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Camping getaway

April 2019.

So I’ve been at Midmar for two days.

I managed to salvage the leaking tent.
The blow up mattress is flat.
The only food left is a tin of baked beans and some left over coffee.
Everything smells like a firepit.
And I feel reborn.

It’s pretty primal out here… and there’s very little to distract me. So what if I haven’t showered in 2 days? The dam water is beautifully cool. So what if I haven’t eaten anything green in 2 days? Chakalaka has vegetables.

All the things that preoccupy so much of our modern thought life have been stripped away, and what you’re left with is your thoughts and beautiful surroundings, and a still small voice.

It’s been good. So good that I think I’m done being by myself… but I’m not quite ready to go home as yet. So I’m going to fetch the kids.

I message Tam to tell her my thoughts. 13 years of marriage has taught me that I need to communicate clearly, so I explained the whole thing.

Me: Was wondering about the kids coming for a night or two.

Tam: Oh my word they would love that

Me: You’re welcome too, but it’s seriously rustic

Tam: No ways buddy

Here’s the rest of the story, in vlog form, on Patreon.

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20 years ago, I did this.

I’m at Midmar Dam. It looks quirky, doesn’t it? But this is actually serious business. I’m here some 20 years later, to do what I started out when I was 18. It was quirky back then as well… but equally serious. It only struck me once here just how profound the journey has been, and despite my wayward tendencies, the Lord always has His way.

Back then we had a band called Pulse. Flippin epic days, they were. It started as a youth group, and the band formed from that as an excuse to build and grow together. Music was the excuse to connect with people back then, just as it is now.

Before this trip I would say that the Great Deep has been a decade or so in the making… but as I think back, sitting here at Midmar dam in April 2019, it’s been a lot longer than that. Some of these songs have evolved and grown over many moons. But my prayer is that as I’ve looked back and as I find myself thinking about these things, these songs will help people’s thought life, their every day activity and their future. Besides my wrinkles and less hair, little else has changed.

Back then, Pulse started playing and writing gospel praise & worship songs for the context of church buildings and gatherings, and the deeper we delved into what we were actually doing, I realised that the heart behind what we were doing was for those who weren’t part of it all.

So the band then started writing lyrics that crossed over to play outside of church walls.

That whole process started something in me, which debuted as Ryan Calder, then became the Ryan Calder Band, and these days oscillates between the RCB and me as a solo artist.

I vlogged it… so if you’re interested, this is a 12-minute, deeper inside track of the getaway experience and my reflections of then and now:

As always, I love hearing your thoughts and comments below.


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Moved house, but a lifetime of staying the course

So we’ve moved house to Hilton. A number of things brought us to this point, which are too long and lengthy to do justice to… but the reason I’m writing about it is that when I was 6 years old, my dream and ambition was to move from the Burrah up the hill and have a studio. Back then the goal was to be Walt Disney in South Africa, but based here in the midlands. And so 32 years later, it’s fast becoming a reality.

I was talking to Fran, who runs Swissland Cheese. We were talking about the improvements she had done around the farm, building a new milking shed for the goats, extending the shop, and how to go about the process of making once-a-month live music picnic afternoons successful. We spoke about many little tweaks and changes that they’ve made over the years, such as people don’t pay to enter, they can bring drinks and wine, but they aren’t allowed to bring their own food – they have to support the shop and purchase food there. The result (and their profit margin for the day) was remarkably higher, and people supported the idea wholeheartedly. We spoke about these types of things, and then she said something profound:

“We’ve had the advantage of sticking it out and doing it a long time. That’s what is making it successful now. Many people don’t stay in their business when it gets hard, they move on. But we’ve seen and are now seeing the benefits of doing something for a long time.”

I like this idea, particularly 32 years on. I am seeing the benefit of staying the course and having to adapt and tweak and change. There’s something to be said for a long obedience in a straight direction, as Eugene Peterson calls it.

So here in Hilton, I will finally be able to release the songs of the Great Deep, which have been brewing for over a decade. And as I do so, they will be coupled with my animation and cartoon ideas. And it is with a grateful heart that I work unto the Lord. After all, it is He who has faithfully led me here.

