In our culture so much music is background. We're bombarded with it all the time to the point where we don't even notice it. And yet with so many West African rhythms and songs, there are specific times of the day and uses for them, and specific dances that go with them. It's connected to people's lives in a way that I think we could learn from here."
-Ezra Gale

The oil wrestling at the benefit isn't entirely random. Aphrodesia uses a biodiesel tour bus and plans to use one while in Ghana. Guitarist David Sartore, who Gale describes as their "veggie oil mechanic/guru/evangelist guy," explains, "For the last two years, we've been touring in a bus that runs on biodiesel and recycled vegetable oil because we want to demonstrate an alternative to our country's dependence on petroleum as a transportation fuel. When we decided to tour West Africa, it seemed natural that we would at least try to do this there as well because the environmental and political effects of the oil industry in West Africa have been devastating. However, there is not really the infrastructure for biodiesel in Africa that there is here, so we might be lucky to get 50 gallons of biodiesel on this trip. We really don't know, but we are going to work with the Ghanaian Commission of Energy and the Department of the Environment on education. We will have a demonstration kit on how to make biodiesel and its effects on the environment at each show. Our representative from the Clean Fuel Caravan, Zach Carson, will be demonstrating this aspect."

Most Americans still think of Africa as "the dark continent" and treat it with fear. It's almost universally seen as a dangerous place, but that view comes mostly from an ignorant picture of Africa gleaned from old Tarzan movies and shock-obsessed news coverage.

"All I know is the people who have said to us recently, 'Be careful over there,' are white, and the people who have said, 'Oh, Ghana is a nice place. Nigeria is a nice place. You're going to have a great time,' are African," remarks Gale. "In the end, we will see for ourselves if many Americans' images of how dangerous Africa is are overrated or accurate. But we prefer to see for ourselves and not to let fear and misconception keep us under our bedcovers the rest of our lives."

Maykovich continues, "I don't really allow fear much input in my decisions. I think there are still a lot of misconceptions about Africa stemming from colonial mentalities. I lived in Africa for a year, and it was one of the most incredibly heart-opening times of my life. I find the concept of having and thus needing to protect what you have very draining. The African people were the most generous, open people I have ever met, and because they had so little, they were free to have so much love and presence. They had themselves, rather than a small part of themselves weighted under mountains of possessions and responsibilities."

Aphrodesia at HSMF by Susan J. Weiand
Anyone who attended last year's High Sierra Music Festival can attest to the sparks between Aphrodesia and Ghana's African Showboyz. Wandering by their shared campsite at all hours of the day, one was swept up by their combustible energy. The Showboyz will be playing the whole month of shows in Ghana with Aphrodesia, and they couldn't be more excited about it.

"The Showboyz are kind and amazing artists," comments Sartore. "I got to spend time with the leader of the group, Napolean, in his house in Ghana. He takes care of his whole extended family by traveling the world and playing music. They're definitely struggling, but his strength is amazing. He is intent on keeping roots music alive and thriving. In West Africa, live music is dying. It's not what I expected before I went there, but we hope this tour wakes up some of those roots that have been under the ground for the past decade."

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