After receiving an invite to a private show at The Art of Duplicity, KAT MANNE ventured to a secret location for a sneak-peak of the Inverroche Summer Concerts:

Inverroche Summer Concerts: Arno Carstens

The building looked like any other and I’d been there before but there was no indication of a new bar. No signage, no suave smokers, no tipsy flappers – as I had imagined – just a man waiting expectantly in an immaculate suit. He nodded politely and asked my name. Another debonair doorman appeared to escort me to the hidden venue. We walked through an alley with clothing lines strung haphazardly as if someone lived there and continued walking beneath a staircase suspended by some pulley system. The doorman did not explain any of this, he simply told me to say the password at the door and after winding our way around corners, gold basins and brass piping, I was eventually at said door. An aperture of sorts slid open very quickly revealing the glittering headdress of the hostess. “Password, please!” came the sprightly request. I leaned in and whispered discreetly before the large door slid open.

The hostess raised a dark curtain to reveal a dimly lit room filled with macs and dames lounging in high-back armchairs of red velvet and green velour, jewellery jangling with laughter as they sipped the Inverroche welcome drink and snacked on peanuts resting on trunks and weathered rose gold tables.

Surprise music acts

Inverroche Summer Concerts: Bam Bam Brown

I collected the tasty gin and tonic, angling my way closer to the small stage. A quirky waitress brushed peanut shells onto the floor and offered me a napkin for my drink as two men sat down on stage. One wore a hat and the other had red eyeshadow artfully applied across his face. This man introduced himself as Bam Bam Brown (pictured right) before serenading us with a disarmingly sweet voice and the steady beat of a single mysterious drum. He performed a particularly tender song called Bathed in Gold which he mentioned is currently playing on 5FM, with a coy smile. Bam Bam Brown was followed by the gentle melodies of Craig Hinds. Craig is quite charming and has a way with people that got the excited audience to settle down. Watershed is part of an exclusive campaign in which Inverroche has created a signature gin with a particular taste based on their latest album releases – or so I’d heard from a peppy Keaton Wenn at the bar.

The last act – announced by the refined gin bootlegger and MC – was none other than Arno Carstens. He was joined by a young man with a bun of blonde curls. The young man – Frank Freeman – turned out to be immensely skilled, his blurred hand keeping up with Arno’s vigorous strumming style. A strange groove seemed to creep into them as Frank played with a rhythmic nod that urged the music on and Arno began drawing his pick along the wire ridges of his string to bring songs to a close. An interesting pair at an eccentric venue. As he sang Another Universe a familiar dreamy fog seemed to surround me and the long necklaces and tall top hats of the speakeasy crowd became a haze of sparkling silhouettes …

What: Inverroche Summer Concerts

Where and when: Inverroche Stilbaai distillery from 17 December 2018 to 4 January 2019

See line-up: All the music acts