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Rocking with Mango Groove

Since they’re big fans of KZN and they ADORE Durban, we caught up with one of our all-time favourites, Mango Groove, to find out just what they love about our city and Splashy Fen (yes … it’s back!)

One of the country’s most iconic and culture-shifting Afropop supergroups Mango Groove, has for decades brought soul-music to our ears. Their 80s-style pop riffs weaved into township tenure have made them a household name as the group, especially lead singer Claire Johnston, has come to be recognised as a symbol of our Rainbow Nation.

Today, with two Splashy festivals under their belt, they’re set to get fans even more excited for a long-weekend of live entertainment at this year’s much-anticipated Splashy Fen music festival. After a two-year hiatus (thank you Covid) cultural nomads will be rocking to South Africa’s best musicians over the Easter weekend, while enjoying the Splashy atmosphere near Underberg in the Southern Drakensberg.

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Since their first gig back in 1984, there are still 11 ‘mangoes’ as they humorously like to put it … John Leyden (bass and vocals), Beaulah Hashe (vocals), Siziwe Ngema (vocals), Pinkie Moseme (vocals), Claire Johnston (vocals), Keith Marisheni (drums), Andrew Baird (keyboards and vocals), Themba Ndaba (pennywhistle and sax), Sydney Mavundla (trumpet), Percy Mbonani (sax) and Thomas Selmer-Olssen (guitar and vocals).

This being their third time at SA’s biggest music festival, the group is totally psyched about the experience and taking in everything that Splashy and its surroundings has to offer.

“Splashy is a total sensory feast – it manages to be both relaxed and slightly crazy all at once, with the result that performing there is always invigorating and brings out the best in us,” says Claire.

When it comes to where they’ll be staying during their visit to rolling foothills of the Drakensberg, they say it won’t be in the festival grounds themselves, but they do make a point of always staying somewhere different so that they can experience all that this amazing area has to offer.

“We love this beautiful part of the world – the surroundings, the people, everything that it is. There is a fabulous, laid-back energy about KZN, and Durban in particular with its underlying buzz which is very appealing, so we visit as often as we can. Before Covid, we had the privilege or performing at events like Music at the Lake and Ballito Beats and we’ve enjoyed the time and fantastic crowd support.”

With lots of plans in the pipeline, including a Mango documentary (this should be good!), some new music and lots of shows across the country, the band feels like all things are possible again.

What do they love most about Durban?

“The people are warm and friendly, the food is incredible and we always feel very much at home. One of our vocalists, Siziwe, is an eThekwini girl and always loves going home. As a band we adore Durban – we’ve had some of our favourite and most special shows in this area. From the very beginning Durban has been kind to us.”

 

And what can we expect from them at Splashy Fen this year?

“We are counting the days until Splashy rolls round. It’s going to be beyond amazing to be there and no doubt the energy is going to be insane after the last two very difficult years. Being together and celebrating life on its own will be emotional and wonderful,” says Claire.

We for one can … not … wait! Our tickets for the festival, which is from April 14 to 18, are booked and we’re already preparing for the road trip.

No day visitors will be allowed to the 2022 festival, and Covid protocols will be announced to ticket holders in the weeks leading up to the festival. There are a very limited amount of tickets are still available. Details: splashyfen.co.za.

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