On June 2, 2018, I had the privilege of going to see Ladysmith Black Mambazo perform at the South African State Theatre in Pretoria. My friend Puleng got us front row tickets so I could witness their greatness up close!
If you don’t know Ladysmith Black Mambazo, you’re about to fall in love! A little background on them - Joseph Shabalala formed the Grammy award-winning Ladysmith Black Mambazo in the 1960s. The name comes from several aspects of Joseph’s life. “Ladysmith” is the name of his hometown in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa. “Black” refers to the oxen, a farm animal he grew up admiring as a young boy. The Zulu word for chopping axe is “Mambazo” which is a metaphor for the group’s strong vocals which cleared the road to their success.
And they’ve been so successful, involving sons and cousins and friends in the group over the years. Their traditional musical style is derived from “isicathamiya.” This music developed among black mine workers who sang to entertain themselves while in poor working conditions away from their families and homes. The group is most famous for their album, Shaka Zulu, which was produced by Paul Simon. Nelson Mandela invited them to Norway when he accepted a Nobel Peace Prize and then they sang at Mandela’s presidential inauguration. Indeed, the concert was titled the Mandela Celebration, to honor his legacy.
In this post, I share video I took from the concert with full songs recorded live, including “Thalaza,” “Lelilungelo Nge,” “Homeless,” and my personal favorite “Rain, Rain, Beautiful Rain.” Enjoy!
The music culture is one of the main reasons I decided to take Jono to New Orleans this summer.
Trumpets, tubas, and trombones lead the culture of this Louisiana town. It's where parades of brass instruments blare down the streets at the start of a new day and jazz processions commonly mark the end of a life.
From a famous, 20-year old brass band recognized by the Grammy's to simple street performing artists, I saw the Crescent City bring strutting jazz, indie funk, hip-hop attitude and old school swing together under one melodic genre that is uniquely New Orleans.
This is going to be a quick post. I've run out of time to write something more extensive this week because I just returned from my trip to New Orleans and the Florida Keys!
I had an awesome time exploring these two parts of the USA with Jono who has been visiting me from New Zealand this summer. We spent 5 nights in New Orleans and 7 nights in Southern Florida. These places were vastly different from each other and incredible in their own separate ways.
Instead of going into a deep post this week, I've decided to share with you a few of my favorite photos from these two places. I think these photos best capture both locations in their individual glory.
Nashville is "Music City" for more reasons than its famous country roots. I mistakenly assumed country music was all Nashville had to offer when, in fact, Nashville has historically been and still is the city of a diversity of musical tastes.
In this post, I describe a variety of musical options available for exploration when visiting Nashville, Tennessee including several I had the chance to check out with my friends.
From hipster jams and punk rock to honky tonks and symphonies—these are the must-do's for music-loving tourists.
I was going to call this post “Monks and Motorbikes” but then I realized you would all picture monks riding motorbikes around and that would have been completely inaccurate. My in-depth post about my interactions with monks will have to come later. Instead, this post is about the day I got over my fear of riding a motorbike which included a ride up to a Buddhist temple near Chiang Mai.
West of Chiang Mai is Doi Suthep-Pui National Park. Just before the Doi Suthep mountain summit (1676m) is the temple Wat Phra That Doi Suthep—a famous Buddhist pilgrimage site. Other travelers staying at the Julie Guesthouse suggested going there as a fun day trip. They mentioned songthaews and buses as the means to get up there. “Or you could just rent a motorbike,” said one traveler.
Dance and music have always been a big part of my life. A secret bit about me many people (and most readers) probably do not know is I was a tap dancer for 17 years. I also played flute in my school band for 7 years. More commonly known is my love for going to local music shows, dancing around to alternative rock and punk or bopping along to singer songwriter’s jams. I went out to dance and listen to live music often while living in NYC for the 6 years it took to complete my graduate degree.
With all of this music in my life, I couldn’t miss out on Berlin’s nightlife scene where music and dance is rather unique compared to much of what I have experienced back home. I was elated to find myself being transported back to the 1920s at a social dancing night, party with some French synth pop artists, and even get into Berlin’s famously exclusive nightclub, Berghain.
After dropping off the rental car and checking into our hostel in Reykjavik, I had a few hours to spend before the backpackers from Akureyri would be back in town. I took the opportunity to wander and see more of the streets of Reykjavik. I wanted to get a better feel for the city and pick up a few small souvenirs to bring to my hosts in Germany from the shops along Laugavegur. Here are a few highlights.