Richard Doron Johnson

November 30, 2006

Jo Burg

Filed under: Uncategorized — rjjazz @ 10:25 pm

This trip has been great thus far. Being in Africa is nothing like I had seen in the movies or read about in school. There are so many misconceptions about this place it is not even funny. The place we are staying is very warm and cozy and I have my own suite and all in a seperate building (Where is Miss Wilson when you need her!)
Where I live this week!

Since we have been here we have done two workshops and a concert and everyone has been extremely successful. The first workshop was wonderful because the dialogue was great with the local band. The instrumentation was a bit strange for my taste but I learned a lot about African music and culture. The students were open to our suggestions and we made lots of friends. This cultural exchange has been a growing experience for the whole AFAR crew.

Here is another view:
New Home!
Every day I have still able to maintain my running schedule too. I learn so much about a city when I run during the morning hours. Johannesburg reminds me a lot of when I walked through the valley in California. It is very hilly and some sections are developed and some are not. My walk this summer with Steps Across America really prepared me for the long days that we are having here. Not every day is long though which is great because we get a chance to go out and sight see. This is a very important aspect of touring because with out it you will never see the locations your in due to the work schedule. Being on the road is rough some days though because even when your not working your working. What I mean by this is that your either going somewhere, riding in the van, bus, flying, eating or trying to find a phone to call home.

Right now we are sitting in the studio getting ready to do a live interview on radio station FM99.2. This is funny because yesterday we walked by this station because it is in a local mall and heard them playing some great Hip Hop and we were saying to our selves I wonder how we can get on this station. Then this morning we woke up to find out that we are going to be on that same station. It is a great feeling to know people want to know who you are and listen to your music.
After this station we drove about 35 minutes to another radio station and did a second interview and that went even better than the previous one so we stayed around and talked to the local people about how there history and neighborhood has been developing. Here is some art work from the neighborhood!
During this conversation we found out that the house they removed Mandela from three decades ago was one block over. This trip just gets better everyday. What’s up Brother X!


November 28, 2006

The Mother Land!

Filed under: Life on the Road — rjjazz @ 7:21 pm

Today is the day we finally board the plane for Africa. This tour has been a nine month process from start to finish. From getting all the band members applications, personal information, doctors shoots, travel plans, routing numbers, etc, I know they thought it would never come, but here we are on the plane flying to Africa. After having talked to the other three members through out the first leg (from Atlanta to Amsterdamn) I found out this past week for them has been a complete sleeping nightmare. You ask why, like I did? It is due to all the excitement that has built up with this international tour happening with friends all going to a new place for the first time ever. I can understand how being in any creation from the ground up gives the initial members a since of gratitude knowing that all the hard work over the past 3 years has paid off if everyone has stuck together through the thick and thin.
It all started in June of 2002 when I went out looking for the best musicians that I could work with in Atlanta,GA. Once I found these guys after a 3 month search of going out 4 nights a week and listening to who was on the scene performing I finally made some calls and invited those who I thought would be a good fit for the band I had in mind to come to my house and meet and discuss what my vision was for the future of “AFAR.” I can only imagine that when they showed up to my house and I had a detailed outline put together that was about 12 pages thick that they looked at me like I was some type of stockbrocker trying to predict the future. After meeting for about 4 hours and talking over everyones personal goals as well as band goals I thought this collaboration could work if we stuck together. My main thing to express to them was it is not going to happen over night and it may take some serious time, but the end result will be worth it.
Over the past three years we have done numerous shows at all kinds of venues which include no paying concerts to well educational benefits. Some of the highlights were in 2004 being the first live band chosen for the NBA to play during in game play for the Atlanta Hawks, Performing for the Atlanta Braves right before one of their baseball games, and “The Rhythm and Rims” performance in Centinial Park Atlanta, GA. All of these performances and rehearsals of our music and classics have led us to this journey. Now it wasn’t all glorious either. Their were numerous points were nothing was happening for the band. I do think all of this does go into play when looking at the history of making band. To think doing a domestic tour is one great achievement but going straight to Africa is unheard of for a band that is not domestically well known.
This is my first time too to South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Tanzania so this journey is uncharted territory for myself as well. I always try and make sure to document every tour I do because you never know if you will make it back to some of these countries during your life time. Therefore, I try to convey little pieces of knowledge on to the band members that I have learned from some of the masters because most people will only read about Africa in a history book or on the internet. You must document everything because in a flash the current tour will all be completed!
As I type this blog and look out the window and see how huge this continent is it really makes you say, HUMMMM? There is so many places to go in this world that has such a rich heritage. To not expand your horizons by going to experience as much as you can is a major bridge never crossed in ones life when making certain realizations about yourself as well as others. I really believe this will be a great experience for every member of “AFAR” and we will create life lasting memories on this 4 week journey.

