Richard Doron Johnson

December 20, 2006

What it was!

Filed under: Uncategorized — rjjazz @ 4:12 pm

Well the time has come to depart from Tanzania and this great tour. Today was a really slow day for us. It really only involved one TV commercial we made that was very amusing.

As I ran this morning I pondered about what I learned and experienced during these past four weeks. My run lasted an hour and then I swam for 20min. I mention this because it gave me ample time to really get my thoughts together about this wonderful place called Africa. The first question I know I will get when I return is would I ever do it again? The answer is, for sure! Everything Americans see on television about this Continent is a misguided perception. People are people everywhere you go. Yes people here wear ties and suits, Yes people here wear Miami Heat jerseys and timberland boots. Yes people eat cooked chicken and lot of it. Yes people go to school and many of them speak 3 languages with ease. Yes people are nice and go out on weekends to party and relieve stress from the work week. There are so many things that you have no clue about to make a presumption with out doing your homework is just wrong about anyone or place. Now there are areas that are undeveloped to but you can find that in the Unites States as well. As a band we have made some life long friends that we are sure to see in again in the near future. Anyone who really wants to see a wonderful continent you need to come here. The people are open and are looking to expand their horizons probably even more than you. It is a big jump to get on a plane and fly 20 hours to a different part of the world but it is worth it for sure. You can not gather all your information from the American News because if you do you will only have a one sided view of the world.

I have learned that I could live here and be more than comfortable because they have all the comforts of home. Yes if you want to go to McDonalds, KFC, Taco Bell you can. If you want to go dancing at a club or find bar that has very civilized people it is all here. I have spent everyday personally examining the city via my runs. Just seeing the average person get up at 4:50am to start their day is amazing here because it is not only one person but the city is up and thriving by then. It is a gift to travel and to love.

In a few hours we will be back on the flight trying to get back to our significant others by 3pm Thursday December 21st. I love being out on the road and anyone who knows me knows that, but it is time to go back for Christmas and share our experiences for the holidays. This band has grown by leaps and bounds via personal relationships and musically. I always think about something that Jahah said to me on the flight over and it went something like this. “It is a blessing and a gift to be going to Africa. It has always been a dream and now it is a reality of mine. I never would have thought, out of all the people I know I would have been going to Africa with you guys but here I am. I don’t know why I am here with you guys but this is an experience I will never have with anyone else and only you guys will really understand the feelings and sentiments I will experience out here on the road. I guess this is what a band is about” I, Richard Johnson could not have said it much better myself. This is when the true magic happens out here on the road. When you have to spend 20hours a day with three other people the music will just come out of your pours like water on a humid day in Tanzania.

I will return one day, someday, any day, but for today, I must return home for a short while so I can let those know who go no where, because their scared, to get out and experience the world first hand! It is truly up to you how far you can take it to make it!

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First International AFAR tour Done!

December 18, 2006

Second to last!

Filed under: Uncategorized — rjjazz @ 3:43 pm

Here is my hotel room:

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One time view:

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Last evening was our last concert of the South African tour. This past week I have been telling the guys in the band the last concert is coming real soon and before you know it will all be a blur. Today was a true testament to this when one of the members said what time is the show tonight? I replied “Last night was the last show that’s it, nothing left but workshops and interviews.” The astonishment hit everyone just then and you could really see it. The realization that we only have one full day of work left was like wow it is time to go back in 48 hours.

The concert here in Dar Es Salaam, last night started at 9 15pm and opened with a band called “Parapanda.” They were really good and we rehearsed three songs together yesterday to perform for the show. After they did their 3 songs, AFAR did a short set and then we brought them on. I have to say we did go out with a bang. Once again the crowd was a but strange during the concert but afterwards they really expressed their interest in what were doing. It was also really great to perform at this venue since it was at a University that held 17,000 students. The only bad thing for us was the concert was during the end of exam weeks and most of the students were taking their last exam before the winter break. At about 11:15 the concert ended and every expressed their sentiments about being here in this lovely country and departed ways.

On to today. This morning we left the hotel at 8 30am which is not really early but it was early enough. During our first workshop we got asked a lot questions about what we were doing during the concert and how to become a successful musician. Who would have ever thought I would be the one telling people how to figure this out when I am still trying myself. After meeting some of the local students and talking American students and teachers we had to get on our way to the last workshop of the tour.

When we arrived at this last music school we were not sure what to expect but things turned out good.

Students heating the heads on the drum with news paper to change the tuning:

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I tree carved into a person at the music school:

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The band that performed for us and jammed with was called “Africana.” This was by far the best band we had seen this whole tour. They were playing some of the most complicated rhythms and hitting breaks together like it was second nature. After jamming with them and really breaking through the language barrier we found out they have toured all over the world performing.

Here they are getting busy!

