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Langa Township, South Africa

One of the standout parts of my South Africa visit was hanging in Langa Township on the outskirts of Cape Town city.  When I heard about the townships before going, it evoked thoughts of ghettos or shtetls, and the view of the townships from the highway, supported that thought, with the sight of hundreds of corrugated metal shacks tightly fit together, all jimmying electricity from one overused electrical pole.

Truth is, though, the township feels nothing like that.  There’s no denying that there is a major lack of resources available, and by Western standards, there is incredible poverty, but people in Langa just hustle harder to make it work.  There’s still community feeling, neighbourhoods within the township of different levels of means, and residential and business districts, from the woman who makes the goat’s heads (everyone’s favourite food), to the shibin (communal beer hangout) to shipping container barbershops and salons.

One of the coolest things going on for the young people is Happy Feet, a dance program started by my new friend Siviwe from Langa and his contemporaries, to get the youth working together creatively, and make it possible for them to perform all over South Africa, and bring in some extra income for their families.  It also just looks hella fun!  Possibly the most important thing, as Siviwe told me, is to introduce to the kids to the world that is outside the township, so they know the possibilities that could be for their own lives.

Check it out (this is going to be the best you click on all day, I promise):

 

The swagger of these fellas is unreal.  And i LOVE the call and response.  I’m working on a link to share so that you can contribute to their project, if you’re so moved.  Happy Feet has recently started a food kitchen (in a shipping container, of course), with the help of a nutritionist from Cape Town.  They need to eat if they’re gonna dance, right?  The kitchen feeds more than just the performers of course.  (Fyi, $50 feeds a couple hundred kids)

More on this soon!

If you feel it, please share this vid, and the post.  We need to take of each other, right?

xo
jessica

Southern to Northern to Southern Hemisphere

Happy 2015 everyone! I’ve taken more of a holiday this month than in the past 5 years, and goodness gracious, does it feel good. I hope you all had the chance to relax and change it up from the grind while being around people, places and experiences you love.

I’ve spent the past 2 weeks in South Africa – my first time there, and truly incredible in so many ways, from cultural stuff to nature to the socio-political state there, all the while, learning about the history and the present of life there in and around Cape Town. I will be writing about the trip, but for now just wanted to check in with you, and let you know that you haven’t been forgotten while I was busy basking in summer!

Here’s some of what went on:

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But more on what all of those pictures are, about the music lessons I took, about the gospel tour of Langa township I recorded and all of that coming up soon…

We’re gearing up for some great gigs - Winterfolk Festival on February 14th, the Joni Mitchell Tribute at Hugh’s Room on March 7th, and our first Australian Tour which runs March 17-April 13th, 2015 including performances at Fairbridge Music Festival in Perth and Yackandandah Folk Festival in New South Wales.

Miss you guys, and post soon.
xo
jessica

 

Deep December

I have a hard time keeping track of what day or month it is when I’m in the thick of tour bookings, cause part of my brain in living in the future, but all the twinkly lights and way over-full shopping centres make it undeniably December.  Happy Hannukah to those who celebrate that, by the way!  On Xmas Day, I’m going to go see one of my favourite musicals of all time, Into The Woods in movie theatres. :) Cool :)

There’s one more show for The JSFew camp this calendar year – this one’s a duo show with awesome vocalist and JSF back-up singer, Jocelyn Barth and we’ll be the featured musical performers at Lizzie Violet‘s Winter Wonderland show at Hirut Restaurant on the Danforth.  Not often that we play in the east, so this will be a treat.  Here’s what Jocey and I sound like as a duo when we do other people’s music:

SO, in other news, we’ve just gotten invites to two major festivals in Toronto, and we’re so excited!  We’re part of the first round of artist announcements for Canadian Music Week 2015 (May 6-10), and just this week, we were officially invited to Winterfolk Festival 2015.  Last year, our musical pal, Russell Leon of Songwriters Unite invited me to play a curated showcase at Winterfolk (where I ended up jamming with Vivienne Wilder on my set spontaneously), but this is our first official invite as a trio.  The fest is Feb 13-15, so coming up soon!  I’ll leave you with some pics from last year’s Winterfolk set (Photos by Katie Kent):

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Winterfolk 2014 pics - Katie KentWith Sam McLellan of Vivienne Wilder (and her amazing bass)

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Ok, friendos!  Hope to see you soon.
xo
jessica