American blues musician, Doc MacLean was our guest on the on the Drive Zone. His fourth African tour, N’ganga Blues, kicks off on the 10th January 2020 in Pringle Bay and finds him returning to many of the places visited on his previous adventures. The “World’s Biggest Little Blues Tour” will touch most parts of South Africa, covering some 20 thousand km by land, and will include some 60 shows.
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. N’ganga Blues celebrates this relationship and explores this continuing journey.
MacLean now mentors several South African blues, roots and traditional artists, actively seeking opportunities for them to tour North America and elsewhere. N’ganga Blues will feature occasional, pop-up collaborations with these artists. Around the edges of this tour MacLean will co-write with Tim Parr and Albert Frost and will record new album tracks with Frost in the producer’s chair. N’ganga Blues: witness a unique and mature artist at the height of his powers.
“N’ganga. The healer. This thing we call Blues. I’ve rolled the bones all over the map. Sixty throws. Sixty shows: they shadow South Africa. No place too large, too small, too grand or too humble. 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.” – Doc Maclean
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 American 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. Gifted by the grandchildren of slaves, MacLean now sings his own stories and tells his own songs in his own voice. His mostly resophonic, finger style slide guitar pays sonic homage to Patton, House, and Big Joe Williams, in a roots based, yet contemporary context.
In South Africa, Doc MacLean has been voted a “Top Ten” act at Oppikoppi, has been featured at Up the Creek, Knysna Blues Festival, Durban Mojo Rising Blues Cruise, JHB Blues and Country Festival, and at many of South Africa’s finest theatres.