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Catch Jazzathon Grooves Free at the V&A Waterfront

Cape Town’s annual free jazz festival, the Jazzathon, inundates the V&A Waterfront this weekend, with no less than 25 acts over the next three days. The event opened yesterday (Thursday), and builds up to full steam on Saturday night.

It’s the city’s most popular free event: 50,000 people each evening will cram into the cozy confines of the Waterfront’s two outdoor music venues, the Ampitheatre (outside of the food court), and a special stage built in the Clock Tower District (near the Robben Island Museum embarkation point). The flood of music and people begins at 1pm each day, and continues until past dinnertime.

The event is noted for its emphasis on local music. South Africa is one of the great international jazz hubs – most will be familiar with names like Abdullah Ibrahim and Hugh Masekela – and JCQ Productions, Jazzathon’s organiser, is committed to making a true showcase of the country’s own flavor of the music.

The weekend’s highlight is undoubtedly the final gig scheduled for Saturday: Jimmy Dludlu. The masterful, mellow guitarist always delivers the goods on his visits to Cape Town. There’s a decent biography of him here.

Jazz lovers who want the chance of actually seeing Dludlu play – rather than just hearing the notes he plucks out and using their imaginations – should get to the Waterfront well before 5pm, and stake out a seat or bit of standing room with a view.

If you’re not into jazz, on the other hand, don’t go to the Waterfront after 5pm this weekend. You won’t be able to park and you’ll get stuck trying to leave.

See the full Jazzathon lineup here.