American blues guitarist Doc Maclean returns to SA for nearly 50-date tour

Doc Maclean. (Photo: Supplied)
Doc Maclean. (Photo: Supplied)

Cape Town - Doc MacLean's second African tour, Cross Bones Blues, finds him returning to many of the places he visited on his previous, Zulu Skies adventure. 

As if that tour wasn't big enough, Cross Bones includes nearly 50 shows. From the gala tour launch at the Canadian High Commission to the massive OppiKoppi Festival, to theatres, cafes, and wild little juke joints... This tour touches most parts of South Africa.

A number of Cross Bones shows will feature collaborations with South African blues and roots artists. MacLean, who was "thrilled" by the musicians he met last year, is working to create opportunities for these artists to tour North America. South Africa and Canada have much in common, and he believes that a broader exchange of artists would serve both well. In addition to fostering cultural, diplomatic and economic contacts, Doc continues to mentor a number of younger artists, and will present guitar workshops as his tour schedule permits.

Tour dates:

Oct 4 Reception/Tour Launch, CDN High Commission, 1103 Arcadia St., Hatfield, Pretoria. With special guests Albert Frost and Marcia Moon.
Oct 5 OppiKoppi Festival 
Oct 6 OppiKoppi Festival
Oct 7 OppiKoppi Festival
Oct 13 Karoo Saloon, Barrydale, Western Cape. 
Oct 14 Koedoeskloof Country Lodge, Ladismith, Western Cape. 
Oct 15 Karoo Saloon, Barrydale, Western Cape. 
Oct 16   Barleycorn Music Club, Cape Town, 11 Lansdowne Rd, Brookside. 
Oct 18 Gumstone Creek, Kommetjie Noordhoek Cape Town. with Tim Parr
Oct 19   Die Boer Theatre, Durbanville, 6 Chenoweth St., 7551, Western Cape w. Albert Frost. 
Oct 20   Alma Café, Cape Town, 20 Alma Rd., Rosebank. 
Oct 21   Alma Café, Cape Town, 20 Alma Rd., Rosebank. 
Oct 25   The Australian Arms, Kimberley, Big Hole Complex, Northern Cape. 
Oct 26   Bookbedonnerd Festival of Books and Arts, Richmond, Northern Cape. 
Oct 28   Cafe Barcelona, Pretoria. 53 Thomson St., Elardus Park Shopping Centre.
Oct 29   Otter Lake German, Pretoria. Plot 26 Kameelfontein. 
Nov 2     Decibels Studio Concert, Pretoria. 64 Elephant Rd, Monument Park. 
Nov 3     The Coachman Restaurant, Dullstroom, 89 Naledi Dr., 1110, Mpumalanga. 
Nov 4     Sinkshack, Bronkhorstspruit. 57 Cathie St. 
Nov 5     Cockpit Brewhouse, Cullinan. 80 Oak Ave. 
Nov 8     Jazzies Inn, Wattville Township, Benoni, Johannesburg. 
Nov 9     Innie Skuur, Bloemfontein, Drakensberg Ave.,Spitskop, 9330, Free State. 
Nov 10  Gin-Ger Bar , Ficksburg, 9 Fontein St., 9730 Free State. 
Nov 11  Mojo's, Welkom, 250 Stateway, Bedelia, 9459 Free State.  
Nov 14  La Casa, MMC, Pietermaritzburg, 5 Quarry Rd., 3201 KZN, w. Tim Parr 
Nov 15  Corrie Lynne Farm, Dargle, Howick 17 Petrusstroom Rd., 3265, KZN, w. Tim Parr. 
Nov 16  Private Event, KZN Midlands, w. Tim Parr.
Nov 17  House at Zululand, Eshowe, 10 Kangela St. KZN. 
Nov 18  Imvubu Lodge, Richard’s Bay, Meerensee, KZN. 
Nov 20  Umdloti Bush Tavern, Umdloti (Durban), 1 South Beach Rd. KZN 
Nov 21  Rocky Ridge, Ramsgate, Fascadale Rd. 4275 KZN. 
Nov 22  Legends Showcase, East London, 42 STEWART Dr. Eastern Cape 
Nov 23  Red Apple, Kenton-On-Sea, Shop 4 Sunshine Coast Gateway Tourism Centre, 2nd Ave. Eastern Cape
Nov 24  The Music Kitchen, Port Elizabeth, 69 Mangold St., Newton Park. Eastern Cape
Nov 25  Die Ramstal, Nieu Bethesda. Eastern Cape 
Nov 29  Sit the Folk Down, Cape Town, Western Cape.
Dec 1     Villa Pascal Guest House and Theatre, Durbanville.
Dec 2     The Cottage Club, Fish Hoek, Cape Town, 33, 2nd Crescent.
Dec 3     Joostenburg Wine Farm, Stellenbosch, R304 Muldersvlei.
Dec 8     Evita se Perra Theatre, Darling, 8 Arcadia Street.
Dec 9     Miss Ruby Presents, Swellendam, Die Schuur, Drostdy Museum, Swellengrebel St
Dec 10   Mujo's Bar, George, 1 Knysna Rd.
Dec 13   Cocomo's, Wilderness, 197 George Rd.
Dec 14   Dorpshuis Guesthouse & Restaurant, Calitzdorp, 4 Van Riebeeck St.
Dec 15   Show Room Theatre, Prince Albert, 43 Church St., PO Box 181, 6930, West Cape. w. Albert Frost. 
Dec 16   Knysna Blues Festival, Knysna, TBC. 
Dec 17   Knysna Blues Festival, Knysna, TBC.

*Dates and Route: May be subject to change. Developing schedule reflects current and pending contracts. TBA’s and non-listed dates may be available.

Click here to keep up to date with the tour details.

Forty-five years ago Doc 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.

It's a career built on hard travel and performance. Early roots in Mississippi. Chicago. Atlanta. Canada. Months and years spent living in cars, sleeping on floors, cheap hotels. Repeat appearances at some of America's best folk and blues venues. A lifetime spent on the Blues Highway with some of its most significant artists.

Long ago MacLean established his annual, 100 plus show, National Steel Blues Tour to play all parts of North America. In the process, the Tour itself became legendary. Ice roads to the arctic. Crazy, burning highways through the desert wilds. Hard travel, wrecks, and tough North American weather. And now the Tour is reaching Africa. "No venue too large, too small, too grand or too humble." Even places lost in the folds of the map. The thing that has been carried is returned.

He's a blues vagabond, writing from the dark side of the highway. A songster from the delta tradition, Doc explored and resided in the American rural south at a time when it was much less visited than it is today, and had mentors like Son House, Peg Leg Sam, and Sam Chatmon. 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, in a roots based, yet contemporary context.

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 mentors were the grandchildren of slaves and he keeps their gifts close to the heart, and close to the Bone.