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

Thursday, March 16, 2023

The African Shows: Spook 'n' Diesel: Twenty-five Thousand Kilometres


Photo: Alison Gedault

South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia... the Big Merc has performed well. At this moment, we're about 25 thousand km into it. Shocks, brakes, a couple of tyres. We've hauled a Paul Bothner Music PA system overland across dessert, mountains, and all manner of velt. The old National is adjusting well to her new frets, fingerboard, and machine heads. Courtesy Dave Fox and Hank to Hendrix guitars, we've now played about 60 shows into the African portion of the tour– and she's almost forgiven me for the repairs.

It's been a challenging time on the ground here in South Africa as infrastructure continues to crumble and tensions continue to rise. I've done many shows without power, or with the course hum of a diesel generator in the distance. Still, there have been magic shows by candle and kerosene light, as well as some full scale festival shows with more lavish production. We make do. We improvise. We get along. We navigate the power outages and the potholes. It's still a beautiful world here, but some venues and small businesses are clearly feeling the pressure.

Wrapping the last few South African shows over the remainder of March, putting the Merc in her garage, and flying into Namibia for my first visit there. I'll be staying with my pal Riaan Smit, of Crimson House, and– probably– playing every venue in the territory over the end of March and the first three weeks of April. Riaan and I hope to do some writing and recording around my shows.

Shows for the Irish leg are still filling. The month of May is entirely reserved for Ireland– so book now if that's your territory. I'll be reaching out to all of my contacts to finalize my Irish schedule, and I'm happy to fill as many days as possible.