Charlotte. Of Which I Knew Nothing.

ImageIt was hot in Charlotte, North Carolina, when I showed up for the last week of June. My ICan Shine partners Andrea and Leigh were sitting on the floor by a baggage carousel waiting patiently before we rejoiced and headed out into the thick air. We were shuttled to our truck and trailer in an airport parking lot, and I struggled with the new vehicle’s keys and doors, sweating all the while. On our way to the hotel, it occurred to me that I knew nothing whatsoever about the place I was now driving through. Continue reading

For the Love of Music

Tilapia boys and some of their immovable objects

Working with the Frank Znort Quartet as a much more rewarding experience than I could have imagined previously. I was commissioned by David, the owner of Tilapia Culture, to organize a tour for a large group of Norwegians I’d never heard of before who would be coming to Kampala only weeks later. I had never done any kind of music management, and would be paid almost nothing, but it was just the sort of crazy task that an otherwise aimless vagabond like myself likes to get involved in. Plus, I have a don’t ask don’t tell relationship with music which is as healthy as anyone’s. Why the hell not? Continue reading

Frank Znort Quartet hits Kampala

“Somebody has to tell me if it’s 110 volts!”

“Do we have any more light filters? Like green, maybe?”

“How many beers do we get?”

I was struggling to unload and set up some of the equipment, and being the liaison between the band and the venue, I was also the one with all the answers, presumably. Continue reading

East Africa’s Perception of Quality

Preparing the equipment for the tour I’m helping to manage was something I decided to take particular responsibility over. The other tasks, like finding corporate sponsorship or wooing venues into hosting the band involve too much persuasion and infuriating negotiation for my liking. Finding sound equipment, on the other hand… how hard can it be? Continue reading

Tilapia Culture and my Service Industry Baptism

The Tilapia

“I really don’t like that one,” She said, looking sour and pointing at me. She was an old Dutch hack talking quietly to a friend I’d just made named Rodriguez, a Burundian fellow I’d been practicing my French with for the past two hours. At least Rodriquez didn’t feel the same way she did. How could he? He’d just bought me a beer. It was my first night, a Thursday, at my new job, and I was learning the basics of bartending from my colleagues, a Welshman and a pair of Rastafarians. The lack of live music or other attractants kept the crowd small, so it became a good training night. Continue reading

Sharing Knowledge at St. John’s Secondary School

One of these things is not like the other. Left to right: Missi the Headmaster, the bewildered author, some fancypants Ministry of Education guy, and Wilber the Director attending the changing-of-the-Prefects ceremony.

One of the more valuable connections I’ve made since I’ve been in Uganda has been that of my good friend Wilber. I trundled into his office at a small secondary school in Kazo one day on a visit with my hosts. Wilber sat behind his desk, smiling and confident, and introduced himself as the director of this establishment, St. John’s Secondary School.
“You are welcome, please come by anytime.” Continue reading

Back in Kampala

Arriving in Kampala, I met my new host in a popular fried chicken joint in town. Lucky Peter took me from town to the Kazo ward, a poverty stricken pseudo-district north of the city. Bobbing and dodging clotheslines strung up across a labyrinth of narrow alleys, and stepping mistakenly into the thick layers of vile mud which line the bigger streets, we eventually made it to the home of Father Godfrey, where I have been staying for nearly two weeks. The ward somehow feels like home already; by now I am navigating the dusty lanes with impunity, and the novelty of having a white guy in the neighborhood is starting to wear off. Continue reading