is promoters cannot make money or break even - they need sponsorship.

Some will say there were live acts all over the place a few years ago. The promoters managed to put together such acts because of sponsorship.

You remember the cigarette companies? Before legislation banned tobacco advertising, these companies used to put good money into music. Now that is no more. How sad.