For the next four weeks when ever some e-mails me, calls, or wonders where I am at, I will be very clear to let them know I am in Africa!”

November 18, 2006

Here I am!

Filed under: Uncategorized — rjjazz @ 9:37 pm

You have probably been asking yourself what happened to this guy the past 10 days.  Well……, first off I made it to New York on the 9th of  November for my New York meetings to Africa and my performance on the 11th with T.S. Monk in New Jersey.  Let me be the first to tell you things have been crazy with all the traveling so I decided to take a short break and get myself together before going to Africa on the 26th (so I would not get there and realize I need toothpaste).  So I have been up here in Algonquin,IL visiting my parents for about 6 days.  Since I have been here I have been running around 60% of the time getting gear, shots, clothes, etc for this one month tour coming up.  Many people have been asking me am I excited about going to Africa?  My response is ” I will be when I touch down on African soil. ”  I don’t get to excited on numerous tours anymore until I get there because so many things can change last minute.  For instance:  1.Tours getting cancalled

2. Tickets lost

3.Passport visas denied

4. Flights changed with out notice

5. Equiptment getting sent to the worng country

  All of these things have occured to me in my  12 years of touring.  So I save the joy until I get to where I am going. 

Having said all that this will be my second time to the continent of Africa and my first time to the South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zimbabwae.  I am looking forward to seeing how “AFAR” does under these rough conditions in this part of the world.  You see, the true test of a band is during and after a tour like this if everyone comes back still excited to work with each other and in one piece after being gone more than 3 weeks.  I think things will turn out just fine as long as everyone realizes we are there to represent the United States and our countries diplomacy at its best.  Go Team!

November 8, 2006


Filed under: Uncategorized — rjjazz @ 3:22 pm

This will be short and sweet trust me since I am on the road! I departed Portland,OR at 7am Pacific time and now I am in Ogallala,NE. Just about half way across this huge country! Every 13 hours I loose an hour so time is of the essence. If I don’t answer my phone it is because there is no service in these parts!

Rain Rain go away!

Filed under: Uncategorized — rjjazz @ 3:17 pm

Tuesday November 7th 2006: Here in Portland it has rained for a few days in a row. Most of the time was spent running errands and eating junk food. That is cool though things have been crazy the past 6 weeks. Tomorrow I will attempt my own personal driving marathon. You may wonder now what is this guy talking about? I will begin to to drive from Portland, OR to New York in an amazing feet of 40 hours. If you get bored and are reading this blog give me a call. I am not going anywhere fast.

November 6, 2006

What is here in Portland,OR?

Filed under: Uncategorized — rjjazz @ 2:40 pm

Finally the New York marathon has arrived and no I am not running it this year. I had more people call and e-mail me to ask if I was. After realizing why all my friends were calling at the same time, I replied promptly no I just ran the Detroit marathon last week and that would be over kill this soon. Due to the time difference being on the west coast, I was able to wake up at my normal time and pretty much follow all of my friends running through the five boroughs in perfect running weather as soon as I awoke. Everyone did an awesome job running personal best and I am always amazed at the personal training and dedication one puts themselves through to meet their goals.
After watching the New York marathon on Television the first stop for the day was the Market place again since the weather had cleared up nicely. Here are a few more photos from the experience.
Looks good and oh so colorful?
Thelonious Monk Fish! Did you know they already have Monk beer!
Do you like it hot?

Next on the list was “The Glass Museum.” This museum is located in Tacoma, WA which is about 30 minutes south of Seattle.

The museum was small but to the point. It took a total of about 45 minutes to walk through and see everything. The cool thing though about it all was that you could sit and watch three workers create a glass vase from scratch.

I had never seen this before and had not realized how much time it takes to create one normal looking vase. The whole procedure of making the glass object last about 40 minutes. I only lasted about 25 minutes before I decided I had gotten the point.

