Blues Rock in Africa as you can imagine, is an extremely small niche market, but has a very loyal bunch of followers. The genre as a whole is rapidly growing down here. This blog is about being a touring Blues Rock artist in South Africa, and stories from the road.
One night we will sell 5,000 tickets for a sold out show in Cape Town at Kirstenbosch Gardens, and the very next night we will play to 25 very confused people in the small backwards town of Christiana. Just as you think your rock star status has been confirmed, BAM!, back to reality. That 1959 Strat I want will have to wait.
The problem with playing in small towns in SA for the first time is the confusion amongst the people at the show. More times than I can remember I’ve had very disappointed people coming to me or my Road Manager after a show saying they were expecting something more like Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong. When we ask them why? The response is always the same: “When I read it had something to do with the Blues, I thought it would be great to come hear some smooth Sinatra style tunes.”
I’ve got nothing but huge respect for Sinatra, but the reality is that the Blues has nothing to do with guys like that (not even close in my opinion). Not everyone in these small towns is so misinformed though. There is a swiftly growing fan base for Blues Rock in South Africa, Blues Festivals are happening on a regular basis, and more Blues/Rock acts are being booked at the bigger, more commercial festivals.
As I mentioned earlier, we managed to sell 5,000 tickets for the launch of my latest album 20 Stones in January earlier this year. That almost brought a tear to my eye! It’s good news for this genre in South Africa.
90% of the touring we do is done in a medium size pick-up truck. A trusty white Nissan Navara, better known in the states as a Frontier. The average tour duration is about a month long. South Africa is about the same size as the state of Texas, so we clock up about 3,000-4,000 miles a tour. On the road with me, are three other very colorful gentlemen.
Clint Falconer (Bass Guitar). Clint enjoys growing beards, long walks on the beach, and is very fond of cursing. Andy Maritz (Drums). Andy simply put, ‘a world class sleeper.’ He can literally fall a sleep anywhere, anytime. Last but not least is Kobus van Rooyen our trusty Road Manager, also known as ‘Pumpkin’ or ‘The Human Alarm Clock’ (for obvious reasons).
I’ve been doing the Blues Rock thing for about 13 years now. I spent a bit of time touring out of New Orleans which was a great honor and an eye opening experience, but most of my time on the road has been spent in SA. Blues Rock globally is in a very exciting space right now, and hopefully real music in general will soon conquer the world and sodomize a lot of the fluff out there.
We start touring again next week and are in the process of getting ready. I can’t wait! This blog will be published on the BRR website every two weeks, so keep reading to get an insight into touring ‘Safari style.’
- Dan Patlansky