By Doc MacLean
On the Cross Bones Blues Tour
Cross Bones. Blues. Life. When you roll the bones you could come up snake eyes. Or you could score big. That’s what the Old Man used to say.
And now: Africa. This map has places on it with names you can’t pronounce on Sunday. Africa. Solo, I’m pushing back out into the desert. The Great Karoo is calling.
I’ve got maybe 20 000m of road in front of me here, and I’ve rolled the bones all over this map. About 50 shows. No place too large, too small, too grand or too humble. I’ll bring the Blues to your town.
Diesel fuel and cheap red wine surf the summer heat. Life leaks out around the edges. Death wanders aimlessly. At night, it’s cool neon, electric wire. To Have and Have Not. To breathe in and out.
It’s healing music, the blues. But the blues is also this journey: close to the wire. A journey through life. A place where all things are possible, or should be; where stories hang like dust in the air. Cross Bones.
All about the Cross Bones Tour
Doc MacLean’s second African tour, Cross Bones Blues, finds him returning to many of the places he visited on his previous, Zulu Skies adventure. As if that Tour wasn’t big enough, Cross Bones includes nearly 50 shows. From the gala Tour launch at the Canadian High Commission to the massive OppiKoppi Festival, to theatres, cafes, and wild little juke joints… This tour touches most parts of South Africa.
Telling songs and singing stories. This blues came from the Mississippi delta. But before that, it came from Africa. Passed down from mouth to mouth. More than music. A placement of the human spirit. Doc’s mentors were the grandchildren of slaves and he keeps their gifts close to the heart, and close to the Bone.
Reflecting Doc’s ability to touch South Africans: after only one tour, his fan bases in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban now lead all other cities. Cross Bones celebrates this relationship. It’s not the money, it’s the mojo.
A number of Cross Bones shows will feature collaborations with South African blues and roots artists. MacLean, who was “thrilled” by the musicians he met last year, is working to create opportunities for these artists to tour North America. South Africa and Canada have much in common, and he believes that a broader exchange of artists would serve both well.
In addition to fostering cultural, diplomatic and economic contacts, Doc continues to mentor a number of younger artists, and will present guitar workshops as his tour schedule permits.
About the Artiste
Forty-five years ago Doc was playing Charlie Patton songs in Son House’s living room. From back porch to big porch. The storyteller. An emotional remapping of contemporary Delta Blues.
At one time Blues Revue Magazine called him the “Prince of Darkness.” There’s redemption here beyond the simple, acoustic medium– and an appeal that reaches well beyond the Crossroads.
It’s a career built on hard travel and performance. Early roots in Mississippi. Chicago. Atlanta. Canada. Months and years spent living in cars, sleeping on floors, cheap hotels. Repeat appearances at some of America’s best folk and blues venues. A lifetime spent on the Blues Highway with some of its most significant artists.
Long ago MacLean established this annual, 100 plus show, National Steel Blues Tour to play all parts of North America. In the process, the Tour itself became legendary.
Ice roads to the arctic. Crazy, burning highways through the desert wilds. Hard travel, wrecks, and tough North American weather. And now the Tour is reaching Africa.
“No venue too large, too small, too grand or too humble,” says Doc. Even places lost in the folds of the map.
He’s a blues vagabond, writing from the dark side of the highway. A songster from the delta tradition, Doc explored and resided in the rural south at a time when it was much less visited than it is today, and had mentors like Son House, Peg Leg Sam, and Sam Chatmon.
MacLean sings his own stories and tells his own songs in his own voice. His finger style slide guitar pays sonic homage to Patton, House, and Big Joe Williams.
- Catch Doc Mclean on the Cross Bones Tour on Saturday, November 25 at Die Ramstal Bar, Nieu-Bethesda.
Tel: 049 841 1642 or 071 742 7113