My Worsfest debut (which, surprisingly, has nothing to do with sausages)

Last night I attended my third annual ‘Worsfest’. For non-South Africans, ‘wors’ means ‘sausage’, so ‘Worsfest’ should actually be a sausage festival, right? Well, not really. In this case, Wors is a friend of mine, who is Indian and (more importantly) vegetarian, so there are definitely no sausages at this festival. How he earned the nickname Wors though, will forever remain a mystery to those who were not part of his close circle of university friends (although we did enquire, but received the answer, “It’s a long story.” and we all know what that means…).

So Wors is a musician and every year for his birthday, he gathers all his musical friends together for the most epic jam session of the year. Actually, it’s not normally held anywhere near his birthday, and we’re lucky if it makes it within the same month of his birthday, but he uses his birthday as an excuse to get all the important people in his life together. I’m told that one year the Worsfest, as it has become known over the past 17 years, was held approximately 5 months after Wors’ birthday. Many people meet up at the Worsfest, who never get to see each for the rest of the year, and it sometimes ends up feeling like an enormous family reunion. It kicks off with a dinner, followed by hours of jamming to everyone’s favourite hits. Wors’ friends and band members are mostly into old school rock, and the crowd gets to sing along to everything from The Beatles and The Rolling Stones to Deep Purple and U2. This selection is guaranteed to entertain all age groups, with six-year-olds to senior citizens rocking out together in front of the stage (although the seniors are much more clued up with the lyrics).

This year I was lucky enough to jump out of the audience and play a few songs, as requested by Wors himself. I performed with a lovely lady named Marlini, who sings beautifully, and we were the only two females on stage for the night, kicking off the proceedings after supper. Wors wanted us to perform some piano-driven pop songs that he liked and gave us a list of (mostly to please the general audience, since he really isn’t much of a pop fan). I’m also not really into pop, but it’s always much more fun playing these songs than actually listening to them, so I gladly agreed! And anything to be a part of the epic-ness of Worsfest.

So we started off with ‘The Rose’ by Bette Midler. Wors just loves this song, and even though Marlini and I got slightly bored after the first two verses, we did it for Wors. Actually, I like listening to this song, so I think it’s one of those rare instances where the song is better to listen to than to play. ‘Heaven’ was next (not sure who was singing on the recording we were practising with, and I’m in no mood to Google it now – some girl, although we all like the Bryan Adams version), followed by ‘From This Moment’ by Shania Twain. This one was quite nice to play. Next we performed ‘Angel’ by Sarah McLachlan, which is such a beautiful song, but this was the first time that I had paid any attention to the lyrics, so it was really depressing and I wanted to cry and help this person stuck in the dark, cold hotel room! Luckily the next song had me making a quick recovery. This song was not chosen by Wors; he doesn’t even know it. But out of the ten songs Wors asked us to play, we only managed to learn four, as my schedule is crazy enough with the band and incomplete master’s thesis, and Marlini is heavily pregnant so the singing was tiring her out. So we decided to add one that we both knew and enjoyed, even though RnB is totally out of the scope of the Worsfest. It was ‘Save Room’ by John Legend (check out my favourite, acoustic version; I just want to eat him up here). Marlini’s husband is a big John Legend fan, and I play this song with the band, so it was a natural choice for us. I knew the chords and had already practised a really good solo (if I may say so myself – virtuosic*, but not at all classical, okay, maybe a little towards the end). It was also upbeat, a pleasant change from the preceding numbers.

The crowd loved it (thank goodness)! Including all the rockers, who, like the good musicians that they are, appreciate good music in all forms. The most rewarding appreciation though, came from a six-year-old, who came over to tell me that she liked my piano playing, and then ran off before I could even thank her properly! I then got to relax the rest of the night and sing along to ‘Hey Jude’, ‘Islands in the Stream’, ‘Losing My Religion’, ‘Smoke on the Water’ and other timeless hits, while drinking tea (there was a bar outside, but most of us went for the tea). It was an awesome night and I can’t wait to do it all again next year. Although Marlini and I have decided to surprise Wors with more of our own choice of repertoire, which does not include anything that will make me cry. And I’ll probably get to play with the band guys too, since we were all excited to meet each other afterwards. It will be cool to broaden my band chick experience to include more rock. And to introduce the rockers to some jazz, of course! All thanks to Wors.

*I’m disappointed to note that ‘virtuosic’ is not recognised here in my WordPress dictionary as a word (okay, even ‘recognised’ is not recognised here as a word). But it is in the musical world. I even have a Grade 6 piano exam report from Trinity College to prove it!