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They even started telling us about festival and things we should look into. To think these guys were younger than us and very serious but having fun. That is what this whole tour is about. Exchanging ideas, performing with other like musicians, and learning about new cultures is what we have done these past 4 weeks. I think we have accomplished a complete sound for the band now after having done this tour. It is amazing what can be accomplished in one month for better or worse!

December 16, 2006

Black and Tanzania Fantasy

Filed under: Uncategorized — rjjazz @ 6:13 pm

We have finally arrived to our last country on this South African tour. It has totally been a journey I must say. Yesterday evening we stayed in Joburg becuase there are only two flights a day to Tanzania on SAA so we had no other choice. I have to say the hotel was the best yet on this tour. The gym was awesome along with the hotel rooms too. We had a bit of a scare when we did not see Blackfist in the lobby or the ticket line in the morning. But I did not worry. I figured one of two things would happen: A, he would miss the flight and get on the next one, or B, he was already on the flight somehow. By the time we got on the flight we realized he had already made it on and was sitting comfortably. The great thing about this 3 hour flight was that since I gave them my mileage number I got upgraded to business class because a mother had to sit with her son. It is amazing how different the two class services are. I had salmon, vegetables, bread, and a salad for lunch. It was so good I did not even want to know what the others in economy had, so I never asked.

Upon arriving and stepping off of the plane the heat jumped on all of us. This is the hottest and most humid place we have been so far. After being greeted by our new Embassy host and filling out the visa information we preceded to the van. Outside there were people everwhere waiting for family and love ones. After packing the one van they brought for 13 bags we got on our way to the hotel. This hotel is definetly a couples resort. The beach here is the best I have seen yet during this tour. This evening for dinner I had a huge lobster that was the bomb. One thing is for sure when I leave this place I am going home with my share of seafood haven been eaten.

December 15, 2006

Keep movin On!

Filed under: Uncategorized — rjjazz @ 9:19 am

Well, Another country down and one more to go on this tour! Two nights ago we did a concert here in Maputo and it went pretty well (Better then the previous night). We performed in a big arena downtown where you could here the sounds out on the street. This evening we performed with two other big artist here in the country. One whose name was Daniel G. who was pretty good. This week has been hard due to the language barrier but people have been feeling the energy so we continue giving the music. Here are a few photos from the concert:

The band lights it up:
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Jahah stops the band so the crowd can say “Check one”:
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Now on to last nights concert at the infamous club Coconuts. We had been hearing about this club since we got off the flight from everyone in the city and their grandmother. I have to say the club was astonishing looking. It felt like we were back in the States when we walked in the club. The sound system was on and the venue had 5 different parts. It had a pool, restaraunt, 2 dance floors, and a lounge. I would say it could hold 1500 people easily. Now on to the blog. Was there 1500 people there, NOOOOO! We had about 500 which isn’t bad considering that the club is never open on Thursday nights. This crowd was a much older crowd then the normal Hip Hop crowd. That meant we had to switch up a bit so we did 2 25min sets. The first set was straight HIP HOP and the second was more R&B.

I have to say of all the shows this is the one were I felt like we were rock stars. This is because we ate dinner at 8pm-9:30pm. Then went to the hotel and went to sleep until 11:30pm. Got the call to be ready at midnight. Then got another call to be ready 12:30am. Then we were picked up at 12:35am and rushed over to the venue. When we arrived we waited about 25 minutes to go on in our dressing room. Then finally we went on and did our thing. We have had better shows to tell the truth but our job is to make sure the crowd never knows that. By the time it was all said and done it was 3:15am. I was beat but decided to dance for 15 minutes until I was drenched in sweat. This is the latest I had been up in a long time. Wow, I see why did not get up until 8am to go run this morning. Well now it is time to “Keep Movin On” and see what Tanzania has to offer us!

December 13, 2006

XAI XAI

Filed under: Uncategorized — rjjazz @ 2:45 pm

Last nights concert in XAI XAI was pretty much straight through! We hit it and quit it. There was a good amount of people but the language barrier is a bit hard at times. The main language here is Portuguese. We knew they could feel the energy but they couldn’t really respond the way we wanted them too.

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The drive to get to Xai Xai was about 3 hours and was extremely bumpy for the whole time. Upon arriving we saw the posters they had of us and they were photos we had taken from three years ago so it was a bit funny to see those after seeing all the new photos in Zimbabwe.

After the concert finished we then had an hour drive to get the hotel which we arrived at about 11:30pm. By this time everyone was starving but there was nothing open in the middle of the country at this hour. So we had to tough it out until the morning. Fortunately for me I like getting up early so I did my daily run on the beach. The view was incredible as I saw the locals out fishing and working.

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The flowers are so pretty!

