Fancy Fran and the South African Fam (2015)

As I embark upon the last leg of what has turned into an eighteen month tour, I realize I’ve only shared scraps of what I’ve experienced this past year. During the big moments I feel inspired to share each story in total detail, but by the time I settle down I’m either too exhausted or busy to type it all out. I suppose that’s why I’m a songwriter instead of a blogger. My songs are not linear play-by-play accounts of what I experience on any given day. Often they’re composite sketches of experiences I’ve had some time to reflect upon as I try to make sense of the big picture. Well, whoopty-frickin’-doo. Heh. A lot of memories get lost in that process. As much as we believe we’ll never forget the precious stuff, time fades the brain. Maybe that’s why our culture has become so picture-crazed. Photos help transport us to specific moments and they help us remember the sights, sounds, scents, etc… I should take more of them, but they never really tell the full story.

As many of you know, I was invited to South Africa in 2011 to partake in a program that was meant to assist HIV+ orphans receive treatment. That trip didn’t turn out to be anything like I thought it would be, and I’ve never been able to properly explain what I witnessed during that period, but I made a strong connection to one particular group of kids. I’ve been fortunate enough to stay in touch with them over time with the great help of my Durban friends, Ewok & Karen. I felt ill-equipped to take on the macro problems (some of which I address in the “Water Into Wine” song,) but Ewok has been instrumental in helping me focus on accomplishing smaller goals — many of which were tackled through the “Ubuntu” fundraiser that I organized once I returned home. With the generosity of your donations, we were able to fix the roof of the kids’ home, purchase bunk beds so they didn’t all have to share the same bed, and we were able to get them things like clothes, school supplies, and food with the remainder of the funds.

1 ubuntu artwork smaller

When I shared my goodbyes with the kids that first time around, I promised them that I’d return. “Probably next year,” I said. Once the van drove them away, I stepped behind a building to shield myself from the sight of others. Had a little breakdown that day. Had a fair share of breakdowns ever since. I’ve been haunted by many things I witnessed during that first trip, and, yeah — maybe all of this is coming across as melodramatic. Well, la-di-frickin’-da. Heh. I need to keep writing before it all goes away. For now I’ll spare you a bunch of details and skip forward to 2015…

The only break in my tour schedule was during August, so I purchased a flight to South Africa even though I had been unable to lock down a single show in the past 3 years. Thanks to the help of some quick-acting promoters I was able to get gigs in Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town. The main purpose of my trip, however, was to reunite with the kids and make good on an old promise. When I was finally able to visit them at their home, it was clear that they tried to look as fancy as possible. Adorable, adorable, adorable. Hair all made up, faces all made up, clothes all crisp and freshly laundered. It was like a little fashion show. I’m not sure I looked any different than I did four years prior, and it’s possible I appeared a bit disheveled after all the traveling I had done. They didn’t hold it against me.

Ntokozo, the first of the kids who I made a special connection to in 2011, is 15 years old now and beautiful as ever. When I asked what she’s interested in doing once she’s out of school, she said that she wants to be a singer and an actress. “I’m not shy,” she proclaimed. This is true. I saw her own the stage during a theater performance the first time I visited Durban. When I asked her what songs she likes to sing she didn’t answer. When I asked again, she turned her head away from me as tears streamed down her cheek. It was such a sudden change of mood from the cheerful vibe I’d been enjoying up until that moment. I became concerned that I was being invasive or insensitive somehow. When I asked her what was wrong she said, “I didn’t think I’d ever see you again.” Ah. Straight dagger to the heart. Trying to explain why it took so long for me to return wasn’t worth the excuses at that moment. It was nice to just hold her for a while as her siblings made fun of her for crying. Kids will be kids. I’m sure she’ll survive.

When I returned to see them the next day, I felt like it might be for the last time. Maybe so, maybe not. It’s obviously not the kind of thing that can be promised (though, I fear that I did.) Ewok and I discussed what types of stuff could be fixed in and around their home to make day-to-day life a bit more pleasurable. A bit more safe. The kids were more casual and comfortable overall on this day. There was a return to normalcy and silliness. We made fun of each other’s accents while attempting to speak in each other’s tongue. Their English remains to be a lot better than my Zulu will ever be, but they can’t make the round “R” sounds. I can’t make their click/pop sounds. It’s always a fun exercise for cheap laughs.

When it was time for us to say our final goodbyes, the kids decided to tag their names on my arm. Ntokozo wrote her full name, pointing out her surname, and then she told me when her birthday was. Because I keep missing it for some reason. Zakheni, the older brother, was too cool and reserved to interact much, but that couldn’t save him from a departing hug from “Big Show.” His friends pointed and laughed. I’m sure he’ll survive. Zinhle, one of the elder sisters, put lipstick on me without warning. I didn’t fight it. I’ll survive.

null

Clearly, it was my turn to be fancy.

Share this:

GoingThroughHell TOUR – USA, Canada, Sweden

1 new crop

NEW SHOW DATES POSTED BELOW! Sign up for the newsletter on the homepage of StrangeFamous.com so you don’t miss any announcements. The “Going Through Hell Tour” is in support of the Copper Gone album as well as the 10 year anniversary of A HEALTHY DISTRUST. Sage Francis has already played 57 shows in 2015. All remaining dates and ticket links are listed below: 8/28 Virginia Beach, VA @ Shakas Live TICKETS 8/29 Washington D.C. @ U Street Music Hall  TICKETS 8/30 Stanhope, NJ @ Stanhope House TICKETS 9/12 Butte, MT @ Original Festival TICKETS 9/13 Spokane, WA @ Swaxx TICKETS 9/14 Seattle, WA …

Continue reading

Copper Gone 1 Year Anniversary + NEW VIDEO!

