They call themselves El Kuelgue and a mix of latin, acoustic and hip-hop, but the truth is that musical comedy is a bit hit in Argentina, and El Kuelgue's brand of sarcastic, cheeky musical mix-&-match really works. My friend Mariano's brother, Juan, is the bass player, and Mariano plays some occasional wah-wah guitar.
It's a throw-down of all kinds of influences, backed by some talented musicians, and a fantastic video show by a VJ, with custom-made videos for each of the songs. We don't make anything like this in South Africa! And these are just the kinds of influences I came here to check out! Mariano and Laura have a 6-month old baby, so they were bucking the Buenos Aires trend by yawning and making 'we've got to get to bed' sounds by 3am...
I don’t speak Spanish, and I don’t know a single person in Argentina, but as of today I’ll be a ciudadano of Buenos Aires (see, I’ve already started massacring the language)! OK, it’s only a 2-month transplant, but it should be an awesome round-off to a spectacularus year of adventure. So here goes. I’m writing this eating breakfast with a plastic knife and fork in the airport lounge. I mean really, plastic knives and forks?? Tonight I’ll be getting started on the world’s best steaks, and tomorrow… who knows? Spanish lessons, a couple of flamenco guitar lessons, some gigs, a lot of sidewalk coffees, new routines, and plenty of time to write new songs for the record I’ll record in Sweden or Norway early next year. Some people get their kicks from the familiar. I need change, and loads of it. So goodbye Cape Town, for a little while... Buena suerte! Adios…
I joined a Radio Kalahari Orkes show at Café Barcelona in Pretoria Saturday night. Fantastic band... cultural phenomenon. My music may as well have been Niger desert blues for all the cultural connection it had to the Orkes audience. Across town at the Bassline (where, incidentally, I launched my first record), my friends Damon and Wendy were watching Etran Finatawa. Amazing, spell-binding desert blues from Niger. As I watched Ian Roberts shouting the odds at his devoted audience, I couldn't help but think that I felt at the same time intimately connected to what was going on... and a million miles away! That's South Africa for you. And me. Bizarre, bewildering and immensely heart warming and the same time. The tour's been awesome. So many friends made, some great performances, unusual performances. The first day or two always exhilarating, always a few low points, the inevitable sore throat, but I just love the constant movement, the surprises, the groove. Speaking of groove I'm really digging live studio performances. Had a great acoustic half hour on UJFM on Saturday, and a fantastic time in studio at Highveld with Zane Derbyshire on Sunday evening. That man is doing loads for SA music, and it was a jol to sing live on air for the Highveld listeners. Big up Zane! Peace!
I'm sitting at Scusi in Parkview eating chocolate mousse, drinking coffee and catching up on my mail. My oh my. The chocolate mousse!!! Scusi's one of the best places to work on a computer in Joburg. I've just left behind the Durban leg of my tour, and had a wonderful time with Judd & Jeannie at The Corner Cafe, with Jamie at The Red Door and Gail & Mark in Shongweni. Big shout out! And also to Shannon Hope, Dave McMilan & Erin Fourie for joining me in PMB. Awesome show!
But one of the highlights was teaching East Coast Radio DJ, Damon Beard, to play guitar. Well, in actual fact we got through the sum total of two chords, but it was on air! Cool guy, fun being a co-presenter for an hour. East Coast are always a laugh and this was no exception. Damon - you missed a brilliant show at the Corner Cafe that night! Next time, buddy...
I'm in a UN plane on my way back from the peace mission on the eastern border of Chad (next to Darfur). Long story. I slept in a converted container in the military base and felt like I was back in boarding school. It's amazingly empty at night - no entertainment save for a few beers at the Togolese bar - a big sky with a full moon and, surpisingly, not many stars. Amidst the silence any voice is really loud. I've been listening to Hank Dogs. ‘Civilisation' is so full, my ears are full, my eyes can't sit still, my head is full. I'm wondering how much we miss while we're trying to take it all in. Down there (from up here) the river beds are like the veins on the skin of my arm. So many! It's a dry country, but when it rains like at the beginning of the week when we arrived there's water everywhere. Men fight over what's important to them, even if we can't see what it's all for.
I popped by my friend Matt's place the other day to check out his new Bose PA system for possible use at intimate acoustic shows. Over tea and this amazing chocolate brownie I discovered that the brownie had been a present from proprietor of the bakery down the road. Now, in addition to numerous other talents, Matt has this tremendous gift. People just want to give him things! Of course it helps that he's a really friendly, super garrulous guy, but it really stupefies me how much people want to help him. It's just something about him - people can't help themselves.
So I'm just back from a cool little micro-tour weekend in Durban... played with Emmanuel Castis at Krakatoa - my first ever gig with cages (as in dancing girlie cages) at the side of the stage. It's a pretty impressive place but very weird at the same time.... the only venue I know that tries to be a sports bar, music venue, strip joint and nightclub at the same time! Then it was on to the Essey's barn for one of the most remarkable intimate gigs I've played in a long time. Gorgeous wooden-floored barn, and it was so quiet during the show you could hear a pin drop. Awesome. I'll definitely be back - and speaking of which, we're trying to hook up a return for the third week in September.
OK, to be honest I used to think that East Coast Radio were full of it. That was back when I lived in Durban, and they refused to play my first record, Freefall. Now they play loads of South African music, and more importantly my record. They also love doing in-studio's with SA singers... and most importantly they have Jane Linley-Thomas! Jane is a special breed... I can think of no other DJ in the country who would see me walk into the station at 7pm (still prime time) on Thursday evening with my guitar and start jumping up and down in her chair with excitement at the prospect of making an idiot of both me and herself live on air.