The Johannesburg Vis-a-Vis Project from Casa África and SAMRO Foundation ended this week with the bands Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness and Touchwood selected to tour Spanish festivals.

Johannesburg, 16th April 2013 – A group of Spanish cultural producers, and festival programmers, left Johannesburg this Sunday, excited by the “enormous potential” of the new South African music scene, full of young groups with great talent and great promise of penetrating international music markets.

The project was organised by Casa África and SAMRO Foundation with the support of the Spanish Embassy in South Africa. The two successful bands were, Bantu Continua Uhuru Conciousness (BCUC), from Johannesburg and Touchwood from Cape Town. Tour dates will include appearances at prestigious festivals like Pirineos Sur, Etnosur, La Mar de Músicas, Mumes Tenerife, the Heineken Jazz&Mas Festival of the Canary Islands, amongst others.

The Vis a Vis Project now in its fourth edition, promotes greater knowledge of African music in Spain through direct exchange between the producers of the Spanish festivals and African musicians. The Spanish Ambassador in South Africa, Juan Sell, who attended the Project’s concerts, explained that Casa África’s project had been received with enthusiasm by the South Africans, as they have seen Spain’s real interest in African culture, in this case for its emerging music talent. The Ambassador added that the South African participants have seen this as a pioneering initiative. There were 89 groups of which 12 were selected for the live performances and two selected for this opportunity. Spain hosts some of the most important and well attended European Festivals.

With regards to the winning groups, the producers said “that BCUC stood out due to its intensity and strength when playing live in a very personal, energetic and original approach”. The group is made up of five musicians, who achieve a very intimate sound through a bass drum, congas, guitar and multiple percussion instruments and whistles. BCUC integrates African Indigenous rhythms with styles such as funk and soul, rooted in South African music tradition.

The multi-instrumentalist four piece band Touchwood, surprised the jury with a fresh and contemporary approach, to what seemed 70’s folk introducing Southern African rhythms and interesting array of instruments including the cello as a bass, the ukulele, violin and Marimba. “Spanish adjudicators were impressed by the diversity and professionalism of all the bands but Touchwood stood out with their clear and simple approach to traditional western fold music which is experiencing resurgence in Europe.”  

Audiences were wowed over three nights by the diversity, quality and potential of the groups who could all have easily appeared in European Festival. The final decision, after much deliberation, “was a difficult one from an intense and creative musical three day event in South Africa”. The three days of professional meetings and concerts have made Spanish producers aware of the power and the hip-hop level in the country, the presence of young groups who are reinterpreting and giving a personal touch to traditional music and the high level of electronic and experimental offerings.