It is a proven fact that everyone in the world loves bob Marley.
It can also be proven that a steady diet of bob Marley is indeed good for the health and can overall improve the respect one has for fellow man and our connection to the planet and the spirits.
Lastly it can be proven now that a white kid from northern Missouri with a year of bluegrass mandolin experience can meet up with a group of West African Rastafarians one day and then record reggae music with them in a studio the next. Not to mention make some of it sound pretty damn good.
Prior to coming here I started playing mandolin; not knowing that I had any particular talent for making music my enthusiasm usually was enough to carry me through all the hump days. Though I have had only maybe 2 real lessons a lot of hours have been dedicated to learning how to speak through my fingers and so far playing music has taken on some pretty amazing adventures.
It has taken me 9 months to get the opportunity just to play with Nigeriens, and then when it happened ka-blam! I hit the mother load. National TV, Famous musicians, Reggae, traditional music, and all kinds of other things came together as well on this trip to Niamey.
When I decided to join the Peace Corps I never thought for a minute that learning how to play the mandolin would be one of the hallmarks of my service. It was something I took up to pass the day and learn something new. I never thought that I would be mixing it up in West Africa with local musicians some famous, some up and coming, and some just old school Rastafarian. Despite our playing style, skill level, or instrument I have learned over the course of the last week that as long as one learns how to put the pulse of their soul into a rhythm then anyone with the same passion can play with them.
You know music really is a wonderful medium we use to connect to each other. Back in the states I started playing bluegrass mandolin because a friend of mine from Beijing China decided a long time ago to move to the United States and learn how to play bluegrass. And you know what?….he pulled it off. His passion inspired me to pick up an instrument for myself, then I met another who used to play with Bill Monroe and all the other greats and he showed me some of his tricks, then here I am today in the capital of Niger listening to my Mp3 player and grooving to the rhythm of my reggae recording from yesterday’s jam session. Currently a mandolin, a fistful of harmonicas and one blazing desire to play music is all I need in the world to keep thinking, yeah man, it’s a good life.
Have I mentioned that this weekend was also the 10th anniversary marking my High School Graduation? I know we all want to attend our reunions and say hey look at me blah, blah, blah, so for the last month I have been racking my brain trying to put into a letter what I could say about the last 10 years of my life. The Army, traveling, the amazing array experiences acquired from living, working, and loving wastefully. Man its tough.
Today I would just simply write, sorry can’t attend I am kicking it like a ninja playing reggae in Africa. YE-AH BAA-WOY!!!!
Afterwards the boys and I sat on a bench listened to our recording, made videos, pictures and shared all kinds of things while focusing on creating something instead of setting our minds on tearing down.
Its just a beautiful way to live.
I would assume that when the great ones came to us with incredible messages and deliver their insights they have to think man is this always falling on deaf ears? Is anyone going to actually understand what I am saying? Are the ones who are left behind going to actually understand the message before the mass production of T-Shirts and God-o-plexes start cropping up? Days like yesterday make me think that when folks like Jesus or Bob Marley look down from the heavens and look at what some of us are doing they say. Yeah, alright! Some of them got the point.
As of this week I have been nationally broadcast on television playing music with some of Niger’s finest traditional musicians and yesterday after playing with the Rastafarians….well they just say I am now part of the gang.
And I thought impressing the ladies only with saying I worked in Africa was enough….
Man. Its hard to believe the Peace Corps only pays me $7 bones a day to do this.