“If You Can’t See Me, Are You Really There?” Concept & Background

If you can't see me, are you really there?



Coffeebeans Routes turns 10 in 2015. Over this decade the conceptual seed of a cultural tourism outfit that would be a “storytelling company that translates into travel” has germinated into a Gold Award this month. On 16th April Coffeebeans received top prize in the 2015 African Responsible Tourism Awards 2015 category Best for Engaging People & Culture.

To celebrate its 10th birthday and its award, the creative and cultural travel specialist is producing a series of ten concerts, over ten months, on the last Thursday of every month, starting in June 2015.

Says founder and creative director Iain Harris: “We would like to share with the city and the world some of the best examples of music performance and composition that Cape Town has to offer.”

“Music is in the Coffeebeans DNA, it infuses and informs everything that we do,” says Iain. “So much of our creative process riffs on compositional process, we take many cues from the non-linear, intangible elements of music creation. It’s part of what makes our offering so distinguishable, original.”

The series, called If you can’t see me, are you really there features ten acts across a range of genres. The focus is on original compositions, to be experienced through intimate listening sessions for which the Coffeebeans Routes HQ at 22 Hope Street, Cape Town, offers an ideal setting. The space is also the company’s Creative Emporium, offering a curated selection of creative products from Cape Town, including music, film, fashion, deli items, literature, art, and Coffeebeans’ urban experiences.

But rewind. Nali’Bali: It begins with a story. For Coffeebeans, music was the genesis. The unique travel company began by offering musical tours of Cape Town. Its first offering was an indigenous musical experience with Khoesan poet Jethro Louw, in his Northern Suburbs neighbourhood Kalkfontein – a tight sprawl of lower working class & shack settlements. Then came the now internationally renowned Cape Town Jazz Safari, featuring jazz legends such as Hilton Schilder, Mac McKenzie and the late Robbie Jansen. The Cape Town Reggae Route followed. Coffeebeans subsequently expanded beyond music to offer a wide range of creative experiences in fashion, beer, sustainability, art, design, political history and, most recently, eco-cultural adventures. Today, Coffeebeans offers an unprecedented range of creative travel experiences, from half and full day through multi-day, multi-city programmes. Somehow, somewhere, music still tends to inform the core.

Iain, in producing If you can’t see me, are you really there? intends somewhat of a metaphysical contemplation on in/visibility, the title acting as a prod for a shared probing of how humans perceive and receive each other. The musicians, he further wishes, would also via intent and execution, take us all to a spacetime of transformation – perhaps even transcendance.

Iain’s production credits include the acclaimed Wondergigs series in 2002, a partnership with the SABC that culminated in the compilation A Moment in Cape Town; In 2005, together with the late Joe Mthimka, and with funding from Pro Helvetia, Iain co-produced the Sunday Spends, a series of concerts in Gugulethu and Khayelitsha; In 2007, with the City of Cape Town and the Cape Town Partnership, Iain produced the 7 month series Goemarati, as well as the 6 month Oppiestoep series at Spier, with actress Cindi Sampson; in 2012 it was Kruisings, as part of the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival, and in 2013 he produced the ABSA KKNK Street Festival at the heart of the Klein Karoo Arts festival, featuring a 6 day programme of music acts from the Eden region, as well as street art, installations, games and indigenous gardens.

Since 2008, Iain’s big musical focus has been the Cape Town Composers’ Workshop, and the Cape Town Goema Orchestra, projects created by composer Mac McKenzie, with Iain as one of the directors of the not-for-profit organisation. The Orchestra has done 6 seasons so far, each season debuting an unprecedented 5 new symphonic works by young Cape Town composers. The next season is September 2015.

Seating up to 50 people, the Coffeebeans 10th Birthday concert series will be local with a global reach – GLOCAL. Each event will be broadcast live at coffeebeansroutes.com and africasacountry.com: there will be a dedicated audio only stream as well as a dedicated video stream.

Africa is a Country, the Pan African portal created by Capetonian Sean Jacobs, is the project’s media partner. “With their large and diverse international reach, and interest in life and music ‘between the lines’,” says Iain,  “Africa is a Country makes for a great way for us to be musically intimate not only at home, but around the globe. The partnership allows us to take the series international, on a platform that, philosophically, we feel.”

Ticket sales open first week of May at coffeebeansroutes.com. Tickets will be USD 10 / ZAR 110 each. 45 tickets will be available per concert. Ticket sales for the first five shows will go live all at the same time.

The lineup for the first five concerts will be announced in the first week of May, together with the opening of ticket sales.

For updates:
@coffeebeansrout and @africasacountry on Twitter, coffeebeansroutes or africasacountry on Facebook, and visit coffeebeansroutes.com/ifyoucant

For media enquiries and high resolution images, please email media@coffeebeansroutes.com

writers iain harris & gael reagon. april 2015. cape town.