News Column

Not an ending, a spreading of wings

July 3, 2014

A CROWD of 400 people crying as Simphiwe Dana belts out Bob Marley acapella.

This is the fondest memory that Zula Sound Bar owners Vusa and Zoe Mazula, who are closing the venue after a nine-year run of hosting live music in Long Street, will treasure.

"It's nice to say in my lifetime I've been the owner of one of the most popular live music venues in South Africa," Vusa said, reminiscing in the odd quiet of a venue which pumps with tunes at night.

The couple came from England to get married in Cape Town in 2004. They went to a Long Street bar called The Lounge, and loved it. When they returned home to England, they saw the same spot was up for sale.

"A year later we had the keys," Zoe said.

Both being musicians writing original material, their struggles in a tough industry inspired their dream for Zula.

"Musicians get ripped off left, right, and centre. We thought there must be a different way to do it," Vusa said.

At the time, Mercury Live and the Armchair Theatre were the only live music venues in the city. They saw the gap, and dived into it.

"Music has got to be the most important medium - it transcends everything," Vusa said. "Yet we discriminate against music and don't give it the platform it deserves."

He said the music that comes out of America and England isn't any more special than the talent here in Cape Town, but musicians in the city lack the support of a big and dedicated fan base.

"We walked down the street and asked people to name five South African artists. They really struggled," he said.

But Zula will no longer be offering a venue for original live music, due to a tangle of legal clashes and landlord issues.

Fans of live music may have stomped their last gig on the Zula dance floor, but they haven't heard the last of the Zula brand.

"We've been cocooned in this place for so long, just soaking everything up," Zoe said. "Now we can start opening our wings."

Next in the Zula lineup is a documentary and a live music television show. "Our dream of Zula is to document music around the African continent," Zoe said.

Or, as Vusa put it: "Zula's not closing; it's just evolving."

The closing parties are tomorrow and Saturday, featuring artists including Kongo Elektro, The Rudimentals, Anne Jangle, Wolftown, The Sleepers; Jam Jarr, Southpaw and an array of DJs.

Cape Argus

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Source: Cape Argus (South Africa)

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