The total drive time was just over 2 hours, but due to the pouring down rain it took about 25 minutes longer. By now the time was 5pm and it was time to unpack, run errands, and eat. Who loves their lifestyle? I do!

November 5, 2006

In or Outer Space?

Filed under: Uncategorized — rjjazz @ 5:47 pm

After a healthy drive of 8 hours from Boise, ID we arrived in Seattle WA.

Upon arriving in Seattle the rain was pouring down. I had always heard that it rains a lot here but I had forgotten this until we got about 1 hour outside of Seattle and the sky turned dark. Driving to the hotel and passing through the city I realized this city is huge. I had never thought about Seattle being a major metropolitan city but, it is so big I was astonished. The buildings are tall, the layout of the city has number has streets, and the homeless is very present on the streets. These are all signs that I have learned over time that I am in the mist of a big city. After checking into the hotel, we decided to go check out what the city had to offer.

The first evening stop was the “Space Needle.”

This building is a landmark for all of the world to see in Seattle, WA. I had always seen it on television and in movies but to see it in person is definitely something you want to do in your life time. To think they built this 520ft building for the world fair that was held here years ago and it is still standing. Built in 1962, the Space Needle served as the symbol of that year’s World’s Fair. It has since become the symbol of Seattle, and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. After going up and admiring the nightlife city of Seattle we decided to go and see one of my friends named “George Colligan” from New York city that was performing here for the jazz festival. It was great to see George and his piano trio perform some of his standards and originals. It was a little funny being there because he put me on the guest list and when I was talking to the members of the band during the break they were like what are you doing here? I told them I am just driving around the west coast and the mid west seeing monuments ,national parks, and what ever else I want to see for 7 weeks. They were like “Wow, can I have your job? ” I just laughed and said “You already do.”
The next morning I decided to get up and go for a short 6 mile run around the town to see what I can see by foot. After this short work out our first stop was going to Kinko’s to handle some daily business. Our next stop was going to the UPS store. You may ask why would you go there after going to Kinko’s? Well one of the members of the Hip Hop band I am going to Africa with fathers here in Seattle and operates this new “UPS” location. When I walked in, he was all smiles upon realizing who I was.
He showed us around the store and told us about his new operation. We also meet his employe’s who seemed very content with their job.

After about 45 minutes of friendly conversation we decided to meet up later that evening at Mr. Berry’s house.
Are first Seattle experience for the day was the “EMP museum.”

If you have never been there it is a really cool over view of certain styles of music, that is interactive for young people. Also included in the museum is an overall history of the guitar, a Disney history experience, and a Hip Hop history exhibit. This is one of the greatest overall music museums I have been too. If you ever have a chance to come here and see this please do.
Next we decided to drive around Settle to get an even closer look (even with the rain) of the wonderful city at hand.

One of the major stops in the city you have to make is “The Market Place.”

There is numerous shops and outlets to buy all kinds of neat little things you don’t really need.

This is me and Tony having a musical moment on the corner! It was a show down for sure!

Here I am again, expressing my need for speed with the camera so I can get out of the middle of the street!

This photo is me at the original StarBucks! This photo is for my mother. Look Mom and I have never had coffee in my life!

I thought it was a little strange at first seeing all the people outside walking around like it was 70 degrees and sunny with no jackets, umbrellas, hats, boots, etc. even though it was pouring rain out and 56 degrees. I know if we were on the east coast if it was raining like this it would be completely empty at an outdoor market. We decided to stay with the east coast state of mind and stay in the car hoping the following day the weather would be better.
Later that evening we went to a lovely restaurant called “ Brasa.” This was a very fancy Portuguese restaurant that has all the makings of an international dining experience.

The food was great and I was more than happy to be treated to the fine dining.
Our final stop was Charles Berry’s house. Upon driving around Seattle in a bit of confusion we arrived. Charles and his wife have a lovely home and they were very welcoming to us being their. Let me be the first to tell you , Charles is hilarious. He had jokes for hours. I don’t really even think he was trying to be funny though, but he was just amazed at all the stories we had to tell him about our 2nd cross country trip and the type of lifestyle we are leading. After wearing ourselves out from story times and mobile marketing discussions we ended the evening at about 11pm. This was a great evening and I am sure I will be back to Seattle to invest spending more time out here to get to know the city and the wonderful people that live here.

November 4, 2006

Where is the Potatoes?

