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

Roots Rhythm with The Dons Cartel

Reggae has been something I’ve enjoyed innocently: Bob Marley weaves himself in and out of my playlists from time to time, like he does with so many others. Recently, though, I was riding in a car with Bob’s greatest hits on the tape deck, and I was struck goosebumpingly dumb while singing along to his music; it moved me in a whole new way. This new reaction to reggae is hardly a mystery, though. I had gained a whole new appreciation for reggae simply because I was now a reggae musician. Continue reading

Kampala on Less than Two Dollars per Day

The view from my place in Bunga

Since I began working in Kampala, I have had to consider my personal budget and make a few changes. Before I was hired at the bar, my boss informed me that he’d be paying me a “Ugandan salary,” normal for a workaday Ugandan, but a significantly lower rate than I’d grown used to. The work I am doing is in no way intellectual or particularly tasking, so my salary is 200,000 Uganda shillings (about $80) per month. Included in this would be a place to stay, a free beer and free meals each day from the restaurant. I took the job, figuring I could survive handsomely with the situation, and maybe even save a small sum. 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