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Here are the birds:

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By 8am it was time to eat and I was ready. After eating breakfast and then returning to do some hotel work on my computer we left at about 11:51am. I have to say it was very nice to see another part of this country but I am glad to be back in Maputo. Lets see how this show goes tonight!

For a different perspective of the South African tour please visit http://www.brainmunchie.com

December 12, 2006

See Food!

Filed under: Uncategorized — rjjazz @ 8:31 am

Yesterday was great! We started off with a radio interview that was in a studio downtown that was built in like 1910. The amazing thing is that they still use the same equipment from back then and it works. Check it out:

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Another photo!

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After this we got a short tour of the city and got to see where the movie “Blood Diamond” was filmed. The driver showed us the streets where they blew up buildings and cleaned nothing up 6 months ago. It looks like a hurricane blew right down the street and no one ever cleaned the mess up. Maputo reminds me a lot of Brazil. I thought this as soon as I exited the plane but now I think that even more.

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After this we went to eat at the cities oldest restaraunt. The food here was unbealivable. The Sea food is so fresh you can tell they just brought it in and cooked it up for you to eat.

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Dinner time!

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After this we went and did a jam session were the local young people came out to ask us questions about what we do and show us their dance and rapping skills. Trust me when we say Hip Hop has taken over the world it really has. When you consistently keep seeing people copying Uniterd States videos and leaving High school to pursue a career in rhyming you can tell a major shift in the thought process of people has happenend.

Our next stop was checking out the local mall to see how it is different from the other countries we visited. Here the mall is not as developed as Jo Burg but the same idea prevails of walking around to look for things that you really don’t have the money for.

By the end of the day we decided to go back to the first restaraunt we ate for lunch since it was so good. I have to say this sea food here is worth seeing and eating!

Here is some old footage from Zimbabwe for those of you who like videos!

December 11, 2006

Feeling Good

Filed under: Uncategorized — rjjazz @ 6:54 am

This morning I woke up at 4am and was ready to go. So I got on line did some work and then at 5:30am started my run. I jumped on the treadmill and reset my mental status to calculate in kilometers and it was great. The gym was empty at that hour and I could go for it with me and my IPod. This is the first run I have done that was pretty much 10 miles of continuous running the whole time. Surprisingly I felt pretty good and kept picking up the pace until I got down to 7:26min for mile 8 and 9. I think all the running I have been doing at 5500 feet in the previous two countries has helped me out big time. I knew it was going to take me about a month to get my cardio system back to where I was at on October 1st 2006 but today I could feel it happening this morning. By January 2nd I should be back on track!

December 10, 2006

Flash Back!

Filed under: Uncategorized — rjjazz @ 6:03 pm

This blog is all about the photos!

The face. I noticed this running one day in Melville
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Here I am at the chuch in Soweta!
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Tha band has dinner at an Indian restaraunt in Melville South Africa!
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Popular bridge we road over everyday in Jo Burg!
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AFAR rehearses with the dancers in Mafikeng before the Live Video is taped.
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The band poses with Oliver Mtukudzi at his school of music.
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Look, Godfrey showed up in South Africa!
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Anothers day work as I lead a workshop!
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These are breakdancers we had perform with us. They shocked everyone!
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Here is the real Michael Jackson performing with us!
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On the way out of Bulawayo!
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The Half Way Point!

Filed under: Uncategorized — rjjazz @ 3:32 pm

Here I am sitting in the Jo burg Airport once again. Today our lay over is 5 hours here after leaving Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe was the best crowd response so far. The American Government did a great job of marketing us here. Shout out to Marc W for this.

Listen to what happenened to me yesterday morning. My friend Adrian and I went for a run around the city and he pointed out all kinds of tourist attractions that I would have never seen on my own. I was really thankful for that. During our last stop during the run he was pointing out how one of the national parks we were in is designed. While doing this about 30 feet away a guy yells out,” Hey man are you performing again here tonight.” I just looked at my new friend and he said “you’re a superstar in my country.” I thought to myself how random is that? We stopped and some guy new who I was who had never even been to the previous weeks shows. I responded to him “ I am sorry man but we are leaving tomorrow morning.” He replied, “ Awww man I missed out.”

Spending a week in this country has been an eye opening experience for the whole band. It is totally different from South Africa. Can you believe that there is no gas here unless you are extremely rich. You will find there are no taxi’s and traffic because of this. Most people ride bikes, walk or get on one of these buses that is about the size of a charter bus but they pack the people in there three times as much as we do in the United States.

