Doc MacLean's 2023-4 National Steel "JoJo Man" Blues Tour

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Secret Stories Tour Announced. 2024-25 Ireland/UK, Maritime Canada, South Africa...

 Secret Stories are the tales whispered up and down the Blues Highway. Mouth to ear. Generation to generation. In the parking lot. On the night bus. At the back of the left earphone on the playback, if you listen carefully. Get on board. Let go. Your secrets are safe with me. Ireland: next up. In just a few weeks time.

The Tour Blog sites take a long time for me to build, so I'm now sneaking upcoming 2024-25 "Secret Stories" tour stuff onto the 2023-24 "Jojo Man" page here. All the materials in the Media Sidebar are still the most current available. They are being updated– slowly– to the present moment, but this page remains your BEST source of quality, authorized, downloadable, digital promotional resources. Just this week somebody did a Google search and used a bio perhaps fifteen or twenty years out of date... ah, well– we all try! 

Sunday, April 28, 2024

The Lost Counties of Ireland

A good dog can be a comfort on a tour such as this: in a place where strange things haunt the hedgerows, and black birds spot the sky.

I think it might of been Flann O'Brien who put the idea in my head that there are actually small, lost Counties in Ireland: secret places that don't appear on maps or on main road signs: places acknowledged in the pub by a curt nod, or a raised eyebrow: after which the conversation only too quickly moves back to the game. Anybody who has ever driven these tiny, Irish tracks knows this to be true. And once you've escaped Google, the strange, modern data vanishes: and well: there you are.

My performance was to be held in the upstairs room of a small pub in the village. It took some walking to find it. I was already tired from the weight of the guitars when I encountered a policeman at the threshold. It was quickly getting dark, and I had been nervous about finding the place, and loading in, and starting on time: and was edging for a pint of something, and for a little conversation to relax my day of travels. But he was a large man who fairly filled the passage to the door. Thick arms and legs encased in a rough blue uniform.

"I do not want to be insidious," the policeman said, "but would you inform me about your arrival in the parish? Surely you had a three-speed gear for the hills?"

"I had no three-speed gear," I responded, "the local bus dropped me up at the High Street."

The Policeman made no response to my answer, but looked at me sideways. "Musician, are you?"
He seemed to take a great interest in my hands. "Have you played for a long time, then?"

A good dog can be a comfort on a tour such as this: in a place where strange things haunt the hedgerows, and black birds spot the sky. The next Irish tour begins June 28 at the Belfast City Blues Festival. I'll continue across Ireland, playing venues large and small, popular places you've heard of– and other places, too, perhaps not found on the standard maps, perhaps only found by turning left instead of right and flagging down an aging, local bus. I'll wrap the Irish tour in Dublin, in mid-August, with shows at Arthur's Blues & Jazz and the Howth Blues & Roots Festival. 

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Spirit of the Blues: in which my earnings are small, but my rewards are great

 Vanwyksdorp, Western Cape, South Africa. One of those pass-the-torch kind of moments. This young man arrived early enough to catch my set up and sound check- and was full of questions. "How do you tune that thing?" His parents let him stay for the whole show, and he was clearly captivated by the storytelling of the blues. Next year he'll bring his own guitar along for a free lesson.

I'm in the same age bracket as my musical heroes were when I first met them, so it means a lot to me to be passing the blues along in the same fashion. I remember when I'd arrive early to help carry Brownie McGhee's gear in, when I'd hang around outside of Willie Dixon's hotel, waiting for him to come down for breakfast, when I'd call Son House up from a payphone and invite myself over... and I wasn't alone in my pursuit of the blues. But those are other stories.

I've come a long way in over 50 years of shows. Now there are often a few older guys watching my hands as I play- but having a young lad ask "how do you tune that thing?" reminds me of how wonderful my journey has been, and how gentle and honest and kind were its beginnings.