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Teaching kids (and ourselves) about money

This week I took my oldest daughter out for a daddy-daughter date. She’s 10, and will be 11 by the end of the year. She’s a wise old owl for her age, beautiful inside and out… biased as I am.

One of the things I am trying to teach my children is about money. I remember talking to a friend of mine some time ago, who had accumulated a lot of wealth. Both his sons went to good schools and have “successful” careers and livelihoods. I asked him and his wife what they taught their children about money. The wife was quick to respond: “Daddy will provide.”

While there is Biblical basis for this truth, I persisted and asked again, hoping to glean some strategic insight and wisdom for parenting and passing on knowledge. How do I teach my kids about money? His answer was properly wise: give them some.

That week, I went and organised bank accounts for all our kids. Each of them have their own personal bank account.

So in addition to her pocket money, I gave my daughter a budget, in cash, for our date. The parameters were simple: that’s it. I’ll pay for lunch, and she could spend or save that additional money.

The crux came when we arrived in a toy shop where what she wanted was 50% more than what she had in her budget. She wanted more money.

And I didn’t budge. I didn’t interfere, or get emotional. I just quietly reminded her before we started the whole thing that her budget was specified up front, and that’s what she had to work with.

Truth be told, it was heartwrenching to watch. She was dispondant for a whole 40 minutes of our time together, because she wanted it. She doesn’t need it, she just wants it. Like so many of us with so many things in life.

As she sulked from further shop to shop, I went through the various arguments in my own head:

Surely a good God gives good gifts to his children? Why not just give her the extra money?

What will she remember about this date? That dad was a Scrooge?

Why don’t you loan her the money and she pays it off in other ways?

Sadly, I think the our world thinks this way. We are, simply, not disciplined enough. From credit cards to loan accounts, we want what we want… and we want it now. We justify any which way we know, just so we can get it. I look at the world and I see many who are very seldom content and gratified with what they have and where they are. There’s always a search for the next thing.

This was a lesson in money and spending, but it was much more than that. I had the realisation today that God – as a loving Father – gives us the planet, and what a planet it is. How grateful am I today.

My daughter blew her budget on some other second-prize toy she found in another toy shop, and after that, was much happier. These are steps I see my kids taking. She took a long time to decide on that second option, as if she was debating whether it would make her happy. But regardless of today’s outcome, I can see she’s learning about money.

Donate towards the Great Deep.
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Live Music for an Event?

I am a musician who performs acoustic covers, generally from the 50s, 60s and 70s era (Bob Dylan, John Denver, Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor, Neil Diamond, Van Morrison, Elvis, etc) but also including modern-day singer-songwriters such as Ed Sheeren, John Mayer, etc. I perform at a variety of wedding ceremonies, cocktail hours, parties, and other events throughout the greater KwaZulu-Natal area and beyond.

I provide a happy, relaxed atmosphere through pure acoustic and vocal sound with a vintage feel. (I do also provide the PA system and DJ for the latter part of proceedings.) I enjoy working with couples and clients to craft that ideal playlist for the event – plus I can offer suggestions and guide you through the planning process. My primary focus is on contemporary acoustic and folk music, but I’m also branching out into songs with the ukulele. I cover an ever-growing list of pop, classic rock, indie, country songs from the 1940s through the 2000s all on steel-string acoustic guitar.

The Basics
I am based in Pietermaritzburg, KZN but am willing to travel all over South Africa. I regularly perform in Hilton, Howick and the wider Midlands Meander.

  • I play for all sorts of events and in almost any setting – weddings, private parties and house concerts, restaurants, corporate events, company parties and celebrations.
  • I primarily perform solo, singing and accompanying myself on guitar or Ukulele, but I also have options as an acoustic duo or band, depending on the event and the atmosphere.
  • I provide my own sound equipment (mics, speakers, etc.) and can handle events with up to 200 guests.
  • I provide contracts and invoices.
  • I’ve been performing in KZN, the Western Cape and other parts of South Africa for over 20 years and have performed too many events to count!

Dreams that you dreamed of once in a lullaby.If you like what you hear, please get in touch! Call me:

or SEND AN INQUIRY. Let’s chat about your date!