This morning we left the hotel at 5:30am which was way too late with all the overweight, but it is hard to get some of the higher up officals to understand that we need to be at the aiport 3 hours early when checking in this amount of equipment. Because of this I almost missed the flight. Part of my job is too make sure that I check everything in and make sure that the weight, instrument pieces, and luggage is correct. Because of this and every country having different policies for overweight that changes whenever they see Americans coming, our time ran out this morning. I was literally the last person on the plane. It is really funny because they let us take all the instruments on the flight to Zimbabwe in the cases we had with no problem, but now that we are leaving they made us take out all the drums and repack them in numerous small boxes about the size a grocery bag. They did this because they said the instruments were too heavy to put on the plane. Me and Che just looked at each other and started laughing. We told them we flew the exact same size plane over here with everything packed in our hard cases and it was fine. The lady then said sorry it is our policy that it is handled this way.

Our next step was finding 4 boxes and tape in the next 25 minutes and then repacking everything. This was a close one but we made it or least the band has. As I sit here in the lounge I wonder how much of our equipment will arrive in Mozambique in time for the show? If anyone actually reads the repacked boxes they might think these are the heaviest bananas in the world. If they do and are hungry and open they will be in for a big shock. These are just a few situations we have been in and this is just the half way point of the South African tour!

December 7, 2006

Hip Hop Harare to Bulawayo

Filed under: Uncategorized — rjjazz @ 10:21 pm

On December 5th We departed South Africa for Zimbabwe. I have to say we had a great experience there. If it was not for Bra X, Ismael Mohamed, and Tabago who knows how things would have gone but they were just like members of the band. Upon getting to the airport early to deal with the overweight we did run into some trouble getting the equipment on the flight but that is a given in this part of the world. When people see you are American they really try to take you for a ride and get all of he money they can out of you. After paying almost $1000 in overweight charges we were off to the next country Zimbabwe.
We had heard horror stories about this country and its president. So we were saying we hoped we made it out alive. Let me be the first tell you once again. Everything you hear is not all true. Since we have been here the people have been great. Every morning I still get up and run and site see with no worries. The very first night here we had a reception at the Ambassadors house.
Me and Ambassador Dell
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His house was seriously decorated and he was a nice. This is rare trust me!
We talked about the States and his new wife that is from Bulgaria. When I told her I had been there she went bananas and started asking all sorts of questions about her native city Sophia. Also at the reception were numerous journilist waiting to meet “AFAR.” After a two hour conversation with everyone there it was time to depart and get back to the Miekles hotel. This is the best hotel we have been in during this tour. It is really classy looking and has almost all of the immunities of home except wireless internet or high speed internet.
The following day was the longest day of the tour. This is how it went.

1. Wake up at 5am
2. 2. Run 10k at 5:20am
3. 6:45am leave for a tv interview on the biggest network in the country
4. 8am do a radio interview on the biggest radio station in the country
5. 9:30 do a 1:30min workshop on music and what Hip Hop is
6. Drive 30minutes back to the hotel to have an hour to eat
7. 1pm drive to the next workshop
8. 2:30pm to 4pm do a work shop on the influences of jazz on Hip Hop at the Music college
9. 5pm drive to the sound check for the concert
10. 7pm Opening band starts playing
11. We began playing at 7 30pm for 1:30min
12. Finish and pack up all the equipment at 10pm.
13. 10pm Go to Nandos (the local chicken spot to eat)
14. Get back to the hotel at 11:20pm

Then at 5am get a wake up call to get on a flight that is supposed to be at 7am.

This is how the longest day of the tour has gone but amazingly the best show of the tour was the show that night. It was all energy from the crowd and the Ambassador came with his wife and stayed the whole concert and said he loved it. Who would have known that he would have been singing along to our music.

Jahah comes through the smoke!
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Now on to today. After catching the flight to Bulawayo which was one hour we arrived to a much warmer climate.
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The first stop was our hotel which was a Holiday Inn. It is amazing too because who ever built this hotel made it look just like a normal Holiday Inn you would find in the United States from the inside to the outside. After checking in we went to the local dance school called “Amakhosi Culture Center for Performing Arts”. to see and discuss musical ideas with the locals. This was the most visually stimulating workshop I have been to in a long time.
A local dance is being demonstrated!
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Young man eating lunch!
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I was able to see original African dances by dance troops and I was able to see live music accompany it too. After making a few new Friends here we went to have lunch with some local friends of the embassy at a new restaurant in town. The food was pretty good even though it wasn’t traditional Zimbabwe food. Next I went to the library to get on line since I had about 4 hours to spare. By now the temperature was about 93degrees. Since I had not ran for the day I decided as soon as I got back to the hotel I was going to go swimming and that is exactly what I did. Later that evening we went to sound check for our show at 8pm. The concert was in a rather big hall that held about 1600 people. It is amazing how well people in this part of the world love us and know what we do.

After the show Marc signs autographs and the Jahah look alike tries to sneak out!
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They really appreciation positive Hip Hop with a message and look for that.
Jahah appears through the smoke!

The concert was a great success and ended right on time for me because by 9:30pm I was ready to eat. Once I arrived back at the hotel I was more than happy to order a whole large pizza and eat it all by myself!

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