Two more shows to wrap the South African tour, but I'll be back soon enough.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Desert Dogs: Dust, Diesel, December Dreams

And now, I am also among the dogs that run in this dust: that bark into microphones and scratch out happy memories in the little juke joints up and down the blacktop. My Karoo. My soundcheck. And the sound of the big bikes rolling in. Let's run a bar tab: as long as my arm: I've got long arms, sister. How fast can you run? And maybe my memory's not as good as it used to be. But I'm back. Like I've never been gone. That's the Blues Highway: maps and companionship: sparse rooms and solitude: the emptiness of the desert: the fullness of the night. How fast can I go out here? Is it too hot? Will my tyres explode and hurl this old Merc to a fate of dust and glass and fire and crumpled steel? Maybe that's already happened: already happened and this is Hell on the flipside. Not bad. Some final payout for all the years of sin and depravity. There's never been enough of that to go around. A blues pension. This desert of mine. I roll back every year, and the only things that change are the price of diesel, the colour of my hair, the lines on my face, the patina on the old National. The wind is still the same, the frets are new, but the third string buzzes now, sometimes.

It's still November, but I'm dreaming of December. It is my December. My December: in the shade: watching the sun rise over the desert: me: and Big Joe: and Kokomo. Waiting to hear Son House on the radio: waiting for the kitchen to open: and then: breakfast: and then: I'll point the old Merc down Hwy 62. My Karoo.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Me and Bothners... musical legacy in South Africa

We're back!! Or will be very, very soon. I'm very happy to announce that my partnership in South Africa with Paul Bothner Music continues now into a sixth year. That went by in a hurry! Here I am in Cape Town with Bothners promo honcho Wayne Shelver and one of the company's infamous stage banners. It's always a good feeling when all the gear is loaded into the Merc and I'm heading out to the first show of a tour.

As an independent touring artist, sound on the ground is always a great concern to me. On a typical tour I'll be rolling overland across South Africa: perhaps 60 or 80 shows in all manner of venues. I haul a couple of guitars and a PA system across mountains and deserts into all manner of dorpies and cities and into the little places in between them. I'm not a high-tech kind of guy. It's pretty old school. Heck, I live the dream: I only wish I'd also dreamed of a couple of roadies and a light show... At some point in my day I'm probably lugging a PA up onto a stage, plugging in, dialling up, and delivering a show. It's all gotta work -and work well- every day.

I've mentioned in the past how Bothners is a family business that has been around for over 50 years. As the largest music retailer in South Africa they have a network of outlets across the country that I can count on for all of my basic touring needs. It's like Canada's Long & McQuade, only it's in Africa. I enjoy visiting their well stocked stores- staffed by people who seem to love their jobs. These are the kinds of places where a high school kid can buy his first instrument, and never look back. Catch a dream. Make it happen. I told him to buy the SM58, can't go wrong with that, son.

Monday, October 9, 2023

Record Release Announcement: "Son House Died at Detroit"

Well, here's the new e-single, "Son House Died at Detroit." Released on September 18, 2024.

Contemporary, resonator driven blues with a band. From the delta to the American rust belt cities, to Africa, and back again. I knew bluesman Son House when I was a teenager, and I've often thought of him in my travels across Africa. Indeed, he was on my mind the night this was recorded in a small, desert studio in Namibia. Subsequent parts were recorded in Canada, where the track was also edited and mixed. Mastering was done in Nashville.

You can hear this on any of the streaming services, but I'm sending you to Bandcamp, where you can also choose to support the artist and the recording. I like it when people do that!

Meanwhile, I'm in Canada. It is starting to get cooler. I've got one more show to play in Ontario and then I'm back to springtime in South Africa. Shows across the Western Cape in November, then on into Eastern Cape and Free State for December...

Monday, May 22, 2023


Sold out show in Cork, Ireland, with my new pals, White Horse Guitar Club. This is a gorgeous venue, one of Ireland's finest. The Tour has been gaining momentum from show to show here: word of mouth is still the most important promotion you can have. And: that's what it's all about anyway: the songs and stories. The music itself: whispered from ear to ear. That social media is less important in this place should not be surprising– the Irish can fit a whole lot of words into a sentence when they talk. Or when they write. I wandered about Dublin thinking about James Joyce: The Dubliners. Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses... Joyce installed Dublin into my mind half a century ago, and I was amazed at how many of his words have stayed with me. Another couple of weeks of the Irish leg ahead and I'm already planning for next year's return.