8 Ways To Embrace Cape Town’s Music Scene

Cape Town Jazz Festival

Whether you’re a music-lover or music-maker, there are some awesome ways to make the most of your passion in the Mother City.

Fancy yourself a pub-band frontman? Or even the next guitar-wielding jazz icon? With the world-famous Cape Town International Jazz Festival on at the CTICC on 27 and 28 March, now’s a great time to make your boyhood dreams come true. The Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID), custodians of the Mother City’s downtown, have put together a guide on how to take your love for music to the next level by soaking up the sounds of the Cape Town CBD inbetween watching your favourite acts on stage at the Festival.

Go record collecting

The African Music Store stocks genres from all over the continent. Here you’ll find the work of Cape jazz greats such as Abdullah Ibrahim and Jonathan Butler, as well as self-produced albums by unknown artists. If you’re overwhelmed by all the options, just ask owner Mark Chanas for a musical recommendation and listen in store.

The African Music Store: 134 Long St, 021 426 0857

The Eye coffee shop, art gallery and music store sells cassette tapes and vinyl records (including releases from ‘80s anti-apartheid label Shifty Records). Cassettes are as unreliable as they were in the ‘90s, but records genuinely sound better than CDs and MP3s. So says Bob Dylan, and who are we to argue?

The Eye: 44 Bloem St, 083 494 4814

The Eye

The Eye

Liven it up

For live jazz, from solo singers to 19-piece big bands, book at The Crypt under St George’s Cathedral. Owner Derk Blaisse says opening in the Cape Town CBD was a no-brainer as it’s the centre of a vibrant, musical city where people are “almost born musicians”.
The Crypt: 1 Wale St, 079 683 4658,

Other venues:

Mama Africa has live marimba bands; you can enjoy a braai with your live music at Weinhaus + Biergarten; bands play The Waiting Room on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays; Café Mojito is an intimate and fun venue with great cocktails; and The Assembly is where all the cool kids go.

Mama Africa: 178 Long St, 021 424 8634,

Weinhaus + Biergarten: 110 Bree St, 021 422 2770,

The Waiting Room: 273 Long St, 021 422 4536,

Café Mojito: 265 Long St, 021 422 1095,

The Assembly: 61 Harrington St, 021 465 7286,

The Crypt

The Crypt

Enjoy a free concert

As a thank you to the music-loving people of Cape Town for hosting one of the world’s grandest festivals, the organisers of the Cape Town International Jazz Festival are once again staging their annual free community concert, in association with the City of Cape Town and the CCID, featuring some of the jazz festival’s performers.

Where: Greenmarket Square

When: Wednesday 25 March

Cost: Free

Green Market Square

Green Market Square

Hit the streets

For more inspiration, simply take to the CBD’s public spaces. Buskers who have been through a screening process are performing as part of the City of Cape Town’s Busking Pilot Project until 31 March. Look out for City-branded performance mats throughout the Central City in public spaces such as Greenmarket Square, among others.


Buy the book

To find out how the rock stars do it, browse musician biographies at the Book Lounge – Cape Town’s favourite book store and the 2014 PASA Independent Bookseller of the Year.

The Book Lounge: 71 Roeland St, 021 462 2425,

The Book Lounge

Get some gear

When you step inside Marshall Music, you step inside gear heaven – Fender and Gibson guitars line the walls, and there’s enough pedal power and amp stacks to get you humming “Smoke on the Water”.

Marshall Music: 65 Buitengracht, 021 426 6325,


Learn from the best

Learn to play your new instrument with bespoke lessons given by real performing musicians. The Jazz Workshop, now technically in Bo-Kaap but a stone’s throw away from the CBD, has been making musicians for 50 years.

Jazz Workshop: 214A Buitengracht, 021 424 4956,


Show your chops

Red Bull Studio offers artists (you can call yourself that now) the latest digital music technology. When you’re done recording, you can go back to step one, the African Music Store – only this time to ask Mark to sell your CDs.

Red Bull Studio: 103B Bree St,

If you’re no good at scales but have some rhythm, perhaps you could become a backup dancer. Jazzart offers weekly contemporary and Afro-fusion classes and Latin experts Que Pasa give weekly lessons in styles including Cuban, swing, salsa and tango.

Jazzart: Artscape Theatre Centre, DF Malan St, 021 410 9848,

Que Pasa: Artscape Theatre Centre, DF Malan St, 074 199 0918,

Red Bull Studio

Red Bull Studio

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