Compiled by Kayceman
All photos courtesy of Mark Insettta (taken while in Africa)
BRIDGING THE GAP - PART III
Welcome to our final installment of Bridging the Gap. Michael Kang (String Cheese Incident) and Chris Berry (Panjea) have sent back their final transmission from Africa. Inside you will find pictures and words, insight and visions. We hope you've enjoyed our coverage of this landmark event; and we hope you'll go out and see Kang and Berry perform this summer.
On the teeming streets of Maputo is where it all started. Hundreds of could-be Vogue models walking down the streets, a super laid-back vibe, and way-open minds - not to mention a lot of great musicians. I have always felt that Mozambicans were the hippies of Africa.
Kang and I ventured into the ghettos to check out the local traditional groups, which usually consisted of a few Timbilas (Marimbas), drums, as well as a crew of girls who sing and dance. We jammed with several of these groups, and the vibe was always way high and positive.
Off to the north to Inhambane. This was our time to be inspired by the white sand beaches, beautiful waves, fresh seafood, and the music that seems to floating in the ether all around that place.
Nights of jam and exploring took place on the hills overlooking the Indian Ocean. Many songs came and will be born on this next tour.
Kang sets up recording gear
We were asked to do a show at the Dinos, which is the local beach bar/club in the area. We took the opportunity to invite some of our favorite musicians from Maputo (the capital city) to join us. We rehearsed a few hours before the show, and amazingly enough, the show was amazing.
I don't know where all those people came from, but the place was packed and we partied long after the sun came up.
On the way back from our time in the blessed land of Inhambane, we stopped to see the Grand Master of the Timbila, Venancio Mbande. His 23-piece group played for us, and then we got a chance to play with him. No words can describe the music and the vibe, and I think the video that they took will even fall short as there is no way to describe the energy live so I will stop trying.
It was now time to move onto Zimbabwe. Our tickets were purchased and all systems were go until I decided to give my e-mail a quick check before heading to the airport. I was surprised to see that the national newspaper had featured a front page article on me. Unfortunately, the article was very negative and put the fear of Mugabe into a lot of my friends in Zimbabwe, who begged me not to come as they feared for my life. For those of you who don't know, I have a bit of a history with the Zimbabwean government, and they are also not very fond of anyone or anything foreign right now as they blame everyone but themselves (the government) for Zimbabwe's dire situation.
The Minister of Culture had made a serious statement that my friends felt was a direct threat. As it is very common for people to disappear in Zimbabwe by the hands of the government, my friends and I decided we would skip Zimbabwe this time.
The other two countries that were alternatives were Uganda and Tanzania. We flipped a coin to see which one it would be. Tanzania won, but for some strange reason we ended up going to Uganda, the party capital of Africa.
We arrived in Uganda. I became deathly ill, had visions, and decided to become totally sober for the first time in ten years. After about five days, I was able to catch up with Kang and the others only to find that I had decided to get sober in a nation of endless partying. Seriously these people can party every day of the week and do so from sun-down to way after sun-up. We got to hang with some amazing musicians and to jam with adungu (traditional harp) orchestras. We also danced our asses off in many discos that spun local traditional music and plenty of ragga, and we also got to sit in and jam with one of Uganda's hottest bands, Afrigo. Kang and I also got to continue writing and jamming as the house we stayed in conveniently had a mini studio in it.
Before I knew it, it was time to return to the cold-ass streets of New York City, and so here I am, sober and with a few more songs up my sleeve.
We look forward to seeing you all on our May tour, where Michael and I will play all the new material we wrote along with many other musical gems. Seems like we may have a few guests in every city we play too.
Thanks for all the kind words and inspiration.
Continue reading for Michael Kang's final letter...