1 cg small anniversary

“ID Thieves” is the newest video off of my Copper Gone album. SFR’s Aupheus took close to a year animating this bad boy, and it shows: https://youtu.be/ixu5vmfoDRs Today is the one year anniversary of Copper Gone! To help us celebrate, Strange Famous Records is offering 30% off all CG-related items. Use the code “CG1YR” at checkout: https://sfrstore.myshopify.com/collections/copper-gone If you’ve already supported by purchasing the album, some gear, or a show ticket, I’d like to force an ice cream scooper through my chest and offer each of you a heart dollop. The fact that Copper Gone hit Billboard’s Top 200 the …

Continue reading

Crumby Art

1 crumb pedalstrike

This portrait was made entirely with bread crumbs. The person who made it calls himself Pedalstrike. His work is amazing. You can read his explanation in regard to this Uncle Sage portrait here. Part of that writeup reminded me of a poem I included in my Personal Journals booklet by Bill MacMillan called “The World’s Worst Rapper.” I’ll leave this here and wish Pedalstrike the very best in all future endeavors: the world’s worst rapper is a devotee of the old school understands the importance of knowing your roots is the neighborhood historian hip hop he has memorized the soundtracks …

Continue reading

Are You Adult Enough to Use a Flag as a Cape?

1 flagpole crop square

Apparently, capes were too soon for Madonna. I’ve been rocking this SFR flag as a cape for over 10 years though. LIKE A CAPE PRO. No accidents, no injuries, no diseases, nothing. It just provides the super human strength needed to keep my indie grind going. Oh, and they’re finally available to the public HERE: www.tinyurl.com/SFRflagcape My SFR flag is probably the most requested item at shows. Some people offer to pay for it, but usually they’re just like, “Gimme that cape, man. PLEEEEEAAAASE!” Well, I couldn’t sell it or give it away as only one was made. And it’s for me. However, after …

Continue reading

East Coast Tour: Sage Francis x Ceschi x Metermaids THIS MARCH

Although I’m kicking off 2015 with a west coast tour, it was important bring it all back home for a few dates with the east coast homies, Ceschi and Metermaids this MARCH: 3/12 Brooklyn, NY @ Knitting Factory (All Ages) TICKETS 3/13 Providence, RI @ The Met (All Ages) TICKETS 3/14 Boston, MA @ Great Scott (21+) TICKETS 3/15 New Haven, CT @ Toad’s Place (All Ages) TICKETS Get tickets ASAP because these shows are poised to sell out. This is not only my homecoming from the Copper Gone World Tour, but the Metermaids have just dropped a new album, …

Continue reading

“The Place She Feared Most” LYRIC VIDEO

1 space vid crop

Thanks to the wonderful work of morgans brother, here is the new lyric video for The Place She Feared Most from my Copper Gone album: www.tinyurl.com/PlaceSheFearedMost By this point I hoped to post a full account of everything that happened in the past 6 months during the Copper Gone World Tour, but that’s going to have to wait for another time. For now I just want to thank to everyone who joined me on my road to recover. The agents, promoters, journalist, tour mates, and the fans who came out to help make this one of the most successful tours …

Continue reading

RIP Ikey Owens

1 ikey 2

The world lost an incredible talent and a genuinely good person today. Point blank. He was also the most badass keyboardist I’ve ever seen perform live. To see Ikey Owens do his thing as part of my own set for 30+ shows on the Li(f)e Tour was a true privilege. Powerful, inspiring, electric…awesome. It was on that tour when I lost my dad actually, and the whole band was not only understanding of my situation but very comforting. As a shit-twist of coincidence would have it, we are very close to the 4 year anniversary of Eyedea’s sudden passing. It’s …

Continue reading

“Copper Gone” AUSSIE TOUR, DEC 2014

The full list of my shows for 2014/2015 is at www.tinyurl.com/CopperGoneWorldTour My Australia Tour for 2014 has just been announced! All details are posted below. There’s also a FB page dedicated to it. So fancy. New Zealand dates will be announced soon. COPPER GONE album is AVAILABLE NOW! That’s why I’ve been touring my tail off, don’tcha know? For info on all of my other upcoming shows click HERE. AUSTRALIA TOUR DATES with TICKET LINKS: Dec 3 @ Uni Bar – Adelaide http://tinyurl.com/qffhvb7 Dec 4 @ The Corner Hotel – Melbourne http://tinyurl.com/lz8m9jp Dec 5 @ The Roller Den – Sydney http://tinyurl.com/kxzq66e …

Continue reading

“Make Em Purr” video, lyrics, backstory

1 isolation

VIDEO: http://youtu.be/bjxHy8WTgTs Video Director: Wasaru. 
Art Director: Jebedaï Couture Special thanks to Jim Foltice for help with the treatment. “Make Em Purr” has been one of the most discussed songs from the Copper Gone album, and since the most popular question I get asked on tour is, “How’s your cat, man?” — I figured it would be a good time to give you the song’s backstory. “Make Em Purr” didn’t even exist until a day before my final recording session. In fact, I considered the whole album to be finished save for one legal issue I had with “Thank You.” …

Continue reading

Page 1 of 1312345...10...Last »