The Greatest Musician in All of Eastern Sub-Saharan Africa

October 9, 2007

One night, at the Bedouin bar, I was hanging out with Griffin. He runs the place.

He’s a great man.

A few beers into the evening, He says he wants more live music. Someone points at me and says, ‘This is the guy you wanna talk to!”

I’m all, ‘Uhhh, hey. . .’

But at the behest of the best drinkers in Juba, Griffin was somehow persuaded. I mean, I’m a great salesman, but I wasn’t about to book myself as entertainment for the competition

But theser gys were giving rave reviews of my playing ability, so I agree to play in two days.

But on thursday, I cannot find a PA or anything. I call Griffin. I email.

Nothing.

So I watch Ireland get whooped by France at Logali house instead.

Griffin happens to be there himself.

‘Aw crap, dude! I tried getting in touch with you!”

“Yah, it’s fine, mate. No worries. Next week, we’ll do it right, yeah?”

“Deal, dude.”

We chatted a little bit more until I realized I still had the same problem. Acquire expensive sound equipment in a developing nation in a span of seven days.

Luckily, one of our clients is a large multinational corporation that does infrastructure, technology, law, and government consulting all over the world.

The head honcho here in Juba told Raleigh he could use it anytime he wanted.

GOLD!

I’m assured it’s in his bungalow, and I can get it at any time.

This past week my boss was up my ass like a cheap pair of undies. So I didn’t actually check on the PA until about lunchtime Thursday.

Of course it wasn’t there.

I was still committed, and Griffin said he’d look into arranging one.

“Great googly moogly,’ muttered the InMo. “This dude’s never even heard me play. Talk about faith.”

Feeling dejected, I did some reading, then ran into Tex on my way to dinner. He rerouted me to the bar. Some hours later Wheezy shows up and Tex tells him about my show.

“Well, don’t start advertising for me yet. . .I still don’t have a PA.

“We have one,” counters Wheezy, “Allow me to email Sultan in Nairobi, and we’ll work something out. I’m sure it’ll be ok.”

“Sultan? Wait a sec. You work for Large Multinational Corporation that does Infrastructure,Technology, Law, and Government Consulting All Over the World?[sic]”

“Yes.”

“Well Sultan told Raleigh that we could use that PA.”

“Perfect. I’ll try and bring it by during lunch.”

I missed Wheezy at lunch.

I was off trying to make sure my codes were up to date and we were able to reconcile the arrivals of two trucks and an airline shipment in the same day.

I managed to scrounge a vehicle and went to visit Wheezy, but Wheezy wasn’t around. I managed to find someone who knew and gave me the PA.

“Hey, uh, Wheezy said there were mic stands.”

“I don not think so. I have never seen them.”

“Could we check again? We scoured the storage space to no avail.

“It’s alright. I’ll see what I can do.”

My driver said he knew a place. We bounced along the road to three different places only to be told, “Mafi.”

The third place was on the side of the main road towards Juba University. It had large speakers outside blasted music at obnoxious, distorted levels. The colorful dign thathung over the door purported to desigante a recording and photographic studio, as well as a general electronics.

Inside, the thin walls did little to block out the arabic blaring from the speakers outside and the dirt floor supported shelves holding DVDs and Panasonic stereos and chinese knock off iPods and a TV blaring AfricaMagic, the Satellite TV channel that plays Nigerian soapoperas. Four or five men in various states of repose seemed more concerned with the television show than the kawajja willing to give them money in exchange for goods and services.

“Mafi mic stand,” said the presumed proprietor. I rolled my eyes dejectedly, but caught a glimpse of the clip for a mic on a pole leaning in the back of the store. “Like that! There!”

“Rabble rabble rabble,” said the men.

“you want to buy or hire?”

“Hire?”

“Is not for hire.”

“How much to buy?”

“Is not for sale. Mushkula.”

“Mushkula? Is it broken?”

“Yes.”

“Let me see.”

“No.”

“I have technicians a welding machine. I’ll fix it for free.”

“Rabble rabble rabble”

“So let me take a look.” I began to move towards it and the men watching TV stood up and stared at me.

I look at my driver for some support, and he shrugged to indicate he was as confused as I was.

I was so frustrated I was ready to go ballistic. I was breathing deeply to calm myself. I turned back the men and stared the biggest one right in his pupils. I waited for him to blink. When he did I, I stepped in and struck him in the temple with my elbow, the punched the guy standing to his right with the same arm. The proprietor picked up a chair slammed it against my spine. I hit the ground, and rolled over only to see the mic stand swung at head. Cat like reflexes meant it hit my wrist and not my face. Grabbing it, I jabbed the assailant in the chest, spun it over my head and knocked down the proprietor. The last man standing made a dash for the door. I tripped him with the stand and he hit hard, knocking himself out.

Mic stand in hand, I walked out of the store.

Then it exploded.

Problem was, the mic stand actually was broken, so it was all for naught.

A few more places at malakal market, and we came up empty handed. we bounced back to the Bedouin Bar somber and silent and I unloaded the PA. I told Griffin I needed a mic stand. He wished me luck.

My tech guy said the UN had some. So went to the UN.

I waited around for Buckshot to finish some bullshit and we went to talk to the UN.

Nothing.

I was fuming.

“What good is this UN thing anyway,” muttered the InMo.

Around 6 o’clock, I went back to to see if Wheezy was around.

He was not.

But the Dude from before was there. So we did some more digging.

Sucess! it was a in unmarked box.

I showered and got ready pumped for the performance rock star style. I hung out with my groupies. I smoke two joints.

Then I smoked to more.

I gelled my hair and drank a couple Red Bulls to offset the heroin.

It was show time.

I pulled on my tights and set out to the Bedouin Bar.

When i got there it was a mature crowd. I knew immediately that I should have gone with leopard-print lycra rather than Zebra.

The party was pretty tame, and I waited quite a while to get on stage.

I got the nod from Griffin and walked over and did a quick sound check.

“uh, Hello?”

Heads look up form their drinks and conversations.

“Hi. I’m _________. [G major] But the ladies call me Oh Godyes.”

A quick adjust on the gain and I was off and running.

Mild applause followed each song, and I realized how sober and boring the audience was. I changed to some oldies, like ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,’ and a rockin version of ‘Nobody Does it Better.’

Still not much better.

Meh.

I cut my set short a few songs after a bunch of my friends arrived fashionably too late with a rousing rendition of ‘Hey Ya.”

Everyone said it was great except for Ego who told me I was a great guitar player, but I shouldn’t sing. I laughed and offered him a guest spot on the next set. He bitterly denied the opportunity.

We watched England narrowly defeat Tonga, and it was time for set two.

The had people had left. IanJames, Sauce, The BDB, Raleigh, Tex, Pahoyhoy, KCQ, PopNLock, Griffin, and about 15 other people remained.

I don’t remember what I started out with it, but even the people I didn’t know I had a good time.

I even caught Ego bobbing his head a couple times.

I began engaging the audience.

“Give me a band!”

“Gordon Lightfoot!”

“Dude! ‘The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald is like seven minutes long!”

“U2”

“Right. Play one chord without an echo pedal. That’ll sound real good”

I’d bust the balls of the requester until someone called out something I could play.

It worked well.

By the time 1:30 AM I couldn’t put the guitar down. Seriously, I did like 4 encores, and a pile of untouched open beers brought to me by various members of the audience

I walked home with IanJames after another beer triumphant as The Greatest Musician in All of Eastern Sub-Saharan Africa*.
The Greatest