Doc MacLean. Picture: Supplied
Doc MacLean. Picture: Supplied

Blues icon Doc MacLean talks all things N’ganga SA tour

By Kedibone Modise Time of article published Feb 18, 2020

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Following a successful one month tour in Cape Town, Canadian Blues legend and guitarist Doc MacLean is headed to Joburg and Pretoria. MacLean’s fourth South African tour, N’ganga, saw him perform to thousands of fans in South Africa. 

Besides “telling songs and singing stories”, Maclean will also be mentoring up-and-coming musicians and will present guitar workshops, something he’s passionate about.

In conversation with MacLean, the Blues star, talks about reasons that keep him coming back to South Africa, which include his love for the country, its people, the music, the food and the talent inspires him as a musician.

“The bar is set high for the arts here. South African writers have got to provide content in their work. Everybody’s got a story and they wear it on their sleeve,” says MacLean.

 He adds: “I’m a storyteller. I do everything from theatre shows to the little workshops in the townships, to mentoring South African musicians on how to do business. I guess part of why I keep coming here is that I’ve really experienced the big hug, South Africa.”

Delving into this year’s theme N’ganga, which is a Kikongo language term for herbalist or spiritual healer in many African societies, MacLean says: “N’ganga is a little different to a sangoma. 

"They pass the bones and make predictions, and they tap into the stories of people's families and communities. I view the Blues music doing the same kind of work. Blues is all about storytelling. Blues touches on universal themes of human life. 

"Blues is healing music so N’ganga seemed very appropriate for this tour. I've been dealing with these concepts of blues, it’s not something you can define by chord change and structure. Blues is really a spiritual state of mind to the music.” 

MacLean occasionally features local artists including Tim Parr, Albert Frost, Marcia Moon and Bill Knight. McLean also worked with closely with Steve Fataar,  the legendary guitarist who recently passed away. Fataar was a member of the popular 1960s group "The Flames".

Spending time between Canada and South Africa, MacLean says he’s spotted similarities between the two countries, he shared: “I'm quite amazed at the similarities are between South Africans and Canadians in just small ways, the way they speak. There's a lot of things in common between those two countries, not to mention the Constitution is almost identical.”

MacLean also shared some of his favourite South African food and wine of course.

“Red wine is about the best in the world, that keeps me coming back all the time. I've taken a liking to ostrich meat, which is delicious. I've noticed that I get those little fried tomatoes every morning for breakfast here, which is awesome.”

He also reveals he likes pap, with a twist. 

In between chuckles, he says:  “I know how to cook it myself now. I make it a little differently though. I like to add some sweet things to my pap.

I sometimes put a spoonful of raspberry jam or strawberry jam or a couple of bananas. That's pretty good.”

MacLean also hinted on getting a property in South Africa.

Catch MacLean at the following venues:

  • Wednesday, Feb 19 The Vintage Café, Linden
  • Thursday, Feb 20 Lagom Cafe, Pretoria
  • Friday, Feb 21 The 15 Bar Lounge, Hoedspruit
  • Saturday, Feb 22 Three Bridges, Hoedspruit
  • Sunday, Feb 23 Bohemian Groove, Kaapsehoop
  • Wednesday, Feb 26 Edges Corner, Fairie Glen, Pretoria
  • Thursday, Feb 27 Reception, CDN High Com, Pretoria
  • Friday, Feb 28 Jarr Bar, Pretoria
  • Sunday, Mar 1 Otter Lake German, Pretoria
  • Wednesday, Mar 4 Cafe Barcelona, Pretoria
  • Thursday, Mar 5 Franks Wild Years, Johannesburg with Tim Parr

Click here to view the rest of the N'ganga SA tour.

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