It's Mardi Gras Day in the Music City! Get Stewed at Bourbon St. Blues & Boogie Bar in Printers Alley! There's a reason Carnival in the Alley has included Delicious Blues Stew for more than 20 years. Come roll around in it with The Stew! 4-8 today!
Stew members Tom Larson and Joe Hunter are the rhythm section for this show. Should be a good one!
Tom Larson Patio Daddio and Terrance Downing got together for the first Stew rehearsal of this decade. We remembered some or our great old tune. Practiced our 4-part harmony. Gonna be a good gig!
Tomorrow night at Commodore. Saturday at Douglas Corner. Y'all come.
Stew's Tom just went to Uganda!
This past Friday, my new friend Carolyn and I went to visitBrite’s village. Carolyn is Miss U.S.Virgin Islands who has joined me on my most recent journey to East Africa. She is just plain awesome. Milton is from a rural village on LakeBunyonyi. He is 8-years old and he likesto play soccer and run around and tackle his friends. He too is just ...plain awesome! But when we met this summer, Milton had aninfection in his leg; an infection that was so bad that the local medicalprofessionals were recommending that it be amputated.
But Sue Birch visited Milton this summer; an accomplishednurse who directs our public health work for the GLI. And Dr. Giovanni Cucchiaro visited Miltonthis summer; I met this extraordinary Los Angeles doctor via a woman I sat next to at a posh pool in Cabo over my 40th birthday. Right?? And Kyle visited Milton this summer; one of the first students I evertaught at the University of Denver who spent his summer over in Uganda. Kyle has a heart the size of the Sabinyo Volcano.
And together, we fixed Milton’s leg. When I saw him this week he was runningaround with his bandage faithfully wrapped around his leg and a shy smilegently wrapped across his face. We hungout and we took a selfie.
This past Saturday, a group of extraordinary musicians cametogether a long way from home to host the First Annual Entusi Music Fest. A festival that was hatched as an idea by one of our amazing alumnae students Brennan Ryan over a year ago! Jonny 5 and Stephen Brackett on vocals fromthe Flobots; whacky Andrew Ward on banjo and HIV doc MarkAlain on bass from NewOrleans; crazy Tom Larson on percussion from Nashville; very amazing, kind,compassionate men who showed up not to be on stage or to capture the limelight,but to share music with local Ugandans. They came here to play listen. Andthey came here to think. And onSaturday night… along with five other bands from Uganda… God did they Act! And to the local Ugandanmusicians to be sharing their music, some on the big stage for the first time… itmattered.
And over 4,000 Ugandans showed up. That is almost 40% of the community folks! Each had a ticket in their hand for theconcert. I watched the Entusi team handout the tickets in town during the week, one by one, and hand-stamp the back ofit. It was a huge deal to get a ticketand they smiled big as they put it safely in their pockets. For most it was the first concert they hadever attended… and it mattered.
During the day of the concert, in partnership with the U.S.Mission Uganda we tested over 400 Ugandans for HIV. A record number for an event like this! In fact, we ran out of tests! Young people stood in long lines to get theirHIV results and free medical consult from trained professionals. Professionals were there who cared abouttheir health… and to the young people in line it mattered.
The police commander, a very large intimidating Ugandan whois still quite mortified by the way I dress and equally disturbed that I was oneof the people “in charge”; he and his team kept the peace; and soft-spoken Kevinfrom the Red Cross had an aid station set up for emergencies. They all played important roles at an importantevent… and it mattered.
And our staff was issued special badges so they could movearound the stadium effortlessly and prepare for the event. They hosted a green room for the musiciansand they helped prepare the stage and coordinate ticket collection. They had back-stage access and they all hadan important role to play to make the event a success… and it mattered.
And for those who were there, it was a magical evening ofextraordinary proportions. They sang Love is My Religion in Rukiga, the locallanguage. And the Flobots teamed up withthe Ugandan’s with a rousing version of TogetherWe Rise that will stay in my soul forever. And the Kampala rap sensations, Ray Signatureand Allan Toniks brought down the house (music speak) with more soul and rhythmin their pinkies, than I have in my entire body. And as they closed the show and Stephanyelled out “We Love You Uganda”… well to someone who has spent the last decadeof their life working to build community here in East Africa, let me tell youthat it really fucking mattered!!
The First Entusi Music Festival will not be the last thanksto thousands of friends and colleagues who have believed in the concept of theGlobal Livingston Institute and what we do to encourage people to Listen andThink before we Act. The Women’sLeadership summits, the mental health trainings, the Ted-x Talks, the Women’sAssociation and their candle making company, and the countless student andcommunity leader delegations that make their way over here each year, we know thatthe work that we are doing… well it matters!
This past week when I told people that I was traveling overto Uganda with Miss U.S. Virigin Islands and the Flobots and musicians fromNashville and New Orleans, my friends all chuckled and responded with cheekycomments like… “Of course you are.” Andto the folks who ask me what the hell we are doing with the Global LivingstonInstitute, it is still at times unclear! While I know we are educating students and community leaders and while Iknow we are creating jobs… what I know now more than ever from my week here inUganda is that whatever it is we are doing…
It matters to Milton.
Let po. jamie