Doc MacLean's second African tour, Cross Bones Blues
Fingerstyle slide guitar

Doc MacLean’s second African tour, Cross Bones Blues, finds him returning to many 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 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.

Doc MacLean's second African tour, Cross Bones Blues
Doc MacLean’s Cross Bones Blues

The roots

Forty-five years ago Doc was playing Charlie Patton songs in Son House’s living room. From back porch to big porch an emotional remapping of contemporary delta blues. His is 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.

‘National Steel Blues Tour’

Long ago MacLean established his annual 100 plus show National Steel Blues Tour playing all parts of North America. In the process, the Tour 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 fingerstyle slide guitar pays homage to Patton, House, and Big Joe Williams, in a roots based, yet contemporary context.

Jeesh, check out this hectic tour schedule!

Oct 4 Reception, CDN High Commission, Pretoria + Albert Frost, Marcia Moon
Oct 5-7 OppiKoppi, Northam, Limpopo
Oct 12 Cape Town, West Cape
Oct 13 Barrydale, West Cape
Oct 14 Ladysmith, West Cape
Oct 15 Barrydale, West Cape
Oct 16, 17 Cape Town
Oct 18 Cape Town, w. Tim Parr
Oct 19 Durbanville, w. Albert Frost
Oct 20, 21 Cape Town
Oct 22 Tulbagh, West Cape
Oct 24 Graaf-Reinett, East Cape
Oct 25 Kimberley, North Cape
Oct 26 Richmond, North Cape
Oct 27 Bloemfontein, Free State
Oct 28, 29, Nov 2 Pretoria
Nov 3 Dullstroom, Mpumalanga
Nov 4 Bronkhorstspruit
Nov 5 Cullinan
Nov 8 Johannesburg
Nov 9 Bloemfontein
Nov 10 Ficksburg, Free State
Nov 11 Welkom, Free State
Nov 14 Pietermaritzburg, w. Tim Parr
Nov 15 Howick, KZN, w. Tim Parr
Nov 16 Durban, KZN, w. Tim Parr
Nov 17 Eshowe, KZN
Nov 18 Richards Bay, KZN
Nov 20 Umdloti (Durban), KZN
Nov 21 Ramsgate, KZN
Nov 22 East London, East Cape
Nov 23 Kenton-On-Sea, East Cape
Nov 24 Port Elizabeth, East Cape
Nov 25 Nieu Bethesda, East Cape
Nov 29 Cape Town, West Cape
Dec 1 Durbanville, West Cape
Dec 2 Cape Town
Dec 3 Stellenbosch, West Cape
Dec 8 Darling, West Cape
Dec 9 Swellendam, West Cape
Dec 10 George, West Cape
Dec 12 Plettenburg Bay, West Cape
Dec 13 Wilderness, West Cape
Dec 14 Calitzdorp, West Cape
Dec 15 Prince Albert, w. Albert Frost
Dec 16 Knysna, West Cape
Dec 17 Knysna, West Cape

Who: Doc MacLean
What: Cross Bones Blues Tour
Tour info: Cross Bones Blues