WEDNESDAY morning arrived earlier than my body thought it would. To further put me on the back foot, Jon walked in to my room with coffee, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, all kitted out in his running gear. I was more than disorientated.
Ten minutes later, we were on the tarmac with our old man, shuffling around the Cape Town suburbs, getting our cardio up to speed with the effects of the week. It’s always a good idea to get outside.
Part of the focus of this tour has been to meet new people. The plan was to meet up with my brother and sister’s church Life Groups. I was able to share and facilitate a session couched around Ephesians 5, which made for some great discussion. My siblings’ groups consist mostly of UCT students and young people from Jubilee, most on the brink of entering the working world. My then folks invited their group around as well…
…and before you could blink over 30 people arrived and were crammed into my folks’ lounge.
It was a real treat meeting younger and older generations, and to see what is happening in the lives of people in the Western Cape. There are some quality young minds in that crew. I came away from the evening thinking that if that calibre of people is in our tertiary institutions at the moment, the country is on the verge of something very promising and good.
JON is catching on. It took four days, but finally en route to Cape Town, his admin skills came to the fore as he hustled and bustled the organisation for the Heritage Day Concert in Pinelands.
I spent most of the trip driving while Jon was hammering away on his phone. It was quite nice: lost in my own thoughts, admiring the beautiful countryside, listening to Frank Sinatra and pondering the mysteries of how on earth he could still sound so compelling all these decades later. But maybe that’s just me…
Lunch stop saw us absorbing the sights and smells of Oumeul in Riviersonderand. Quaint little spot. Good place to stock up on padkos, stretch the legs and then get moving again.
Cape Town has long been a home-away-from-home for me. My first adventure as a solo musician was when Jon was in first year at UCT and I gathered up every last cent from my little gigs and travelled here to explore the music possibilities and run the Two Oceans half marathon. Special times.
So on this particular day, we cruised into Cape Town 2 hours ahead of the gig, which was in aid of the National Sea & Rescue Institute (NSRI). Three years ago to the day, Jon’s good friend Mndeni disappeared off the rocks at Llandudno beach. The show was put together to celebrate his life and raise awareness of the work that the NSRI do.
It was a truly special evening, shelved away in the hall, with a wide range of people from different walks of life.
One thing brings us all together though, and that’s a shared sense that life is worth living. It really is. For example: I, among other things, live to see the day Jon finds his wife. Given his skills in making Tuesday happen, I would say he’s right near the top of SA’s eligible bachelor’s list.
IT was difficult not to drive off the road. The scenery was just so beautifully distracting. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
The morning after our soirée at the Smiths’ house, we were treated to a cooked breakfast by Bryan and Cel. While everyone was munching (the only time it was ever quiet in the house), Bryan suddenly had an epiphany: “It’s such a beautiful day! We have to take Ryan and Jon to the beach!”
Sardinia Bay. Need I say more.
A quick stop at a local music store, a mall-stop to stock up on lunch and multiple Foursquare check-ins later, and we were Plett-bound.
RCB trooper and our very good friend Mark Brown was there to meet us on arrival at Nature’s Valley, where he works as the director of the Trust.
How he gets any work done in such a paradise, I have no idea. Like I said, we nearly veered off the beaten track because the scenery was so distracting.
Such are the hazards of being a Garden Route newbie.
There was precious little time to sit and oogle, so Mark being the go-getter that he is treated us to a whirlwind tour of the reserve, the beaches and the city of Plett.
Then followed a bag drop-off and a brief hello to the Brown family as well as the Van Eeden family (who were hosting us), and we were off to the venue.
Surf Cafe is a brilliant place to perform – it plays host to all the local musicians as well as the big names in the SA music industry, and we could see why.
The small venue was perfect for us as a duo. On a Monday night, Plettenburg Bay came out in numbers and the place was packed.
Our goal with music is fairly simple: give people Hope, eradicate grumpiness and make the majority of heads bop in the process. In the midst of drinks and dinner being served, the audience were attentive to every word.
The morning began early with yet another Garden Route cooked breakfast at the Browns’ house (how awesome are all these people??). Plett has some beautiful surroundings, but people make a place. Go visit there, if ever you have a chance. There are some real gems.
BEING on the road is very cool. But only if you’re on a very cool road. If you’re on a suckfest of a road then a tour can be… Well, a suckfest. That’s why we chose the Garden Route.
You can’t really go wrong on the Garden Route. Our aim is to return in December, and so we’re going about trying to make friends in the different cities en route… Which are some of the most beautiful in the country.
First stop: Port Elizabeth, Something Good Roadhouse. The revamped venue is right on the beach and has a great surfer vibe inside. After solving the initial, minor problem of no in-house sound system… We plugged in and hit the jams. We won some people over.
That night we crashed the night with a timeless friend of mine, Dean – a preacher who teaches U2 and drinks good wine. We ate dinner and solved the world’s problems over a bottle of Bramford. We shared war stories and recounted the many good things God has taught each of us over the years.
The morning arrived far too soon, and in the busyness of everything I forgot it was my birthday. Thankfully our good friend Celeste (herself an incredible musician) came up to me and shouted “happy birthday!”… otherwise all might have been lost. We spent the morning at Connected Life church as part of the music team. Grant and Nicole Boreham lead the church plant and have started something very special along with Bryan and Celeste Smith and Jethro and Naomi Oostebrook.
We spent the afternoon with Bryan and Cel, watching a Sting concert DVD and dozing in and out of conversation and consciousness. Bliss.
Last night’s show was a special occasion in their back garden under stars, surrounded by fires and friends. It doesn’t get better than those type of occasions for making memories…
I’m not altogether sure who had the idea in the first place… I’m fairly sure it wasn’t Berto, or Rudi. That leaves one of three people, and I am two of them.
Here I am, 33000 feet above sea level, on board a plane to Cape Town. It’s 7.38pm. In the morning, Jon and I venture to PE at sparrow fart. It turns out it is R4000 cheaper for me to fly from Durban to Cape Town and drive all the way back to PE than it is for Jon to fly to Durban, and us hire a car and travel from PE. Who would have thought? Only my old man would consider such ludicrous possibilities! (Side note: thanks dad!)
So why do this? Why a tour?
It’s fairly simple. We need to meet the people of the Eastern and Western Cape before we introduce them to Berto and Rudi. It would be unfair to just assault those audiences with Benoni and the Bruin Ou. Maritzburg is tough enough to be immune to such characters as our bassist and drummer. We must make sure the same holds true for other provinces.
Our quest sees us visiting restaurants, radio stations, churches, clubs and houses. And a fair amount of beach.