October 14, 2021
Hermann's Jazz Club
753 View Street, Victoria, BC
753 View Street, Victoria, BC
Letting go. How fast the year. Dreamlines smeared on the map. Songlines in the margins. Dealers. And healers. Bruises. This thing we call Blues. I’ve rolled the bones again. One hundred mostly solo shows: they rip out over the Great Lakes, across Canada, and then return to shadow South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe. No place too large, too small, too grand or too humble. When you roll the bones you can lose your heart, or find it somewhere.
Dust in my blood, I’m pushing back out into the desert. The Great Karoo is calling: and the Kalahari: and then the rest of it. It’s healing music, these Blues. But the Blues is also this journey: close to the wire. The hot wire. A journey through life. This place where all things are possible. Or should be. Where stories hang like dust in the air: drawn to the heart by the rattle of the Bones: places where witches still sit by candlelight and chant: “streamline, streamline.”
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 early mentors were the grandchildren of slaves. And now: this continuing journey between the dreamscapes and the songlines: between the blurs of the Highway and the sounds of the wheels: Streamline.
Doc MacLean’s fifth African tour finds him returning to many of the places visited on previous adventures. Travelling over 20 thousand km by land, the “World’s Biggest Little Blues Tour” will include some 60 shows across South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. A warm-up run of forty shows will first weave across western Canada.
The Tour will continue to feature occasional, pop-up collaborations with well known South African blues, roots and traditional artists. Again, it offers free shows in Township areas and workshops for aspiring artists. Much of Doc’s new CD, “Streamline,” was recorded in his “home away from home,” Cape Town, where he has recently signed with Robin Auld’s Shoreline Songs. Witness a unique and mature artist at the height of his powers.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Forty-five years ago Doc MacLean 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.
Doc MacLean has performed and recorded with a who’s who of first and second generation blues, roots and gospel artists such as Sam Chatmon, Peg Leg Sam, and Blind John Davis. Among many others, he supported Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, Muddy Waters, Johnny Winter, and BB King. With Grammy winning producer Colin Linden and members of the Canned Heat and Mavis Staples bands he went on to record the groundbreaking, “Narrow House” album. Now best known as a songwriter and storyteller, MacLean has more recently recorded in Africa with contemporary and traditional players such as Albert Frost and Lungiswa Plaatjies. This real deal, old school troubadour still self drives to hundreds of shows every year— sometimes busking the places in between. But North America is now seen more often in the rear view mirror…
Over the last few years MacLean has driven over 100 thousand km across South Africa, taking it for his own. Named as one of the top sets at the massive, 2017 OppiKoppi festival, he’s now played most of the largest festivals, smallest juke joints, coolest theatres, and best regarded presentation stages in the country. The thing that has been carried is again returned. “No venue too large, too small, too grand or too humble.” Even places lost in the folds of the map.
Writing from the dark side of the road, Doc MacLean remains a songster from the delta tradition. A traveler. 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, while moving forward in a roots based, yet contemporary context.
To MacLean, the Blues is not a genre: it is a condition of the human spirit, a healing music, a journey of the soul, a container of past, present, and future. N’ganga. Streamline surfs the space between the dreamlines and the songlines: not practised, not learned: but channeled and told in the moment.