Filed under: Uncategorized — rjjazz @ 1:23 am

AHHHHHH! Here we are in Boise, ID You may ask why am I here? I am not exactly sure, but I do want to look around and see some potatoes or at least eat some great potatoe chips. The temperature has changed greatly. We went from 70 degree weather in Vegas to 32 degrees in about 12 hours. This morning I went to this great gym called “Idaho fitness” This place was huge and looked like a dance club. What will people think of next.

The first stop in Boise was the “Ann Franks Human Rights Memorial.”

I had never heard of this lady but the memorial was incredible. Boise knows how to represent someone who really cared about human rights. This outdoor monument takes about 35 minutes to walk through and read everything.

If you don’t know who she is google her and do some homework!
Next was the “Idaho Black History Museum” in Boise, ID. That is right, they have an African American museum dedicated to those who left an important mark on this state. The museum is an old church called, “St Paul Baptist Church” The church was built by hand in 1921 by African Americans and was moved to its current location in downtown Boise, ID 1998 and renovated. This museum holds a maximum of 71 people and looks exactly like what you would imagine a Baptist church looking like from 1921.

I have to say though this was the most interesting tour I did today. It was short and sweet. You could read all the post in the museum within an hour. I was surprised to read that Idaho has the third least amount of African Americans in the country behind Montana and North Dakota (I should not have been surprised after having driven around and seeing no others). The host of the museum was nice lady named “Valerie” from Detroit that moved to Boise two months ago to work for the museum. She told us that she goes home once a month just to keep it real.

The last stop for the day was the Historical Boise Penitentiary. Boise has turned their once infamous penitentiary into a historical museum.

This place was scary, and cold. Literally when you walk into the holding cells the temperature drops about 9 degrees immediately. This live museum was great at showing you how the prisoners used to live, eat, shower, and work. In many of the buildings there was still the actual mattresses, shanks, toilets, and sinks that they used.

They also had a show room with photos on prisoners tattoos and what certain ones mean and why certain prisoners tend to brand themselves with certain ones.

The saddest part of this tour was the ending because the video they showed you was 18 minutes of bad acting. But if you cut that out it was worth seeing at least once in your life.
After leaving the historical prison the last stop was the grocery store. While looking around in the produce section I spotted another African American person and got excited because I thought “Yeah there is a few other people in this town like me.” When I got a little closer to the person I said “Valerie” she turned around and started laughing. I just walked off and thought “I guess I was wrong.”

On the Road again!

Filed under: Uncategorized — rjjazz @ 1:22 am

Another long day to drive! The total time from Las Vegas to Boise was 12 hours. It actually went by pretty fast though. The good part of the drive was that we got to stop in Salt Lake City, UT again and eat and go to the running store. That is all folks!

Back in Las Vegas!

Filed under: Uncategorized — rjjazz @ 1:21 am

Back in Las Vegas. This past Tuesday we arrived back in Vegas at 10:15am via a very smooth flight, Upon arriving and finding the car are next mission was doing laundry. This turned out to be a mystery hunt. It is funny how you never see things when you need them but when you don’t you see more than enough. For instance:
1. Numerous times there has been a need for an Arby’s and none can be found for hundrends of miles and then as soon as you stop at subway the next exit an Arby’s appears.
2. When ever your looking for a car wash you see they are all closed or you have to do it yourself and your dressed to go somewhere nice.
3. You need an oil change and you have to wait half a day or they need an appointment to take you since they don’t take walk inn’s.
4. You decide to stay at a hotel that has free internet service. Then once you arrive and check in, pull out your computer and turn it on you find out that the router is broken and won’t be fixed for another week.
5. You have about seven dollars in change in your car and the day you decided to do laundry and use it all you have to pay a toll on a highway that only takes change (no dollar bills and no attendant)
6. You finally find a restaurant that you know what is on the menu and your looking forward to getting some vegetables and fish. You walk in, sit down and order and the waitress says “ I am sorry to tell you but this evening we are all out of Vegetables and Fish, but we do have a great hamburger!)
7. You ask for directions from a local person and they can not tell you anything
about their city except where the local bar is. Then you don’t need directions a
while getting gas the guy behind you sees your from out of town and gives
you more directions nd information than you could imagine asking for if you
needed them.
8. You book a well established hotel and expect a great nights sleep only to find out there is no hot water, the tub does not drain, the sink drips so much water it might as well be on, and your room is in the middle of two high school band rivals rooms.

Must I go on!

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