n’Kosi Sikelele and the Grind Cafe

In July of 2008 I made a couple of trips to Underberg in Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa. It’s one of the most beautiful places on the planet.  During my college years there were many fly-fishing adventures undertaken in those foothills of the Drakensberg mountains. But in July of 2008 I was traveling for the purpose of playing music. I played the Underberg Country Club, which was awesome because it consisted of a lot of local farmers coming out on a Friday night for beers and lamb on the spit. I played a bunch of music, drank a couple of beers, sold a bunch of CDs, ate lamb on the spit and made friendly with the farmer types. A couple of weeks later I returned, with my good buddy, Bruce Hunter, to play at the Grind Cafe. Bruce is responsible for the camera work in the above video. After some beers and some wine that afternoon I played a three hour set, sold some CDs,  drank some more wine and generally had a good time hanging out with Bruce.

I’ve been missing my former home and my friends in South Africa a lot lately. It’s been close to four years since I’ve been back and I can’t help myself from reminiscing about all the good times I had there. I’ve always thought that the South African national anthem was a really great tune but when I pieced together this instrumental, which borrows heavily from it, I wasn’t really thinking about the deeper message of “n’Kosi Sikele”, which is God bless Africa. Africa truly is blessed with beautiful people and rugged, untamed wilderness. It is also home to the worlds largest AIDs epidemic, political violence and a great gulf between the haves and have-nots.

As I watched this video again this afternoon in my reminiscent haze a couple of things went through my mind: It occurred to me that playing 3 hour sets in little Cafe/Bars in small towns in South Africa is probably one of the coolest things I’ve been blessed to be able to do in my life and still is the only thing I really want to do with my life. Then it occurred to me that I really do hope and pray that God does bless Africa…and the Grind Cafe.

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